Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 3, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco's parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family's Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco's charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

Sweeping through time and spanning generations and continents, The Japanese Lover explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives. Written with the same attention to historical detail and keen understanding of her characters that Isabel Allende has been known for since her landmark first novel The House of the SpiritsThe Japanese Lover is a profoundly moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.

My Review:

This book was just so absolutely beautiful, I was enamored with the story and how everything played out for the characters. It's a story about how the past can affect someone's future, and this is truly a story of a love that will never die. Isabel Allende writes a story that will touch readers and really make them believe in a love story.

There is a back and forth as readers get to know Alma as she is now and how she got to this point in her life. This is a beautiful love story, in a tough time and Ichimei and Alma lose time together because of the war. Not only is this a love story and the life of Alma, but also learning about Irina's past and a new love life for her. Irina learns a lot about herself through helping Alma and learning that no one's past is perfect.

Isabel Allende has a beautiful way of having readers connect with her characters, I loved reading about Alma and Ichimei as they continue to reunite over the years and they never forget one another. This story is about that one love that is lost and yet never forgotten, Alma wants to always remember her first love even though they lost each other over the years. I loved seeing Irina and Seth learning about Alma together and watching them grow together as Seth helps Irina overcome her own troubles.

Through generations Alma and Ichimei's love grows even though they are apart, and through a deep search Seth and Alma learn about them through letters written to Alma every month. I loved Alma's energy in her older age, she is truly a force to be reckoned with and she does everything she can to remember her one true love. Honestly, it is hard to talk about some of the things that happen, but this book truly made me believe in soul mates and shows that a true love will never die as long as you remember it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Review: The Quick by Lauren Owen

Publisher: Random House
Pages: 523
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 17, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

An astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London 

London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.

My Review:

I was truly interested in the idea of this book, a large book with a fantastical world taking place during the Victorian age. This was quite a long story with a lot of information flying around. It takes some time to really understand everything that is happening because there are many different views of this special society.

Lauren Owen really details every aspect, which makes this book feel so much more realistic for readers. I could imagine all these little secret meetings happening, and the different groups all trying to come together to find out what exactly is happening. Each of the characters are unique and bring a different aspect to the story. We see how others react to the Aegolius Club, and what kind of things they want to do about it.

I felt that the descriptions really brought out the creepiness of the story that much more, just because everything came to life for me as a reader. At times it reminded me a little of Dracula by Bram Stoker as well, with the journal entries added in throughout to really bring out the story. It is definitely a drawn out story that took me some time to get into, but at the same time there is this mystery behind everything that really keeps you going even though it seems that the story may not be going anywhere.

The other part of the book that truly kept me going was the relationship between James and his sister, Charlotte. It is this strong bond between these two that brings Charlotte into this dark world and why the Aegolius Club comes out into the open. When Charlotte doesn't hear from James, she goes out in search for him and the things she finds is a lot worse than she could have ever dreamed.

There are some interesting twists to the story, though some do come out early on, and then there is a lot left to go through, which is what made this book a little difficult for me at times. The details really help the story, but they hindered it at times as well. What I loved was the romantic aspect of the book, it is very subtle at times, but there are some great scenes that deal with many relationships. I kind of wished those were detailed a little more sometimes.

This is not a book for everyone, the strong details will deter many people (I almost stopped reading quite a few times) but at the same time, it was a fun and intense thriller at other times. It is a book that I will remember but I do believe there are many other books out there that have dealt with this subject material in a much better way.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Review: Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 432
Received: Received an e-copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 20, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own, from the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony’s last survivor, Severin will never return.

Aesthetically recalling A Trip to the Moon and House of Leaves, and told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.

My Review:

This book was so different from many other books that I have read in the past, it is one that really makes you think and see things from a new perspective. This is a beautiful book that I truly immersed myself in, imagine what it is like to watch your favourite film, now imagine what it would be like to know how everything comes together, and you can watch it being filmed scene by scene, that is what this book is like.

This book reimagines the film industry, bringing back the idea of the silent film and how it is so much better than film with voices, it tells more of a story for the audience. Severin Unck is the daughter of a famous silent film director and yet she goes off on her own to make her own documentary about traveling through space. Though somehow something goes wrong on the last trip and Severin never returns home, this book is the story of her growing up and how she became what she did through the eyes of everyone around her.

I loved how Caherynne Valente wrote this story, it is very unique and will definitely appeal to many science fiction lovers out there because of how different it is. There are different styles throughout the story, from interviews to a scene by scene explanation of a movie, this book has everything to it. It is beautifully written and I know that the story will stay with me forever. This is a book that shows about love and loss and the characters all try to show their love and memories in different ways. I loved learning about Severin and how she came to be who she is and what made her get into the line of work she did. You can see from others' stories that she was tough and was the type of person who loved fiercely.

Readers are desperately trying to find out what happened to Severin and it is one of the mystery books that glimpsing into the past can give more of an insight into the present. It's a book that is very difficult to put down because you just want to stay in this world and learn more and more about each of the characters. I don't want to give away the story, I just want to say that it is so unique and if you are interested in a storyline that uses a different type of narrative this would be the one for you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 256
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: February 4, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

An international bestseller, The Taste of Apple Seeds is a story of love and loss that will captivate your heart

When Iris unexpectedly inherits her grandmother's house in the country, she also inherits the painful memories that live there.

Iris gives herself a one-week stay at the old house, after which she'll make a decision: keep it, or sell it. The choice is not so simple, though, for her grandmother's cottage is an enchanting place where currant jam tastes of tears, sparks fly from fingertips, love's embrace makes apple trees blossom, and the darkest family secrets never stay buried.

As Iris moves in and out of the flicker between remembrance and forgetting, she chances upon a forgotten childhood friend who could become more.

The Taste of Apple Seeds is a bittersweet story of heartbreak and hope passed down through the generations.

