Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Publisher: Ecco
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 26, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

My Review:

This book takes me back to the roots of my favourite books, historical fiction, but something about this book does so much more than other historical books have done. This book added in a bit of a fantastical element with the characters and the introduction of this tiny model home that is furnished by a person who Nella has never met, and yet they seem to know her future.

I enjoyed Nella's character sometimes in this book, you see her grow over the course of the novel, she starts out as a young girl who is very naive to the world around her. She is newly married to Johannes and she doesn't understand what is actually going on around her. What I found creepy and yet very interesting to the story is how the miniaturist was never seen but knew so much about what was happening around Nella and her family, and this unknown person truly changed Nella's life by opening her eyes to what was being hidden. What I really loved is how Nella begins to stand up for herself a little more as the novel goes along. She begins to see that she doesn't understand everything, but she makes it her mission to know what is happening in her house.

Honestly, this book was so engrossing, you truly need to find out who the miniaturist is and how they really know everything that is going on in the Brandt household. This is a book that shows no one is who they truly make themselves out to be, there is always something being hidden. The mystery of something being hidden and the idea that no matter what it can be brought to the surface is what makes this such a great story. There is a little bit of everything to The Miniaturist and that makes this book one for everyone. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

Publisher: Viking Adult
Pages: 534
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 6, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year - touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side - she's back to normality with a bang. And she's got writer's block.

Stella wants a clean break as she didn't exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?

My Review:

I have been a fan of Marian Keyes for quite a few years, I was introduced to her writing after finding Cecelia Ahern (one of my favourite authors of all time). So when I was offered the chance to pick up a new one from Marian, I couldn't say no. This was definitely an interesting story, I liked the back and forth from past to present, it really shows how Stella's life was completely changed with one relatively small event. The book opens up with Stella talking about her life now, how she has moved back to Dublin, and there is a whole story she is trying to keep hidden from everyone, slowly everything unravels about how she became a self-help writer.

I found this to be a cute story, and at the same time a story about perseverance. One day Stella wakes up and cannot move and finds herself in a hospital because of a rare disease she has that has completely kept her from functioning, the only way that Stella can communicate is by blinking. Stella is close to giving up but day by day she finds the courage to keep trying. What I really thought was interesting about the before and after scenarios is how readers get to see how the disease affected Stella's family as a whole. Her relationships with her children, her sister, parents, and her husband all change significantly because of her time in the hospital.

This is the type of book that you have to be careful what you mention, because it can give a lot away about the story and I hate doing that. Stella's life has been completely changed and it really makes her rethink a lot about the past and where her future will lead. It's the type of book that will make you think about how you would act if in opportunity is thrown at you, would you jump at the chance, especially when there are many other people in your life that the decision will affect.

I will admit that there were a few times I was confused as to where in Stella's life the story was. There wasn't always a clear distinction (that I could tell) as to what was happening and if I was reading part of Stella's past or her present, it took me some time to figure out where in Stella's life I was. The only clear distinction was the part of the story when Stella was in the hospital and how she coped, those were the parts I really loved, because you got to see her truly scared and unsure of what her future would be.

Honestly, this is a large book but it is hard to put down. If you are a fan of those cute romantic comedies, and you like your chick-lit, I definitely think this is a book to pick up. Give it a try because there is a lot more to the story than the underlying love story, this is a story about fighting for what you believe in, and persevering through tough times. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: The Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Series: Love in the Time of Global Warming #2
Pages: 224
Received: Received an e-copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 26, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Pen has lost her parents. She’s lost her eye. But she has fought Kronen; she has won back her fragile friends and her beloved brother. Now Pen, Hex, Ash, Ez, and Venice are living in the pink house by the sea, getting by on hard work, companionship, and dreams. Until the day a foreboding ship appears in the harbor across from their home. As soon as the ship arrives, they all start having strange visions of destruction and violence. Trance-like, they head for the ship and their new battles begin.

This companion to Love in the Time of Global Warming follows Pen as she searches for love among the ruins, this time using Virgil’s epic Aeneidas her guide. A powerful and stunning book filled with Francesca Lia Block’s beautiful language and inspiring characters.

My Review:

I remember when Love in the Time of Global Warming came out last year, the writing style that Francesca Lia Block had enraptured me. So when I found out that a new book to the series was coming out I wanted more. I truly believe that this book was just as amazing as the first one. Francesca Lia Block has a way with words that she captures your attention and you don't realize how quickly time flies as you read the book.

After everything that happened in the first book, Pen is on a new mission when this ship arrives at their home and changes how the characters perceive what is happening around them. What I really love about these stories is how Francesca Lia Block uses a classic story to parallel what is happening to Pen and her friends. In this book, the story of Aeneidas is used and you see how Pen constantly refers back to what she remembers from the story.

The one thing about these books are that they are very short, before you know it you have become engrossed in the story and then all of a sudden it ends. That is my one small complaint, I wish that Francesca could extend the story just a little more, without going overboard. There is a lot of information to these stories that you really need to pay attention, and I think they would be enjoyed even more reading them one after another.

