Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: Cataract City by Craig Davidson

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

Release Date: September 3, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Owen and Duncan are childhood friends who've grown up in picturesque Niagara Falls--known to them by the grittier name Cataract City. As the two know well, there's more to the bordertown than meets the eye: behind the gaudy storefronts and sidewalk vendors, past the hawkers of tourist T-shirts and cheap souvenirs live the real people who scrape together a living by toiling at the Bisk, the local cookie factory. And then there are the truly desperate, those who find themselves drawn to the borderline and a world of dog-racing, bare-knuckle fighting, and night-time smuggling.

Owen and Duncan think they are different: both dream of escape, a longing made more urgent by a near-death incident in childhood that sealed their bond. But in adulthood their paths diverge, and as Duncan, the less privileged, falls deep into the town's underworld, he and Owen become reluctant adversaries at opposite ends of the law. At stake is not only survival and escape, but a lifelong friendship that can only be broken at an unthinkable price.

My Review:

I absolutely love being able to feature Canadian books on this blog, and CATARACT CITY is such a strong book and I am glad to see it on the longlist for the Giller because it definitely deserves recognition. This is a story about a strong friendship between two boys that have been through so much together.

I really enjoyed the history of Niagara Falls inserted into this book, there was so much I didn't know about the people that lived there, and I had no idea it was called "Cataract City". It's great when I can learn history in a book like this. This book is told from both Owen and Duncan's perspectives as they are now and as they remember the past and what led to where they are.

I was really intrigued by these two characters, they are both very flawed and that makes their story interesting to follow to see where they take their lives from how they grew up. Owen and Duncan experience something in childhood that bonds their friendship and yet also breaks their friendship when their parents decide that they need time away from each other. Over the years there are things that continually bring these two together even though they are on different paths.

I loved that this book takes readers into a darker part of Niagara Falls with dog-racing, fighting, and smuggling of items. This is a Niagara Falls that I never thought existed and I'm interested to really learn more about this dark side. This is real life and it is scary to know that this existed.

Craig Davidson has brought these characters to life and really shown a beautiful friendship that is able to withstand many issues, they are brothers and help each other out. I loved their interactions with one another as their friendship grows and falls apart, and yet still they come back together. I'm happy to have read this book because it really makes me appreciate the friendships I have in my life and I want to hold onto those.

This is a great book with a lot of emotions running around as these two boys grow to find themselves and what they want to do with their future. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 384
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 17, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings 

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.

Alexandra Coutts's TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.

My Review:

This book has had a lot of press around it and has been very hyped up, these types of books are always scary because what if you don't like the book... And I will say this will be a difficult review to write because I'm still unsure of my feelings with this story.

I had a hard time getting through this, the way the characters acted at times was over the top and I had trouble following the story. This story follows the lives of three people as the world is ending and how they spend what they believe to be their last days alive. Each of these three characters have issues and are trying to get through life day by day. None of the characters were very likeable but it was interesting to see how the end o f the world changes their outlook.

What I got from this story is to live life to the fullest, tell those around you that you love them and just have fun. This book left me thinking a lot about the things that happened and how each of the three characters dealt with life. Though following the story is difficult the end result really makes this story worth it. Alexandra Coutts has written something that if you stick with it makes you think about your own life.

Honestly, I was completely ready to give up on this book, there are parts where the teens make decisions that made me want to hit them and say think through things better. I wanted to yell at them at how they were allowing themselves to be treated in some situations and how they treated others. But by the end this book is about forgiveness and living life to the fullest, as well as loving as much as you can. I think that the story is kind of okay but what you as a reader will get out of the story makes this a beautiful and thoughtful read!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blog Tour for Shadows by Paula Weston Review

Publisher: Tundra Books
Series: The Rephaim #1
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from Tundra Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 10, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

It's almost a year since Gaby Winters watched her twin brother die. In the sunshine of a new town her body has healed, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn't help that every night in her dreams she fights and kills hell-beasts. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who's been appearing in Gaby's dreams, he tells her things about her brother and her life that cannot be true, things that are dangerous. Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And who is Gaby? The truth lies in the shadows of her nightmares.

My Review:

Angel books, these books are done a lot lately and it's hard to find one that works for you. Shadows was an interesting story, and difficult to review without giving away too much of the story. So as much as I will try to keep things general there may be slight spoilers ahead.

Gaby Winters is getting her life back together after her brother died, she still deals with the grief and has difficulties talking about it, she was there with him and she lived through it. All of a sudden this guy shows up in town (a guy she has dreamed about) and seems to know all about her brother, but his stories don't match up to what she knows at all. All of a sudden Gaby's life is completely turned around and she doesn't know what to believe anymore.