My Review:

To be honest, I picked up this book because I was taken by the cover so much, it just drew my eyes that I didn't really think much about the synopsis, then I took a quick glance at what it was about and thought it would be kind of interesting. I always love a good story about family secrets and how when we go back, we remember things that may have been hidden from us long before.

After Iris' grandmother passes away, she is surprised when she inherits the house... she is not too sure if she wants to keep it now that she has her own life somewhere else. Iris is convinced that she can decide what to do with the house if she lives in it for a week and see what she gets out of it. The house holds so much more than Iris ever could have expected, family secrets and memories of herself and cousins as children, but it also brings back people from the past that will help her put her memories in order and maybe even help her realize her future.

There were great parts to this story, especially the idea of going back to a childhood home to remember the past. Katharina Hagena really brings out the idea of family in this story and how an enchanting place can really bring back those feelings of happy times. The one thing about this book was that the back and forth from past memories and the present got a little confusing at times, and it also seemed that there were many different stories going on at once.

I can say that this was a great story about family and memories of the past that answer questions that have been laying dormant for years. But I felt like the book was short and that certain storylines could have gotten more depth to really bring out the story that much more. A lot of this book will touch your heart as you read about Iris's childhood and her relationship with family members, showing why she would be the one to come back to this place, and you can see that Hagena does have a beautiful way of telling a story, if only more detail could be added, this story would be one that is beyond words.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Review: A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Publisher: Hogarth
Pages: 205
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: June 9, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Eimear McBride's debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator's head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn't always comfortable - but it is always a revelation.

Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.

My Review:

This was a beautiful book in so many ways, the different topics that are touched on really make it stand out in a reader's mind. It is truly a realistic portrayal of life in the way that instead of being one perfect stream, it is a story that goes all over the place and is written in a way that a person thinks about things, just jumping from one topic to another.

I was definitely invested in this book, really wanting to learn more about this girl and her relationship with her brother. Now as much as I am saying all this good stuff about this book, I do also want to say that I had a lot of problems getting through the story. Eimear McBride tackled some very hard-hitting issues with this book, but it is very easy to get lost with what exactly is happening because of the writing style. This is a book that really needs a reader's attention, and there will be points where you will want to go back and re-read things because you aren't sure that you understood what exactly happened.

Eimear McBride writes this story as if the reader is truly in the mind of this character, it is how a person would think. There are so many thoughts flying around that it is hard to really keep track of the story, for me this made it hard to follow and stick with, I wanted to give up many times because I was so lost (it also didn't help that I continually put the book down). I believe that this book could easily be a top book for many readers because of the way Eimear brings out such difficult topics, and how she shows a personal struggle against real problems... But at the same time readers need to invest themselves in this book and not leave it for too long of a time otherwise they will be completely lost and you won't be able to find your way back.

At the moment I have to sadly say that this book was not one that I enjoyed, but I do want to shelve it and come back to it in the future when I am more invested in the writing style that McBride has. I am just the type of person who needs everything to line up in an easy way, I enjoy more stories to be a bit more linear rather than a jumble of thoughts, and I am truly disappointed that this book wasn't for me because it is a touching story. And I do recommend it to those that can handle the writing style, just be prepared for a jumble of thoughts!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Publisher: Blazer & Bray
Pages: 384
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: April 21, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

My Review:

OH MY GOD! What in the world did I just do to myself?!?!?!?! This book kind of killed me, I absolutely loved this story and I was so enthralled, but thinking about it, I really don't understand why I loved it so much. This is such a horrible plot and I mean who actually does something like this? But the writing truly pulled me in and I was hooked from the beginning. I wanted to throw the book against a wall (but it was my e-reader so that would have ended badly for me) and yet I felt like it was a train wreck happening and I just couldn't turn away.

Honestly, I flew through this book, I could not stop reading. As the days of the summer continued on, I wanted to know what else Julia would end up getting into. All Julia wants to do is get through her summer with no problems and then be off to university in the fall, but readers quickly see that you can't outrun or even hide from your past, it will always come back to find you.

Julia has ruined her friendships with some of the greatest people and she ran away when everything exploded on her. Now that she is back for the summer after a year away, she has to deal with the fallout from everything, Julia has to work at her friendships again. The problem I had with this book is that Julia gets herself into more trouble when she is back, first she attempts to hide away and then when she actually takes herself out into society, she starts having a good time, until things go wrong.

The one thing I will say is that Katie Cotugno's writing style just draws you in and it's hard to not keep reading because you want things to turn out for the best. This book does truly show that not everyone is perfect and as a teenager Julia is still learning about herself and where she fits in the world. As much as I loved this book though, the ending truly upset me, I understand it shows that who you are in high school does not determine the rest of your life, but so much was still left unsaid.

This book had its ups and downs but I did absolutely love everything, Katie brought me a beautiful story. And I loved how it was written, each chapter is another day of the summer, some are shorter and some are longer, and it's so easy to keep going, just a couple more chapters, until before you realize the book is done and you are longing for more.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Review: Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 7, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A fiercely imagined fiction debut in which two young women face what happened the summer they were twelve, when a handsome stranger abducted them 

Everyone thought we were dead. We were missing for nearly two months; we were twelve. What else could they think? -Lois

It's always been hard to talk about what happened without sounding all melodramatic. . . . Actually, I haven't mentioned it for years, not to a goddamned person. -Carly May

The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still. Maggie Mitchell's Pretty Is beautifully defies ripped-from-the-headlines crime story expectations and announces the debut of a masterful new storytelling talent.

My Review:

This book had quite an interesting premise and I found myself intrigued by the story and seeing how these two girls would live a life after what happened to them. I thought that this was a book that would be a lot about coping with PTSD or something like that. I can say that this story did not end up being what I thought it would at all.