This book gives us so much more of Pen and her friends, and I loved getting to know them a little better, and truly seeing inside their minds when they are on this mysterious ship. There are a lot of new hurdles that Pen must overcome, one of those is searching for love in this dangerous world she has found herself in. These are characters that you will come to remember and love, Francesca Lia Block truly knows how to inspire her readers. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: Trial by Fire by Jospehine Angelini

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy #1
Pages: 374
Received: Received an e-copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 2, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

My Review:

I have to say that I have a thing for witch books for some reason, and reading about this book had me interested. I really liked the idea behind this book, Lily mysteriously finds herself in alternate universe, similar to hers in ways but still so different. I felt that Josephine Angelini took the idea of multiple universes to a great level, Lily travels to this new Salem and finds that her self in this world is a completely different person.

Lily finds herself in a dark universe, but her life truly changes when she is brought into New Salem, whereas in her old universe, her health was life-threatening, she is a strong character in the new universe. Lily has a lot to learn about this new place she has fallen into, she is taught about the magical abilities of the Crucibles and how they rule this universe. I really liked the slow world building that Angelini has going, Lily slowly learns who has the power in this world and how everything is controlled. She quickly learns that she has been placed in the middle of a war and that she must choose which side she will work with. I really liked Lily's character, she is tough and yet you can see that she is scared about being in this new place, but she is very determined to do anything she can to get home.

I am interested to know more about the group of rebels that take Lily under their wing and help her learn her magical potential. Readers slowly get a bit of their history of how they came together and why they chose this path. I truly enjoyed the build up, especially between Lily and Rowan, they have a great dynamic with one another, and I really liked how their relationship grew and they began to truly trust one another.

Angelini has created a very dark world where no one is safe no matter where you are, there is danger lurking around every corner. This book opens up a new world and has readers on the edge of their seat by the end, Angelini leaves you wanting more, the ending leaves many unanswered questions about Lily and what she will do now that she has done so much. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blog Tour Review: Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny

Publisher: Fierce Ink Press
Pages: 189
Received: Received an e-copy from Fierce Ink Press in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 18, 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:

Finding Prince Charming sure is hard work

Popular high school senior Jessica Stone has a secret: she used to be a nerd — a goody two-shoes, grade-skipping, all-state spelling bee champ kind of nerd. But she gave herself the ultimate makeover and applied all her academic genius to study and imitate the social elite and now she rules the school. With her cool new friends and hottest-guy-in-school boyfriend, life’s a beach — and that’s where she’s headed for spring break. That is, until her biology teacher breaks the bad news that she’s failing and her only chance to make up the grade is to join the conservation club in Panama to save the golden frog.

Jess finds herself in a foreign country with a new social crew, including a ghost from her past that could threaten her queen bee reputation. Travis Henley may have grown up, but he still likes to play childish games and as payment for retrieving her lost ring from the bottom of a jungle pool, he wants three non-dates. The last thing Jess wants to do is be around him any more than she has to, but she’s desperate to keep him quiet and agrees. Soon she begins to realize the worth of her inner nerd, and that one frog in particular could be her prince in disguise.

My Review:

This is a cute little book. It's a very quick read being such a short book and I definitely flew through it. Jessica is someone who spent a lot of time remaking herself to become popular in high school, she grew up being a nerd and she wanted to hide that part of herself. As spring break comes up, Jessica is forced to change her plans from going to the beach to spending a week in Panama with the conservation club.

Jessica has worked so hard to change herself and now a ghost from her past threatens to bring out her secret inner nerd. As the trip grows to a close, Jessica begins to see that her true self may not really be that bad of a person to bring out in public. Jess begins to spend more time around Travis and he shows her that who she really is, isn't that bad.

I liked Travis, he was adorable and it was cute to see him try to make up for how he used to act with Jess when they were younger. Readers can see that he wants Jess to have fun and bring out her true nerdy self, that's what really got my attention with this book was how it is about a true nerd that is trying to hide herself. This is a very relateable story in many ways, though it goes a little far out sometimes, it is still a very cute book. One that I think many people will enjoy and can easily read through in a day. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Review: Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe

Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Series: Earth & Sky #1
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 28, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong. But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy. Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us. For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments. Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help--but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there may be no Earth left to save.

My Review:

This is surprisingly my first Megan Crewe book, I am truly disappointed in myself for not picking up one of her books earlier and after this I plan to read her other stories ASAP. Megan Crewe imagines our world to be something different, what if the way our lives were was not actually what was happening and that we are truly missing out on something. This story really makes you contemplate a lot of different things, Megan Crewe brings in the idea that life on Earth is an experiment and that there is another life force that is changing reality.

Skylar is an intriguing character, when readers meet her in the beginning, you see that she is special, but you are not absolutely sure in what way. Skylar can sense that things are not always right and it is a scary thought that takes over her body, she has panic attacks and can see things happening that no one else is able to see. When Skylar meets Win, she realizes that she has these feelings because there is something else going on in the world, and the history is being messed with. Skylar begins to help Win as he attempts to stop these aliens from his home planet from experimenting on Earth. What I enjoyed is the way time travel is added into this story, Win and Skylar travel all over time to find missing pieces of a weapon that could save everyone on Earth from these aliens.

Megan Crewe uses this story to show how time can be changed so easily when traveling back, but what Win and Skylar don't realize is that they are also changing history the more they travel. It is almost coming to the point that Skylar can not tell what is reality anymore and they need to fight harder to keep these time-manipulating experiments from happening. This story also kept a great pace, Megan Crewe took her time to explain the idea of these aliens and their experiment, also on how this rebel faction came to be.

