Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: Innocence by Dean Koontz

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

Release Date: December 10, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen.

She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found.

But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.

In Innocence, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz blends mystery, suspense, and acute insight into the human soul in a masterfully told tale that will resonate with readers forever.

My Review:

So I completely admit that I am usually more of a Stephen King fan but I have liked a lot of Dean Koontz stories as well, he definitely knows how to write creepy. Reading about this new book of his got me interested, it sounds different than his books that I have read in the past, and honestly after finishing this book I can say it was a great story that makes you think.

The title depicts the book amazingly well, there is so much innocence especially the lives of the characters. I really loved how these two characters came together and learned from one another. Their relationship is an interesting one as they each set parameters for the other, one hates to be touched and the other seen, and yet they work together in a troubled time working around these issues. In a way they are both troubled and that's really what brings them together is their problems with the outside world and how they are used to seclusion, and now they understand how to rely on someone else after being alone.

Though I found this book not to have the horror that I was thinking a Dean Koontz book would have he still adds creepiness to the story. The female character's enemies will stop at nothing to get to her, and the way Koontz writes these characters will give many readers shivers thinking about the kind of people they are. I honestly found myself disturbed at times with the way these people thought and the things they did to get what they wanted.

Dean Koontz uses this book to really look into the human soul and really show how the way people look does not always define who they are. Addison is such an amazing character, it takes some time to really understand everything about him, the story switches back and forth from his past to present, to really help readers see what he has been through in his life. Through so much trouble, Addison still wants to see the good in people and he is such an innocent person.

This is one book I would recommend people to read, it is not a normal Dean Koontz book (at least that I am used to, though I will check out more of his past ones now). This book has a lot of heart to it and characters that you love despite the hate that follows them. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review: Broken by C.J. Lyons

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 325
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley/Edelweiss

Release Date: November 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now... or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

My Review:

I finished this book a few days ago and am still on the fence about how I really feel about everything that happened. The one thing I really liked about the book was how CJ Lyons shows the difficulties of integrating into society when you have been isolated for so long. She really brings out the hardships of high school, and yet in a way I felt that Scarlet had things a little easy, and how quickly she made friends.

That was the one little downside to this book, is that everything happened so fast, the timeline of the story just seemed a little off to me. I really felt that everything Scarlet went through in this book would have happened over a bit longer period of time (the entire book is placed in a one week period). That one little thing made the book a little hard to believe. But other than that I do think this was an interesting story.

I really liked how the characters all were troubled and had this group (the peer mentoring group) to really help each other through things. I think this is one things schools need more of is peers helping peers, it's easier to open up to someone your own age and I can see why the friendships Scarlet makes happen so quickly. They begin to rely on each other and really help one another through the tough times and it's great to see how they help Scarlet and make her feel that even though she is ill she can still be a somewhat normal teenager.

I was a little surprised at the turn of events that the story took as we learn more about Scarlet's illness and it really kept me interested to see how things would turn out. Though when some information came out I had guessed it earlier on and I think it took a little too long for it to be fully revealed. The book definitely takes a dark and intriguing turn keeping readers turning the pages to learn more about Scarlet's life.

It was interesting to see so much medical terminology throughout the book. I think CJ Lyons shows that children with illnesses really begin to understand a lot more about that and when it comes to the sciences of their bodies they know a lot more than people would think. This was an interesting story that kept me reading until I finished but I do really feel that the timeline was too short for everything to have happened the way it did. I'm very much on the fence of my feelings for this book, where a part of me liked  it, a small part of me found a few tiny issues that kept me from really loving the story. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: Internment Chronicles #1
Pages: 356
Received: Received a copy from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 1, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

My Review:

I have been really interested to read Lauren DeStefano's newest book, I've heard so many great things, and though I didn't absolutely love the Wither series, there was a lot that I can see Lauren going places. This book sounded different and very interesting, kind of dystopian with a bit of a different twist to it. I can say that I enjoyed this book a lot more and am really excited about what comes next in the series.

I really liked the characters in this book, especially Morgan. I love characters that question everything around them, it shows that they are intelligent and are aware of their surroundings. They don't just automatically believe that everything is as it should be. Morgan grew up always asking questions, but when things start to go wrong on their island she starts to see things differently. She starts investigating her so called perfect life and begins to find more flaws that just make her long for the ground even more.

I really liked the secondary characters as well in this book, they all had a reason for being there. The relationship between Pen and Morgan is great, two complete opposite girls who become best friends and share everything with one another. Pen is the one who helps to ground Morgan a little more when she goes off on tangents, and yet at the same time they help each other get into trouble as well. Also the relationship with Basil, I'm not usually a fan of books that pick out the betrothed of the character for them, but I think in this instance it worked for the book (we will see where the rest of the series go though). These two grew up together, and you can really see the love they feel for one another, especially when Morgan finally beings to trust Basil with some secrets, this is a relationship that you can see happening even  if they weren't put together.