The story follows both Carly May and Lois in their adult lives as they have dealt with the events of the summer they were abducted, and now they are each trying to live their lives away from everything where people won't know them. All of a sudden the past comes rushing back to them when a movie begins to be made that has many similarities to their past events. All of a sudden these two women who have not been in contact are being brought together in very unnatural circumstances to confront what really happened that summer.

I have to say that I didn't really like listening to either of these two characters, it made the book a little difficult for me to get through. Neither of the women were someone that was easy to connect with, and I understand they both have a difficult past that made their future tougher to deal with, but I just felt that they were both still very immature. It takes some time to really learn about the details of the their summer, there are a lot of things that are hinted to, and then there are chapters that come from a book written about an event very similar to their situation, but it is not exactly what happened. I found that it almost seemed easier for Carly May to let go of the past than it was for Lois, and everything comes crashing down for Lois quickly that makes her confront her past a lot sooner.

What I did feel is that this book shows sometimes it is hard to let go of the past, it will stick with you no matter how far you try to run. Both of these girls have tried to forget and let go of that summer and yet it keeps coming back. They need answers as to what really happened and why of all people it was them, and the only way to get the answers is to meet up again after so long. Honestly, I felt a little disappointed by the meeting of these two, I thought it would be intense and there would just be more to it than what actually happens.

I was excited, I believe this book had a lot of potential, it just didn't work for me, it took too long to get into the story at times. And then when readers get the details, it just seems like something was missing. I wished for a little more from this book. I do believe there are people who will like this type of story, it just wasn't my type of book, sadly.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Random House of Canada
Series: Welcome to Cainsville #3
Pages: 458
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 18, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Olivia’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she’s not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders, but also her stalker ex-fiancĂ©.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a
green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating their triangle. Will darkness prevail or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?

My Review:

Oh how happy I am to be back in the town of Cainsville, no matte how creepy things are, I cannot help loving this town. As the story continues, readers slowly learn more about Olivia's past life and why she is so important to the town of Cainsville. Not only does Olivia have the problem of two different groups of fae are fighting for her but her ex-fiance is still stalking her.

I absolutely love what Kelley Armstrong brings to her stories as they continue along, there is always trouble waiting around a corner for Olivia and she realizes that she needs to learn a lot more about the past to understand what is exactly happening to her. These books are the hardest stories to put down because so much continually happens you don't want to lose Olivia's story. Readers have learned more about Olivia's past as she learns about her birth parents, but the town of Cainsville has a history that affects Olivia as well, and this book focuses more on that.

The only thing that was kind of weird is how Kelley Armstrong mixes different historical aspects into this series. It starts out with the history of the fae, but added in is some Greek mythology as well, I'm wondering if there is going to be more supernatural entities added in along the way...

The romance of this book truly keeps readers rapt, yes there is a bit of a love triangle but in a way there is a history behind this triangle that it actually makes sense in this story. Olivia has two people that are the most important people to her and are the ones that will do anything to save her. It's amazing to see how quickly Olivia makes friends and I can truly say Kelley Armstrong does an amazing job writing these relationships and I am interested to see how things will grow between all the characters as the story continues.

Armstrong also brings back more of Olivia's birth parents and we get to learn more about the past and is giving a little more information on what happened, but there is still more investigation into the past murders that still may save her parents. Honestly, this series has kept me in anticipation for the last few years, and I don't want it to stop anytime soon. I have come to love these characters and I really want to see them grow and learn more about themselves, as well as see what will happen in the future now that we know more about the past!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 288
Received: Received an ecopy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 10, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A complete re-imagining of Clarissa Explains it All as 20-something Clarissa tries to navigate the unemployment line, mompreneurs and the collision of two people in love. 

She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads.

After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made – her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers?

All of Clarissa’s charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they’ve evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can’t explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents’ divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, “To-Flue Glue,” and then there’s Sam. Where’s Sam anyway?

Things I Can't Explain is about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties.

My Review:

Oh a book that is a sequel to such a loved children's show, I definitely jumped at the chance for this. Though I may be a bit young, I know of Clarissa Explains It All from watching what my sister did. I have a few memories about this show, but I can definitely say that a lot of things came back as I was reading this book. Now don't get me wrong, you really don't need to know the show to enjoy this book, Mitchell Kriegman brings in a lot of Clarissa's back story to explain how she has gotten where she is now.

It's great to see the story of Clarissa grown up and is dealing with a new life away from where she grew up. Kriegman does an amazing job bringing Clarissa back to life but is now at an age where those who grew up with her can relate to some of the issues she is going through. I love how Kriegman shows the difficulties of going out on your own and starting life, nothing can be perfect, there are always problems that need to be solved before things begin to fall into place. I love the writing style, Clarissa is definitely back and she is still a force to be reckoned with, readers still get this sassy girl who is obsessed with charts and graphs and it helps her control her world around her.

We get a glimpse of Clarissa's parents who definitely bring some great humour to the story and throw a huge wrench in some of her plans. It's great to see how Clarissa's past really shapes her future self and the people that she has befriended over the years, including old friends. You can't have a book like this without bringing back so many old characters, and it truly adds to the story to see these people come back and still have an effect on Clarissa.

Honestly this was such a cute book, though I am disappointed that there are certain people who seem to be missing. Maybe it has more to do with Clarissa moving on with her life and getting away from her past but it would have been nice to have a little more of a certain someone... This is definitely a great sequel to an awesome show from years ago (and I can definitely picture Melissa Joan Hart flawlessly pulling off the roll of Clarissa in her twenties). Doesn't matter if you were a fan of the show when you were a kid or you're just looking for a cute read that will leave you laughing as well, this is for sure a book to pick up!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Review: Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Pages: 400
Received: Received an ecopy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 6, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

My Review:

Well this book definitely had an interesting concept, I'm not too sure on all my feelings about the story, while I was truly taken with everything that was happening, I think I felt lost a couple of times too. But this story intrigued me a lot, the idea that there is a team trying to get political information through people's dreams... Lindsay Smith had a unique idea and truly brought a story that is full of intrigue, drama and even some romance.

