Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Series: Adaptation #1
Pages: 400
Source: Received from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 18, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

My Review:

Simply put, this book was amazing! I don't even know how to put how much I loved this book into words so bear with me here. Malinda Lo knows how to write a gripping story and keep you interested through everything that happens. The story progresses in a very slow way with readers not really understanding what happened, and then all of a sudden everything comes out at once. But the information isn't overwhelming, it's done perfectly.

I actually was talking with another blogger (Christa from Hooked on Books) and we mentioned how this book reminds us of an episode of THE X-FILES. A lot of weird things begin happening, and if it wasn't for the way that Lo wrote the story I think I would have found the story confusing and too much. There are not a lot of authors that can write a story like ADAPTATION and make it as amazing as it turned out to be.

 The idea of a government conspiracy is always attractive to me in a story, I love the idea, and love how the characters really research things and bring up other conspiracies throughout. I adored the conspiracy that came out of this story, it was interesting and done well.

The characters were interesting, I really enjoyed Reese and how she dealt with what was happening to her. She is very head strong and works hard to find out the truth when she realizes that she is missing a lot of information.

Honestly everything about this book was amazing, there is nothing I didn't like about it. Even the ending was jaw dropping. I really want to know what Lo will do in the next story, even though this is a story that could end where it is (I am glad she is continuing because I hate books that leave you with questions at the end). This is a book you must pick up and read now!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: Safekeeping by Karen Heese

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 304
Source: Received from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 18, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Radley’s parents had warned her that all hell would break loose if the American People's Party took power. And now, with the president assassinated and the government cracking down on citizens, the news is filled with images of vigilante groups, frenzied looting, and police raids. It seems as if all hell has broken loose.

Coming back from volunteering abroad, Radley just wants to get home to Vermont, and the comfort and safety of her parents. Travel restrictions and delays are worse than ever, and by the time Radley’s plane lands in New Hampshire, she’s been traveling for over twenty-four hours. Exhausted, she heads outside to find her parents—who always come, day or night, no matter when or where she lands—aren’t there.

Her cell phone is dead, her credit cards are worthless, and she doesn’t have the proper travel papers to cross state lines. Out of money and options, Radley starts walking. . . .

Illustrated with 50 of her own haunting and beautiful photographs, this is a vision of a future America that only Karen Hesse could write: real, gripping, and deeply personal.

My Review:

The idea of this book was really intriguing to me, an assassination on the president and a new government in power, it sounded a little dystopian like to me. What I got out of this book was completely different from what I expected. Throughout the entire book I felt like I was a fly on the wall watching Radley do everything and listening to some of her conversations with people. Every little action and thought is described to the reader.

The main idea of the story is following Radley through her journey to find her parents after this big disaster. What I did like is that this is a story about survival in the hardest of times. There are curfews everywhere and wherever you go there is danger lurking in the dark. The story really details what it's like when you have to survive out in the streets, getting food wherever you can find it.

The pictures that go along with the story are beautiful, Heese has an amazing talent for photography, and it was interesting to have a story with real pictures beside the passages. I fund that many of the pictures did not fit the story though, there were many randomly placed pictures of flowers and animals and they didn't really fit the story. At times they seemed to be just added in for no reason at all.

For the most part I found Radley's journey interesting and inspiring, watching her get through the toughest of times. But this book just wasn't for me, this story was just the experience Radley had, and there was not much of a story to it. I was hoping for a little more from what I read from the synopsis.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Series: The Diviners #1
Pages: 578
Source: Received from Hatchette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 18, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."


When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

My Review:

I was so excited when I heard about this book!! I read a few Libba Bray books back when I was in high school and I remember loving her work (not that I can remember the story now, but it was interesting lol). I was hooked in by the synopsis of THE DIVINERS right away, an occult based serial killer on the loose, and the main character having a secret mysterious power, add in that this all takes place in the 1920's--I was "pos-i-toot-ly" in love. Though this book is massive, coming in at almost 600 pages, I found myself flying through the story because I just needed to know what would happen next and how the murders would come together. If I had read an ebook version I don't think I would have realized the page count.

