Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

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

Release Date: October 14, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

The beloved, international bestselling author’s Random House Canada debut--the gripping story of a daughter searching for her missing mother--and one of her most powerful and affecting novels yet.

Alice Metcalf was a devoted mother, loving wife and accomplished scientist who studied grief among elephants. Yet it's been a decade since she disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind her small daughter, husband, and the animals to which she devoted her life. All signs point to abandonment. . .or worse. Still Jenna--now 13 years old and truly orphaned by a father maddened by grief--steadfastly refuses to believe in her mother's desertion. So she decides to approach the 2 people who might still be able to help her find Alice: a disgraced psychic named Serenity Jones, and Virgil Stanhope, the cynical detective who first investigated her mother's disappearance and the strange, possibly linked death of 1 of her mother's co-workers. Together these 3 lonely souls will discover truths destined to forever change their lives. Deeply moving and suspenseful, Jodi Picoult's first novel with Random House Canada is a radiant exploration of the enduring love between mothers and daughters.

My Review:

I have loved Jodi Picoult's writing for years, ever since picking up My Sister's Keeper and falling in love with her writing style I have tried to go through her whole catalogue. This book was definitely different than the rest of Picoult's stories, but not at all in a bad way, this was still a very emotional story that will stay with readers for years to come, at least that's what I believe.

I absolutely loved this story and I believe that is one of the most powerful ones I have read of hers since The Pact which definitely hit an emotional nerve. The thing about this book is how Picoult brings out the mother-daughter relationship and how special it can be. This story really captures the love that is always there with mothers and daughters, Jenna only thinks about her mother and will do anything to find her, she truly believes that her mother is alive and just can't get back to her.

I absolutely loved all the characters, Jenna is not the only one who has a problem and even though hers is the one that is focused on, we see her help Serenity and Virgil through their own issues. The dynamic the three of these characters have together truly make the story, Jenna uses her charms to get what she wants from Serenity and Virgil, the two people she believes will be able to find her mom. The story is told from the perspectives of all three, as well we get a look at what led up to the even of Alice (Jenna's mother leaving), it's a hard story sometimes to get through as readers see what Jenna had to deal with over the years, but also how Alice's disappearance has affected not only the family but those involved in the investigation.

What interested me is how interspersed through the story is information about how elephants act and their maternal aspects, it really works with this story. Picoult uses research on how maternal elephants can be and how they remember everything to go alongside the story of how Jenna believes her mom is still around and trying to get to her. I honestly believe that Picoult touches on a beautiful subject and she really brings her characters to life (like always). The one thing about this is the turns that the story takes along the way surprised me and really changed the story in my eyes. It is a story that I recommend reading because I can see many people talking about it and the emotional response it will get from readers. Definitely a front-runner favourite of all Picoult's books. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: Dreamfire by Kit Alloway

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 24, 2015
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Joshlyn Weaver has always lived with a big secret. Ordinary kids spend their free time going to the movies, hanging out with friends, and searching on the internet.  But for her, an evening at home usually means entering people's dreams.  For many generations, her family has been part of a very powerful and very secretive society of dream walkers. Tasked with the responsibility of lowering the world's general anxiety—which only leads to war and strife in the waking world—their job has always been to stop nightmares before they go too far.  By stopping nightmares while sleeping, they help to stop nightmares in real life. But when an ancient feud within the dream walker society resurfaces right when a seemingly unconnected series of very strange and very scary events start occurring during her dream walks, Josh finds herself in a race against time. The one true dream walker has never been known. Could she be the one?

My Review:

A book about a dreamwalker, definitely something different for me, and I will say that this one worked out for the most part. I was intrigued by this world that Alloway creates where Joshlyn must travel through people's dreams to help stop nightmares before they go too far. Readers are introduced to Joshlyn and right away can see that there is a secret history she is hiding that has completely affected the way she acts and works, it takes a lot of time to get to that, but there is so much more that kept me interested in the story other than her history.