Livia has worked hard to become a great dreamstrider, though there have been difficulties in her past she has worked through them and is one of the best talents so that she is able to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. There is a lot of tension throughout the story, Livia and her partner are having some issues and when a new opportunity arises for Livia with a neighbouring kingdom that has come to help them with their assignment, she begins to debate starting anew. Livia has a huge crossroad, one that could be very dangerous, and she is already playing a dangerous game in her job. She is very dedicated though and you can see that she truly regrets her past mistakes and she works hard to make up for them. The other problem for Livia is that she is trying to live up to what people say about her being the best, she doesn't want to look bad to those she looks up to the most in her life and it makes her that much more dedicated to what she does.

I really enjoyed the dream sequences, it was very high fantasy and yet so adventurous as well. The dream world added in some extra danger to the world, at times I kind of felt like there were two different storylines happening in the book, and that confused me sometimes, but by the end I was able to put everything together. I actually enjoyed the dangerous dream story a bit more, Livia is still growing and learning a lot throughout the novel and I always love a book where the main character still has things to understand, there is this rising arc to the story.

There is a lot of world building that and it Lindsay Smith takes her time bringing the reader into the Dreamstrider world, but if you stick through it the story is very well done and I can say it is always interesting. The story has a little bit of everything that will bring in readers from all genres, it's a fun story with a great fantasy world and also mixed into a realistic world with political drama. Definitely give this book a go.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install

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

Release Date: June 30, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Funny, touching, charming, wise and a bit magical, this is a novel that explores what it is to be a man, a sentient being and even a parent. A Robot in the Garden is a gem of a first novel, perfect for anyone who has ever found it difficult to connect with the world.

What would you do if you found a robot in your back garden? For 34-year-old Ben Chambers the answer is obvious: find out where it came from and return it home, even if it means losing his wife in the process. Determined to achieve something for once in his life, Ben embarks on a journey that takes him and the endearing robot, Tang, to the far side of the globe...and back again. Along the way Ben begins to change, subtly at first, and then in ways that only become clear on his return to the house he's always lived in.

My Review:

Oh my gosh, I did not expect to love this book as much as I did, as soon as I finished it, I started passing it around because I thought that everyone I knew needed to have the same experience I did with a story. Honestly, I could not stop reading, I'm pretty sure once I started I read for a few hours straight, and before I knew it the story was over... I was actually sad to have it end as soon as it did, but Deborah Install definitely knew how to keep someone reading.

When Ben wakes up one morning and finds a robot sitting in his backyard garden, it spurs him on a quest to find out where this guy came from and how he got here. Ben wants to return this robot to it's owner and have him repaired before he fully shuts down. It has been awhile since Ben has truly done something worthwhile and his life is falling apart, but this robot who refuses to leave Ben's side brings out another part of Ben that has been hidden for years.

What was amazing about this story was the relationship that grows between Ben and Tang as they travel the world looking for Tang's home, but also learning more about robots in general. Their relationship is what keeps the story going, Tang learns from Ben and his intelligence grows exponentially over the time they spend together. Tang is like a child who learns from those around him, but is also scared of the newer robots because he doesn't understand them and think they are better than him. Tang really helps Ben learn a lot about himself and he grows up on his travels as he learns to take care of someone other than himself and learns to truly love and care for someone that just came out of nowhere.

Everything about this book was absolutely adorable and as I continued to read, I wanted a Tang for myself. This robot learned to love Ben and Tang taught Ben to see that he needed to move on with his life and not let grief overtake him. The adventures that these two go on bring them closer and Ben learns that he can help others.

Honestly, this book made me laugh and cry in such a short period of time. I refused to put this book down, I wanted to continue the journey with these two characters, I fell in love instantly with the story and I was sad when things ended. I truly wanted more of Tang and Ben, but I know that the most important stuff happens at the beginning of the relationship. This book was such an amazing read and I hope everyone loves it as much as I did!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: Love May Fail by Matthew Quick

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 401
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 16, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Portia Kane is having a meltdown. After escaping her ritzy Florida life and her cheating pornographer husband, she finds herself back in South Jersey, a place that remains largely unchanged from the years of her unhappy youth. Lost and alone, looking for the goodness she believes still exists in the world, Portia sets off on a quest to save the one man who always believed in her—and in all of his students: her beloved high school English teacher, Mr. Vernon, who has retired broken and alone after a traumatic classroom incident.

Will a sassy nun, an ex-heroin addict, a metal-head little boy, and her hoarder mother help or hurt Portia's chances on this quest to resurrect a good man and find renewed hope in the human race? Love May Fail is a story of the great highs and lows of existence: the heartache and daring choices it takes to become the person you know (deep down) you are meant to be.

My Review:

Another Matthew Quick story, these are always hard to not love, Quick definitely has a way of drawing readers in, even when his characters are the most annoying people you could meet. Truly, Matthew Quick writes stories that will leave you wanting more from the characters, wondering what happened with them after the book has ended.

The book opens with Portia Kane going through tough times, she is having a meltdown and ends up back home with her mother, who herself is not easy to deal with. Portia decides that she needs to find herself after being put down all these years with her husband and she begins a journey of self-discovery. The people that she meets (or reconnects with) along the way, are an eccentric group of people, all with their own journeys and problems to fix. Portia not only finds herself but along the way helps some unfortunate souls, but these people also help Portia learn about herself and teach her to do things for herself.

