Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

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

Release Date: April 30, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A charming and laugh-out-loud novel by Lauren Graham, beloved star of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, about an aspiring actress trying to make it in mid-nineties New York City.

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works. Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet. Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.

My Review:

My reaction when I first heard about this book, was "OMG LAUREN GRAHAM WROTE A BOOK! I MUST HAVE IT NO MATTER WHAT IT'S ABOUT." I have such love for Gilmore Girls (I have watched every season so much that I can quote it...) So hearing that she wrote a book, really made my day. I knew this was a name I would be proud to have on my bookshelf... now for her to do a book tour and come to Toronto, I think my year would be made! Okay onto talking about the actual book.

Franny is trying to become an actress in New York City, she has set herself a deadline and if she hasn't achieved her goal by then she will give up. I absolutely loved Franny's character, she was quirky and I loved that she put all this work into achieving her dream. I love a character that I feel I can connect and understand her situation, being young and just out of school trying to get a job. Jobs these days are so hard to find and you just have to keep throwing yourself at whatever you can get until the right thing comes along, and this is what Franny does (within reason).

The secondary characters are just as amazing in this book. Everyone is quirky and I love how they all have different opinions for Franny and keep her from going too far out there. Jane was Franny's voice of reason, helping her to keep her feet on the ground and yet is still her cheerleader, making her believe that the right job will come.

There is also some cute romance in the book, but it doesn't take over the story. This is a story about working towards what you want, and doing something for yourself. There are quite a few times that Franny is ready to give up, believing that she won't make her deadline she has given herself, but she always stays strong (at one point she is compared to the character she is named after from J.D Salinger's Franny and Zooey.

Throughout this entire novel, the one thing that I kept thinking was that I could really hear Lauren Graham's voice in Franny. There was a lot that is reminiscent of the character's you see Lauren play on TV. This is what makes this book even more amazing, it's hard for an author to put so much of themselves in a book that you can recognize them in it, but Lauren is able to do just that.

This book is adorable and a lot of fun, but also it's a story that inspires readers to be like Franny. I was definitely inspired to keep working hard towards what I want. It takes time to achieve your dream and there will be many hurdles in your way, but if you keep trying, one day you will get your start.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Publisher: The Dial Press
Pages: 446
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 23, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose during lunch at one of London’s fanciest restaurants. But when his big question involves a trip abroad, not a trip down the aisle, she’s completely crushed. So when Ben, an old flame, calls her out of the blue and reminds Lottie of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. No formal dates—just a quick march to the altar and a honeymoon on Ikonos, the sun-drenched Greek island where they first met years ago.

Their family and friends are horrified. Fliss, Lottie’s older sister, knows that Lottie can be impulsive—but surely this is her worst decision yet. And Ben’s colleague Lorcan fears that this hasty marriage will ruin his friend’s career. To keep Lottie and Ben from making a terrible mistake, Fliss concocts an elaborate scheme to sabotage their wedding night. As she and Lorcan jet off to Ikonos in pursuit, Lottie and Ben are in for a honeymoon to remember, for better . . . or worse.

My Review:

So let me be honest, I got this book because it's Sophie Kinsella... I will read anything she writes, all her books are so light-hearted and a great read when you're looking for a pick me up. So when I heard she had a new book out, I jumped at the chance to read it. Wedding Night was exactly what I would expect from Sophie Kinsella, a lot of humour and the most awkward things that would probably never happen in real life happening.

I have to say that I was really excited that some of this book would be taking place on a Greek island, I love books set in such romantic places (somewhere where I would love to visit). It wasn't until halfway through the book that we actually came to the islands though, and I was hoping for a little more adventure on the island, rather than these two at the hotel for the most part. I will say though, that I loved the descriptions of the beaches and it made me want summer so much more.

The characters of this book are different from many of Sophie's other characters, for the most part they all got on my nerves for one reason or another. None of these characters had that great of an attitude, but I think the way that these characters mixed together made the story enjoyable despite not liking them. Lottie is the typical main character, she has a tendency to go off the rails after a break up and then do the most ridiculous thing, her latest being getting married to someone she hasn't seen for fifteen years. The book goes back and forth between the points of view of Lottie and Fliss.

Fliss is Lottie's older sister who has always been taking care of Lottie because their parents weren't really in the picture when they were younger. So when Lottie goes off the rails and decides to marry this random guy no one has met, Fliss jumps to action trying to do anything to stop their amazing wedding night and talk some sense into Lottie. For me, I could see where Fliss was coming from, she has a whole back story dealing with divorce and she doesn't want to see her sister go through the hardships of it. I have to say that some of the ridiculous things that are done to keep Lottie and Ben from having their wedding night are quite amusing, though at times I felt like it went over the top and no one would try some of those things. There is one point where peanut oil is used so that Lottie will have an allergic reaction (that's just cruel).