The one thing about this book that kind of disappointed me was that throughout the entire book Gaby is confused about her life, and there isn't much of a resolution. I was thinking more would come from this book, but the way the story was written will have readers coming back to get more answers from the author. I know I am curious as to what will come next for Gaby. I do hope that a lot of things are answered in the next book and that we move on to something a little different.

I do think that Paula had a very interesting idea with this story, I loved the background of the Rephaim, you can tell that Paula really researched her angel mythology and religion behind it to really make this story work. I was interested in the history of the Rephaim and what their plan is (though that is still not entirely clear to me).

The characters in this really made the book, I loved the toughness of all of them, especially Gaby. She keeps people at arm's length, there was a good amount of humour with her sarcasm and her interactions with Rafa, as she tries to understand her past and Rafa tries to get used to the different Gaby. I had wished that Gaby found out more about herself and her past to really help bring the story together a little more.

Paula has written a fun angel story that leaves readers guessing and wanting more. I love the extensive history of the Rephaim that Paula details in this story and I hope to see more of this history and some more great action scenes in the future books.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Publisher: Katherine Teagen
Pages: 335
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 27, 2013
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Goodreads Synospsis:

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

My Review:

I'm not always big on contemporaries but I'm really starting to fall in love with them more now, and The Beginning of Everything is one book that is very easy to love. I will say I love the original title of this book (Severed Heads, Broken Hearts) I think it really describes this book well, witty with a hint of sarcasm. When I finished this book, I sat down and hugged it for a good 5 minutes just because I was so in love with everything that had happened.

Ezra is the golden boy of his school, he is the best tennis player and he is the popular guy with the gorgeous girlfriend, then one night a tragedy happens and Ezra loses everything. This is the story of how Ezra comes to view his life as he wants it rather than just let everyone else around him dictate what he should be doing. This book really shows how easy it is to fall from grace in a high school setting, one misstep and everyone looks at you differently.

What I loved about this book the most was the comedy throughout, it's more of a dry and sarcastic humour which I love so much. Many of the characters know how to joke about themselves (as in Ezra's friend Toby, who catches a head when on a ride at Disneyland... a little over the top but kind of amusing). I love the relationship Toby and Ezra have and it really helps Ezra find himself again. Also, all the secondary characters really stuck out in this book as well and have a huge impact as Ezra finds new friends and notices differences in his old friends.

And then there is Cassidy Pope, a new student who has her own hidden secrets. She teaches Ezra a lot about life and gives him a new outlook on things, she changes his life in such a great way, and their relationship is such a great thing to follow.

This book was so much more than just a love story, it's about finding yourself and really seeing people for who they really are. After the accident, Ezra gets a new beginning to really evaluate where his life is going to go now that his future has been drastically changed. I loved everything about this book, and I plan to push it on everyone I know. It was adorable and fun and I want to re-read it now. This book is on the special shelf for sure!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

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

Release Date: August 20, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.

Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

My Review:

So this book obviously appealed to me because of the cover and the title, something about a book that revolves around a bookstore will always have me wanting to read it. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the used bookstore and the characters that are entwined with the bookstore, it was adorable and is definitely a place I would love to have around here, but for me that was the most enjoyable thing about this story.

My main problem with the story was the characters, I could not get behind any of their decisions or the way they acted. Although Esme's character grows up by the end of the novel and really starts having a different view on life, but I just could not get behind any of her decisions through the story that got her where she ends up. I found Esme to be too naive about things and that she never really stood up for herself. Mitchell's character was just a complete jerk the entire time and I hated that Esme would fall for his sweet talk all the time.

The characters that I did really love, like Esme's neighbour and George, the owner of the bookstore, were barely in the novel. Esme's neighbour is the type of person that tells it like it is, she would be there to help Esme with anything and yet she should have been in the story more. She was the voice of reason for Esme and she needed to be there for Esme to talk through more things with.

I also went into this book thinking that the bookstore itself would be more than what it was. Yes, it's the place that Esme really finds herself and begins a new life there. I will say that all the characters associated with the bookstore actually kind of made me interested in reading more just because they were so unique and it was like a special family.

The story itself also felt like it dragged on for too long and the conclusion left me wanting a little more from Esme. I really needed more from the characters to have been able to really enjoy the story. Sadly, this book did not end up being one for me. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Half Lives by Sara Grant

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 9, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

I learned that surviving isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you survive, you've got to live with the guilt, and that's more difficult than looking someone in the eye and pulling the trigger. Trust me. I've done both. Killing takes a twitch of the finger. Absolution takes several lifetimes.

Seventeen-year-old Icie's parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie's only hope for survival. Along with three other teens, she lives locked away for months, not knowing what's happening in the outside world or who has survived. And are they safe in the bunker after all?

Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie's secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they're ruled by a teenager...and they have surprising ties to Icie.

This high-stakes, original, and thought-provoking adventure from Sara Grant follows two unlikely heroes, hundreds of years apart, as they fight to survive.

My Review:

I was definitely intrigued with this book when I first picked it up, the idea of surviving a viral attack on the country by hiding out in an underground bunker really peaked my interest. This is one of those books that is about surviving however you can and doing anything possible to stay alive. I love survival books because they feel so real, though I was a little disappointed at how this book ultimately played out.

This book is told from many perspectives, first is Icie's, and what she goes through getting to the bunker and how she survives in the bunker with these others that she has met along the way. In between there are four other narratives from the future after the attack and what they are doing to survive and learning what they have been taught (these are the sections that I had trouble with).

Where I had issues was really understanding how far in the future these other characters are, and also understanding their thought processes. They are almost like a cult that worships a being that we are unsure of. I felt disconnected from these characters and really couldn't follow their understanding of the world. Throughout the book I was more interested in Icie's perspective, I loved the realistic aspect of trying to survive. Sara Grant does a great job showing the fear of death and yet also shows that there is a time where you feel it may just be easier to give up than struggle through anymore.

I enjoyed parts of this book, but I felt confused for half of it, I needed more answers about how things came to be for this future generation. The ending tried to tie these two things up but I was still unsure of who many of the characters were and it was a little disappointing for me. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it was focused mainly on Icie's perspective rather than the adding in the future generation.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Random House Canada
Series: Cainsville #1
Pages: 496
Received: Received a copy from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 20, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancĂ©, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home, and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

My Review:

I have heard a lot of great things about Kelley Armstrong, though I've never really checked out any of her writing (I have only read one of her teen books and I never continued on with the series, though I was interested). This is the beginning of a new adult series, and I think Kelley has brought me into a world that is creepy and would make me want to look over my shoulder.

When Olivia Taylor Jones finds out she is adopted and who her real parents were, her whole life is changed, she decides that she needs to find out more about her parents and learn about her past. What Olivia really needs is to get away where the press can't find her and hide out while she figures things out, this takes her to the little town of Cainsville and from there Olivia's life changes.

This book has a great mystery to it, with Olivia trying to learn the truth behind the murders committed by the Larsens. Her mother swears innocence which sends Olivia on an investigation that leads to many surprises along the way. Olivia's character tries not to make snap judgments, she doesn't want to believe in the Larsens innocence or guilt until she can prove it herself.

This book had a great mix of creepiness with a great mystery that will leave you asking what next? Some questions are answered, but Kelley definitely leaves you wanting more. I'm excited to see more from this series, and figure out everything about Cainsville, this cute little town that has its secrets to it.

I think it was really interesting that Kelley leaves hints throughout her book that if you research it, you can learn things about the book (but it would spoil the story for you). This book made me go back and read her other books to see how her writing has grown over the years. If you enjoy a good mystery, with some supernatural elements to it, definitely check this book out!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Pages: 288
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 17, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

My Review:

I started this book thinking it was another contemporary book like so many others out there, but I quickly saw that this book was not just the same old contemporary YA novel. This is such a real story with characters that are so easy to connect with and sympathize with. This is a book that I quickly fell in love with and I think this is also one that will have a special place in my heart.

I could connect with Elise's character easily, being the one who has difficulties making friends (I was the odd one out a lot in elementary school). Elise tries hard to gain friends in her sophomore year of school, she goes as far as studying what kind of things are cool, including music and clothes. And yet she still fails and is continually made fun of at school every day.

What I really loved about this book is how Leila Sales used music as a way to connect to the character. Elisa listens to and plays certain music for certain moods, I love when you can find a way to connect with the characters in that way. Elisa is a bit of a music snob, but it's easy to understand why she is that way, she is raised on a certain type of music and that is what she really knows.

This book touched on a heavy topic, but what makes it different is that though it does touch on suicide, it deals with someone who doesn't really want to die. This book really touched me, Elisa learns about herself and what things are really important in life. I think this story has a great message of finding something you love and how that can change your life.

This is definitely a story I would read again, I have so much love for what Leila Sales has written here and the characters that she brought to life for me.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Review: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: Goddess War #1
Pages: 333
Received: Received an e-copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 10, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

My Review:

I am sad to admit that I have not yet read Anna Dressed in Blood, but seeing that Kendare had a new series starting I jumped on that train right away. I was really intrigued with the synopsis of this book, taking a story about those that cannot die and actually having them actually have a slow death in a way. I haven't really found a lot of books that deal with the gods and so this book stuck out to me because of that.

