Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Guest Post: Catherine McKenzie, author of Forgotten and Giveaway!

Today I am so happy to welcome Catherine McKenzie to my blog. Her newest novel FORGOTTEN has just been released in the US, and I am happy to take part in a tour hosted by Harper Collins. Catherine is a Canadian author who I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing all of her books. And she is such a fun person to chat with.

FORGOTTEN is a great book (My review here) with an interesting idea behind it. What would you do if you were gone for 6 months and had to restart your life?

Where do you get the idea for your books?

Lots of different places!

More specifically, for my first novel Spin – about a journalist who follows a celebrity into rehab – I was watching celebrities going in and out of rehab and all the paparazzi setting up outside the rehab centers waiting desperately for a photo and the idea just popped into my head. So, thank you TMZ.

For Arranged – about a woman who uses an arranged marriage service – I knew a couple of people who’d had traditional arranged marriages and so the idea was in my head for a while: why would someone do that? And then I was (ahem) watching The Bachelor one night and I remember saying sarcastically to myself: why don’t they just have a show where they marry people off who don’t even know each other? Yeah, why don’t they?

For Forgotten – about a woman who returns home after she goes missing in Africa to discover that everyone in her life thought she was dead – I heard a story about a woman who had been stuck in Africa for six months and when she returned home her apartment had been rented to someone else and all her stuff was gone. I didn’t – and still don’t – know anything more about her, but I thought it was an interesting premise to explore.

So, to summarize: gossip TV, reality TV, reality.

Thanks so much Catherine, can't wait to see what you come up with next! 

In honour of Catherine's US Release, Harper Collins has generously donated a copy of FORGOTTEN for one lucky winner (US addresses Only). 

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Red Rain by R. L. Stine

Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 384
Received: Borrowed from Christa @Hooked on Books

Release Date: October 09, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

R.L. Stine, New York Times bestselling author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series—the biggest selling children’s books of all time—delivers a terrifying new adult horror novel centered on a town in the grip of a sinister revolt.

Before there was J.K. Rowling, before there was Stephenie Meyer or Suzanne Collins, there was R.L. Stine. Witty, creepy, and compulsively readable, he defined horror for a generation of young readers—readers who have now come of age.

Travel writer Lea Sutter finds herself on a small island off the coast of South Carolina, the wrong place at the wrong time. A merciless, unanticipated hurricane cuts a path of destruction and Lea barely escapes with her life. In the storm’s aftermath, she discovers orphaned twin boys and impulsively decides to adopt them. The boys, Samuel and Daniel, seem amiable and immensely grateful; Lea’s family back on Long Island—husband Mark and their two children, Ira and Elena—aren’t quite so pleased. But even they can’t anticipate the twins’ true nature—or predict that, within a few weeks’ time, Mark will wind up implicated in two brutal murders, with the police narrowing in.

For the millions of readers who grew up on Goosebumps, and for every fan of deviously inventive horror, this is a must-read from a beloved master of the genre.

My Review:

Hearing about the famous R. L. Stine writing a book for adults made me jump for joy, I will always remember growing up reading Goosebumps (and watching the show) and being scared out of my mind by things (the creepy dummy that comes to life... right?!). I was a little nervous to see how the master of children's horror would translate to adults. Well, worry not readers! Stine has his way and definitely makes you shudder with this book.

Travel writer Lea Sutter is stuck on an island because of a hurricane, but this island has some interesting stories that go along with it. Right from the beginning you can tell that Stine has written a disturbing book, yet one that is a must-read.

The book starts off slowly but right away creepy things happen. Not everything about the book is something jumping out at you, Stine really gets into the story but describes the events with gruesome details. Right at the beginning there is a part that I could just hear it in my head and it was just shoulder-clenching. I found myself needing to put the book down quite a few times because I needed to get the picture out of my head before continuing on.

The kids in this book make me never want to trust young twin boys ever again, I never expected what came out of this book. The ending of the book really took me by surprise and was such a huge turn of events that I really don't know how to feel about it! Trust me when I say Stine has definitely made a story for those that were around for the original Goosebumps books, as we grew so did Stine and this book really shows it!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 352
Received: Received from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 16, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Living in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren't disappearing--they're gaining power.