I knew where this book would end, but I thought a lot of it was cute and the ending was just adorable and had me giggling. I won't say that this is my favourite of Sophie Kinsella's books because I think there were quite a few times that it went over the top, but if you're a fan of her writing, you will definitely enjoy this cute story of finding out how to really find love.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 416
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: October 16, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.

My Review:

This book started out very similar to a lot of other teen books out there... a normal girl (Darcy) who's not the most popular at school meets this gorgeous dark haired guy (with a motorcycle, Conn) and gets a weird feeling about him, and that's when Darcy realizes that she is something special. I have to say it took me awhile to read this book, I just wasn't interested in the beginning, it seemed like something I had read before. But then something happened and it was like a switch was flipped and I was really interested in the book (I'd probably say it happened around the time the alternate world was introduced... I love books with alternate worlds).

Darcy was an interesting character, she was found on the steps of a fire house at 5 years old and has been in and out of foster homes since then. She doesn't remember anything about her past, except for these brief flashes she has every so often. Darcy is determined to learn about her past, even more so when she finds out about this alternate world and what her place in it really is. What really stood out in this book was the friendships that Darcy has made where she is. These three friends are amazing secondary characters, and are always there for Darcy, it's like when she can't speak for herself they are there for her.

I was definitely intrigued by this alternate world, history is different because the Great Chicago Fire never happened there. I think Rutkoski did a great job explaining the history and how this tear between the alternate worlds happened, which is definitely important in a book like this.

The romance in this story is what got on my nerves a little, it seemed a little over the top at times to me personally. There was somewhat of a love triangle going on in the beginning, but I will say that one cleared up pretty quickly. I actually enjoyed that Darcy stuck up for herself when one of the guys started to become pushy towards her. But there still seemed to be something that developed a bit too quickly (though at least they spent a lot of time together before anything happened).

I really loved the ending, everything came together in such a great way, and one of the greatest things is that Darcy learns something about herself... as much as she was trying to find out about her family in the book, she finally realizes that family is what you make it out to be.

This is one book that if you stick it out it is enjoyable and takes readers on a fun ride. Despite the beginning seeming cliché, I enjoyed how Rutkoski surprised me with the alternate world and the history.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

Publisher: Ecco
Pages: 432
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 23, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope is an unconventional and passionately romantic love story that is as breathtaking and wondrous as The Time Traveler's Wife and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

During WWII, teenager Evelyn Roe is sent to manage the family farm in rural North Carolina, where she finds what she takes to be a badly burned soldier on their property. She rescues him, and it quickly becomes clear he is not a man...and not one of us. The rescued body recovers at an unnatural speed, and just as fast, Evelyn and Adam fall deeply in love. In The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, Rhonda Riley reveals the exhilarating, terrifying mystery inherent in all relationships: No matter how deeply we love someone, and no matter how much we will sacrifice for them, we can only know them so well...

My Review:

So this book, wow, I will try to keep my gushing down but I just absolutely loved every part of this book. This book is about the relationship between Adam and Evelyn, and even though this is compared to The Time Traveler's Wife there is no time travel but there is a unique gift that makes this book interesting, and I believe that it is the love story that connects these two books. This is a story about a love that knows no boundaries. I loved Rhonda Riley's writing style, she is very descriptive and brings out a lot of emotions, which is a whole other part to this book.

I found the book started out a little slow, which for me I enjoyed. I was able to take my time to really get to know and understand the characters. I went into this book wanting to take it slow and take every little bit of it in, and that's how I started reading, but then there was a point that I just couldn't stop reading and I needed more of these characters. I loved following Evelyn on her journey to independence and from there learning to fall in love. I loved Evelyn's character, she was strong and able to care for a farm on her own with little help.

The love story is what really drew me into this book. As soon as Evelyn meets Adam you know there is something unusual about him, but the way they grow together and become a part of each other is beautiful. They have an amazing relationship and you can see how much they love each other (the reader is constantly reminded of their love, a little too much at times). They gave each other strength and worked well together on everything. This is a story of a friendship that turned into a loving relationship.

I found that at one point in the book (a little past the halfway point), there is this emotional event that happens and from there I felt like a wall broke and everything for the rest of the book was emotional and I was in tears with every little thing. What I loved was how Adam and Evelyn coped through all this, and how they stood by each other.