I really loved how this story made me think about life and history, thinking about how easily the future could be changed. I want to see where the rest of this series will go from here! I'm so glad I decided to finally pick up a Megan Crewe book, this was a great one to start with, though I can't wait to go and read her past books as well. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: MARY The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Bloody Mary #1
Pages: 256
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: September 2, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?

My Review:

This book was absolutely crazy, I did not expect it to be as creepy as it was, and I am glad that it exceeded my expectations. I was really interested to know how a story about the game Bloody Mary would come to be, and honestly this book really brought the ghost story to life even more. What I really found that made this book was the history of Mary Worth as these girls try to save themselves from this ghost.

Jess, Shauna, Kitty and Anna are a group of friends that one night decide to play Bloody Mary, but things end up going wrong and Mary comes out of the mirror and attempts to get her revenge. This situation really shows the friendship of these four girls as Mary sets her sights on one of them. Their lives are changed as Mary has the power to show up in any reflective surface, so Shauna begins to follow clues to find out who exactly Mary was.

Hillary Monahan definitely takes the idea of Bloody Mary to another level, I really believe that adding in historical factors to this story made it that much more enjoyable. Readers see a different side of Mary Worth, and as Shauna gets closer to certain details she finds out that there are many secrets still left to be uncovered. Hillary Monahan gave us a story to remember and definitely a great Halloween read. The scenes with Mary coming out of the mirror were so well written that I had to stop reading them at night because I felt I would get nightmares and not be able to look in a mirror again.

This book will definitely keep kids these days from ever wanting to try to call Bloody Mary themselves. I am interested to see what Hillary has next for the characters and for Bloody Mary. If you are looking for a good scare, I recommend checking this book out for sure! I for one can't wait for more of Mary's history. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review: Visions by Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Random House Canada
Series: Cainsville #2
Pages: 496
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 19, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In the second book in bestselling author Kelley Armstrong's exciting new Cainsville series, Olivia's newly discovered power to read omens leads to the discovery of a gruesome crime with troubling connections to her hometown.

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong's Cainsville series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel's past mistakes come to light, creating a rift between them just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia's certain it's another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman with a connection to Cainsville went missing just days earlier--the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has Olivia's new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia's effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don't want revealed.

My Review:

I remember when Omens came out last year, everything about the book intrigued me, and when I read it I fell in love with the world Kelley Armstrong created. The first book was a great introduction to the characters and the town of Cainsville, so I jumped into this one as soon as I could. Visions starts off right where Omens leaves off, so it is nice to read these right after one another. I can absolutely say that this book definitely keeps up the dark tone of the first one and it will keep you interested and asking lots of questions.

These books are difficult to talk about without spoiling too much of what happens, especially with this being a sequel. But I will talk about the things I can, like the relationships that you get in this book. A lot of the characters from the first book obviously come back, and readers see Olivia still attempting to come to terms with her new life and trying to learn more about who her real parents are. Gabriel is helping Olivia more and it comes at the most dangerous time for her, she is seeing things that tell of danger nearby, and yet leave many more lingering questions.

I really loved seeing more of Patrick, he helps Olivia understand a little more of the history of Cainsville, and yet still leaves a good amount of questions. There are also some new characters that come around and bring up some new questions. Cainsville has so much history and there are so many things Olivia still does not know about herself and her family background. The people I am still the most interested in all of this are "the elders", they know so much and yet they are rarely around, I see big things coming from them in the future of this series.

This is what really makes this series so intriguing is how Kelley Armstrong slowly reveals things and yet still leaves you needing more answers. Armstrong definitely knows how to keep readers on the hook and I believe readers will definitely continue coming back to this creepy little town. I also have to say that the way Armstrong ended this book truly left me wanting the next book right now, things are definitely becoming more interesting and more creepy as Armstrong continues this story. Prepare yourself for a ride when you dive into the Cainsville series!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Midnight Thief #1
Pages: 376
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 8, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

In her arresting debut novel, Livia Blackburne creates a captivating world where intrigue prowls around every corner—and danger is a way of life.

My Review:

Wow, this was such a great book, I had been really excited about this when I first heard about the story because it sounded so intriguing. I definitely believe that this story is as great as many people have been saying. I truly enjoyed all the characters and I'm interested to see where the story will go from here.

Kyra is very used to getting by on her own, and all of a sudden she is offered a job that will help her get by. What Kyra doesn't realize is the kind of trouble that she could eventually get into, and she is pulled in to this mission, that she truly knows nothing about. What is amazing about Kyra is that she is not only thinking about herself, she has her own special family of people that she wants to help protect as well. I absolutely adored Kyra's loyalty to those she sees as family, she is an amazing character that fights for what she believes in.

What really caught my attention with the story was when Kyra and Tristam are placed together, there is something about throwing two people from opposite ends that really make a story. Many secrets come out on their journey together that will change both their lives. Livia Blackburne has created an amazing new world in MIDNIGHT THIEF and so much can change in an instant.

There is a lot of action and intrigue, but the characters are the ones that make this story what it truly is. Watching as they deal with difficult situations and especially seeing Kyra try to make the best of a hard life shows how strong of a character she is. Kyra has friends behind her that are her family and she wants them to be happy as well, I cannot wait to see what more Blackburne has for readers in the future. This was an amazing opening to a new series and I am excited for more of Kyra and learning more about her life. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: The Naturals #1
Pages: 308
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: November 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

My Review:

I was quite taken with this book, it took me some time to really get into the story and everything that was happening but once things started coming together the book truly got interesting. I felt this book was similar to an episode of Criminal Minds with teenagers. This book had a great supernatural type element to it, but Jennifer Lynn Barnes also adds in the creepy aspect with chapters titled YOU that seem to be the person that is on a killing spree.