I do think that there still needs to be a little more background to really understand the history of Internment, there is mention of it in the beginning of the book and about the gods throughout, but I wanted a little more explanation about the gods. At times I felt like I was missing something (and then again maybe I read over it as well). The ending definitely leaves me wanting to come back for more to find out how Morgan and her group will deal with everything that has happened. I can say that I think Lauren has definitely grown in her writing with this story and I hope the story keeps going at the rate it is. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: Hereafter by Kate Brian

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Shadowlands #2
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley/Edelweiss

Release Date: October 1, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Rory Miller thought her life was over when a serial killer set his sights on her and forced her into witness protection. But a fresh start on Juniper Landing Island was exactly what she and her family needed. For the first time in years she and her sister hang out at the beach, gossip about boys, and party together. She's also made friends with a local clique--including a magnetic and mysterious boy named Tristan.

But Rory's world is about to change again. Picturesque Juniper Landing isn't what it seems. The truth about the swirling fog that rolls in each morning, the bridge that leads to nowhere, and those beautiful locals who seem to watch Rory's every move is more terrifying than being hunted by Steven Nell. And all Rory ever wanted was the truth. Even if it means learning that she can never go home again. From the best-selling author of the Private and Privilege series comes the second novel in a heart-stopping trilogy about a girl who must pick up the pieces after the only life she's ever known ends.

My Review: *Possible spoilers for book 1*

When SHADOWLANDS came out last year, I was so taken with the story, it was creepy and really something that kept you going. The ending left me so confused though and that is why I needed to come back and read the sequel. I'm feeling a little unsure of where this story has gone and how things will end in the next book.

Rory Miller's life has been completely turned on it's head after the big reveal at the end of SHADOWLANDS, and now she must deal with the truth of this new place and her new role. The thing that I missed in this book was the real creepy parts, book one left me looking back a lot because I could almost feel some of the things that were happening. Now I'm not saying that creepy things don't happen in this book because there is still something laying behind the scenes, but I just didn't have the same feelings as I did with the first book.

I did really like the mystery that this book has, as Rory learns the history of Juniper Landing and all about her new friends, weird things begin happening making Rory's life even more difficult. Kate Brian definitely has an intriguing thought process with this story about a life after death and how to move on. Rory is trying hard to adapt to her new life and as she begins to get the hang of things more trouble finds her (seriously Rory is someone who must be a magnet to disastrous situations...)

Rory's emotions are all over the place in this book and the smallest thing really affects her, which lets be honest if I found out some of the things that she did I would be freaking out a lot too. This book shows us a lot more of the residents of Juniper Landing and what they do for this town. I really love seeing more of Krista, she is so much fun.

I did find that the ending came on too fast and I just wanted a little more rather than to end it on such a huge thing like was done. Though I can see myself coming back to finish this series to find out what Rory will do next to help people in Juniper Landing from this new disaster. I'm glad that this book doesn't fall in the second book category where it seems like a filler, so much does happen in this book, but it makes me scared to know where Kate Brian will end things.

I enjoyed this book but I still don't think it holds anything to the first book. I will be interested to see what will happen with Rory next and how she will get out of the new trouble she is in. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: The Cartographer of No Man's Land by P.S Duffy

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley/Edelweiss

Release Date: October 29, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When his beloved brother-in-law goes missing at the Front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and find him. Assured a position as a cartographer in London, he arrives overseas and is instead sent directly into the trenches, where he experiences the visceral shock of battle. Meanwhile, at home, his son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a fishing village torn by grief and a rising suspicion of anyone who expresses less than patriotic enthusiasm for the war. With the intimacy of The Song of Achilles and the epic scope of The Invisible Bridge, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land offers a lyrical and lasting portrayal of the First World War and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home.

My Review:

As I've made obvious in the past, I am such a huge fan of historical fiction books, but I feel that so many of them are about the same time periods, and are all very similar. I can happily say that The Cartographer of No Man's Land is different. This story revisits the Canadians part in World War I and the battle at Vimy Ridge, but what I really think brings this story to the forefront is the way that it shows both sides of a man at war and the family he has left behind.

P.S. Duffy has a very detailed and imaginative story here, Angus decides to go off to the war to help find out about his brother-in-law, who has gone missing in action. He believes he will be behind the lines drawing maps but is instead placed into the trenches where his whole life changes as he must deal with being in the heart of the battle. I really loved reading about Angus' progress as he tries to find the one person who has made such a difference on his life, and as he meets all these new people that change his life.

It was also interesting to see what happened to those that were left behind and how they dealt with being alone. Angus' son Simon Peter has a very difficult time back home as people are becoming restless and anyone with the wrong view is under suspicion. Everyone has to be careful about who they discuss their thoughts with, and Simon Peter is a very trusting person. He becomes close with his teacher who has a different view on the war and how those left back should act with one another.

I will say I was more intrigued by the sections of Angus as he fights to find any information about his brother-in-law. His main reason for going is to help bring his wife some good news because of how close they are with one another. He defies his pacifist father and their relationship becomes more strained, as well as the relationship between Simon Peter and his grandfather.

This is a beautiful book about how the war changed people both there and at home and the way people had to learn to live on their own. There are many amazing secondary characters that Angus meets while in the war that really test his own faith in things and push him to work harder. I had a few troubles along the way where I felt like the story was taking a bit of time to get somewhere, but in the end I think it all worked perfectly to tell a great story. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 304
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley/Edelweiss

Release Date: September 10, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.

My Review:

I really loved this story, this is a story about someone wishing for family and a place that they can really call home. William has grown up in an orphanage for the last five years and all he has is these small memories of his mother, but after seeing a woman in a movie, he believes that he knows his mother is alive and is that woman. Along with the story of William finding Willow, we also get Williow's story as she becomes famous and the difficulties she went through.