I loved how Rhonda wrote about the emotions of these characters, specifically Adam and his daughters. I can't go into detail without giving away the story but I found it beautiful how they can express certain emotions, and I felt that Rhonda really brought that out so that readers could feel it too. I think the ending of this book really brought out all my emotions, but in a way it was a perfect ending for this story.

I really just want everyone to experience this book and the love that I felt for it. It definitely is up there with THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE because of the love and emotions, as well as that little bit of the supernatural. This book is enchanting, and such an amazing debut! I can definitely see this book going on the re-read shelf (when I have time).

If you would like more information on The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope and Rhonda Riley, you can find it at the Harper Collins Canada website

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books
Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Pages: 385
Received: Borrowed from Christa at More than Just Magic

Release Date: April 2, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

My Review:

GRAVE MERCY was one of my favourite books last year, so much happened and readers were given a kickass main character, so I was obviously excited for book 2 of this series to come out, and this book did not disappoint at all. I found the story to be interesting, the story takes place at the same time as GRAVE MERCY but it is the weeks following the first events. I liked seeing things from another perspective and following those that are against the princess and seeing what they will do to take control.

What I found was that this book had a lot more action than GRAVE MERCY, a part of me thinks I liked the sequel more than the first book. Sybella was an intriguing character, and I really loved her attitude throughout the story. She has been dealt a crappy hand and readers slowly learn more about what she really had to deal with. I was surprised at some things that were revealed about her at the end of the book. Sybella was my favourite and I'm scared that Annith's story won't be able to compete with Sybella's now. I loved her strength and how she had this one goal that she would do anything to achieve. Sybella also learns a lot about herself in the course of the book, and I loved what she did at the end for those that she loves. I also loved that she questioned what she was doing a lot. I hope in the next book, we learn more about the convent itself because I am starting to have my doubts about their involvement in things.

In this book I felt that Robin took a different turn with Sybella's life. There were a lot of cringe worthy moments and disturbing aspects to this book that really shocked me, but the explanations behind some of these were emotional and in a way understandable (mostly Sybella's relationship with her brother). I really felt bad for Sybella, you can see that she had a horrible childhood that has kept her from becoming too close with anyone. We do get more of Ismae and Duval (which made me very happy, I love seeing more of their relationship after everything they went through in GRAVE MERCY).

This is an amazing action packed series, with some great political intrigue and adorable romance. I think everyone should check it out. The characters are amazing and I love how everything ties together. I am intrigued about how Annith's story with fit in with everything that has happened.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Event Recap: Chatelaine Book Club - A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Last Thursday I got the chance to attend the Chatelaine Book Club event over at Penguin Canada for this month's pick A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. What a night for an event, it was cold, snowy and very windy, but everyone at Penguin Canada tried to make the room feel more like spring, with some nice flowers everywhere.

After an introduction, where we saw the trailer for A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING. We were told that Ruth actually directed the trailer herself! It is really intriguing and makes me more excited for the book. Check it out here:

After this Ruth read a passage from the book, and honestly I found it beautiful and a perfect section to draw those of us that hadn't read the book to read it ASAP. As Ruth talked about her inspiration for the book, I was engrossed in hearing about how much time Ruth spent writing this book and how many times she changed things. She discussed how the hardest part was finding a character to find the journal and bring Nao's story to life. Ruth talked about how she had many different versions of this story, each with a different character telling Nao's story, and the story changed each time. It wasn't until her husband told her that she should be the one to find and tell Nao's story, and that's how in a way Ruth Ozeki is the author in this book.

The whole book is about the idea of the collaboration of readers and writers, one cannot exist without the other. She uses this book to show the theme of inner connectedness, in some way we are all connected, through the internet, through other people that we know, etc. Ruth talked a lot about how there are thousands of stories out in the world, each different and just waiting for someone to tell it.

After meeting Ruth and listening to her speak, I think she is a great inspiration for many writers out there, but also in a way I found her to be an inspiration to readers as well. It was an honour to be able to meet Ruth Ozeki and I am excited to read this beautiful book. Thank you Penguin Canada and Chatelaine for the event!

Nice spring flowers to brighten our night

Ruth reading from her new book

Discussing her inspiration behind the book

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins)
Pages: 436
Received: Purchased copy

Release Date: December 20, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

What happens when the one that got away comes back?

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart.