To be honest, when I first started reading this book I really didn't think I would enjoy it all that much, but as I saw Cassie learn more about her ability and really grow up a little more I began to like her as a character. The characters in the book all have their own special ability that when they work as a team, help them be able to track down serial killers. It is interesting to see how Cassie trains, she learns to track habits of people and work backwards to learn the behaviour of a person.

What really kept me interesting, was the underlying mystery of the murder of Cassie's mother. Cassie believes that by joining the program she will be able to find her mother's murderer, I felt that it added a great backstory to Cassie's life and why she would jump at the chance to join such a special program.

If you are a fan of mystery/thrillers, or CRIMINAL MINDS, this book would be a great one to pick up. I'm interested to see what is next for these characters after everything that went down in this book. It was a great start to a series, that I believe will become darker as the books continue on. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 272
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: March 4, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Like Alice Munro and Colm Tóibín, Tessa Hadley possesses the remarkable ability to transform the mundane into the sublime—an eye for the beauty, innocence, and irony of ordinary lives that elevates domestic fiction to literary art. In Clever Girl, she offers the indelible story of one woman's life, unfolded in a series of beautifully sculpted episodes that illuminate an era, moving from the 1960s to today.

Written with the celebrated precision, intensity, and complexity that have marked her previous works, Clever Girl is a powerful exploration of family relationships and class in modern life, witnessed through the experiences of an Englishwoman named Stella. Unfolding in a series of snapshots, Tessa Hadley's involving and moving novel follows Stella from childhood, growing up with her single mother in a Bristol bedsit, into the murky waters of middle age.

It is a story vivid in its immediacy and rich in drama—violent deaths, failed affairs, broken dreams, missed chances. Yet it is Hadley's observations of everyday life, her keen skill at capturing the ways men and women think and feel and relate to one another, that dazzles, pressing us to exclaim with each page, Yes, this is how it is.

My Review:

I truly had an amazing experience reading this book, Tessa Hadley truly brings Stella's life out in the pages of the story. Not only do readers experience Stella growing up but it also shows how the environment affects people, as Stella grows up in the 1960's and moves through time.

Stella has a difficult life and she seems to fight back when she can, this story shows that some people will not let all this drama get to them and they will keep climbing and adapting to the changes around them. Readers meet Stella as a young girl who has a bright mind, but through many troubles she grows and learns about herself. This is a story about a smart girl who has some difficult decisions to make, and the people she meets throughout her life really change her experiences.

This is a book that truly shows the challenges of life that many people go through, and Tessa Hadley truly brings out an experience in her story. The relationships that Stella has through her life truly define how she turns out as an adult. I really enjoyed seeing the different people that come in and out of Stella's life and those that really help her learn how to do things. These people truly make a difference to Stella helping her get back on her feet after many troubling times.

It is nice to read a book that deals with such realistic situations, it is what truly kept me going with this story. I wanted to read about someone who has to deal with tough, real life problems, and seeing that they can get through life and fight through problems and come out stronger than before. Truly, this was an amazing book that I recommend to many people!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog Tour: Haze by Paula Weston

Publisher: Tundra
Series: The Rephaim #2
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from Tundra Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 9, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Gaby Winters' life used to be pretty normal. She lived with her best friend. She worked in a library. She was slowly getting over the death of her twin brother, Jude. And then Rafa came looking for her.

With him, her blood-soaked nightmares stopped. But now they are reality. She is one of the Rephaim - a wingless half angel, descended from the Fallen. Demons exist and they are hunting her.

She knows she's alive when she's meant to be dead. And that means maybe Jude is too. So why isn't she out there looking for him?

My Review:

Around this time last year I was asked to take part in the blog tour for the first book in this series SHADOWS and I enjoyed everything that was happening. There was mystery and action, so when I was offered the chance to take part in the tour for the second book I definitely jumped at the chance. HAZE begins right where SHADOWS leaves off, if the first book had a good amount of mystery and action, this book picks up right along with that.

Throughout this book Gaby is still reeling from the revelations that were brought about her life and she is still trying to come to grips of the person she was in the past. As the demons continually hunt for Gaby, she begins to believe that her brother Jude may be alive. This book attempts to answer some questions that readers have from the first book, but there are still so many questions left, which will definitely keep readers coming back for more from Paula Weston.

There is still so much going on, and I wonder how long this series will go on for, there is a good amount of action, but I feel like the story is still a bit slow and there is a lot of information still being thrown at readers. Paula Weston adds in a little more history that adds more to the danger of the Rephaim, making readers want to see more and really get deep into the memories of what has happened with Gaby and Jude in the past.

The characters are still just as amazing as I thought in the first book, each of them is tough, especially some of the newer characters, and yet they have a vulnerability to them as well, making them very well-rounded. I am interested to see if things will heat up in the next book, and I hope I don't have to wait too long for more of all these characters.

Also as a part of this tour, I took a character quiz and I ended up with Maggie. I definitely loved hearing that. Check out the books to learn more about her and everyone else!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Claudine by Barbara Palmer

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 2, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Maria Lantos has a secret. She’s a post-grad student researching early erotic literature at Yale who puts her studies to work after hours as a courtesan named Claudine specializing in erotic role play. Her allure and stock of sexual tricks command top dollar from international clients. When Maria receives anonymous text messages filled with chilling threats, she knows her secret is out, and someone is hunting her—someone who knows a lot about her past and who’s intent on playing a starring role in her present.