What really caught my attention in this book was the relationship between William and his friend Charlotte, I loved the way Charlotte pushed William at times, and how she always stood by him. I really loved their interactions and how William would do so much for Charlotte, he runs away because it's what she really wants. Her faith in his belief that Willow Frost is his mother is what keeps William going. These two navigate the streets of Seattle on their own and it is not always a fun time, there are many scary areas at this time

Then we have Willow's story interspersed in parts of the book, this was a difficult part to read, following everything that she had to deal with. But I believe that much of her past shows some of her strength, she loses so much and yet she comes out ahead and works hard to be herself. I found I was more intrigued with Willow's story of her past more than William finding out about his family connections.

I love that this isn't a story about romantic relationships but it's about finding out about your history and learning the things people do for love and to save those most important to them. Jamie Ford really brings out the emotions in this story, you see how William feels not knowing anything about his family and how much he doesn't know about himself because of this. William begins to understand what Willow went through and why her life has changed so much and what she had to do. This is definitely a beautiful story about surviving through tough times and really knowing about family and finding a place that is home. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

Publisher: Bond Street Books
Pages: 328
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who "could go to the good or the bad." And indeed, although William Bellman's life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife's fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a mysterious business called "Bellman & Black" . . .

My Review:

This is a story about William Bellman, who at the beginning is just a small boy and we follow him as he grows up and his life changes. William is someone who people see as a hard worker and very smart and he shows that off well, he impresses his superiors at work and eventually he takes the business higher. Throughout his life though, there is a ghost that is following him and yet you are not sure who this person is, he is referred to as Mr. Black.

This Mr. Black gives the entire book a great creepy feel to it, and I loved the mystery around him. William's life changes through many deaths, he loses almost everyone he loves and after an interesting proposition from Mr. Black, William works hard to make this business happen. I love seeing William's determination to make something successful. He works around the clock and is always there to help, his life ends up revolving around his work.

This book really shows how one person can rise through a lot of adversity and really make a name for himself. He comes up with such a smart way to make money, this business "Bellman & Black" is one that is easy to cash in on. It's impressive how hard William works to have everything and in a way he does get everything that matters. Readers get to see William enjoy a successful life though he misses out on a lot because of the time he must put into his work.

The ending really brought things full circle, I will admit I would have liked a little more of this Mr. Black but I think his presence really brought out William's character more. This mysterious Mr. Black made William work harder, I admire William for his work ethic, but he is someone who needs to understand the difference between work and life and not merge the two. He ends up living at work and missing out on his daughter's life, and eventually his work begins to resemble his life.

I really enjoyed the mysterious aspect of this book but I wanted a little more to the creepy and to Mr. Black. Though his presence is always lurking he was just that, a presence. All in all, this was definitely an interesting book and I think in a way William is a brilliant character. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Paper Gods #1
Pages: 326
Received: Received an e-copy from the publisher through NetGalley/Edelweiss

Release Date: June 25, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

My Review:

I was really intrigued with this book, the idea of drawings coming to life definitely caught my attention, and when I saw that this was set in Japan it made me even more excited to read the book. It took me awhile to finally get around to it, but I have now finished it and I'm a little unsure about this book. There were a lot of great things about it, but I found it took awhile to really get into things with this story.

I think Amanda Sun really kept readers wondering with this book, it took awhile to learn about the characters. I will say as a beginning to a series she left a lot open to have people continue reading what comes next. I wasn't the biggest fan of Katie at times throughout the book though, she is an interesting character but I found her decisions at times stupid. She is tough and fights back but at times it felt that she was trying to act tougher than she really was and got herself in some really bad situations.

Tomohiro was a great character, he had an attitude that brought some humour and yet he also had an emotional side that took some time to come out, and only with those he really trusted. If I were someone like Katie, I would definitely be curious about Tomohiro, he has so many secrets and he has this air about him that makes you want to know more about him.

I just felt that there were things in this book that dragged along and it took too much time for things to be unveiled, and then before I knew it the book was over. This book is really more about introducing readers to the world of INK and really just seeing the characters begin to understand this danger they are in, rather than being thrown into danger right away.

I also really liked that the relationship between Katie and Tomohiro grows, not that things don't happen exceedingly fast still (they definitely do) but these two learn a lot about each other that helps the relationship along. After the ending of Book 1, I would like to see what will happen next, though at the same time I'm not yet completely invested in this series. I'm hoping that we get more information on Katie in the next book and understand more about her involvement in all of this. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Divergent #3
Pages: 526
Received: Own copy

Release Date: October 22, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

My Review:

I know there are a lot of reviews flying around about this book, but I just felt that I wanted to throw my two cents out there too ;) It has been some time since I finished reading this book, but I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how I really felt about what happened.

I loved DIVERGENT, and I enjoyed INSURGENT, but nothing prepared me for everything that happened in the final installment of this series. I had a few ideas of what would happen, but I didn't actually expect the actual ending to really come about. I found there was a lot of information that came out in this book that explained a lot about how the factions came to be. For me, I found myself getting confused with a lot of the ideas of the people on the outside, some of the explanations made me really have to re-read some things to understand exactly what was going on.