It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

From the moment they met they’d been a gang of two; partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on. Ben is married. Rachel is definitely not. In fact, the men in her life make her want to take holy orders…

Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

If you love David Nicholls and Lisa Jewell then this is the book for you. Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you’ll be hooked from their first ‘hello’.

My Review:

Okay, so going into this book I for some reason was thinking some kind of Sophie Kinsella type story... not that at all! What I got was an emotional story about the one that got away coming back into your life. Even though this book was different from what I was expecting, it was in a good way and I fell in love with the story.

The book begins in the present with Rachel realizing that she can't spend the rest of her life with this guy (who she has been with for 13 years). So at the age of 30, Rachel must now start her life again, and work on what it means to be single, when she "coincidentally" runs into her best friend from university, who she hasn't seen for 10 years. From here readers get a back and forth from the past, seeing how the friendship between Ben and Rachel grew and watching them rekindle that friendship again in the present. What I really loved was how McFarlane keeps her readers guessing of what happened between these two characters that kept them from speaking for 10 years. (Though I had an idea, I wasn't absolutely sure about everything that went down).

This book is about so much more than the the romance between Ben and Rachel though, this book is a lot about the friendships that Rachel has kept over the years and how these characters are there for her through thick and thin. I loved the difference in attitudes of all three of her friends, and I loved all their interactions, really helping Rachel realize what she would do now that she was single and on her own. Readers also get a glimpse into Rachel's family and I think there was some interesting scenes between Rachel and her mother. The relationship between them is strained because Rachel has broken off her engagement and her mother is worried about her thinking that she is just scared. The scenes between these two were few but they definitely made a point and stuck with me, seeing how Rachel's life has become more difficult since ending things with her fiancé.

There were so many emotions running through this book, everytime Rachel and Ben are together the scenes are adorable but heartbreaking because you know they can't be together as much as you want them to be. There were so many parts where I felt like yelling at Rachel because she is doing something stupid and letting things get the best of her. But at the same time there was a great amount of humour interspersed in the story, Rachel has an attitude and she is a very sassy character, making me love her even more.

This book is not a regular love story that you see in a lot of chick lit books, Rachel has to go through a lot of hardships. I really like how you see that when one thing in your life starts coming apart, it has a huge effect on many other aspects of you life (even ones you would think were not connected).

The greatest thing that I got from this book was the quote "Do nothing, and nothing happens. Life is about decisions. You either make them or they're made for you, but you can't avoid them." This is the greatest message I got from this book, don't let life and others decide things for you, take charge and live your life.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado

Publisher: Viking Canada
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 2, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A deeply evocative love story of a literary giant set in the glittering world of French expats in WWII Manhattan-for fans of The Paris Wife

Set in Manhattan and Quebec City in 1943, Studio Saint-Ex is a fictionalized account of the love triangle among Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, his mercurial wife, Consuelo, and a young fashion designer. Mignonne Lachapelle leaves Montreal for New York to make her name, but is swept away by the charms of France’s greatest living writer. Nothing about their relationship is simple—not Antoine’s estranged wife who entangles Mig in her schemes to reclaim her husband, not his turmoil, and certainly not their tempestuous trysts or the blurring boundaries of their artistic pursuits. Yet the greatest complication comes in the form of a deceptively simple manuscript: Antoine’s work-in-progress, The Little Prince, a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss in the form of a young prince fallen to earth.

Studio Saint-Ex is a deeply evocative love story of a literary giant caught between two talented and mesmerizing women, set in the glittering world of French expatriates in Manhattan during World War II. Reminiscent of The Paris WifeLoving Frank, and The Rules of CivilityStudio Saint-Ex explores themes of love, passion, and creativity in sophisticated, literary prose.

My Review:

I went into this book not really sure what I was expecting, I did think it was going to be a book about Antoine Saint-Exupery, but what I came out with was something completely different and utterly beautiful. This book is not as much about Antoine as it is about these two women who are vying for his affection and attention. The story is told from the perspectives of both Mignonne and Consuelo, both dealing with losing the person they love and the come together in unexpected circumstances.

What really surprised me about this book was the descriptions and the writing style used throughout the story. I never would have thought that the idea of trying on and feeling material could be so sensual, but the way Ania Szado writes is so compelling that I wanted to be feeling the material and working with these characters. I felt myself drawn into this story as I quickly came to understand each of the characters. There are many scenes that the way Szado describes the feelings, made my heart jump and really brought everything to life.