I always find it difficult to describe a Matthew Quick book because they are all so unique, what I loved is that Portia has been put down and she stopped believing in herself, now that she is on her own she needs to learn to trust herself. In her own way, Portia believes that she needs the help of the one person whose memory has kept her going but who has lost his own self. A lot of the story revolves around Portia but at the same time we get glimpses into some of the other characters' lives as well. There is a section that focuses on each of the characters, all who have their own problems they need to get past to be able to love themselves and these people connect in each of their quests to find hope in mankind.

Matthew Quick has so much humour, but it is amidst so much drama, his stories have everything that a reader could ask for in a story... there is romance, but there is trials and tribulations, but among all this is the strength a person has to restart their life. Matthew Quick truly brings real life situations to the forefront, Portia has a lot to come to terms with, is it possible to really restart when you have given up so early in life? Quick's stories always has me strive to be a better person and work hard for the things I truly want because the other option is regret and sadness.

This story is inspiring (like many of his others) and I can see Matthew's name being talked about for years to come because of how great his stories are. Definitely an author that needs to be read!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: The Incarnations by Susan Barker

Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 384
Received: Received a copy from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 18, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Who are you? you must be wondering. I am your soulmate, your old friend, and I have come back to this city of sixteen million in search of you.

So begins the first letter that falls into Wang’s lap as he flips down the visor in his taxi. The letters that follow are filled with the stories of Wang’s previous lives—from escaping a marriage to a spirit bride, to being a slave on the run from Genghis Khan, to living as a fisherman during the Opium Wars, and being a teenager on the Red Guard during the cultural revolution—bound to his mysterious “soulmate,” spanning one thousand years of betrayal and intrigue.

As the letters continue to appear seemingly out of thin air, Wang becomes convinced that someone is watching him—someone who claims to have known him for over one thousand years. And with each letter, Wang feels the watcher growing closer and closer…

Seamlessly weaving Chinese folklore, history, and literary classics, The Incarnations is a taut and gripping novel that sheds light on the cyclical nature of history as it hints that the past is never truly settled.

My Review:

Wow, that was the first thing that was in my mind when I finished the last page of this book and closed the cover... I almost debated on turning the book over and starting it over again, it was such an amazing read. I really have to thank Michele from Just A Lil' Lost for recommending this book to me. We have very similar tastes and she told me how much I would love it and she was so very right!

This is a book that you want to sit down with and you don't want to let it go, as I traveled deeper into the story, I got more confused as to what was happening, but I knew if I continued all the answers would come together. So much of this book goes into the ancient idea of reincarnation after death, and some people are connected from past lives. When the book opens Wang receives a letter talking about how someone knows all about him and his past lives. As the book continues, each life is detailed and you can see how the personalities all match in a small way.

Susan Barker truly brought an amazing story to life with The Incarnations, she brings Chinese tradition to the forefront and mixes in history and even literary classics to the story. Honestly, the way Susan brings each of Wang's lives to the forefront and the mystery of who is writing all this to him will keep readers on their feet. I wanted to know who this "soulmate" of Wang's was that seemed to try to get him to snap. The chapters switch from Wang's perspective attempting to find this mysterious person watching over him to the letters, some that are detailed stories of each past life trying to get him to remember who he once was. I love how these past lives always come back around showing that what is in the past doesn't always stay in the past...

I wasn't sure how much I liked Wang's character in this book, he seemed very passive and let others walk all over him, but I couldn't help but watch as he became more aggressive as he got scared about this "watcher" leaving strange letters for him. Imagine someone leaving you letters detailing the things you do on a daily basis and telling you they see you and your family every night, who wouldn't become more aggressive in finding this person before you get hurt.

The Incarnations is truly a masterpiece of a book that left me thinking about it long after I closed the cover. Even the ending left me a bit confused, but like I said it is a book that you take your time and Susan Barker definitely wants you thinking about everything when you've finished. This book has stuck in my mind especially because I wasn't sure how to write a review on this, I felt that this story was such an experience for me as a reader and I loved every moment of it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: September 1, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

My Review:

Okay, so I truly do not know what to say about this book. I have been trying to think about it, and it's been some time since I have finished it but it was such a weird story and I don't really know if I would truly classify this as a teen book, it felt a little more adult to me. This book is very much a western story and that is what kind of drew me in, I've never really read something like this before.

Kate is on a journey of revenge for her father's death, but to be taken seriously she must disguise herself as a male. As Kate travels along on her path, she meets some people who may be the ones to help her finish the job she needs. But as the journey continues, many secrets are revealed that show Kate she knows a lot less about her father than she thought and as the story continues readers begin to wonder what other things could be hidden.

There were times while I was reading this that I was very interested in the story and Kate's background. When it came out that her father was hiding things about his past, I really wanted to get to the bottom of all that. Though at times, I also felt like at times events were overdone (but definitely what I can see from a western story). I did love Kate's personality, it is not often that readers can find a western with such a strong female lead. She is very independent and tough, and more often would rather just get things done on her own. Kate is definitely someone to really admire, all she cares about is getting justice for those she loves, nothing else matters and I love that about her.

And then there is Jesse, oh how I loved Jesse's character. The way him and Kate interact brings a comic relief during a lot of rough times in this book. Jesse is a lot like Kate in many ways, he is very tough and independent, but his mission is to keep his family safe and to bring money to keep them going. Their interactions show how alike these two are, they are both stubborn and refuse to give in to the other, they both want to do things their own way.

Honestly, I'm glad that I tried out this western, I don't believe that these types of stories will be high on my radar, I did enjoy this one quite a bit. I just felt that at times it was a lot darker than I was expecting it to be. I can see many people enjoying this type of book, and as much as I enjoyed parts of it, I felt like I had to push myself to finish.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Blog Tour Review: The Searcher by Simon Toyne

Publisher: William Morrow
Series: Solomon Creed #1
Pages: 480
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 6, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

The author of the acclaimed Sanctus trilogy conjures an eerie epic of good and evil, retribution and redemption—the first novel in the mesmerizing Solomon Creed series in which a man with no memory of his past must save a lost soul in a small Arizona town.