When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined. One of Veronica's high school teachers is crippled by the fact that his dead daughter has never returned as a ghost, and he's haunted by the possibility that she's waiting to reappear within a fresh body. Veronica seems like the perfect host. And even if he's wrong, what's the harm in creating one more ghost?

From critically acclaimed Generation Dead author Daniel Waters, comes a delectably creepy and suspenseful thriller. Break My Heart 1,000 Times will leave readers with the chills. Or is that a ghost reading over the page?

My Review:

This book really got my attention and is definitely a fun read for right around Halloween. Readers are taken into a world where seeing ghosts around is a natural thing, they are walking around everywhere. This book is more than a ghost story though, there is another sdie story of a serial killer, which really became the forefront of this book.

What was really interesting about this book was the many different narratives, showing the different sides of the story, and the idea that one of the narratives is a ghost trying to fix things. The story moves along pretty slowly and it does take some time to get into the creepy parts. But parts of this story will give you chills.

Though you know who the murderer is as you read the story it is fun to watch as the story unfolds for the other characters and there is still a lot to the story that you don't know or understand that slowly unravels as you go along. Every scene that included this teacher is disturbing because you have an idea of what is coming, and yet at the same time Waters still surprises you.

This is a fun read for Halloween, really taking it's time to get to the big event that creeps you out, the main thing that disappointed me with this book was that there was mention of "The Event" throughout but no mention of what actually happened (at least not that I found... maybe I missed something though...) But what was interesting was the research that the characters put in to finding out the different reasons behind the ghosts' appearances. I do think the story takes some time to get into but in the end it is worth the time.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Yesterday by C. K. Kelly Martin

Publisher: Random House
Series: ??
Pages: 368
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 25, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

THEN: The formation of the UNA, the high threat of eco-terrorism, the mammoth rates of unemployment and subsequent escape into a world of virtual reality are things any student can read about in their 21st century textbooks and part of the normal background noise to Freya Kallas's life. Until that world starts to crumble.

NOW: It's 1985. Freya Kallas has just moved across the world and into a new life. On the outside, she fits in at her new high school, but Freya feels nothing but removed. Her mother blames it on the grief over her father's death, but how does that explain the headaches and why do her memories feel so foggy? When Freya lays eyes on Garren Lowe, she can't get him out of her head. She's sure that she knows him, despite his insistence that they've never met. As Freya follows her instincts and pushes towards hidden truths, the two of them unveil a strange and dangerous world where their days may be numbered. Unsure who to trust, Freya and Garren go on the run from powerful forces determined to tear them apart and keep them from discovering the truth about their shared pasts (and futures), her visions, and the time and place they really came from. Yesterday will appeal to fans of James Dashner's The Maze Runner, Veronica Roth's Divergent, Amy Ryan's Glow, Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Ally Condie's Matched.

My Review:

This book surprised me more than I thought it would. I had read a few reviews on it and I wasn't absolutely sure if I would like the book. The first thing that really raises this book in my opinion is that it is set in Toronto and the GTA. I love being able to read a book where I can sit there and follow the characters around because I know the area. This is a great book for those that grew up in the 80's because Martin really roots you into the time. There is so much mention of the television shows and music of the time, that really makes you feel like you are back there (I can't say I know most of it because I'm a 90's baby).

The book opens up with Freya and her family, in THEN, we get a quick glimpse of her life and then we are thrown into 1985 and Freya and her family have just gotten to Canada and are starting a new life after the death of her father. All of a sudden Freya's memories are foggy and she begins having dreams of another time. I really loved all the questions that are brought up in the beginning of the book, wondering who the characters are and what happened to them.

I did find there was a little bit of a disconnect between the first half of the story and the second half when Freya realizes the truth of what happened to her. I did feel like I was reading a different more intense book in the second half, and I actually enjoyed it more. The first half of the book was a little slow going for me because Martin is introducing everything and really making this a mystery book.

Freya was such a strong character throughout, she trusts her instincts and doesn't back down. I really loved her character more than Garren, I found that he wasn't as important and didn't really have as much to do with the story. The ending of this book definitely took me by surprise and left me with so many questions, and it made me like the second half so much more than the first. Martin leaves this story open and I do think that there will be a sequel.