There was a huge cast of characters in this book, it was a little nerve-racking at first, not sure where Bray was taking the story. She was switching between all the characters quite often, but as the story continued I could tell where they would all meet up and I can take a few guesses as to where the story will go in future books. It became more interesting to see how each of the characters had their own secrets and watching as they slowly unravel for the reader. The only little issue I had with the book was that I felt like I wanted to know more about some of the characters. There were certain characters I just wanted more of, especially Theta, it took awhile to get to her story and even then I can tell there is still a lot of information missing.

Bray definitely brought the 1920's to life in this story, with great descriptions of the speakeasies and the Ziegfield acts. The dialogue was also awesome, it really made me feel like I was back in the 1920's, there were a few instances where I found myself wondering what they were saying but as I kept going I could get behind the dialogue and found myself having fun with the characters.

Bray did a great job with the level of creepiness to this story. I haven't seen many good murder stories in YA that really detail the disturbing parts of it (which is understandable, TEN by Gretchen McNeil was one of the first). But Bray really brings out the scariness and I really love how she draws out the murder scenes so that even though you know what is coming she really wants the reader to be scared as well.

I absolutely loved the ending of this book, it was really surprising and I really didn't expect it to happen. And I'm really interested to see what is to come in the next book. THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray is definitely a huge read but readers will fly through it anxiously wanting to know what will happen next. This is one book I suggest picking up ASAP.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 240
Source: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 04, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author who's inspired millions worldwide with books like "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" comes his most imaginative novel yet, "The Time Keeper"--a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours. The man who became Father Time.

In Mitch Albom's newest work of fiction, the inventor of the world's first clock is punished for trying to measure God's greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world--now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began--and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

Told in Albom's signature spare, evocative prose, this remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.

My Review:

Mitch Albom has always had a way with words, and I can't help but admire many of the topics he takes on in his writing. I was really interested in this book because of the synopsis, a book about "Father Time", I was hooked right away. I really love getting into books that make you think about things yourself and THE TIME KEEPER is definitely one of those type of books.

Sadly, I had a few difficulties with this book. The main one being the quick change of characters. I felt like I could never get into the story, there were so many changes from one character to another. I found that every time I was starting to get into Dor's past story, Albom would switch it up to another character. The style of the writing was also difficult at times for me. Each section breaks off with a sentence typed in bold, at times there were only a few sentences between and at other times there were pages. I found myself having difficulties concentrating on the story itself.

I did enjoy the ending. I can't really talk about what I enjoyed about it without spoiling the entire book, but it was a nice way to end things. Though this book did seem to end quite quickly for me everything does come together well.

What I did love about THE TIME KEEPER is what I love about all of Albom's works, he really makes you think about things yourself. The message this book leaves you with really makes you see time as precious and I really feel like I need to appreciate every moment I have. We really don't think about it as often as we should, we are always asking for more time or for time to go by faster.

If you are a fan of Mitch Albom's previous work, this book is perfect for you. He writes with his unique prose and really brings meaning to something for his readers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Sweet Jesus by Christine Pountney

Publisher: McLelland and Stewart
Pages: 320
Source: Received from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 11, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Christine Pountney’s dazzling and original novel, Sweet Jesus, is a work of deep feeling, wit, and piercing observation. Set mainly on Vancouver Island, in Toronto, and in the American Midwest, it tells the story of three siblings who, in the week before the 2012 US Presidential election, reunite and set off on a journey that will transform their lives.

Connie Foster, a mother of three young children, learns that her husband’s attempt to maintain their lifestyle has led them to financial ruin. Her sister, Hannah Crowe, a writer, desperately wants to have a child but the man she loves is determined not to. Zeus Ortega, their much younger adopted brother, who left the family home when he was only fifteen, is living in Chicago with his boyfriend and working as a therapeutic clown in a children’s hospital. Prompted by a heartbreaking loss, he quits his job and decides to search for his birth parents in New Mexico. Together, the three siblings head south and, on the way, they visit a mega church in Wichita, Kansas, where their mother, Rose, once had a powerful faith experience, and where they are confronted by the politics of the evangelical right.

What unfolds is a captivating story about three people bound by family ties and caught between loyalty and desire, searching for wholeness and finding something more real in its place. Achingly human, infused with sparkling intelligence and dark humour, and revealing of our foibles and our grace, Sweet Jesus illuminates how compassion goes a long way in the absence of certainty. Christine Pountney is one of Canada’s most exciting new writers.