The love triangle in this book was intriguing (I don't even know if I can completely call it a love triangle rather than just three people whose lives all intersect). Everything about these characters was so complicated and I found myself disturbed how certain things were handled at times and yet still so intrigued. I loved the two female characters in this book and I'm glad that it was more centred around them than it was around Antoine. They are both strong and stubborn women, each of them will do anything to get what they want in the end, and some of the things they did were shocking.

What really affected me in this book was the way that Szado spoke of the different artistic ventures that these characters take. Each of the characters works with their hands, Antoine as a writer, Mignonne a fashion designer and Consuelo works with sculpting, the descriptions of their work is beautiful and so detailed,  and I wanted more.

The Little Prince is a large influence in this book but it is not the focus, the characters are the focus. It was interesting to see how the book The Little Prince did finally come into perspective and the idea of what drove Saint-Exupery to write it. I loved learning more about Saint-Exupery in this book, he was an interesting character and his thoughts and opinions kept me wondering about him.

This book comes out at a perfect time, with the 70th anniversary of The Little Prince and I believe it to be a beautiful companion to an already amazing children's story. What I learned about the story of The Little Prince in Szado's book makes me want to go back and read it again to look for all these clues.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Publisher: Angry Robot
Series: The Split Worlds #1
Pages: 384
Received: Received an e-copy from the publisher

Release Date: February 26, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

My Review:

"Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath's secret mirror city" that one line drew me into this book, a secret world that coincides with England, it was intriguing. Emma Newman has created a magical land where the fae live, but it is based off a normal England and is connected to it. There was a little bit of an explanation of this new and interesting world, but I did feel that it needed to be fleshed out a little more (something to look forward in the future books).

This story has many different aspects to it, but the way Newman writes it does not feel like there is too much, everything seems to come together perfectly like a puzzle. In the story there are the characters of the fae, and their lords, then we have the Arbiter's and sorcerers who take care of the unmagical world and make sure that the fae don't do anything funny over there. We also have non-magical characters, who all work together to solve a case of a missing person. I was interested in the mystery but I feel like it paled into comparison to the rest of the book, learning about the characters and their motivations was what really kept my attention.

 I loved each of the characters, everyone was unique and had something intriguing about them. Catherine was my favourite, she is against everything that her family believes in and is looking for a way out. She has a very strong personality and works hard to get what she wants, she has fight in her and I'm excited to know what will happen to her character in the next book after the ending of BETWEEN TWO THORNS. Will is her fiancé (in an arranged marriage), and at first I found him to be spoiled and obnoxious, but I really came to like him as I read on. Will is someone who will do anything for his family and he just wants to make everyone around him happy, he really becomes charming and I think there is more to him to get to know later on.

This book had everything to it, magic, mystery and some romance, with a huge dose of family drama, and it all worked so well together. The ending left me completely blown away and eagerly awaiting the second instalment of the series, I can tell there is going to be even more mystery and intrigue that will keep me up trying to figure out what is happening.

There was one small tidbit that got on my nerves throughout the book, and that was the amount of time the clothes were described. I can tell that the point was to get across to readers the difference between the "Mundane" world and "Aquae Sulis" but I felt like it was overdone. There are many descriptions of the dresses and the difference in style (because we are being taken back to the Victorian age), and Catherine always compares her wardrobe to the Mundane's and how theirs is so much more freeing.

All in all I really enjoyed what Newman did with this book, and I think it is a great magical tale with a surprising amount of creepiness and political aspects.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series: The Infernal Devices #3
Pages: 568
Received: Purchased copy

Release Date: March 19, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?

Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.

A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

My Review:

After waiting weeks for my copy to come in (there were some issues with the company) I dived into this book, prepared for many emotions to come about. This is a huge book compared to the rest in the series, and as much as I tried to take everything slow, it was difficult to put this book down when you really get into the heart of it.

It's difficult to write a review on this book without giving away major spoilers, so I'll start out by talking about the characters. I loved the evolution of each of the characters from where they started out in CLOCKWORK ANGEL. Tessa has become so much stronger, and she has learned quite a lot about herself and yet there is still new information (that actually surprised me). I loved her strength and how she dealt with a lot of the situations that were thrown at her, but mainly I absolutely adored the scenes between her and Will. Speaking of Will, he is my absolute favourite character of them all, and following what he found out about himself in the last book, he really grows up a lot in this book. Many of his scenes broke my heart and I found myself falling for him even harder throughout the story.

I did feel that the ending of this book was dragged out a little too much though, it seems that Cassandra loaded it with details that weren't absolutely necessary. And yet, I found it to be a beautiful ending to this series. Cassandra Clare has a great amount of action and romance mixed together and going through I really got to see how each of the characters grew over the course of these three books. The friendship between Will and Jem is still as strong as ever and there are so many great parts that you really see how these guys are two parts to a whole, this is why I think this is why I fully understand the love triangle in this series.