While Josh is dealing with her own personal problems, there is also many dangers laying in wait in the dream world, many people are ending up in comas as their nightmares begin to take over. Someone is threatening the dreamwalkers society and this is something that has been built up over decades. It takes some time to fully learn about the history of the dreamwalkers but you can see that there are some definite struggles, and where Alloway takes the story is interesting and I truly enjoyed the idea of these other worlds around us.

The characters that Alloway has created are intriguing, Josh is a determined girl and is very focused. She knows what she needs to do and she goes for it (even if sometimes it may get her in trouble) though in training someone else, Josh goes more in depth with dreamwalker history and begins to see things she may not have seen before. What I really liked was how it is when Will comes along that Josh begins to see things differently, he changes her perspective on things and has her open up a little more. Will and Josh definitely have a complicated relationship throughout the story but the way they work together and begin to trust each other really works. I love the build up of their relationship and I believe that it makes sense, Josh is skeptical of Will in the beginning but she begins to see that he is just as determined as she is and he will help her with one of her biggest problems.

There were some great moments in this book that make you wonder about going between the dream world and the real world and if there really is a connection between the two. This book has a great taste of the magical with some creepy things happening and there is a bit of a political battle happening as well. I think Kit Alloway does a great job of incorporating a bit of everything into this book and I believe it will truly capture readers attention.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pages: 496
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 14, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this page-turning contemporary thriller, National Book Award Finalist, Printz Award winner, and New York Times bestselling author Paolo Bacigalupi explores the timely issue of how public information is distorted for monetary gain, and how those who exploit it must be stopped.

Everything Alix knows about her life is a lie. At least that's what a mysterious young man who's stalking her keeps saying. But then she begins investigating the disturbing claims he makes against her father. Could her dad really be at the helm of a firm that distorts the truth and covers up wrongdoing by hugely profitable corporations that have allowed innocent victims to die? Is it possible that her father is the bad guy, and that the undeniably alluring criminal who calls himself Moses--and his radical band of teen activists--is right? Alix has to make a choice, and time is running out, but can she truly risk everything and blow the whistle on the man who loves her and raised her?

My Review:

I am not too sure what I really felt about this book, it took some time to really get into the story. In the beginning it is hard to understand what exactly is going on and who the key players are in the story, but as I continued I was intrigued with all the secrets that everyone seems to be keeping. Alix has grown up not realizing how much of her life is really a lie, so many people around her are hiding the truth of things, so much is twisted to look different to the eyes of the public.

I think that Paolo uses this book to show that not everyone in our lives are necessarily telling us the whole truth, it is very easy to hide certain things. And also how different people can see things in different ways, Alix's dad works for a firm that supposedly distorts the truth about scientific experiments by huge companies, but is everything truly his fault. Is her dad really the one behind all these things, there are so many different views, this book shows that not everything is truly black and white, there is always some gray to be found in a story.

Alix is a character I had trouble connecting with, she is blind to so much around her, and sometimes it felt like she was too naive for her own good. She doesn't believe anything evil that is said about her father (which is definitely understandable) but the fact that it takes so much time for her to truly dig up the truth herself, really made me feel like she would prefer to be blind to the world around her. It was this that made the book hard for me to read, I wanted Alix's character to be a bit more headstrong and really take a look at all the evils of the world, instead of living in her own world.

The one thing about this book that really got me was how Bacigalupi uses the story to show how easily trust can be broken and yet readers also see how much family really means to Alix as she deals with the dilemma of who to really trust. The scary and true thing that Bacigalupi brings up in this book is how easily public information can be distorted and used against us. Honestly, though this was a long book, and there was a lot happening that felt like it didn't truly matter to the story, this was a scary kind of realistic story. I think this is a story worth checking out just to see what happens with everything. This will not be a book for everyone, but there are some great underlying issues that are touched on to make you think about the real world and what is happening around us every day.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: 2 AM at The Cat's Pajama's by Marie-Helene Bertino

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

Release Date: March 11, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

A sparkling, enchanting and staggeringly original debut novel about one day in the lives of three unforgettable characters.

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia's legendary jazz club The Cat's Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat's Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving debut, 2 AM AT THE CAT'S PAJAMAS will capture your heart and have you laughing out loud.