As Claudine, she loves the brief anonymous liaisons that allow her to explore the darker side of power and desire. But now it’s Maria’s turn. Two men—charismatic Yale professor Reid Whitman and her business manager, Andrei Barinov—will test the limits of her sexuality and safety, forcing her to discover the depth of the dark places within her.

Claudine combines the pace of a thriller, the deep emotional connection of a romance, and the heat of a beautiful woman’s sexual discovery.

My Review:

This book is so far out of my comfort zone, but it just sounded so intriguing I thought I needed to try something different. I am very glad I got my hands on a copy of this story because it was intense but I loved every minute of my experience with this book. Maria Lantos is someone who is still growing up and learning about life experiences, but she has a secret life on the side to help her pay her way through school. When all of a sudden her secret is on the verge of coming out and Maria is being threatened by someone who knows more about her than they should.

What I absolutely adored about this book was how the mystery became so intense and there were so many suspects, you could not figure out what would come next. Palmer really knows how to draw her readers into the story, she breaks up the mystery and romance giving readers a good amount of both. I was very interested in Maria's life outside of her courtesan side. Maria is so used to this life that she has closed herself off to those people that want to get close to her, it is best for her not to get close because she has a troubled past.

I don't want to go into too much detail because it would give things away about this book, but Barbara Palmer definitely knows how to write scenes that will creep you out and go into a scene a few pages later that is hot and very sexy. This is a story about a woman who is learning more about herself and learning to let go of certain parts of her life. Maria lets two men truly test her ability to not only truly love herself but to let someone else love her. This was a beautiful story that I'm glad has taken me out of my comfort zone and I really hope this book opens me up to discover new authors in a genre I have been previously hesitant to pick up.

Don't let the romance aspect of this book fool you, it is a beautiful book with a thrilling mystery added in. I believe that people will be talking about this book for awhile. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Forget Me by K.A. Harrington

Publisher: Putnam
Pages: 288
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 7, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

An edge-of-your seat psychological thriller with a romantic twist

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as "Evan Murphy." She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive.

Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents' involvement in this massive web of lies.

My Review:

This story really caught my attention after reading the synopsis, I really wanted to know what secrets would come out in the end. I found myself immersed in the story as Morgan is trying to find out what happened to Flynn and why Evan looks to be the exact same person. This book has a great creepy, mysterious feel to it and I just wanted to keep going to find everything out.

I really enjoyed the mystery Harrington has going on in this story, as Morgan and Evan dig into the mystery of who Flynn is, many secrets are revealed that delve far deeper into the town then Morgan could prepare herself for. Many more people are involved, and Morgan begins to question what she truly knows about her parents and what happened in her town to bring it down.

Morgan's best friend was a great addition to the book, she is the opposite of Morgan and is the one pushing her to really dig into things. It was great to see someone get Morgan out of her room after dealing with the death of Flynn, it doesn't seem like many people are there for Morgan. There are many great characters that help make up this story, but the plot is what really kept my attention, as Morgan and Evan get closer to the truth, things seem to become more dangerous.

K. A. Harrington has written an intriguing story that I believe will catch the attention of many readers. I did not want to put this book down, and at a time where I am having trouble getting through a lot of books this one went by quickly. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman

Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pages: 640
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 3, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A post-apocalyptic literary epic in the tradition of The Handmaid's Tale, Divergent and Cloud Atlas, and a breakout book in North America for a writer of rare and unconventional talent.

From Guardian First Book Award finalist Sandra Newman comes an ambitious and extraordinary novel of a future in which bands of children and teens survive on the detritus--physical and cultural--of a collapsed America. When her brother is struck down by Posies--a contagion that has killed everyone by their late teens for generations--fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star pursues the rumour of a cure and sets out on a quest to save him, her tribe and what's left of their future. Along the way she faces broken hearts and family tragedy, mortal danger and all-out war--and much growing up for the girl who may have led herself and everyone she loves to their doom.

My Review:

This book took me quite awhile to get through, it was a difficult story to wrap my head around at certain points. The most difficult part of this book was the writing style, the way Ice Cream Star speaks is hard to understand sometimes. It is interesting to see how Ice Cream Star tries to save her brother, she will do anything to save her family from this disease that has been killing everyone. When a rumour comes around that there is a cure for what is called "Posies", Ice Cream will do anything to find it.

That is the one thing I truly loved about this book, for such a young girl she is a very determined person. It is interesting to see a girl like Ice Cream try to grow up in a post-apocalyptic world as is seen in this book. The world that Sandra Newman has created is one where children do not usually grow older than twenty, so it is a world full of young looking after the young, it definitely makes for some difficult conversations.

I am having trouble describing everything that happened in this book, it is a long story where many things happen to Ice Cream as she gains perspective on the world and the people around her. There are a lot of secondary characters who are in and out of Ice Cream's life throughout the book, and each of them have a huge impact on her future plans. I have to say that this is a book I would like to go back and reread in the future because I believe I missed out on a lot of information the first time around since it took me so long to get through. This book is one of a kind and I see it being a popular book, readers will just have to have the time to invest in reading this. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Love by the Morning Star by Laura L. Sullivan

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: June 3, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Upstairs, downstairs, and in which lady’s chamber?