This book had me going through a roller coaster of emotions, I think this was book had her best writing in it, every line was so beautiful and full of emotions that you just need to keep going and yet you want to slow down and let everything really sink in (it was a difficult dilemma for me). I was surprised at some of the things that Cassandra did with this story, and a part of me felt like it was overdone, but another larger part of me loves what happened and how she ended everything.

I really loved Magnus all the more in this book as well, he had some great scenes and he definitely added a great comedic part to the book. Henry and him definitely had some great scenes and I thought they were adorable together. I felt like it was another side to Magnus (I have not read Clare's other series so I don't know what he is like in that)

All in all I think this was a great series, and I'm really happy how things turned out. I want to thank Cassandra Clare for bringing me into this world, and really bringing these characters to life for me.

*On a side note I have to mention that I saw a woman reading The Mortal Instruments series and recommended this one to her as well, and she ended up loving it and finishing all three books within a couple of weeks. It made me quite happy LOL. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: The Smart One by Jennifer Close

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

Release Date: April 2, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

With her best-selling debut, Girls in White Dresses (An “irresistible, pitch-perfect first novel” —Marie Claire), Jennifer Close captured friendship in those what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. Now, with her sparkling new novel of parenthood and sibling rivalry, Close turns her gimlet eye to the only thing messier than friendship: family.

Weezy Coffey’s parents had always told her she was the smart one, while her sister was the pretty one. “Maureen will marry well,” their mother said, but instead it was Weezy who married well, to a kind man and good father. Weezy often wonders if she did this on purpose—thwarting expectations just to prove her parents wrong.

But now that Weezy’s own children are adults, they haven’t exactly been meeting her expectations either. Her oldest child, Martha, is thirty and living in her childhood bedroom after a spectacular career flameout. Martha now works at J.Crew, folding pants with whales embroidered on them and complaining bitterly about it. Weezy’s middle child, Claire, has broken up with her fiancé, canceled her wedding, and locked herself in her New York apartment—leaving Weezy to deal with the caterer and florist. And her youngest, Max, is dating a college classmate named Cleo, a girl so beautiful and confident she wears her swimsuit to family dinner, leaving other members of the Coffey household blushing and stammering into their plates.

As the Coffey children’s various missteps drive them back to their childhood home, Weezy suddenly finds her empty nest crowded and her children in full-scale regression. Martha is moping like a teenager, Claire is stumbling home drunk in the wee hours, and Max and Cleo are skulking around the basement, guarding a secret of their own. With radiant style and a generous spirit, The Smart One is a story about the ways in which we never really grow up, and the place where we return when things go drastically awry: home.

My Review:

So within a week I have read two books that are focused on family relationships, and while they are similar in some ways they are both very different. I love books that deal with family relationships and this one is at the height of those books. When she finds herself in financial trouble, Claire finds herself having to move back home, with her parents and her older sister, who is already 30. From there, Jennifer uses this book to detail the struggles of moving back home after being on your own, and being an adult.

Jennifer writes the book from the perspective of three children of different ages, all coming home, and needing to deal with different issues. I enjoyed the different perspectives, yet at the same time I was confused by why some of the characters had their own perspectives. A part of me thinks it was to show the difference in family relationships based on age and circumstances. It was interesting to see how everyone dealt with their issues and how Jennifer Close writes about moving home, I think she hit a lot of great points, with parents always watching you closely and wondering about every little thing you do.

What really stood out in this book for me was the reality of some of the situations that Jennifer brings out. She really shows the difficulty of living on your own in a large city (in this case New York) and not making much money, the economy these days makes this so difficult (I went through this myself a little while ago and almost moved home myself). The characters are all so different when they are forced to move back home, it seems like they revert back to a younger version because that is how they are treated. 

I had some issues getting through the book because of the many different perspectives, I felt like it was a bit jumpy at times. After awhile I could understand the different perspectives as we see each child coming to terms with moving back home for a different reason and how they each deal with their issues and learn to grow from the experience.

I came to really enjoy this book and the characters, even though each of them had their problems and were difficult to like for many reasons. The way Jennifer Close writes them, as a reader you come to understand why they are that way, and in the end I really enjoyed following a year in their lives. I really think that if you stick with this book it is a fun read in the end. I do wish there was a bit more of a resolution with some things in the end, but at the same time, this is a book about life and how things aren't always tied up with a smile.