Martin definitely brought us an interesting book with time travel, mystery, and some romance all mixed together. I'm excited to see what will happen next with Freya and Garren.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Series: Annex #1
Pages: 304
Received: Received from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 16, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist.

Elysia's purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island's workers--soulless clones like Elysia--are immune to.

At first, Elysia's life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne's human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island's flawless exterior, there is an under-current of discontent among Demesne's worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care--so why are overpowering sensations clouding Elysia's mind?

If anyone discovers that Elysia isn't the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happiness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she's always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive.

The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, "Beta "is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a corrupted world.

My Review:

This book is just wow! Elysia is a beta of a teenage clone, we learn that there are many clones already on the island but that teenagers have not been done before because the clones are only used as workers on the island so that the humans can just spend all their time relaxing. Cohn does a beautiful job showing the differences between the clones and the humans. The world that is created in this book is well done and there is a lot of detail to have readers understand what caused this new world.

I really enjoy how there is this whole mystery about Elysia's first, I found myself continually reading to see if she would get information on this girl that made it possible for Elysia to exist. You do get to find out about the girl that is Elysia's first, but there are more questions following. Cohn does a great job making the idea of the clones believable for readers, there is a whole scientific process described making it more realistic.

This book is so much darker than I was expecting it to be (I think it's the cover that really changes your opinion). So much happens in this book, Elysia is different from other clones because of why she is made, she is there to be a companion rather than a worker. When she begins to realize that there is more to the island then she is told is when the book becomes even more interesting and dark. There is such a strong message throughout this book of freedom.

The only thing that I could have done without was the love story aspect of this book. I felt that the romance between Elysia and another character (don't want to spoil it) was disconnected from the rest of the book.

The ending is really what killed me, there are a few things brought up that seem to contradict what is said earlier on, and leaves you wondering about the whole process of the clones. Cohn leaves her readers with so many unanswered questions that will leave you needing Book 2 ASAP. This is one book I suggest picking up this year, it was so gripping and yet leaves you wondering about many things.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 544
Received: Received from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 2, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

England's Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners. A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane's younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again. Across the years, these four young royals shared the same small rooms in their dark prison, as all four shared the unfortunate role of being perceived as threats to the reigning monarch.

My Review:

When I saw this book I was overwhelmed, it was huge, coming in over 500 pages and I was nervous about how long it would take me to get through it. I was quite surprised at the story, that I actually found myself continually wanting to pick this book up after putting it down. I really wanted to know what the characters would do next.

Weir takes an interesting tactic with her writing, going back and forth between the two Katherines and really bringing them together. I loved how these two different stories were so similar in many ways. I really enjoyed going back and forth between the two different time periods to see the differences but how many things were similar as well. The story of these two girls with such different lives was interesting, each with their own ties to the throne, and both ending up as threats in different ways.

I did have a few issues when reading this story, the main one being that at certain parts the story becomes dry and very slow going. I understand that not everything in history is entertaining, but I felt like so much was described in the story that was not absolutely necessary, making the novel longer than need be. I also found that there were a few times in the book that the section cut off a little too quickly. I ended up enjoying the length of the book because I found that I was able to watch each of the characters' grow and change and it really gave me more time with each of them.

Weir describes every detail of each of the Katherines' lives giving readers an understanding of their thoughts and feelings. She really puts her readers in the characters' shoes so that they can get a deep understanding. Kate and Katherine each have a unique voice so that it is easy to tell who you are with at certain times.

The story was intriguing and I really enjoyed the mystery behind it, each girl trying to find out the fate of the two boy princes locked up in the tower. Each of the girls has a tactic but are told different stories behind the imprisonment of these two young boys. If you enjoy historical fiction books, this is definitely the book for you. Through her writing you can tell Weir did a lot of research for this book, with the extensive details given, she does write a lengthy author's note explaining some of the liberties she took with the story but noting that everything that she writes about did happen and is documented.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Series: The Lynburn Legacy #1
Pages: 370
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 11, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

My Review:

I have been seeing a lot of hype around this book and I was a little hesitant on getting to this one because of it. But wow, this book was amazing. Kami has had this connection with this imaginary boy since she was a kid and has shared all her secrets with him. But all that changes when she finds out that this imaginary friend she had is real and now in her town. Seriously, I don't know how I would be able to deal with something like that...