My Review:

I am in love with books that deal with family, showing differences and how through everything they are the ones that are there for you in the end. Pountney emphasizes in her story how each child in a family can take such a different path with life when raised in a religious place. When I first started reading this book I was a little nervous thinking that it was going to be a heavily religious story where the ideals are pushed onto a reader, but it turned out to be nothing like that. This book was more about family than anything else.

Pountney's writing style is elegant, she describes scenes in vivid detail (which usually doesn't work in stories, but for this one was the perfect writing style). I enjoy how the book begins with the story of each of the three characters, Hannah, Connie and Zeus and shows us where their lives have led them to now. As the book goes on the stories come together and we get glimpses of their pasts as well as their present states. It was interesting to see how three children who grew up in the same place differ from each other so much in life and how they handle their situations.

The journey these characters take with one another teach them a lot about themselves and how their pasts influenced their futures. As a reader it really made me think over my life and how I handle situations myself. I found that this book taught me a lot about myself by the end of it. What I really loved was that this book teaches someone that religious faith isn't everything and can't help you through every problem. The characters learn along the way that belief in themselves is the main thing in life.

I was a little disappointed with how the book ended as a whole, I wanted more closure with the characters. Everything is left very open and up in the air and I want to know where the characters are going to take their lives after their journey.

This book is very easy to connect with and I would love to go back to it in the future to help me reflect on different points of life. Pountney has brought readers a beautiful and thought provoking novel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen

Publisher: Tundra Books
Pages: 256
Source: Received from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 11, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Synopsis:

Darker than her previous novels, Susin peoples this novel about the ultimate cost of bullying with a cast of fabulous characters, dark humour, and a lovable, difficult protagonist struggling to come to terms with the horrible crime his brother has committed.

My Review:

This book ended up surprising me in so many different ways. I was expecting to go into a story about bullying, but there was so much more emotion to it. I found that this was so much more than just a little story. It is so hard to put all my thoughts into words (I'll try my best), I can't stop thinking about everything that happens in this book. The book was beautiful and was a quick read, but there were quite a few points that I had to put the book down because I was in tears and couldn't finish the story.

Nielsen definitely has a wonder with her words and writing style. She really captures the thoughts and emotions of her main characters. I absolutely love how she tells her stories. She really knows how to connect her readers to the characters, especially with a book written in journal entries.

I really enjoyed how Nielsen slowly reveals everything that happened and how it affected Henry's family. This is such a tragic story but really shows readers how a family is affected by such a heart breaking event. Nielsen's characters in her stories are so eccentric and fun to get to know. You can't help but love them, amidst all the drama and emotional turmoil, these secondary characters bring a light heartedness to the story.

This is definitely a thought provoking book that I think should be in all school libraries, I think everyone should read this book. It really shows how one event can affect so many different people. Definitely pick this book up and recommend it to everyone you know.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholasitc
Series: Raven Cycle #1
Pages: 416
Source: Was given an extra copy from Christa at Hooked on Books

Release Date: September 18, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

My Review:

I have not read a Maggie Stiefvater book before THE RAVEN BOYS so I did not really know what I was getting into with her writing style. From what I have heard she is amazing so I was naturally excited to dive into this book. What I got was not what I expected at all, but it was amazing and beautifully written.

Stiefvater's characters are all so unique and I found I couldn't help but fall in love with all of them for different reasons. The group of boys was interesting, each of them was so different from one another but they were like brothers. They seemed stronger and better as a group than on their own. I really loved Adam, he was a strong character that really asserted his independence.

Blue was also a really interesting character, there is still so much to learn about her. She is an outcast in her family yet in a way is the strongest of them and is there to help. I can't wait to see what Stiefvater has planned for her character in the future. The best thing of this book for me was that there was a romantic storyline, but it felt real. There is no insta-love between the two characters, the romance is a slow budding thing where they feel shy around each other and are not sure how to handle things.

Though there was not a lot of action in the book, I enjoyed it more than I have many books that are full of action. I felt like everything was a puzzle and I was trying to figure it out. The characters a re on a journey to find something and what they happen on along that journey is interesting. Stiefvater really makes the magic side of things interesting (I started researching ley lines myself after reading this, just to find out more about them).