This book won't be for everyone, but I do suggest giving it a chance. It's a book about real people with problems that many of us face today. This is a book that is all about family and what everyone will do to help others through their problems. That is what really brought this book up in my opinion.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Review: The Start of Everything by Emily Winslow

Publisher: Alison & Busby
Pages: 254
Received: Received a copy through the BookDepository affiliate program

Release Date: June 24, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this stunning psychological thriller for readers of Tana French, Kate Atkinson, and Donna Tartt, Emily Winslow has crafted a literary prism told through the eyes of her many intricately drawn characters. Masterly and mesmerizing, The Start of Everything will captivate until the very last page.

“If you don’t want to see me again, say so. But it’s not right to say nothing. It’s not right to go silent. You know what to do.”

Cambridge, England: Outside the city, the badly decomposed body of a teenage girl has washed up in the flooded fens. Detective Inspector Chloe Frohmann and her partner, Morris Keene, must work quickly to identify the victim before the press takes off with the salacious story.

Across the hallowed paths and storied squares of Cambridge University, the detectives follow scant clues toward the identity of the dead girl. Eventually, their search leads them to Deeping House, an imposing country manor where, over the course of one Christmas holiday, three families, two nannies, and one young writer were snowed in together. Chloe Frohmann begins to unravel a tangled web of passions and secrets, of long-buried crimes and freshly committed horrors. But in order to reveal the truth—about misaddressed letters, a devastating affair, and a murdered teenager—she may have to betray her partner.

My Review:

Since I've started blogging I haven't read many mystery type books, and I used to really love psychological thrillers. This one definitely had me interested, I liked the idea of the different characters all with a different goal but all ending up in the same places. There are a lot of different perspectives in this book that made it a little more difficult for me to get through. I found it required a lot more focus than I was really invested in.

My main issue was following this story, Winslow does not write this story in a linear way, it is divided into three different parts as the detectives come closer to solving the mystery of this murdered young woman. Each part has a narrative from each of the detectives and from one other character, each with something to do with this mystery. The opening part was very confusing and I found myself needing to go back and reread sections often to understand what exactly was happening. What made it difficult was the way the characters spoke and saw things, especially the character of Mathilde. I found her perspective the most difficult because it takes some time before readers understand that she is autistic (and truly it is never actually stated, just hinted at).

Also with each of these narrators, there are many more characters that they interact with, causing this book to have a very large cast and becoming a little more difficult to follow. Many of the secondary characters were imperative to the story as well, so it's not like they could be cut out of the story. I will say that it is difficult to write a story with so many characters and not get confused, but the way Emily Winslow wrote this story made it easier for the reader to understand who you were with and where you were in regards to the story.

Each of the narrators has a problem of some sort, I really liked the characters (even though I couldn't identify with them). They were real people and were nowhere near perfect. I really think that added to the story in a very interesting way. I really enjoy books where the characters are flawed, and add that to a murder mystery and that is what kept me going despite my issues of connection.

The mystery itself was a very interesting one, and I was really surprised at the turn of events. When everything was finally revealed it was shocking and definitely unseen. Though this book is difficult to get into, I think the mystery and the twists that Emily Winslow adds in are worth checking out. And for me a book with flawed characters is definitely one that should get attention. I just advise to take your time with the book and really focus on everything that is happening or you will get lost very quickly.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: The Pretty One by Lucinda Rosenfeld

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: February 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect. Pretty. Political. For nearly forty years, The Hellinger sisters of Hastings-on-Hudson-namely, Imperia (Perri), Olympia (Pia), and Augusta (Gus)--have played the roles set down by their loving but domineering mother Carol. Perri, a mother of three, rules her four-bedroom palace in Westchester with a velvet fist, managing to fold even fitted sheets into immaculate rectangles. Pia, a gorgeous and fashionable Chelsea art gallery worker, still turns heads after becoming a single mother via sperm donation. And Gus, a fiercely independent lawyer and activist, doesn't let her break-up from her girlfriend stop her from attending New Year's Day protests on her way to family brunch.

But the Hellinger women aren't pulling off their roles the way they once did. Perri, increasingly filled with rage over the lack of appreciation from her recently unemployed husband Mike, is engaging in a steamy text flirtation with a college fling. Meanwhile Pia, desperate to find someone to share in the pain and joy of raising her three-year-old daughter Lola, can't stop fantasizing about Donor #6103. And Gus, heartbroken over the loss of her girlfriend, finds herself magnetically drawn to Jeff, Mike's frat boy of a little brother. Each woman is unable to believe that anyone, especially her sisters, could understand what it's like to be her. But when a freak accident lands their mother to the hospital, a chain of events is set in motion that will send each Hellinger sister rocketing out of her comfort zone, leaving her to wonder: was this the role she was truly born to play?