What I really loved about this series is the way the characters have grown since the beginning, especially Tris. I think in this book Tris is a completely different character and she has learned a lot about herself and others around her. The new ideas that come out change her views on the world but she is still the same person who loves those around her for what they are no matter what. Four got on my nerves a little bit with the way he acted when all this new information came out. I felt that at times he acted childish (in some ways I could understand, but it seemed that he was having a temper tantrum at one point).

And of course you can't not write a review of this book without talking about the ending. I know many people were very angry, which was a bit of a spoiler and gave me an idea of what was going to happen, but as I said... I still wasn't truly prepared for it, and yet when the incident didn't happen, I can honestly say that I wasn't angry and I actually understood why it had to happen for this story. For me, the ending really made me love the story because it gave me a different view on some of the characters and their motivations. I can see how the entire series was really leading up to that one major event with the way the characters acted.

Though there were some confusing things about this book, this may have been my favourite book of the series with the way things ended. I truly believe Veronica Roth spun everything in such a way that makes sense to me and though it was emotional it needed to happen. I'm sad to see this amazing series end. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Perfect by Rachel Joyce

Publisher: Bond Street Books
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of the international bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, comes another exquisite and emotionally resonant novel about the search for the truth and unconditional love.

On a foggy spring morning in 1972, twelve-year-old Byron Hemming and his mother are driving to school in the English countryside. On the way, in a life-changing two seconds, an accident occurs. Or does it? Byron is sure it happened, but his mother, sitting right next to him in the car, has no reaction to it. Over the course of the days and weeks that follow, Byron embarks on a journey to discover what really happened--or didn't--that fateful morning when everything changed. It is a journey that will take him--a loveable and cloistered twelve-year-old boy with a loveable and cloistered twelve-year-old boy's perspective on life--into the murkier, more difficult realities of the adult world, where people lie, fathers and mothers fight without words, and even unwilling boys must become men. Byron will have to reconcile the dueling realities of that summer, a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit and the power of compassion.

My Review:

I have heard so many amazing things about Rachel Joyce's writing, and this book seemed like a perfect story to curl up and read with a nice cup of tea. I really loved where this story went, this is a story about a boy whose life completely changes in two seconds. You never really think about how much can change in such a short amount of time, but after reading this story you really see how quickly something could happen.

There are so many different lives affected by this one incident, the novel switches perspective between Byron and a character named Jim, years after. As the story progresses these two narratives begin to come together and you see how they connect. It's interesting to see how after this event, Byron's whole life changes and revolves around finding out the truth of what happened that fateful day. In a way this one event causes Byron to grow up so much faster than he needed to, and really shows what he will do for his mother.

I really enjoyed that though Byron is an awkward kid but his friendship with James is such an intriguing part of the book. I loved the way the talked with one another and how James really helps Byron through so much. The dynamic they have is adorable, and I really loved their scenes together. James is completely opposite of Byron and yet these two fit so well together.

The parents are very damaged and Byron begins to see the reality of the lives of the adults around him, and it gives him a different perspective on life. Byron's mother was the one character who I just wanted more of, it is her relationship with Byron that really pushes this story forward and that really changes as the novel moves on.

Rachel Joyce has a way to her writing that really makes me love her characters, Byron is so special and I want to be the one who takes care of him. How these two seconds change his life is so hard to get through as you see him struggle with so much. The ending is amazing though and really brings this story together. I really wanted a little more to one scene, but I can't really talk about it without giving too much away. Altogether this is a beautiful story with characters that really stick with you in the end. I can't wait to read more from Rachel Joyce!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: Inheritance by Malinda Lo

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Adaptation #2
Pages: 480
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 24, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The triangular spaceship hovered motionless in the sky above Reese Holloway’s house, as inscrutable as a black hole. It had seemed like a good idea when they were inside: to tell the truth about what happened to them at Area 51. It didn’t seem like such a good idea now.

Reese and David are not normal teens—not since they were adapted with alien DNA by the Imria, an extraterrestrial race that has been secretly visiting Earth for decades. Now everyone is trying to get to them: the government, the Imria, and a mysterious corporation that would do anything for the upper hand against the aliens.

Beyond the web of conspiracies, Reese can’t reconcile her love for David with her feelings for her ex-girlfriend Amber, an Imrian. But her choice between two worlds will play a critical role in determining the future of humanity, the Imria’s place in it, and the inheritance she and David will bring to the universe.

In this gripping sequel to Adaptation, Malinda Lo brings a thoughtful exploration of adolescence, sexuality, and “the other” to a science fiction thriller that is impossible to put down.

My Review:

I absolutely adored ADAPTATION when it came out last year, it was such a great concept and the ending left me wanting more, so when I had the chance to read INHERITANCE I was excited. INHERITANCE picks up exactly where book one left off, as Reese and David are preparing to give a press conference on their experience at Area 51.

I loved the detail that Malinda Lo goes into in this book and really makes you think more about what things are being hidden. Everyone in this book has secrets and I love seeing how Reese and David try to navigate through things together, only truly trusting each other with everything. Their relationship grows a lot in this book. Readers really understand a lot more about Reese and I love seeing why she has difficulties with so much.

You learn so much more about the Imrian race and what brought them to Earth. They were an interesting race and I think Malinda really made them real by giving such a detailed history. I was really intrigued with the characters and how they tried to help Reese and David learn more about their new abilities as well as teach them to master them.