This book was so much fun, it was an adventure that I will gladly take again. This book is one of the reasons I love reading, Stiefvater takes you into a new world and I didn't want to come back to reality while reading this book.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: How Lucky You Are by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Publisher: 5 Spot 
Pages: 352
Source: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 4, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the tradition of Emily Giffin and Marisa de los Santos, HOW LUCKY YOU ARE is an engaging and moving novel about three women struggling to keep their longstanding friendship alive. Waverly, who's always been the group's anchor, runs a cozy bakery but worries each month about her mounting debt. Kate is married to a man who's on track to be the next governor of Virginia, but the larger questions brewing in their future are unsettling her. Stay-at-home mom Amy has a perfect life on paper, but as the horrific secret she's keeping from her friends threatens to reveal itself, she panics.

As life's pressures build all around them, Waverly knows she has some big decisions to make. In doing so, she will discover that the lines between loyalty and betrayal can become blurred, happy endings aren't always clear-cut, and sometimes you have to risk everything to gain the life you deserve.

My Review:

HOW LUCKY YOU ARE really stuck out to me because it is a book that really focus on a close friendship between three women that grew up together, and really shows the way that it changes over the years. I was really struck by the reality of this book and the issues that Lewis deals with.

This book started out a lot like any other chic lit novel does, with us getting to know the characters and their history, the difference with this story is that as we see there are issues with each of the characters, Lewis shows it in a more dramatic than comedic way. The whole story is told from Waverly's POV, so we come to know her issues right from the beginning but we slowly learn about the other characters. I really enjoy a book where there are secrets that slowly unravel for the readers.

As the story went on I found myself surprised at some of the things that came out and how the characters dealt with those issues. It was difficult to read at times because I wanted to yell and scream at these women throughout, but that is what made this book so amazing, is that these situations are so real and their reactions to those things were very real and happen every day. Throughout everything, I continually wondered how I would deal with things if it was me in that situation, especially as everything builds up on Waverly. I admired her for some of the things she did because I could connect with her in the fact of being independent and having trouble asking for help.

Lewis ended this story in an interesting way, I found it very open-ended and I can definitely see another story with these characters in the future (*fingers crossed*). There is still so much to learn about the characters and see where their decisions take them. I liked that for once not everything ended in the kind of "everyone is happy and life is perfect" way that a lot of books do, this one left the reader with a lot of questions (which was a little disappointing to me).

For a debut novel I was really impressed with the story and the emotional depth that Lewis takes, and I will be happy to read more from her in the future.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister

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

Release Date: July 19, 2012
Buy From Amazon.com (for Kindle)

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?

While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.

When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.

My Review:

I have to say I am always happy to help out self-published authors get word of their books out there, In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister had an interesting premise for a chick lit novel for me so I was happy to pick it up. Because I have read so many chick lit novels over the years I could see where this book was going, but that doesn't mean I didn't have so fun getting to that point. Banister adds in a lot of great humour through the many different secondary characters throughout the story.

I do admit that though many of the secondary characters were part of the story and mirrored something in Pilar's life, I just found that there was too much focus on them compared to Pilar. I wanted to know more about Pilar and I don't think there was enough characterization of her for me to really understand and connect with her.

I found that it took some time to get into the story and the different situations that Pilar continually gets into, but once everything started happening I found myself immersed into everything, seeing where Pilar will go wrong next. And even though I could guess the ending from subtle hints the author gave, it was still kind of fun and there were a few unexpected things that happen along the way.

I have to say of all the characters (and there were many) my favourite had to be Nate, the little five year old boy (almost six). He was adorable and I always loved the humour he brought to the story. I do admit I think he was a little too smart for his age, but I always love seeing kids who are brilliant in books. Pilar`s mother was also a really great character, she reminds me a lot of mothers you see in most chick lit books, overbearing and trying to push marriage and family on the single child. But Pilar's mom, with her worrying about her looks and being overly dramatic, made for an interesting family dynamic.

This was definitely a cute book, and I'm glad I got the chance to read it. I wonder if Banister will write more on the Alvarez family in the future, I can see a lot of great storylines from this family (very similar to Marian Keyes' Walsh family).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BookFest Windsor


Are you a writer? BookFest Windsor is having a great contest to find new writers. The winner gets the chance to open up the show. Whether fiction, non-fiction or poetry, everyone is welcome to participate! Here are the rules/information for BFW Bound!


Say it SHORT and sweet or sassy but get your LIT ON stage. Contest starts soon!

Check BookfestWindsor.com for all the news.