I think Kendare did a great job with the creepy aspect of this story, I was definitely disturbed at times with how some of the gods' deaths were described. Kendare Blake has created a scary world that is about to become even worse as the gods fight to stay alive, and these are gods that fight dirty. I was really impressed with the characterization of the gods and the descriptions, Kendare really brought them to life for me.

I really liked the back and forth narration between Cassandra, and Athena. Cassandra does not know anything about the gods and yet she may be the key to saving this war and we follow her as she slowly learns about her past and how this affects her. This story draws you in and keeps you wondering about the importance of people and things throughout the journey.

Honestly, this is a very hard book to talk about without giving away a lot of things about the story and the characters. I'm glad that when I went into this book I didn't really know too much information because I think I enjoyed journeying with Athena to find out information, and where that takes her is up to you to find out. I can now be happy knowing I have read a Kendare Blake novel, and seeing how she can write disturbing scenes I am excited to go through her back list and read more. She definitely knows how to creep her readers out at times.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 576
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 1, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

An imaginative story of a woman caught in an alternate world—where she will need to learn the skills of magic to survive

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her "real life" against the dangerous power of love and magic.

My Review:

I love books that deal with magic, and the cover of this book really drew me in, it's so colourful which I absolutely love because it draws the eye in. I was definitely intrigued with the idea of the story, an alternative world that consists of magicians and fairies, Nora has definitely gotten herself into an interesting dilemma.

I have to say that I did not like Nora when I first met her in the story, she seemed like a character that always felt sorry for herself. I do think Nora grew on me (there was a lot of time to get used to her thinking). I really liked that she was ambitious, and kept pushing Aruendiel to teach her magic. Emily Croy Barker has a very interesting take on magic and how the characters learn to use the magic to control the different elements. It is all about connecting with the object/element and feeling it, I feel that in a way it could be transferred into real life situations, really connecting with things.

Aruendiel was by far my favourite character, I immediately liked him wanted more of him. His background history was intriguing, and readers slowly learn what caused Aruendiel to be like he is now, there are so many secrets that you need to keep reading if only to find out more about this closed off character. The interactions between him and Nora were great, Nora would not stand to be some meek little thing, she tries to take care of herself instead of just going along with what everyone says.

The one small thing that got me with this book is that it felt very drawn out, I think it was a bit too long for my liking. Though I had fun reading the story, it took me longer than usual to read, I felt there were times where things happened that didn't really need to. Almost like the book could have been cut down about 100 pages and it would still work just as well.

Overall, I found this to be a fun book, the characters were interesting, and Barker is very creative with this alternate world she has written. The one thing that really caught my attention was the many mentions of Pride and Prejudice, you can see that Emily Barker drew from it in a few places and I really thought that added to the story.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: August 6, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in?

In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned:

Pioneer is her leader.

Will is her Intended.

The end of the world is near.

Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound's underground fortress--the Silo.

Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she'd rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.

My Review:

This book did not end up being what I was expecting from it at all! I went into it thinking it was going to be a dystopian book and I can tell you this does not fit that category at all. This book is very realistic and because of that it is creepier than I was thinking. I really think this book is one that will make readers think about long after finishing it (I know when I closed it, I sat back and thought about everything that had happened). Honestly, there were parts of this book that made me feel claustrophobic, imagining myself in Lyla's position, I don't know if I could do the things she did.

The beginning of this book starts out slow, Amy Christine Parker really takes her time to introduce readers to her characters and to Mandrodage Meadows. I think it took me awhile to get through this book but I really felt connected to Lyla and everything she dealt with, her uncertainty with information was understandable because of how she was raised. I think that the slow beginning was a great set up for the rest of the story and really kept you from guessing what things would happen along the way.

This book takes you deep inside a cult and gives you an idea of what people go through and why some people chose to trust someone to take control of their lives like this. So much happens in the real world that makes it difficult to feel safe a lot of the time, and tucked away in a little place like Mandrodage Meadows easily calms people, there are so many things that can't get you in a place like that, but what about the stuff that is hidden from you?

I loved Lyla throughout the story, she grows a lot over the course of the book, she seems very naive but she is more the type of person that observes everything around her. I loved her strength by the end of the book and I really felt all her emotions. The characters' past lives add so much to this story, seeing what Lyla and her family had gone through makes it understandable of how they were brought to this life.

This book was amazing, yes it felt a little disjointed between the first half and the second half, but it makes the book that much more of an intense read. By the end of the book I was flipping through pages needing more and yet trying so hard not to burst into tears. This book makes you think about the real world and how people try to get away. I think this is a book that needs to be read, just for how realistic everything feels.

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