There is also still the fallout between Reese and Amber happening around all this. Their relationship is very strained because of all the lies, and it makes things very difficult for Reese because as much as she doesn't want to she still cares for her. What I really loved is that Reese is dealing with issues that normal teenagers must face on top of this supposed government conspiracy and experiments.

This book was just as awesome as the first one, there are many more intense things that happen to Reese and David, and yet they stick together and help each other. I'm a little unsure with how I feel about the ending of this book, on one hand I loved the way certain aspects of the characters lives were described and we see what they decide to do with their lives, but I felt like I needed something else (though I can't put my finger on exactly what).

All in all I absolutely love this series and am sad to see it end, Malinda Lo created such an intriguing and heart pounding story, with characters that you can't help but love despite some of their downfalls. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Publisher: Ecco
Pages: 608
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Moving between the dazzling world of courtesans in turn of the century Shanghai, a remote Chinese mountain village, and the rough-hewn streets of nineteenth-century San Francisco, Amy Tan's sweeping new novel maps the lives of three generations of women connected by blood and history-and the mystery of an evocative painting known as "The Valley of Amazement."

Violet is one of the most celebrated courtesans in Shanghai, a beautiful and intelligent woman who has honed her ability to become any man's fantasy since her start as a "Virgin Courtesan" at the age of twelve. Half-Chinese and half-American, she moves effortlessly between the East and the West. But her talents belie her private struggle to understand who she really is and her search for a home in the world. Abandoned by her mother, Lucia, and uncertain of her father's identity, Violet's quest to truly love and be loved will set her on a path fraught with danger and complexity-and the loss of her own daughter.

Lucia, a willful and wild American woman who was once herself the proprietress of Shanghai's most exclusive courtesan house, nurses her own secret wounds, which she first sustained when, as a teenager, she fell in love with a Chinese painter and followed him from San Francisco to Shanghai. Her search for penance and redemption will bring her to a startling reunion with Flora, Violet's daughter, and will shatter all that Violet believed she knew about her mother.

Spanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement is a deeply moving narrative of family secrets, the legacy of trauma, and the profound connections between mothers and daughters, that returns readers to the compelling territory Amy Tan so expertly mapped in The Joy Luck Club. With her characteristic wisdom, grace, and humor, she conjures a story of the inheritance of love, its mysteries and senses, its illusions and truths

My Review:

I love books revolving around families and what a journey does Amy Tan take readers on in this book. This is a very long book but it takes place over such a large span of years and really brings the characters to life. I really appreciated the length of this book because I really got to know Violet and see her grow and learn more about herself as she deals with a lot of bad luck.

After losing her mother, Violet has to learn to stand on her own two feet and she is thrown into a dark part of the world of Shanghai. With some help from an old friend, Violet grows and starts out on her own quest for love, and she learns that not everything is perfect. As events happen, Violet begins to understand what her own mother may have gone through and she begins to forgive this woman who she has not seen in years fro the mistakes she made.

Amy Tan brings out how difficult it was back in the early 1900's to be half Chinese and half-American, they are not received well and it greatly affects Violet's life when she learns the truth about her heritage. I loved Violet and her approach to things, she is very strong willed and always has her mind set about what she will do. She goes through life wanting approval from people, she has had difficulties truly believing in love because she is not really sure how to show it.

What I really enjoy is how we get a view of both Violet and her life in Shanghai, and also we get a view of what brought Violet's mother Lulu to Shanghai in the first place. I think learning about Violet's mother teaches us a lot behind Violet's character. Amy Tan really uses this story to show a beautiful connection between mothers and daughters, and what learning to love can show us about life. The ending was absolutely beautiful, and really brings the story together, as all these reunions begin to take place and Violet finally learns about love and letting the walls down so that people are able to really see her.

For more information on Amy Tan and The Valley of Amazement, check out the Harper Collins Canada website.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 272
Received: Received an e-copy from the publisher through Edelweiss/NetGalley

Release Date: November 12, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief--and a page-turner that will touch your soul--Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

Readers of The Five People You Meet in Heaven will recognize the warmth and emotion so redolent of Albom's writing, and those who haven't yet enjoyed the power of his storytelling, will thrill at the discovery of one of the best-loved writers of our time.

My Review:

I think I will always love a Mitch Albom book, his stories just really let me think about a lot of things in life. This book was definitely an emotional one for me, and I think it is one of my favourite stories of his. This book tells the story of a group of people from a small town that begin receiving phone calls from loved ones who have passed away in the past few years.

What would you want to hear if you could talk to someone one last time, someone that was taken too soon from you, what would you want to say? This book deals with a lot of those emotions, and really has the belief of an afterlife, that these people are in a better place. I love all the emotions that you get from these characters, the different ways each of them react, some believing and others not.

Mitch Albom describes perfectly how well the media takes a hold of something and runs with it as far and long as possible, and how people will react to the idea of heaven. Mitch shows the views of people from all over the world, and from different religions coming together, some to celebrate this miracle and others who believe it to be a hoax. Mitch shows all the different religious members coming together to try and find an answer to this supposed miracle.

I really enjoyed how the story affected Sully, a man who has recently lost his wife and is now trying to help his son through this loss as well. This miracle seems like a hoax to him and he devotes all his time to finding out the truth. I was really touched with how the story progressed and I was quite shocked at the ending, and yet it really made me feel for what these people have gone through.