On a hilltop in the town of Redemption, Arizona, the townspeople gather at an old cemetery for the first time in decades to bury a local man. The somber occasion is suddenly disrupted by a thunderous explosion in the distant desert. A plane has crashed, and it’s pouring a pillar of black smoke into the air.

As Sheriff Garth Morgan speeds toward the crash, he nearly hits a tall, pale man running down the road, with no shoes on his feet and no memory of who he is or how he got there. The only clues to his identity are a label in his handmade suit jacket and a book that’s been inscribed to him: both giving the name Solomon Creed. When Morgan tells Solomon that he is in Redemption, Arizona, Solomon begins to believe he's here for a reason—to save a man he has never met . . . the man who was buried that morning.

Miles away, three men scan the skies for an overdue plane carrying an important package. Spotting a black cloud in the distance, they suspect something has gone badly wrong, and that the man who has sent them will demand a heavy price if the package has been lost.

To uncover the secret of his identity, Solomon Creed must uncover Redemption's secrets too and learn the truth behind the death of the man he is there to save. But there are those who will do anything to stop him, men prepared to call on the darkest forces to prevent Solomon from seeing the light.

My Review:

First I want to say thank you so much to Harper Collins Canada for having me be a part of this tour and getting the chance to review this book. Simon Toyne knows how to write an amazing mystery the draws readers to the story and keeps them hooked because all the answers just seem to dangle there and you need to keep reading to find out what is going on and who is involved in what.

There are a lot of characters to follow along with in this book, and it is quite a large read but everything goes by so quickly you don't truly notice how large the book is. I will say that at times I found myself a bit confused as to who was in what situation and how they all connected but I did finally get a mental list of how they were all connected (sometimes I found it easier if I had a list going on the side). The chapters are very short and each chapter jumps from character to character until they eventually all meet in one way or another.

Solomon Creed is the focus point of this story and he is what really kept me coming back to the story (not to say the other characters are not just as interesting). This is a man that has arrived in a random town with no memory of who he was before or what he is there to do, he just has one name he can remember. Slowly pieces of the puzzle start unraveling and Solomon realizes that he has come to this town to save a man, the only problem is that this person has died and is being buried as he arrives. Now the clues to who he is lay with James' wife Holly, but throughout the book Solomon realizes he has many skills that help save his life, he doesn't know how he knows these things they just come to him in a time of need. There is still so much to learn about who Solomon Creed is and what his mission is, and I can't wait to little towns that are in trouble.

The great thing about Simon's writing is how real everything is to readers, Simon's descriptions are so on point that you can truly imagine everything happening and can fully picture the characters. It is easy to see that Simon Toyne is a writer and producer for television as well as an author, his stories sometimes read like a television series, each part it's own episode and all connecting in the end. This book is so consuming and I can't wait for others to pick it up and follow Solomon's journey in Redemption!

Have you read The Searcher by Simon Toyne yet? Don't forget to add it to your 50 book pledge shelf here!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Blog Tour Review: All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor

Publisher: Dundurn Press
Pages: 268
Received: Received a copy from Dundurn Press in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 3, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Whether it’s about work and play or life and death, sometimes there’s no avoiding bumpy encounters.

What’s it like when everyone’s dream vacation is your job? Ameera works at a Mexican all-inclusive resort, where every day is paradise — if “paradise” means endless paperwork, quotas to meet, and entitled tourists to deal with. But it’s not all bad: Ameera’s pastime of choice is the swingers’ scene, and the resort is the perfect place to hook up with like-minded couples without all the hassle of ever having to see them again.

Despite Ameera’s best efforts to keep her sideline a secret, someone is spreading scandalous rumours about her around the resort, and her job might be at stake. Meanwhile, she’s being plagued by her other secret, the big unknown of her existence: the identity of her father and the reason he abandoned her. Unbeknownst to Ameera, her father, Azeez, is looking for her. The fact that he’s dead is just a minor detail.

A moving new work from award-winning author Farzana Doctor, All Inclusive blurs the lines between the real world and paradise, and life and the afterlife, that shows how love can conquer any obstacle.



My Review:

I am definitely happy I got the chance to be a part of this blog tour, Farzana Doctor is becoming a huge name in Canadian publishing and I've been so intrigued by her work. This story was definitely a ride for me, Farzana takes you to many places around the world as we get to know two different characters, Azeez and Ameera, these two have never met but are tied together in such a strong way. This story definitely gives readers a lot to think about and takes diversity to a new level, but also this gives readers a tiny look into the blurred lines of life and death.

Ameera has gotten a dream job, she works as a tour guide at an all inclusive resort in Mexico, but she has her own secret life after hours. Ameera becomes part of the swingers scene, and it works perfectly for her, she hooks up with people and then they leave never to be seen again, but when push comes to shove nothing is always perfect and soon Ameera finds that her secret life may not be so secret. I wasn't sure how I felt about Ameera at first, but she seemed to grow on me after awhile. You can see that Ameera does work hard and as much as she blurs her lines at her job, she tries to keep them as separate as possible. When things start taking a turn for the worst, Ameera begins to think about her father and wondering what her life would be like if he ever knew him and her family. Little does she know that somewhere else, someone is searching for her before they can move on as well.

There is a back and forth between Ameera's life and Azeez's (both past and present), and we learn more about how family really can make a difference in life sometimes. Ameera begins to feel lost and finding out about the other side of her family may help her find herself and she can begin to start her life for real. What Farzana does really well is bringing the secondary characters to light that they almost overtake the primary characters. Farzana shows that sometimes it is harder for locals to be seen over those that come almost for fun.