My Review:

This book had me intrigued with the idea of bringing together such an eclectic cast of characters, and I can definitely tell you that the people that star in this book are intriguing, but make the story a bit confusing. The story jumps around between all these characters and it takes place over one night, so there is a lot happening that I found myself lost during a few points.

The characters that Marie-Helene writes in this story are not all the most likeable characters, they all have their own issues to deal with, but that is what makes this story so interesting. I always enjoy a story where it is hard to like the characters because it gives a reader more hope to see where their lives will go. I will say that Madeline was my favourite character to follow, she has a very tough exterior, and you can see that she is dealing with some tough issues for a child. Each character's actions affects those of another one of the characters, which is what makes this story work so well as it switches between stories. Sarina's was one plotline that I wish I had more of her story, she is a quiet person who is being reunited with an old crush, and where the night takes them had my heart, but I felt like there wasn't enough of them.

I can say that even though I had issues with how quickly the story would change perspectives, the way Bertino wrote this story has characters that will capture your heart. I do wish that this could have been a bit longer because I think Bertino could have gotten more out of the story than she did in the less than 300 pages that she used here. I just felt that the storylines were not as fully fleshed out as they could have been, yet at the same time it was supposed to be over the course of one night, so it is difficult to really get into the story in such a short amount of time. This was definitely an interesting book and I can say that despite my few difficulties I enjoyed how Bertino was able to intertwine so many lives at once.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

Publisher: Egmont
Series: Into the Dark #1
Pages: 512
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: March 11, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

My Review:

This was a huge book to get into, there was a lot going on and it was a bit overwhelming at times for me, but once I truly got into the story I was intrigued and I wanted to see where exactly things would go. I really liked the mythology aspect that Bree Despain has used for her story, it is what caught my attention and had me hooked. 

The book is split into two perspectives, readers get to hear from both Haden and Daphne, I will be honest and say that I liked Haden's perspective a little better. Haden had a lot more going on in his mind and you could see that he was a very complex type of person. Daphne's problems seem so trivial when you compare them to what Haden is going through.  What I really liked is that it wasn't an instant love for Daphne and Haden, but it does come along fairly quickly. You can tell there is still a lot more to learn about the destiny that these two have and I'm intrigued to see where the story goes from where we have left off. 

The one thing in Daphne's life that is difficult is dealing with her father who she hasn't seen in years, her entire life has been uprooted and so much changes. This is the opportunity that Daphne has waited her whole life for but she doesn't truly believe she deserves it, it is one of those she believes she is only getting things because of who her father is. These two characters finally get together and they attempt to choose their own destiny. This is a long book but I believe it was worth the time in the end, there is a great back story and I do believe that Bree Despain has started an intriguing series with this book. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Series: Jackaby #1
Pages: 299
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: September 16, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

My Review:

The fact that a part of the synopsis says this is a Doctor Who meets Sherlock type of novel got my attention right away. How can I say no to anything that is compared with Doctor Who, I had no reason to say no to picking this one up. And in the end I'm glad that it did catch my attention, it was definitely an interesting read to say the least. 

I really enjoyed the idea behind this story, there is a great sci-fi aspect to the world that Ritter has created, an unknown murder and the suspect seems to be some supernatural creature. When Abigail meets Jackaby you can tell right away that he is an awkward person. Jackaby definitely has the Sherlock vibe to him, he does not have the greatest social skills but he is aware of so much around him. I loved the dynamic that Jackaby has with everyone around him, it makes the story very light-hearted and yet there is so much darkness still going on. 

As soon as Abigail arrives in town you can see that she has something to prove, not only to herself but also her family. The way she works so hard to show Jackaby she can be a help is amazing, I truly loved her perseverance to be Jackaby's assistant. I still want to learn more about Abigail and her family history, you can see that she is hiding a lot of herself and trying to become a new person. 

Though as the book finally comes to an end, you can see that Abigail still has quite a lot to learn about Jackaby, and I am excited to see what more William Ritter has for Abigial and Jackaby, I can already tell there are going to be a lot more great supernatural mysteries to come for these two. I think if you are a fan of Sherlock and you like a bit of supernatural elements added in to your pot, then this would be the book for you to check out. 


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