I was weary after reading Mitch Albom's last book, but I think this book has taken readers back to what Mitch is best at writing about. This is a beautiful book, but I can absolutely say it is not for everyone. Mitch Albom really tends towards the more religious and this book is about believing that those that we have lost are in a better place and are happy. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally

Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 528
Received: Received an copy from the publisher through Edelweiss/NetGalley

Release Date: August 20, 2013

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of Schindler’s List, the epic, unforgettable story of two sisters from Australia, both trained nurses, whose lives are transformed by the cataclysm of the first World War.

In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front.

Yet amid the carnage, Naomi and Sally Durance become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger, as well as the hostility they encounter from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humor, and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of the remarkable women they serve alongside. In France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their precious independence — if only they all survive.

At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings World War I to vivid, concrete life from an unusual perspective. A searing and profoundly moving tale, it pays tribute to men and women of extraordinary moral resilience, even in the face of the incomprehensible horrors of modern war.

My Review:

I am sad to admit that this is actually the first Thomas Keneally book I have read.... and I did enjoy this story, though I will admit to finding it a little tedious to get through at times. I was really interested in seeing how Keneally wrote about the war in this book, and I can definitely say that he makes you feel a lot about what these two characters go through over the years.

What really caught my attention with this book is that it is the story of two sisters who have gone off to be nurses in the war, so we really see a different side of the story. It's great to see a story that is more about a family relationship, these two girls, Naomi and Sally have not been that close and we really see how their relationship changes as they learn more about one another. Both of these girls go through a lot of trials and tribulations and deal with a lot of prejudices that make their time in the war difficult. Sally and Naomi are two completely different characters that deal with their situations in their own way, and I love that they still try and help one another through things.

The one little thing that made this book difficult was how long it was and at times I felt like things were dragging on a little too much. I think it took a little too long to get through some things, and really explaining the relationships that these sisters have with others as well as one another. The story switches back and forth from both of the sisters' perspectives as they begin different journeys in the war. There were a few times where I felt that the perspectives were similar and I couldn't tell which sister I was with.

The relationships these two sisters make are different and I really loved some of those secondary characters, the guys that the sisters fall for really show their different personalities. I was confused a little about how things were progressing, but I loved how they each saw things in a different way when it came to love.

I did really like the story that Keneally brought to life here despite the little issues I had, I think that he does an amazing job showing this side of the war that people really don't hear a lot about. There are a lot of scary events that happen, and you wonder how these characters were able to really get through it. The one thing that I found interesting is how Keneally has this way of showing that Naomi and Sally have this view of how their lives could have been different if certain situations had ended differently. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 336
Received: Received an copy from the publisher through Edelweiss/NetGalley

Release Date: October 1, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late...

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

My Review:

I'm really loving these historical fiction books that revolve around strong characters in literature, this book reminded me a little of Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado (which was a beautiful book). I found this story intriguing, a side of Edgar Allan Poe that is unique and definitely keeps readers wanting more from the story.

I found parts of this story creepy and Cullen keeps readers wondering about what is really happening behind the scenes. Frances is an interesting character who has a lot to deal with in this book and the way she handles her situation is amazing and makes her such a strong person. Frances wants so much to become a writer to help sustain her and her family, but what readers want is not exactly what Frances can write. Then she meets Edgar Allan Poe and her whole world is changed, he is a disturbed character that no one can truly understand.

The setting of this book is so realistic and brings readers into a group of intelligent people, and it is continually shown throughout by the stimulating conversations that are placed in the story. All of the characters, main and secondary alike add so much to the story that it wouldn't be the same without any of them. But the character of Mrs. Poe is the most intriguing and mysterious.

She is a young girl who is made out to be very naive about the world around her, when you really see that she knows a lot more than many people think. I loved the dark undertone of this book with so many unnatural circumstances happening as the relationship between Edgar and Frances continues. This is one of those stories where there are secrets hidden everywhere that threaten so many people and you never know who is hiding what.

Cullen has written a very dark and yet romantic story here that will definitely be hard to forget in years to come. She has brought Edgar Allan Poe back to life and makes me interested in studying more about his life. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's Time for a Celebration!!

Wow, I can't believe it has been two years that I have been at this!!! Time flies so fast, and I am loving it, I'm still learning a lot about blogging, especially time management, I've been a bit off lately with reviews, with the new magazine I'm helping start, but I'm getting myself back into things!

This has definitely been a great year for me, and a lot of things are changing now. First I'm really excited that Inaccurate Realities is now live, a YA sci-fi short story magazine I helped work on with Christa (More than Just Magic) and Sara (Geek Girl's Book Blog) and we are a week away from our launch party, it's been a hard few months but this project is so much fun and I hope to see it grow more over the years. You can check out the cover of our first issue below... and we are hard at work getting Volume 2 ready for our readers! Also if you are in the Toronto area you should definitely stop by Bakka Pheonix for our launch party! Check out the details here

Another big thing for me is that I have recently started a new job. Sadly, I had to leave the publishing industry at the moment for something a little closer to home (though I am not giving up!!) to save some money. It's been hard especially leaving an amazing co-worker at my last job... It has been a very busy year, but I am really happy to celebrate this milestone with all of you, there have been so many great things over the past two years and I am so happy to still be going strong.