On the brink of World War II, two girls are sent to  the grand English country estate of Starkers. Hannah, the half-Jewish daughter of a disgraced distant relative, has been living an artistic bohemian life in a cabaret in pre-war Germany and now is supposed to be welcomed into the family. Anna, the social-climbing daughter of working-class British fascists, is supposed to be hired as a maid so that she can spy for the Nazis. But there’s a mix-up, and nice Hannah is sent to the kitchen as a maid while arrogant Anna is welcomed as a relative.

And then both girls fall for the same man, the handsome heir of the estate . . . or do they?

In this sparkling, saucy romance, nearly everything goes wrong for two girls who are sent to a grand English estate on the brink of World War II—until it goes so very, very right!

My Review:

Well, this was an interesting enough book, but it took me some time to get through everything that was happening. Through an honest mistake two girls seem to get mixed up when they are sent to the same house under different circumstances. There are so many little mistakes that make this book what it is, a cute and funny story about unknown identities.

I really can say that I adored Hannah in this story, she is a cute girl who is very new to this world, and it really shows in the way she acts. What really makes everything in this story is the joy that Hannah brings to everyone around her. Hannah is such an upbeat person, who is always found singing whenever and wherever she can. I enjoy how Hannah just says what is on her mind, she is very open, yet at the same time very naive to what is happening around her. Anna on the other hand is someone who is difficult to like, she seems to be a bit stuck up, but I can see why she is so hardened to the world around her. Anna does not truly understand everything that is happening during the war, and is really only taking cues from those closest to her.

The romance aspect in this book is fun and so cute, I enjoyed how both of these girls fall in love with the same man, and yet their stories are so different. The romance for both of them starts off in a similar way and yet each of them take a different turn, they are always meeting in the dark of night and their discussions are so brilliant and cultured.

Though I could see where things were going with this story, it was enjoyable. One of those books where things just seem to get worse and each mistake leads to another, yet despite these small things there is a good amount of humour to everything that happens, with all the drama you have to have some cuteness added in. I can guarantee this is not a book for everyone but it is a quick read that fans of a writer like Sophie Kinsella will enjoy. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 310
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 8, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

My Review:

I will say this again and again when a new Rainbow Rowell book comes out, she has my heart and I will love anything that she writes, young adult or adult, all her books are adorable and I just want to curl up with the story. Landline is no different, this is a great book about looking back on past mistakes and trying to fix them, seeing where things have gone wrong.

This book really made me think about the things I would be able to do if I could contact someone from my past. How would things change for me now if I could change an old relationship? I really love how Rainbow Rowell shows that by going back, a person can realize their mistakes and try to work through their problems.

Georgie really has the chance to reflect on one of the most difficult times of her life and it makes her wonder if her life would have been better if things ended up differently. There are a lot of great flashback scenes to when Georgie and Neal first meet, and readers really get to see how their relationship grows. The flashbacks to their first meeting and Georgie trying to get Neal's attention really were my favourite parts of this book, because it gives us a deeper look into their relationship.

This story is a great way to be able to reflect on the past and wonder what route would be the best for both parties. Honestly, I love that Rainbow's adult books are different than her YA, these books deal with such different topics and yet it is still a great book about relationships, and in a way growing up. If you haven't experienced Rainbow Rowell's adult writing I think this is a great one to start with, though you definitely should also pick up all of her backlist titles, just to see how she grows with each book she writes. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Giveaway: Omens and Visions by Kelley Armstrong (CA only)

Kelley Armstrong is an amazing Canadian writer and if you haven't had the chance to check out her newest adult series The Cainsville Series, you should definitely start. Today the second book in the series (Visions) comes out in hardcover, and the first book, Omens (which I was lucky enough to review last year) is available in paperback.

Thanks to the amazing people over at Random House of Canada, I am giving away a copy of Omens in paperback and a hardcover copy of Visions. This contest is available only for Canadians. So if you want to start the series, here is your chance with the first two books. You can enter the contest below. Check out more information below on both books.

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 fiancé, 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.

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago—the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed.

I'm already starting book two, because I am so excited to see more of these characters and reimmerse myself in the creepy world that Kelley has so expertly created. Once again this contest is only open to Canadian residents.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

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

Release Date: August 12, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning ‘red pine', and Oumi, ‘blue sea', while the girls' names were Shirane, ‘white root', and Kurono, ‘black field'. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it.

One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn’t want to see him, or talk to him, ever again.

Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.

My Review:

This book came to me as a surprise, and I cannot express how excited I was when I found out that I received it. Murakami has been a favourite author of mine for awhile and I actually started my blog reviewing one of his earlier books (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle). I am still working through his backlist but learning that there was a new story coming out, I really had trouble holding off and waiting a little bit to really dig into it because I really wanted to devote all my time to reading it. I'm happy that this book has finally come out, I remember being excited about it when I heard he wrote a new one and I was eagerly waiting for it to be translated.

What I have loved about every Murakami book I have read is that his stories really make you think, they are the type of story that you need to devote your time to because you don't want to miss any little thing. This story really takes the idea of how your past affects your future to another level. Tsukuru had this very close group of friends when he was in high school, their lives revolved around one another and then one day he is excommunicated without knowing why. This event has really affected him in his life, as he moves away and attempts to make connections with other people. This is a story of going back and working through some past issues to help Tsukuru get his life back together where something as big as this event is not hanging over his head anymore.