Azeez has been around for years trying to figure out how to move on with his life, he knows he is missing something but has trouble finding out what exactly that is. As he watches his family grow he learns more about them and takes care of them over the years, until it comes that there is family that needs his help, and he travels around trying to find Ameera and help her find out what happened to him and why she never knew him. I don't have much to say on Azeez's character because his story is short, but you can see that he is focused on finding Ameera and helping her connect with another part of herself.

I did enjoy how Farzana wrote her characters and this story of really learning to find yourself away from everything else. She also really brings the history of her characters and their beliefs into the story. Honestly, many things about this book were great, I do wish that it was a little more in-depth and that there was maybe a little more about Ameera and her mom's relationship.

The one thing that I felt was a little over-the-top at times was Ameera's sex life, I felt that it took over her chapters a bit too much at times instead of showing more of her work relationships as she tries to figure out where these rumours are coming from. Though I did enjoy Ameera's strength to fight back against these rumours and keep herself safe and settled in her job.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review: Elusion by Claudia Gabel

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Elusion #1
Pages: 382
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: March 18, 2014
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Soon, Elusion® will change the world and life as we know it.

A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications—or consequences—of real life.

Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend, Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.

Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion—accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous— Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty…a decision that will affect the lives of millions.

Suspense, thrills, and romance fuel this near-future story about the seductive nature of a perfect virtual world, and how far one girl will go to uncover the truth behind the illusions.

My Review:

This book had me very interested, I love the idea that is brought out in this book, in a way I felt that the technology of Elusion is a way to get away from life, exactly what reading books is for me. Regan used to know all about Elusion but after he father died she can't bring herself to go back to this place that is supposed to be so happy and relaxing.

Despite Regan not wanting to be a part of Elusion because it brings back memories of her father, she still wants to defend it when rumours start going around about how dangerous it is for people. Her best friend is the one who has taken over the programming of Elusion and she wants to help him. Regan becomes very defensive but slowly she realizes that there is something being hidden from her.

Regan is very loyal to those she loves, and she wants to defend not only her best friend but her father's memory as much as possible. But at the same time when Regan starts to see that she may be manipulated she delves deep for the truth, but tries to go about it in a way that she won't hurt anyone she loves. There is a lot of mystery behind what is happening in Elusion and who is behind the problems that are happening, but everything becomes more dangerous for Regan as she gets closer to the truth. There are a lot of consequences for Regan if she finds out what really happened to her father and how Patrick is involved in everything.

This seems like a realistic story set in the future, video games are becoming more live action and Elusion is similar to that. People use Elusion to meet other people in a different world and get away from real life, it is such an interesting premise in my mind. I really felt that Claudia Gabel realistically shows how addictive a virtual world can be, more people are likely to want to spend all their time there.

This was truly a fun book, with a lot of mystery to it and a great amount of romance (though in my opinion, the romance did not have much to do with the story). As the story keeps going I needed to keep reading to find out what exactly was going with Elusion and why all this is happening. I definitely want to read the next one to see where things go from that huge cliffhanger ending!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Publisher: Random House
Pages: 290
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 8, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

From one of the greatest writers of our time: the most spellbinding, entertaining, wildly imaginative novel of his great career, which blends history and myth with tremendous philosophical depth. A masterful, mesmerizing modern tale about worlds dangerously colliding, the monsters that are unleashed when reason recedes, and a beautiful testament to the power of love and humanity in chaotic times.

Inspired by 2,000 years of storytelling yet rooted in the concerns of our present moment, this is a spectacular achievement--enchanting, both very funny and terrifying. It is narrated by our descendants 1000 years hence, looking back on "The War of the Worlds" that began with "the time of the strangenesses": a simple gardener begins to levitate; a baby is born with the unnerving ability to detect corruption in people; the ghosts of two long-dead philosophers begin arguing once more; and storms pummel New York so hard that a crack appears in the universe, letting in the destructive djinns of myth (as well as some graphic superheroes). Nothing less than the survival of our world is at stake. Only one, a djinn princess who centuries before had learned to love humankind, resolves to help us: in the face of dynastic intrigue, she raises an army composed of her semi-magical great-great--etc.--grandchildren--a motley crew of endearing characters who come together to save the world in a battle waged for 1,001 nights--or, to be precise, two years, eight months and twenty-eight nights.

My Review:

I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, I have never picked up a Salman Rushdie story before, and yet I have heard so much about his amazing writing and this book truly appealed to me with the magical idea it gives readers in the synopsis. This book is inspired by years of storytelling, and is narrated by people over many years.

I was truly interested in what was happening in this book, readers are taken on a journey of descendants of the djinn's over many years. The way Rushdie describes "The War of the Worlds" is truly intriguing, a strangeness begins when descendants of the djinn begin to show their powers and it opens up this other world. A battle begins for the survival of the world and these magical descendants are the ones who can save the world.

I will admit that this is the type of book that takes a lot of focus, it's not one of those that you can do other things at the same time. I found myself needing to re-read sections at times because I was a little lost as to what was happening. It's a short story but you want to take your time with it so as to fully immerse yourself in the world that Rushdie brings to life. I thought the writing of this story is beautiful and really brings the magical aspects to life in such a way that you can imagine all this happening around you in this world.

At times I did have difficulty because I felt like I was reading a history textbook, learning about the djinn and their past. And yet, despite these long historical passages, they did really add to the story and how everything came to be. This book combines mythology with current pop culture and it is a story for generations to come.

Truly take a chance to experience this beautiful book, that shows readers in a time of chaos and war there is always a way to find beauty and love. I can see why Salman Rushdie is one of the greatest writers of our time, it felt like I was reading a fairy tale at times but a very real one, more for adults than children.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Series: Six of Crows #1
Pages: 480
Received: Received an e-copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 29, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

My Review:

Gah!! That is my first reaction to how awesome and enthralling this book was... how have I waited so long to finally pick up a Leigh Bardugo book?!?!?! I've had her Grisha trilogy waiting to be read, but then this one popped up and I picked it up first, and I am in love right from the beginning. This book is filled with action and romance throughout and I was definitely on high alert, I just wanted it to keep going, I will be sad to see this series end, it's one that I want to go on forever.