With The Pretty One, author Lucinda Rosenfeld does for siblings what she did for female friendship in I'm So Happy for You, turning her wickedly funny and sharply observant eye on the pleasures and punishments of lifelong sisterhood.

My Review:

I love books about family relationships especially those dealing with siblings who are all different from one another. I honestly didn't feel that I got much out of this book when I finally finished it. So much seemed to happen in this story and nothing truly got resolved (at least inn my opinion).

What I really felt was that I was thrown into the story right away, and readers don't get much of a chance to get to know the characters. The way each of the sisters are described to readers in a way that makes us seem like we should already know them. I wanted more from the sisters and to understand them and their motives better. I felt like each of the characters were very one dimensional to me as a reader. Though despite that I did enjoy some parts of the story, how each of the sisters were so different from one another and their interactions with one another really showed that off.

Rosenfeld did attempt to dig into the sister rivalry in this story, I just think that there was too much happening to really get to that point. Readers see how the parents of these three sisters have helped with the rivalry always comparing the sisters and causing them to attempt to one up each other in adulthood. Rosenfeld also focuses on the relationship of the parents and the children where the middle child is often left out and seems not to have accomplished as much as the other two sisters.

The first chapter of this book was very long and drawn out and made it difficult for me to understand what was really happening. I believe that it was longer because it was supposed to help introduce readers to each of the sisters but I felt like it was slow and it made it difficult for me to get into the story. From there the story switches perspectives between the three sisters and it felt a little too broken up and uneven.

About halfway through the story many things start happening with the sisters and their lives that it just became difficult to follow along. I felt that this story just had too much going on for one book. I think it could have been better if there were different books focused on each sister, giving readers more time to understand and connect with each of the girls, and the problems would be more fleshed out. Everything happened so fast and I felt that nothing was solved by the end of this book, there was too much left open.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Publisher: Bond Street Books
Pages: 480
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada

Release Date: April 2, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.

My Review:

Atkinson tells the story of Ursula Todd, a child who is born on a snowy day and dies right away. In the next chapter, Ursula is born and lives. From there we follow along as Ursula grows and lives her life in different ways. She continually dies and comes back to life again to change her life and her future. The story starts out slow as Atkinson introduces each of the characters to you and really has her readers get to know Ursula and her family. But there is a certain point in this story where Atkinson draws her reader in and at that point I found I couldn't turn away from Ursula's story.

What I really loved about this story was the way Atkinson makes her readers think about their own future. The smallest change in the past has such a large impact on the future, and I really enjoyed seeing the different futures that Ursula has and how it affects her thoughts in the past. This is the type of book that requires quite a lot of focus to understand how Ursula changes and focusing on the back and forth of the time changes.

Atkinson's characters were the best part of this book for me. Each of them is so unique and I loved the interactions they have with one another. I loved following Ursula's different paths as she learns from her mistakes and grows in so many different ways. Her character changes so much over time and Atkinson has such a beautiful way of highlighting the differences of her character. But there are the few things that never change from time and time, and those are her relationships with her family. Teddy and Pamela were my favourite of the family, their interactions with Ursula in every life were adorable and I loved how they were always there for one another.

Atkinson also had great villains in the story, the way Atkinson writes the characters of Ursula's mother and her brother Maurice were the types of characters that you could see some love (well more you could see the difference in her relationship with Sylvie, her mother). Maurice being the oldest of the siblings was so different and very much on his own throughout the book.

The big question that this book really brings to light is continually asked by characters, but I loved the conversation that Ursula and Teddy have at the end of the book where Teddy says "What if we had the chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right?" (pg. 403 in ARC) But as I was reading I kept thinking, how do we know what is the right life? Does Ursula know which life was really the best for her, and can we even actually live a perfect life? This book really brings up a lot of interesting questions for the readers, and my take on the way Atkinson wrote this story is that there is no such thing as a perfect life, there is always problems.

Atkinson's writing is so beautiful and descriptive, and I really loved her thoughts on the war that she brings up in her story as well, adding in some historical fiction really added to this book. I think this is one book that needs to be picked up by everyone, but that it is one I think readers need to take their time with so that they can really take in every little thing that Atkinson brings up in Ursula's story.


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