I really enjoyed following Tsukuru's journey as he goes back to find his old friends and find out what happened. It is interesting to see what has happened to these other characters after everything happened, and to truly find out what the cause of the event was. I always wondered why Tsukuru never dug deeper when everything blew up, but as you learn more about his character you see that he just seems to have something happen and just lets it go even though it kills him on the inside. Sara is a great character who brings Tsukuru out of his somewhat introverted personality and really pushes him to confront the past to fix his future.

The only small thing that got me about this book was the ending, there is so much left open-ended, I wanted to know what happened with Tsukuru and know if this journey into the past really does help his future. I felt like there is more to this story and it just abruptly ended on me. Yet even though this bugs me, it also makes me think that Murakmi is ending his book like this to let his audience come up with their own ending, and I do have my own ideas of what happens. I believe it is in how you read the story to how you will decipher the ending.

Honestly, despite this one little issue, Haruki Murakmi will always have a spot on my shelf because his books are so intriguing and very deep, making readers truly think about what is going on in this world. If you do pick up any of his books, I advise you to dedicate a lot of time because you will not want to stop in case you forget or miss something that will affect your reading of the story. Definitely check out any of his books if you haven't yet. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Interference by Michelle Berry

Publisher: ECW Press
Pages: 282
Received: Received a copy from ECW Press in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 12, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

From fall to spring, the inhabitants of Edgewood Drive in the small town of Parkville prove that the simplest lives can be intricate and complicated. The interwoven, layered narrative of Michelle Berry’s Interference moves between Senior Ladies Leisure League hockey, the unsure and awkward life of pre-teens and teens, suspected pedophilia, disfigurement, and cancer. In Interference, there is always someone watching, biding their time — and as this suspense builds the vivaciousness of a congenial neighbourhood, full of life and happiness as well as fear and sorrow, becomes at once more humorous, frightening, and real.

My Review:

This is a bit of a difficult book for me to review, in a way I was interested in the story but I also felt that there was too much going on for me to really follow the story. In my opinion this story had too many characters that made the story difficult to follow at times, and yet I enjoyed the way Michelle Berry connects everyone together even though they all have their own stories. 

This book really shows readers something about small neighbourhoods, I really liked that each of the characters lived in the same neighbourhood and knew each other in one way or another. What this story gives readers is a look into each of the houses, showing us that how things are on the outside are not always what happens behind closed doors. There are so many different emotions running through this book, each of the characters have things to be happy about, and also scared for.

My biggest issue with the book was that because there were so many characters to follow, I felt like many of the stories were left open-ended. I wanted more from some of the stories, to see where they would go, not everything was wrapped up (and I understand it represents real life, but I just wanted a bit of closure with these people). I thought it was interesting how Michelle Berry writes about different characters of all ages, but for the length of this book, there was too much happening. It would have been better if she focused on a few less people, that would have helped the story move along more.

What kept me going through this book was how in a way the neighbourhood of Edgewood Drive reminded me a little bit of where I grew up. I lived in a smaller town, and everyone on the street knew each other and kept an eye on what was going on. Thinking back sometimes I found it weird, but also safe, knowing there are people out there watching your house to see who is around. I'm very back and forth on how I feel about this book, thinking back it was difficult to keep track of who was who, but it was an interesting story about people and the difference between a public face and a private one. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 306
Received: Received a copy from Ranincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 15, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

My Review:

I am recently getting more into the contemporary books, and I have felt that I absolutely needed to read a Miranda Kenneally book to really forge deeper into contemporary. So when the chance came up to get a copy of her newest story, I definitely decided to check it out, and I was in love. I flew through this book without even realizing how much I had read, I refused to put it down because I wanted more of the characters and to really see how Annie would get through.

I can say that I loved the characters Miranda created in this book, and the story of Annie really trying to work through her issues by training to run this marathon. I really loved the detail that Miranda goes into of how hard it is to train for something as big as a marathon for a non-runner, not only the physical part but the emotional as well. A lot of this book details Annie's training for the marathon, but a major part of the story is watching as Annie grows and learns to get over her loss and find her way back to friendships with other people.

Annie meets Jeremiah while training and he helps her through so many of her issues, she begins to trust other people. Jeremiah brings Annie out of her funk and even though he scares her, at the same time he helps her learn that sometimes you need to just live in the now and not be scared of what could happen. Not only is Annie going through a difficult time after losing the one person she really loved, but it is at the most difficult time as she is getting ready for college. Honestly, the way Miranda Kenneally wrote this book had me in love, and I want to go and read more of her stories if they are all like this one. If you like contemporary books with great heart to the story, I say check out Kenneally's writing!

Five Questions with Miranda Kenneally:

Q: Your main character, Annie, is training to run for a marathon.  You also provided a great deal of detail about how hard it is on your body to train for a marathon.  Did you do any background research for this?

A: Yes! In the past I ran a marathon and a half-marathon, so I used experiences from training for those races to write BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE. I also consulted "Runner's World" magazine and interviewed trainers at my gym. I also spoke to a few former pro-athletes.

Q: Running the marathon for Kyle was Annie’s way of coping with her stress and grief.  What advice would you give others in similar situations of grief or stress?

A: I would say give yourself time to heal. Recognize that everyone's healing process is different. Don't beat yourself up if you don't feel better in a certain amount of time; everyone heals in different ways. If you need to, talk to good friends, your guidance counselor, or a therapist.