I was really intrigued by the secret of the Lynburn family, everyone in town knows about it except for Kami and she is determined to get answers to all her questions. Kami is very straight-forward and goes after what she wants, she's not scared of a little danger and I love her character for that. Kami is a journalist who is after the truth and ends up getting herself into a lot of trouble on the way.

There are so many parts of this book that you find yourself not being able to look away. I loved the interactions between Kami and Jared, though at times I found it was a little off (understandably so, how do you talk to someone face to face when you've only talked to them in your mind). The love they have for each other comes from years of learning everything thought and feeling they have and I really enjoy that, it's not a love at first sight. I actually found that it was more of a battle for them when they finally meet in person.

Family was a big part of this story, going back into each person's ancestry to find out questions about the Lynburns and Sorry-in-the-Vale. And when the answers are finally brought about everything suddenly changes and becomes even more intriguing. This is quite a dark tale and the ending definitely broke my heart, I need more of Jared and Kami and to find out where things will go from here.

This is such an awesome book, I definitely recommend it (but you may want to wait closer to the second book so you aren't killing yourself with all these questions like I now am...) 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 384
Received: Received from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 09, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning, spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new voice in YA fiction.

My Review:

When I read the synopsis of this book, my mind immediately went to the idea of THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenger, that book is one of my all time favourites and I had to see what a YA version would be like. I have to say this is nothing like THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE (and I mean that in an awesome way, this book is completely different).

There isn't much in the way of scientific explanation (because really how can you do that haha) but it's an interesting idea that Bennett can choose when and where he travels to. I really enjoyed that there were limitations set because it makes an unrealistic topic a little more realistic.

The one part of this novel that really stood out to me as a reader was how close Anna is with her family and friends, Stone really shows that off in her writing. I love reading a story where family makes an impact on the character in a good way because I find that I can connect easily with that (I am very close with my family.. as in if they don't hear from me at least twice a week they start calling often... lol). Bennett's grandmother was by far my favourite, she was adorable and very much like any grandmother you would see today. I also have to add that Anna's family owns a bookstore, how cool is that (obviously that is my goal in life :D)

Everything about this book was so much fun to read, from Anna being the girl stuck in one place and dreaming of traveling the world to all the surprises that Stone brings about. I kept wondering how these two teenagers would get through everything. I really loved the ending of this book and I hope there is more to the story of Anna and Bennett.

Stone has written an adorable story and brought to life amazing characters that become easy to care for. This story reads very much like a contemporary novel with a little supernatural twist.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 503
Received: Received from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 27, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

My Review:

I was really excited for this book, it sounded so different from anything I was used to and I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone. Add to that all the hype around this book and I was hooked on getting it as soon as it came out. I have to say I was a little disappointed with what I ended up with (I find that it was mostly because of the hype).

Rowling is an amazing writer and this book shows off her skills at writing about a very realistic world. Her characters are very complex and have so many secrets that I found myself becoming a little more engrossed in the story without realizing it. I will admit though that I had a few issues with this book. I was not expecting the amount of swearing and sex going on in this book. I understand that this is an adult book, but I just felt that it was overdone at times because it was the first adult book for Rowling. I believe that the idea that these characters are disturbed individuals could have been conveyed without overdoing it.

What I really enjoyed about this book is how Rowling shows this little town and how everyone is connected in more ways than they think. This one little event, the death of a councillor affects so many people's lives in different ways. But it was confusing at times because there were so many different characters each with their own narrative (I believe it was 15). I felt like the story jumped from character to character at times and some of them were not as important as others. 

Though I was a little disappointed with a few things about this story it was an interesting idea, and I will admit that I cried at the ending, after everything that happened in this large book it was a shock for it to end the way it did. After reading a lot of books that are more of the supernatural idea, it was nice to read a book that was more realistic. I just found that it was overdone for my taste, I love my adult books but I find that for them to be adult they don't need an over-abundance of swear words to make it an adult book. I do believe that it was an interesting story though, very political, and it takes awhile to get into the story. I know I had to push myself through the first part of the story before I found myself more interested in what was happening with the characters.