I want to thank all of you, readers for supporting this blog and I hope to be here for quite a few more years to come!! So as a thank you, I have a great giveaway for all of you! One person will win a book of their choice (INT as long as Book Depository ships to you!), and one person will have the chance to win a copy of the first issue of Inaccurate Realities (the awesome magazine I helped start with a few other bloggers!) Check it out below :)

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: The Secrets She Carried by Barbara Davis

Publisher: NAL Trade
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Goodreads Synopsis:

When a young woman returns to North Carolina after a thirty-year absence, she finds that the once grand tobacco plantation she called home holds more secrets than she ever imagined.

Though Peak Plantation has been in her family for generations, Leslie Nichols can’t wait to rid herself of the farm left to her by her estranged grandmother Maggie—and with it the disturbing memories of her mother’s death, her father’s disgrace, and her unhappy childhood. But Leslie isn’t the only one with a claim to Peak.

Jay Davenport, Peak’s reclusive caretaker, has his own reasons for holding onto the land bequeathed to him by Leslie’s grandmother. Before she died, Maggie hinted at a terrible secret surrounding Adele Laveau, a lady’s maid who came to Peak during the 1930s and died under mysterious circumstances. Jay is haunted by Maggie’s story, yet the truth eludes him—until Leslie uncovers a cryptically marked grave on the property.

As they delve into the mystery of Adele’s death, Leslie and Jay discover shocking secrets that extend deep into the roots of Leslie’s family tree—secrets that have the power to alter her life forever.

My Review:

I love books that revolve around family secrets, I find it is always interesting and really shows that at times it shows you a different side to people. This book was all about people carrying secrets and how those secrets affected their past and present lives.

The story goes back and forth between two different stories, the story of Leslie Nichols, who has returned home after being gone for almost 30 years. The other story is Adele's, and eventually these two stories start coming together and we learn more about the history of Peak Plantation. I was really intrigued by Adele's story and found myself enjoying that one much more than Leslie's. I loved Adele's character and I find she really grows up a lot in the novel and tries to get through the mistakes made in her life.

I did feel for Leslie throughout the book as well though, she has dealt with a lot in her life and ends up as an adult with a lot of trust issues (especially when it comes to men). I really like that as she learns more about the history of the Peak, and the many secrets surrounding it, she learns a lot about herself, and slowly she learns how to forgive. I really enjoyed her relationship with Jay and how they help one another out and learn to really open up and live again.

As much as I liked Jay, his story was a little far-fetched for me, I wanted a little more development from him because he is such a big character in the book. I found that when Leslie's father makes an appearance he really overshadowed Jay (maybe the author intended this to happen though...) I think the best part of this book for me was the whole family secret (which is very easy to figure out early on, but it's nice to see the way that it is discovered). I liked that the romance aspect of the book was really on the side compared to learning about the Plantation, I am a huge fan of family books and I definitely think this one is a beautiful family story.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Longbourn by Jo Baker

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

Release Date: October 8, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Pride and Prejudice was only half the story 

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice,the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.

My Review:

I really ended up enjoying this book, it has been awhile since I read Pride and Prejudice, but I loved it, and it's interesting to see a different take on the story. I think Baker took a great approach to this book, and I think it was very well done.

Following the overlooked characters of Pride and Prejudice and seeing how much they could add to the story and that they are important people too. It was interesting to see how these people were treated at that time and how their lives were so different from the ones they took care of. Sarah came to Longbourn as a young girl and has not known much else than what she has learned there, but she is someone who wishes for more and to really be able to see the world outside of this one house, this story is really about her life and how quickly everything can change.

I really enjoyed Jo Baker's writing style throughout this book, she captured the feeling of a Jane Austen novel perfectly (in my opinion). This is a different side of a classic book and still in the same way, the characters act similar. There is still the view of jumping to conclusions about someone before really getting to know them and how things change when you really find out the truth.

I loved this new story behind the doors of the servants and seeing how their lives still have a large effect on the lives of the Bennett family. The great things about this book is that you don't have to read Pride and Prejudice before reading it, but it is definitely an enhanced experience, and they really add to one another. Jo really has you see the other side of things, it's a beautiful story that will make you fall in love with Jane Austen's world all over again.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Pages: 240
Received: Received an ecopy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 27, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

My Review:

Hmm... what to say about this book, the cover really stuck out for me and I was intrigued with the whole female Odysseus idea brought up in the synopsis. Now that I have finished the book I'm still sitting here wondering about what it is exactly that I have just read. In so many ways, this book was beautiful and I loved it, and yet I am confused about the story as well.

I really enjoyed how Francesca Lia Block wrote this story, it was like an evocative adventure and everything is described in such detail that you feel as if you are Penelope. There were so many quotes throughout the book that relate to real life for readers and I wanted to highlight all of them... though one of my favourites was "The true warrior isn't immune to fear. She fights in spite of it." This sums up the main character perfectly!

I love reading a book where the MC is not always strong, and Pen is definitely that type of character. She is someone who continually acknowledges her fear of what is happening and yet fights through it because she is determined to find her family. She is unsure about herself and there are times where she considers just running away to hide.