Q: Recently, there has been a huge trend with dystopian YA novels. Why do you choose to write realistic fiction?

A: To tell you the truth, I would love to write sci-fi or fantasy, but I've never been all that great at world-building. I love reading write what you love reading.

Q: What are your favourite books so far this year?

A: I've loved A MAD, WICKED FOLLY by Sharon Biggs Waller, CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, and THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkowski. Also, it doesn't come out until  2015, but I got a sneak peak at Trish Doller's next book THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, which is an awesome thriller.

Q: Your books take place in a small town. Is your hometown similar to the one in your books?

A: Yes, my books take place in Franklin, Tennessee, which is near where I grew up (Manchester, TN). I use real restaurants and landmarks from Franklin, Manchester, and the surrounding towns in my books. Only a couple of the schools I mention are real. Most of them are named after shopping malls in TN.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch

Publisher: Random House Children's
Series: Knot's Duology #2
Pages: 480
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 8, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A sequel to the action-packed The Oathbreaker's Shadow by debut Canadian YA author Amy McCulloch.

Raim is no closer to figuring out the meaning of the broken vow that sentenced him to exile for life. But with his former best friend now a tyrannical Khan who is holding the girl Raim loves captive, he finds it hard to care. Every day, he and Draikh learn more about their powers, but it quickly becomes clear that he will never be able to stop Khareh and free Wadi unless he can free himself from the ultimate taboo of his people. Reluctantly, Raim begins the long journey down to the dangerous South, to find the maker of his oath.

In Khareh's camp, Wadi is more than capable of devising her own escape plan, but she's gradually realizing she might not want to. The more she learns about Khareh, the more confused she becomes. He's done unquestionably bad things, horrific even, but he's got big dreams for Darhan that might improve their dire situation. What's more, rumours of a Southern king massing an army to invade Darhan are slowly gaining ground. Only if the Northern tribes can come together under a single ruler will they have the strength to fight the South - but what if that ruler is an impulsive (albeit brilliant) young man, barely able to control his ever-growing power, and missing the one part of him that might keep him sane?

Whoever conquers the desert, wins the war. And the secret to desert survival lies in Lazar, which is set to become the heart of a great battle once again.

My Review:

I loved The Oathbreaker's Shadow when it was published last year, and after reading it I was definitely excited to see where it would go. The Shadow's Curse was such an amazing sequel and a great ending to the story. I believe that Amy McCulloch created an amazing world with characters that really stand out to readers.

This book picks up as Raim begins his journey to find out about his broken vow, he learns that finding out about this will change his life. But his main focus is to save Wadi from Khareh and stop whatever disaster will happen with him in charge. The story follows Raim's journey as he tries to save Wadi from his friend and himself from his broken oath, then we also get to see Wadi as she travels with Khareh and readers see how things have changed for him so much since he has become ruler.

Amy really wrote a story that keeps readers intrigued and wondering who will become the single ruler of all of Darhan. There is a good amount of action, but you also get to know Raim more, and see what truly matters to him. The communication between Raim and Draikh are amazing, he is the one who keeps Raim going and helps him learn more about his abilities, Draikh is the friend that Raim lost in Khareh.

As I came closer to the end, I was getting sad to see how it would end, yet I was excited to see where the story would go for Raim, and I was very surprised at what happens. I believe that Amy McCulloch ended her series perfectly and yet leaves you wanting more from all the characters (in a good way). This book brings readers deeper into the world that McCulloch created in The Oathbreaker's Shadow, and really takes us more into Raim's history. If you haven't picked up either book yet, this is the time to sit down and read through both at once. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Publisher: Harper
Series: Queen of the Tearling #1
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 8, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

My Review:

There has been so much hype around this book, that I have been a little nervous about picking it up, but so many of my good friends have recommended it to me that I couldn't shy away. And to be honest I am glad I didn't, this book was such a great read, there is so much to learn about the land of the Tearling and the history behind everything, that I found myself immersed and wanting to come back to this world that Johansen has created.

The characters are all so unique and I wanted to know more about some of them, but this is mainly a book about Kelsea coming of age and really growing up during a difficult time. She has been hidden away for years and trained to learn about the Tearling kingdom, because she is destined to take over. Readers see that Kelsea has a lot to deal with when she gets to the kingdom, so much has changed and she has a lot of work to make this kingdom better and bring a lot of change. Erika Johansen takes her time introducing everything and that is what makes this book such an amazing opening to a series.

Not only is there a lot of information, but there is also some great action mixed in with the story. Kelsea seems to be a sheltered girl with no knowledge of the kingdom but she has a team of guards to help protect her, and trust me, there is a lot of danger around her. Kelsea needs to prove herself and I love how her attitude really shines and she proves that she can truly be a leader. Not only does Kelsea have to learn to rule but she has her own life to figure out, she needs to learn who she is as a person now that she is in this new position and no longer in hiding. Kelsea is unsure if she is prepared for this job, but she will try to do her best, and I am so excited to see what things she does next to really take control of the Tearling.

I will say there were a few times that I felt I lagged while reading this book, but all in all I wanted to keep coming back to it and see what else Kelsea would do. I loved watching her change over the course of this book and really come into her role as a queen. I think if you are a fan of fantasy books, this is one that you should add to you pile, it has a little bit of everything but the story takes it's time and really lets the reader get to know everything instead of just throwing you right in the middle of the story. 


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