Hey, you’re a writer. Hang out with the prized, the famous and
word-world insiders at BookFest Windsor, one of the most
notable literary festivals in North America. We’re kicking off
our second decade with a new contest, BFW Bound. We’re
searching for the authors of the future, and giving them a
chance to compete to open our show from the stage of the
Capitol Theatre. Don’t wait for the deadline. Send your literary
gem to bfwbound@bookfestwindsor.com today.

The Rules
• Submission dates: September 10, 2012 – October 5, 2012
• Micro fiction/creative non-fiction and poetry in English are eligible.
• Previously published work is eligible. You must own copyright to the work.
•All authors 18 and over are welcome.
• Prose entries must be 250 words or less.
• Poetry 30 lines maximum, including blank lines.
• Submit entries in the body of an email to bfwbound@bookfestwindsor.com.
• Subject line should read BFW Bound + entry title.
• Include name and complete contact information with entry.
• Top entries will participate in a reading at Phog Lounge, Downtown Windsor, 7:00 p.m., October 20, 2012.
• Reading Judges: Karl Jirgens, Editor of RAMPIKE, and author Mary Ann Mulhern.
• 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizewinners will open BookFest Windsor 2012, on stage at The Capitol Theatre in downtown Windsor, Thursday, October 25th, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.
• First place winner receives print set-up and 3 copies of a self-publishing project up to 250 pages from Windsor Public Library Self Publishing Lab.
•Winners must participate in October 20th and October 25th events. BookFest Windsor reserves the right to use shortlisted and winning entries in future promotion. Due credit to the author will be given.

For more information on BookFest Windsor check out the website here. There is also a list of authors attending the event this year! This is a great event for readers and writers alike! There are many different events happening, including readings, panel discussions and some great workshops! If you're in town I suggest checking it out :) Ready, Set... START WRITING! 

Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Pages: 304
Received: Borrowed from a friend

Release Date: September 18, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

My Review:

I love the dark stories, and murder mysteries are the best type of those dark and creepy tales. I've been disappointed that I haven't found much of those in YA, but I haven't been reading YA for that long either. When I hear about TEN, everything about it screamed creepy (I mean look at the cover!) And honestly after finishing it I can say that this was definitely keep you up at night creepy.

McNeil really does not make you feel like you are reading a YA book at all. She goes into gory detail at times that made me want to put the book down because I could picture it in my head and was just disturbed.  But at the same time I was loving every moment of this book. There are so many great twists along the way that I couldn't guess what was coming next. And the ending, I was completely shocked with everything!

There were a lot of things about Meg's character that I absolutely loved. She had a lot of skills and really thought things through to try and solve the mystery. But when it came to her friend Minnie she was a completely different character. I understand that she was the protector character always trying to be there for Minnie, but I felt that she lost some of her character when Minnie was around (part of me wished that Minnie wasn't there... lol)

The ending of this book was amazing and had me hanging on to the edge of my seat (though the whole book had me like that). Everything that I was expecting from this book was so wrong, I was constantly surprised by what McNeil did with this story. I loved how even though this is a horror book, in a way it is a contemporary book as well, McNeil adds in all the regular teenage issues amongst all the events happening around them.

Once you pick this book up, it will be impossible to put down. I advise not to read when you are stranded at a cottage (or maybe do... definitely makes it creepier when you can put yourself in that place). But wherever you choose, this is one book that makes the top of the list! Definitely can't wait to read more of McNeil's writing!

For more information on Gretchen McNeil and TEN check out the Harper Collins Canada webpage.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 416
Source: Received from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 11, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Against a teeming canvas of Borgia politics, Niccol├▓ Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci come together to unmask an enigmatic serial killer, as we learn the secret history behind one of the most controversial works in the western canon, The Prince...

When Pope Alexander dispatches a Vatican courtesan, Damiata, to the remote fortress city of Imola to learn the truth behind the murder of Juan, his most beloved illegitimate son, she cannot fail, for the scheming Borgia pope holds her own young son hostage. Once there, Damiata becomes a pawn in the political intrigues of the pope’s surviving son, the charismatic Duke Valentino, whose own life is threatened by thecondottieri, a powerful cabal of mercenary warlords. Damiata suspects that the killer she seeks is one of the brutal condottierri, and as the murders multiply, her quest grows more urgent. She enlists the help of an obscure Florentine diplomat, Niccol├▓ Machiavelli, and Valentino’s eccentric military engineer, Leonardo da Vinci, who together must struggle to decipher the killer’s taunting riddles: Leonardo with his groundbreaking “science of observation” and Machiavelli with his new “science of men.” Traveling across an Italy torn apart by war, they will enter a labyrinth of ancient superstition and erotic obsession to discover at its center a new face of evil—and a truth that will shake the foundations of western civilization. 