I would suggest giving this book a try but be warned that this is a book full of swearing and quite a lot of lewdness to it. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

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

Release Date: September 11, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

“What are you reading?”

That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.

This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.

Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page.

My Review:

From the moment that I opened up this book, I knew I was in love. This is a book that is for all readers out there. Seeing all the chapters named after a book or poem really interested me to see how it would be incorporated into the book. I will say be prepared to have your TBR pile grow exponentially after reading this book.

This book will brings out every emotion possible in readers. This is such a beautiful tale of how books can really bring people together. Schwalbe does a beautiful job bringing this story to the people and showing how much books really can affect the readers. Schwalbe really brings out his emotions through everything he went though with his mother in his story, and I'm happy that he chose to share this story with the world.

I loved how these two characters read books and in their discussion of these books are able to touch on difficult subjects that a mother and son would not be able to talk about on a regular day. The characters were strong through everything they went through, I adored Mary Anne's strength to fight through and her convictions were inspiring.

I found myself flipping through the pages wondering what book they would discuss next and how it would factor into their lives. This is a book that everyone needs to read just to see how books really are important and can change someone's life in many ways. There were so many amazing quotes about how books touch the characters lives. Run out and get this book ASAP!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 305
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 11, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

On remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings—and to catch their wives.

The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment.

Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also unspoken love.

My Review:

This book showed itself to be an interesting idea right from the beginning. The idea that Lanagan takes her story from selkie legend, which in itself is interesting. Originally I went into this, thinking it was a new twist on mermaids, but came out with a completely different story. I loved the idea of how there is this isolated island that consist of men and their women that come from seals. Lanagan's writing is beautiful and very descriptive of the process of making a sea-wife, which is what kept me interested in the story. Though I was confused at times where I was in the story.

In the beginning of the book I found myself having trouble connecting with the story. It may have just been the time I was reading, I wasn't really looking for this type of book, but I will say I am glad that I kept up with the book. The way Lanagan wrote the story may have been confusing for me but it was definitely intriguing.

The narration is the main thing that confused me throughout the book. Lanagan writes from many different perspectives in this story, from characters that are there at the start of everything to those who leave the island and come back. It is told over many years, each of the characters being from a different generation. In the end Lanagan does connect each narrator with the other. I just felt that at times you are not able to connect with the characters because you only spend one chapter (though at times it is a long chapter) with each one.

I really enjoyed the one constant throughout the book, Misskaella. She was the creepy witch all on her own that everyone is scared of yet at the same time every man needs her. Her story was the one I found to be the most confusing and yet also the most interesting of all the stories.

I definitely enjoyed the uniqueness of this novel, but just found myself a little too confused throughout a lot of it. It was a great story that I can see many people enjoying. I feel like I just read it at the wrong time and couldn't get into everything about it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Series: The Blessed #1
Pages: 416
Received: Received an extra copy from a friend

Release Date: September 25, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of the New York Times bestselling ghostgirl series, the start to a captivating and haunting teen trilogy about three girls who become entangled with an enigmatic boy—a boy who believes he is a saint. What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?

Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief.

My Review:

I feel like this book had a lot of promise to it from what I was told about it. This is one of those books that the cover really tricked me, it's so creepy and I thought this was going to be an interesting and skin crawling type of book. In the end I was quite disappointed in this as a beginning to a new series. The book opens up with three completely different girls who have never met ending up in the hospital for different reasons. Each of their lives are changed by one boy following that night.

The big thing throughout this story is faith and having the girls find something to believe in. I just found that there wasn't a lot of growth in then girls throughout this novel (I do believe that will happen in the upcoming books of this series). I found that for that I couldn't really connect with any of the girls. I just found each of them impersonal in their own ways, I'm not really sure how to describe it but they each had issues that were over dramatized in my opinion.

The story as a whole was very confusing. I couldn't figure out what was going on throughout a lot of the book. After the girls meet, they separate and the story jumps between each of the three girls and I couldn't really figure out what was happening with them. A lot of information came up out of the blue that confused me with the psychiatrist and Sebastian's past, there were brief mentions but I didn't feel as if I was given enough of the history.