This book is a lot about a quest, not only a quest for retrieving something, but also one of revenge for some characters. What I really loved about this book is that it is basically about a group of ragtag criminals coming together to get a job done. We meet each of these other characters one by one, and slowly learn more about them and how they met Kaz in the past and why they are so willing to help him with such a dangerous plot. Each of these characters has a different skill and they all work so well together to help pull off this heist.

It was interesting to see how Leigh Bardugo differentiates each of her characters in such a large way, not only does each of them have a special skill but their personalities are all very different too. Kaz is the ringleader of this group, in a way he has saved each of them from a worse fate than where they are now, it's interesting to see how each of them view Kaz as a person. It is fun watching these characters try to work together without killing each other, there are a lot of arguments that add a great humour element to the story.

A lot happens in the story and I found that I got to learn a little bit about the world but there is definitely still more to learn about where each of these characters came from. I love that Bardugo gives readers perspectives of each of the characters, it brings us closer with them, it seems like a lot but Bardugo really makes it work for readers. Every one of the characters are tricky in their own way, you can never know what they are thinking, but each of them shows of how smart and strong they truly are. And the ending... that just got my heart and I need more from Kaz and his group ASAP!!!

I can say that I loved every minute of this book and I think many people will, it's the type of book that can grab at many different genres. But this is definitely for fans of speculative fiction, Bardugo has a way with her magical characters that make the different types of people seem so real. Definitely pick up a Leigh Bardugo book, you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review: Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 14, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller and 2014 Edgar and Anthony nominee Reconstructing Amelia comes another harrowing, gripping novel that marries psychological suspense with an emotionally powerful story about a community struggling with the consequences of a devastating discovery.

At the end of a long winter, in bucolic Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of an infant is discovered in the woods near the town’s prestigious university campus. No one knows who the baby is, or how her body ended up out there. But there is no shortage of opinions.

When freelance journalist, and recent Ridgedale transplant, Molly Anderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the story for the Ridegdale Reader, it’s a risk, given the severe depression that followed the loss of her own baby. But the bigger threat comes when Molly unearths some of Ridgedale’s darkest secrets, including a string of unreported sexual assaults that goes back twenty years.

Meanwhile, Sandy, a high school dropout, searches for her volatile and now missing mother, and PTA president Barbara struggles to help her young son, who’s suddenly having disturbing outbursts.

Told from the perspectives of Molly, Barbara, and Sandy, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth about the baby’s death revealing that these three women have far more in common than they realized. And that their lives are more intertwined with what happened to the baby than they ever could have imagined.

My Review:

I had heard a lot about McCreight's first novel Reconstructing Amelia but I haven't had the chance to read it, after reading this one I'm more interested to know what her other book is like as well. Kimberly McCreight keeps her readers intrigued and trying to figure out the mystery, the story keeps jumping around and it is hard to know who is involved. There are so many stories that intertwine with one another and all come together to solve the mystery of this baby.

The way Kimberly McCreight writes these characters is amazing, each of them has their problems, I found it hard to truly like any of them... but that is what made this book so good. Molly is the journalist trying to figure out what happened, but this is a case that hits a little too close to home for her. Molly is taking a huge risk for her health by accepting this job, but at the same time it helps her through her depression a bit.

This is a small town with a lot of secrets being hidden and Molly works hard to uncover these past secrets. This story goes between the perspectives of three different women, each with their own issue, but all of them have something in common and relate to the mystery of this baby in one way or another. Because this is a mystery book it is very hard to talk about what happens without giving away too much of the story...

I love how Kimberly McCreight takes her readers around in circles and can turn things around so quickly in her writing. The story keeps you interested as things continue on and you really want to figure out the mystery, but it is the type of town where everyone has a motive and everyone has their own secrets. Definitely an amazing mystery book, and I absolutely love her writing style to draw readers in!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Publisher: Hogarth
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 10, 2015 (Paperback)
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city--the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village--all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

My Review:

I can totally tell why this book is an Oprah's Book Club pick, it is an emotional read but Cynthia Bond truly tugs at her readers heartstrings with these characters. Ephram Jennings was always in love with Ruby Bell but when he was younger he realized he missed his chance with her... but when she arrives back in Liberty, Ephram realizes that he has a second chance to be with her.

It took me a little bit of time to get into this story and understand what was really going on, but once I really started to get to know the characters I was hooked and I needed to know more. Slowly throughout the entire story, Cynthia Bond unravels Ruby's story and really lets us understand why she is so closed off. There is a lot of darkness in the undertone of the book, but it hits readers strong and shows how these characters are fighters in the toughest of times.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how to review this book because I found it to be an experience. The character of Ruby has fought through so much in her life to come back to more tragedy... it was hard to get through this book at times seeing what Ruby had to go through, and the deeper you get into the book, the deeper you delve into Ruby's past as well. At the same time Ephram has lived an interesting life, he has never left the town of Liberty and is blind to a lot of what is going on.

When Ruby comes back it seems like these two are meant for each other, Ruby helps open Ephram's eyes to more of what is hidden in his little hometown. While he helps Ruby learn to open up and trust someone else for once. Honestly, I felt that this was such a beautiful book, with characters that have to overcome a lot of adversity for the love they feel for one another, but you will find yourself in love quickly as well.

I will say there are a few scenes that are difficult to get through, they are disturbing and I found that it made the story hard to keep going with, but these scenes are truly important to both the past and future of Ephram and Ruby. This is one book I definitely recommend.

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