My Review:

I am in love with historical fiction novels and I was really in the idea that this book took place in Italy at the time of Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli. I loved philosophy in school and Machiavelli had some interesting theories, so the idea that a lot of the events in this book helped Machiavelli write his most famous work The Prince. 

Ennis did a great amount of research for this book, there is mention of how all the events did take place and the characters were at many of these places. I liked that Ennis did not manipulate history so that his story would work. I'm not a fan when authors change history around a lot to make the story work, instead Ennsi works his story around history.

What was really interesting about this book was the mix of murder, mystery, politics and a little romance added in. This book has something for everyone, and is so engrossing. I couldn't tear my eyes away. Ennis really draws out the mystery, having readers question every character and everything that happens. Everyone has something to hide and it takes time to find out what it is, though for me I found Damiata to be the most interesting character with so much on this line.

The whole book is told from first person POV, which is perfect for this book, if it was told any other way I don't think you would have gotten the same effect out of the story. Most of the novel is told by Machiavelli, with it opening up from Damiata's POV. I found that I was able to connect with Damiata better through hearing her story.

This book is one of the best historical fiction novels I have read in awhile. The story jumps right in from the beginning. You definitely need a lot of time to devote to this novel, there is a lot to the story that needs to be remembered, and there is a lot that takes awhile to understand. The way the characters work to solve the murder is by using "scienza", it made the story really interesting, but hard to follow at times.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Confessions #1
Pages: 272
Source: Received from publisher through NetGalley

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some confessions to make…1. I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate,don't you?

2. I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who might be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.

3. High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry—get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.)

(Sorry. That was rude.)

My Review:

This book stuck out to me a lot when I read the synopsis because it isn't really a romance book and I really wanted to see what this type of book would be like. When I went into reading it I kind of forgot the synopsis of the book except for of course that the main character was angry (duh..). The book was definitely a very quick read, but through a lot of it I felt like I was pushing myself to get to the end of the book.

I could understand why Rose was angry at everyone around her, she definitely got dealt a crappy hand and it seemed like nothing was making it better, but I felt like there were a lot of times that Rose took things too far. I really wanted Rose to do something herself to get out of her crappy situation but instead she seemed to sulk more instead of trying to deal with things. I was mad at Rose for not actually doing anything for herself throughout the book, I just wanted her to do something!

I did think the last half got better and Rose started getting more confrontational and trying to do something for herself. I am disappointed by how short the book was, I think a lot more things could have happened instead of Rozett ending it where she did (I didn't know it was a part of a series until after I finished it).

In all honesty I'm still not completely sure how I feel about this story as a whole. I did enjoy it a lot more in the end, and will probably pick up the second one when it comes out just to see what will happen next, but I just could not get behind Rose as a character... I wanted to hit her so many times, but I do feel bad at the same time because I can understand her problems.

There was a lot about this book that was fun but I just felt like some of the drama was extremely exaggerated for the story to really work.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: Entice by Jessica Shirvington

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Series: Violet Eden Chapters #2
Pages: 464
Source: Received from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 4, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Violet Eden is Grigori - part angel, part human. Her destiny is to protect humans from the vengence of exiled angels.

Knowing who to trust is key but, when Grigori reinforcements arrive, it becomes clear everyone is hiding something. Even Lincoln. The only thing Violet does know: Phoenix's hold over her is more dangerous than ever.

The race to find the one thing that could tilt the balance of power brings them all to the sacred mountains of Jordan, where Violet's power will be pushed to the extreme. And the ultimate betrayal exposed.

My Review: *POSSIBLE SPOILER FOR EMBRACE (BOOK 1)

So I remember hearing all about EMBRACE when it first came out and I remember devouring that book, so when I got the chance to find out what would happen next I could not decline that. Just as with EMBRACE, I devoured this book in a matter of days, I can definitely say this is one of those few times that I loved the sequel so much better than the first one!