This was a book that was also very highly filled with religious themes, but that part did not bother me. Hurley did a good job at not being pushy with a book that is about three saints. In the end I was just too confused and sadly I don't see myself continuing with this series because this book just wasn't very gripping. I hope that the series does get better and will explain more but I am just not interested enough.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Series: The Lotus War #1
Pages: 337
Received:Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 18, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

My Review:

So this book ended up taking me a lot longer to read than I expected it to. And I blame that on the fact that I was reading an e-book version. I feel like I would have understood what was happening a lot more and not been so hesitant to continue reading it if I had a hard copy. My main problem was the use of a lot of Japanese names for things that I didn't know what was being talked about (there is a glossary at the end of the book, which is why it was harder reading this as an ebook). I also had a few issues with the names of the characters, I found myself getting confused trying to figure out who I was with at a certain time (but I also attribute this to my taking so much time away from reading this book).

I was really intrigued from the beginning of the book, it starts out with an amazing beginning chapter that draws you in and makes you need to read the rest of the book to know what will happen. I always love a book that can grip you from the first page, I find that more books these days are quite slow going and you need to read on before getting into some of the bigger ideas. And though the story does slow down a little after the first chapter, Kristoff still adds in a lot of great action scenes to keep you interested and coming back to the story. And the world Kristoff created is amazing! Readers are transported into a world where it is dangerous to breathe the air and everyone has secrets.

What really kepot me coming back to the story was the friendship between Yukiko and Buruu (the thunder tiger). I loved how the slowly grow on each other and begin to have such strong faith in one another. A lot of the interactions between those two were amusing and you can see how they grow together. I found that I wasn't very interested in the story after the prologue until the point that we actually learn about Yukiko's history and when we finally meet the thunder tiger. I mean any book is better once you have something that is like a griffin introduced, the story can only get better from that point on (and this story definitely did!)

The ending of this book was amazing, and in my opinion made up for a lot of my issues I had when I started this book. I was so taken with everything that I found myself going back to the book more often just to find out what Yukiko would do in her situation. I really loved the huge fighting scenes at the end that keep you wanting more from the book.

Despite all my issues I really enjoyed this book. This is one book I recommend with it's great world building and characters who really capture your attention. But I do suggest if you pick this book up to pick up a hardcopy rather than buying it for you eReader, it will be so much easier to get into the story.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Y by Marjorie Celona

Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Pages: 288
Received: Borrowed from Michele at Just a Lil' Lost

Release Date: August 01, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

“My life begins at the Y…” so starts Shannon’s story, a newborn baby dumped at the doors of the local YMCA. Bounced between foster homes, Shannon longs to uncover her roots. Where is she from? Who is her mother? And why would she abandon Shannon on the day she was born?

The answers lie in the heartbreaking tale of her mother’s family, and their flawed and desperate fate. Through Marjorie Celona’s intimate observations and quirky wit, present and past converge to shape a unique and lasting story of identity and inheritance. A novel that asks us to consider the “why” of our lives, even as it reveals that the answer isn’t always clear.

My Review:

Everyone has been talking about this book lately and I needed to know why. When a fellow blogger and great friend Michele wrote her review and mentioned that it reminded her a little of THE LOVELY BONES I knew this was one book I had to read and she graciously lent it to me.

The story begins with Shannon being left at the doors of the YMCA and from there readers follow her through her life in foster care. Celona writes in the voice of Shannon, but it is more of an all seeing voice, the chapters go back and forth from Shannon's life in the present to her mother's life right before giving birth to Shannon and leaving her at the YMCA. I can see how the book is reminiscent of THE LOVELY BONES with the idea of the narrator being the voice of a child and is seeing everything that is happening, I really enjoyed this kind of narration, it is an interesting way to tell a story.

This is one book that will be a tough story for people to read because of the issues that are dealt with. I found myself needing to put the book down at times to compose myself because everything was so emotional, and then at times I was just so shocked at what some of the characters were doing.

This story was about Shannon trying to find herself amongst everything that has happened, she visits her past to see how that has affected her future. This is a story that really teaches us about family and how it's not always the people that gave birth to you that are your family. I love the moment in the book when Shannon realizes who her family really is.