The only small issue I had was that I felt like I was continually being told and shown any way possible that this is a retelling of The Odyssey. The characters continually reference the book and there are quite a few times where Pen thinks about how this happens in The Odyssey. I just felt like it was a little too much and that I needed to be told this over and over so that I would understand, I was hoping it would be a little more subtle.

This book was very well done, and I really enjoyed the adventures that Pen goes on and the interesting characters we meet along the way. I do wish that there were a few things that were explained a little more that were discussed. But Francesca Lia Block definitely had me engrossed in this tale with her beautiful writing, and I loved being taken into a modern day Odyssey.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #2 (Companion novel)
Pages: 464
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 15, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

My Review:

Dear Diana Peterfreund, please never stop writing your stories. Your characters are all so easy to fall in love with, and the story is beautiful and emotional. These books are hands down my favourite stories and will always have a special place in my heart.

I fell in love very quickly with For Darkness Shows the Stars, and Across A Star-Swept Sea delivers the same kind of story that readers will love just as much. This book is different in many ways, and you don't need to read For Darkness Shows the Stars to understand the story... but you do see some returning characters in this book to tie them together.

I loved the characters in this book, especially Persis. She is a strong character and has a great attitude, I loved the way she was there for the princess and how easily she hid her motivations from everyone around her except for those that helped her. I loved the relationship her and Justen had, they are always unsure about each other and yet grow closer as they learn about each other. Justen on the other hand is a character that is intriguing and yet you are unsure about his motivations and why he is so intent on doing what he was.

 I think Diana Peterfreund does a beautiful job with romance in her books, she keeps you guessing about what is happening between the two characters and she really has the romance grow over the course so that it actually makes sense as to why these two fall in love. This book is very political, and I liked that we got to see both sides of the coin and how it affected the others. I was really interested in the storyline of the princess and how she handled herself amidst all the doubt surrounding her.

This is one book that as soon as I finished it, I hugged it because of how much I loved everything I had just read. Everything about this book was amazing and so much fun to read, and definitely puts Diana Peterfreund high up on my authors I love list! I hope to see more of this world that Diana has created!!

For more information on Diana Peterfreund and ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA check out the HarperCollins Canada website!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 3, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

For fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Sarah Addison Allen, The Wishing Thread is an enchanting novel about the bonds between sisters, the indelible pull of the past, and the transformational power of love.

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

My Review:

Well, what a book this was for me. I was intrigued with the premise of knitting and magic tied together and the cover really stuck out to me as a cute book, but this book had a lot of emotion amidst the cuteness. I was a tad wary because I wasn't sure how a book about knitting would really appeal to me, but this book is so much more than a person who knits, it's really about what brings people together.

The Van Ripper women are always thought of as witches in their little town, and are always on the outside of society and in a way some of them have fled from this town. But when the matriarch, Mariah, passes away it brings the three Van Ripper sisters back together to deal with a lot of issues that have been pushed aside. I feel like there is a lot of back story that slowly comes out, you need to learn about what each of the sisters has been up to for the past few years, and I think that took a lot of the story to do.

I really enjoyed the differences in the sisters and watching their relationship change as they learn more about each other and begin to help each other through their problems. I think I connected with Aubrey the most in this book, she is shy and unsure of herself, except for when she is knitting. I really loved her growth throughout this book the most as she realizes what is most important to her.

Honestly, I had difficulties starting out with this book understanding what was going on and really getting into the knitting storyline. But as the book continues on, I saw that the knitting was kind of a throw into the idea of what in life knits people together... This is a book that is very character driven as they learn to fight together for what they believe in. I fell in love with this story by the end.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: The Storycatcher by Ann Hite

Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: September 10, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Shelly Parker never much liked Faith Dobbins, the uppity way that girl bossed her around. But they had more in common than she knew. Shelly tried to ignore the haints that warned her Faith’s tyrannical father, Pastor Dobbins, was a devil in disguise. But when Faith started acting strange, Shelly couldn’t avoid the past—not anymore.

Critically acclaimed, award-winning author Ann Hite beckons readers back to the Depression-era South, from the saltwater marshes of Georgia’s coast to the whispering winds of North Carolina’s mystical Black Mountain, in a mesmerizing gothic tale about the dark family secrets that come back to haunt us.

My Review:

So when I finally got around to reading this book I completely forgot what the synopsis was and just knew there was something about it that interested me. I really enjoyed the era that this story takes place in and the story was definitely intriguing but it was very slow-going for me. This is a story about learning the family secrets and how those secrets can come back to haunt you.

The one big thing about this book that made it difficult to read for me was the many different characters, there are a lot of different people that have a purpose to this book but I found myself getting confused at how they were all connected in the beginning. There are a lot of haints (ghosts) flying around trying to help unravel the mystery of the Dobbins family secret to help this family from becoming hurt even more.

Though despite how much I was confused I was intrigued with the mystery of this book and what happened to these people that their ghosts are still hanging around. I can definitely say this story was very dark and at some point you don't really want to put the book down because you want to know what is going to happen to everyone.

Even though I found it difficult to follow the many different characters I also found that it added to the build up of the story as the secret slowly begins to unravel and danger starts seeking out certain characters. I think Ann Hite did a beautiful job building the story and having you understand what the characters have gone through, she helps you connect with them. The ending keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering if and what could go wrong.

A lot of the things that are revealed at the end are completely shocking and in my mind changed the whole story. This was definitely an interesting story despite a few hiccups along the way.


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