I found I liked this one better because I found the first book was more focused on Violet running away from everything, whereas this book has so much more happening and I find Violet has grown a lot in this ENTICE, I liked her character so much more. And on the topic of characters, let me talk about Lincoln... as much as I did like him in the first book I was a Phoenix fan, but after this book (which does not have a lot of Phoenix in it) I am all Team Lincoln!! He was so adorable and I really loved learning more about him and really delving deeper into his emotions. There were also a great bunch of new characters that are introduced in this book who were a lot of fun and helped out Violet's storyline a bit.

Just like EMBRACE the reader is brought into a suspense filled book right from the beginning. Shrivington really knows how to keep her reader guessing throughout everything, wondering what will happen. Though I did see one or two things coming there was still a lot of great surprises. I really love all the drama that comes out of everything that happened in the first book, like Phoenix saving Violet and Onyx now being a human (which really brought some great comedy to this book)

I did not want to finish the book just because I was so engrossed in the story I was sad for it to end, I also knew that the ending was going to leave a huge cliffhanger... and what a cliffhanger it was, I loved everything that happened and how the ending was brought out slowly until you just get hit with everything. I can not wait for the next book in this series and I feel like I need it NOW. This is a great series to get into, this is not like other angel books out there, Shirvington really delves into the mythology of things and explains everything well for her readers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Inbetween by Tara A. Fuller

Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Series: Kissed by Death #1
Pages: 400
Received: Received from publisher from NetGalley

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky — and unending — lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn’t let her die before, and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he has left…his soul.

My Review:

I've been getting into the angel books a lot more lately because they all have something so different to them, and this book really stood out for me because it was a whole new take on that... now we are getting into the reaper books. I was really interested in this one when I read the synopsis, I needed to get my hands on it ASAP.

Everything that happens throughout keeps the reader interested and glued to the pages to see what will happen next. The story behind Finn and Emma is what really keeps you coming back to this book, there is a whole back story that slowly unravels during everything. I would have liked us to know a little less about the background story, I think it would have been a little more fun to learn everything along with Emma, but I was still interested in everything to see what would happen when everything was realized.

I was not a big fan of the character of Emma, I understand there were a lot of "accidents" that happen to her through the years but I felt that she needed to do more during the story. I loved her friend, Cash, he was so much fun and so full of life, he was the complete opposite of Emma. I wanted more of them together because he seemed to ground Emma a lot. Finn was an interesting character as well, watching him take on the job of protecting Emma while hiding it from those around him and still doing his job of a reaper.

For this type of book I found there was a great mix of action with the romance. Fuller has a great style of bringing out the feelings of her characters and making her readers feel those emotions as well. The love that Finn feels for Emma really comes out strong. The ending came us a surprise to me but was really adorable, I'm excited to see where Fuller takes her characters in the next book. There is still so much to deal with. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 288
Received: Received from publisher from NetGalley

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon--and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.

My Review:

To be honest I was not completely sure about this book when I started it, I had read very few reviews on it and the title kind of threw me a little. The cover doesn't really draw me in all that much and I find it doesn't really do much for the story itself. I was really surprised when I finished it, I found that I really enjoyed this story.

Readers are right away taken into Mia's life and quickly thereafter you see her being possessed by a demon, you are quickly thrown into the history of her family who fight demon possessions almost every day. This book really interested me because of the idea of possessions and Beyer does a great job of writing out those possessions and describing the different events when they happen. I definitely felt creeped out at times while reading this.

I really loved the history that is placed throughout the book, Beyer did a great job with her research on Italian history and I liked that she got the Italian correct as well (so many different dialects). I felt like I was able to learn a lot throughout the story of some background of Milan, I know some of it is a stretch but it still made the story itself interesting.

The characters were interesting, in all honesty I wasn't as interested in Mia as I was with the rest of her family. Emilio was by far my favorite character throughout because there was so much to him. By the end of the story I had warmed up to Mia's character a lot more and really love how she grew and began to understand things more by the end. Beyer definitely has the idea of an Italian family down to a tee, everyone gets together all the time including second cousins and cousins of your grandfather and what not (I know this one from experience) and I love how they are always welcome.

The one thing that disappoints me is that I hear this book is a standalone, but there is still so much that is left open and unresolved. I am really hoping that those rumors are wrong because I want and need more of Mia's story. Overall this was an interesting book, but if it's a standalone has a very disappointing ending for readers. 

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