The characters were interesting, I enjoyed following Shannon's story and I understand why she goes through the motions of rebelling so much with her family. This is one book that I will suggest to all my friends to read because it is such a powerful book. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review: Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Pages: 272
Received: Borrowed from Evie at Bookish

Release Date: October 2, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv.

The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.

My Review:

I was so excited for this book, the idea of a story where a character is able to travel to a parallel world really caught my interest. And the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous. In all honesty though, I did not get out of this book what I really wanted. There was so much about this book that I enjoyed, but I found that the synopsis of the book gave a lot away before I started. This is definitely one I wish I had gone into not knowing what it was about.

What I really loved about this book is that it is so much more than just a science fiction book. A lot of this story is about knowing when to let go after losing someone important to you. Hainsworth really touches on how it feels to lost someone and how you would do everything to have one more moment with that person. She had a beautiful way of writing the story of Cam and Viv, showing how they miss each other and would do anything to have the other back. I really sympathized with each of the characters.

This book left me asking myself questions of what I would do in a situation like this and also really makes me look back on past choices. I really love how Hainsworth touches on the different parallel worlds, showing how one decision can affect a person's life so much. 

I did feel like this book started out very slow and that there wasn't as much build up to the ending as I had thought there would be (since it was kind of given away in the synopsis). Though there were quite a few interesting twists in the story that kept me reading. There was a lot to this story that kept me wanting to read it, but at the same time I just didn't find myself surprised by what was happening which was disappointing for me.

All in all for a debut author this was a well done story and Hainsworth really connects with her readers with her subject matter. I only wish that there had been a little more to the story and that it wasn't all given away in the synopsis, I would have liked it more if I hadn't known what was going to happen.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: The Sweet Girl by Annabel Lyon

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

Release Date: September 18, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A bold and captivating new novel of ancient Greece, from the celebrated, award-winning author of The Golden Mean.

Pythias is her father's daughter, with eyes his exact shade of unlovely, intelligent grey. A slave to his own curiosity and intellect, Aristotle has never been able to resist wit in another--even in a girl child who should be content with the kitchen, the loom and a life dictated by the womb. And oh his little Pytho is smart, able to best his own students in debate and match wits with a roomful of Athenian philosophers. Is she a freak or a harbinger of what women can really be? Pythias must suffer that argument, but she is also (mostly) secure in her father's regard.

But then Alexander dies a thousand miles from Athens, and sentiment turns against anyone associated with him, most especially his famous Macedonian-born teacher. Aristotle and his family are forced to flee to Chalcis, a garrison town. Ailing, mourning and broken in spirit, Aristotle soon dies. And his orphaned daughter, only 16, finds out that the world is a place of superstition, not logic, and that a girl can be played upon by gods and goddesses, as much as by grown men and women. To safely journey to a place in which she can be everything she truly is, Aristotle's daughter will need every ounce of wit she possesses, but also grace and the capacity to love.

My Review:

I want to start out by saying that you do not need to read THE GOLDEN MEAN to understand what happens in THE SWEET GIRL (I was a little afraid of that when I started). Though I do believe it could be useful at times, it definitely is not necessary. I have always been a huge fan of historical fiction and I'm always interested when I find books like THE SWEET GIRL. I studied a bit of philosophy in university and it was always so captivating.

This story was absolutely enthralling, I loved how Lyon was able to describe Pythias and her relationship with her father, Aristotle. I found myself really connecting with that part because I have such a close relationship with my dad, we do everything together. It was interesting to focus the story on Pythias in a time where women had not rights, I found this to be interesting, watching what Pythias must go through following her father's death. She must try to keep herself safe in a time where most everyone is against her because of her beliefs.

The one thing that was a little disappointing was how short the book ended up being. I felt like I wanted more from the story, I just felt like once Aristotle dies everything seems to move so quickly and then the story just ends.

Lyon does a beautiful job getting her readers to sympathize for Pythias during her journey. She puts herself through everything imaginable just to keep herself and her remaining family afloat. Pythias must deal with the worst of every situation following her father's death and at times it is unsettling seeing what she must do.

Lyon has beautiful writing, and does an excellent job with her research of the time period of her novel. She is able to keep her readers interested in the story as a whole, and even though she writes a perfect ending, I feel like the story itself is too short. I am interested to read THE GOLDEN MEAN to see how everything began.


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