Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: The Taker by Alma Katsu

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 438
Received: Borrowed from library

Release Date: September 6, 2011
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

"True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price. . . ."

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae--Lanny--walks into his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with a past and plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her . . . despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. And as she begins to tell her story, a story of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.

Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the nineteenth century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town's founder, Lanny will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep--an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.

Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, "The Taker" is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, and how each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption.

My Review:

I don't even know how to review this book, it was just that amazing. I almost have no words. This was a book that as I read (with other things needing to get done as well) I kept saying to myself, "Just one more chapter, just one more..." And before I knew it I was done the book. I definitely got that sadness (and almost turned the book over to start it again).

It is a difficult process to bring supernatural and historical together in a novel but Alma did an amazing job. With what happens to Lanny there is so much to the story, and I really enjoyed the other characters introduced. You also get some of their history as well. This book spans across a large amount of time, but Alma does it in a way that is easy to follow.

Alma's writing is absolutely beautiful and she definitely takes her readers on an unexpected journey in this story. This book was impossible to put down because you want to continue the story and find out what happened to Lanny to bring her to where she is. I found I was disappointed when I came to a chapter that brought me back to the present, at times it felt like an interruption to the story rather than adding to it.

The characters were interesting. I wasn't the biggest fan of Luke, I felt he was just there for someone to hear Lanny's story. But the characters around Lanny as she grew up were definitely interesting people with a lot of heart to them. I continually found myself drawn to Jonathan, and wanted to know more about him.

This book is definitely not a light read (which I thought it was when I picked it up). Be forewarned there are a lot of sexual escapades throughout that will definitely be disturbing to some readers. I found myself disturbed by some of the things Lanny went through, but I was still enthralled by the story.

I'm interested to see what Alma does next. I felt that this story ended perfectly and am not sure how she will continue this as a series, but will definitely read on to see where the story goes next. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 519
Received: Borrowed from library

Release Date: September 8, 2009
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Reaching the end of their flight in THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, Todd and Viola did not find healing and hope in Haven. They found instead their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss, waiting to welcome them to New Prentisstown. There they are forced into separate lives: Todd to prison, and Viola to a house of healing where her wounds are treated. Soon Viola is swept into the ruthless activities of the Answer, while Todd faces impossible choices when forced to join the mayor’s oppressive new regime. In alternating narratives the two struggle to reconcile their own dubious actions with their deepest beliefs. Torn by confusion and compromise, suspicion and betrayal, can their trust in each other possibly survive?


This is the second book of the trilogy and I have to say it's just as amazing as the first! I am so glad I found this trilogy, Patrick's writing is amazing! You can read the review for the first book in the series here.

This novel starts of right around the time the first one ended at, which I really enjoy because you don't feel like you missed out on things, and don't have that going back in time to figure out what happened. Patrick does an amazing job at writing an evil character, I mean the mayor is such a hard character to figure out throughout the book. You can never tell why he does what he does, he is one of those calculating victims that seems like he may actually be for the people.

I really enjoyed how everything slowly progresses from the first novel, it makes me anxious to read the last novel. There is still a lot of action throughout this book but there is more of a reason for everything that happens compared to the first book. This book is a lot different from the first book, it is almost like the characters are in a new world. Yet, still in the same way the old, scary world. The separation of the men and women really take you back to the beginning of the first book when it was just men.

I also really enjoyed the alternating narratives of Viola and Todd because it brings the reader closer to what Viola thinks and feels. We don't get much from Viola in the first book, so I really like that Patrick Ness makes her more prominent in this book. She is a large part of the action happening in the first book but does not talk much, whereas readers hear a lot more from her here.

What I really enjoyed was the idea behind the mysterious "Answer" throughout the book, who exactly are these people and why are they doing everything. It also brought in a question of trust to every character throughout the book. I enjoy the books where you don't really know who the good guys or bad guys really are and this is definitely one of those books. Everyone seems to be helping everyone else and yet you can't tell what the reasons are. Is the "Answer" actually helping or hindering what is happening? This is definitely a book that makes you think.

And then of course the ending of this book! Such a cliffhanger (even bigger than how the first one ended). Which is a surprise in itself. I imagine that the third book will outdo both these. I find that Patrick's story just keeps getting better as you continue on with the books! This is one of the best YA series I have read, and I will definitely come back to these books again!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (10)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren that lets us showcase things we have received this week.

Received from Razorbill:
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Virals by Kathy Reichs

Signed copy of Half World by Hiromi Goto

Received from Netgalley:
The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam

The Crane's Dance by Meg Howry    Silver by Andrew Motion

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
Made in the USA by Billie Letts
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 288
Received: Won from Chapters/Indigo contest

Release Date: February 28, 2012
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Edward Warren, twenty-four, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara.

With her father’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision?

Lone Wolf explores the notion of family, and the love, protection and strength it’s meant to offer. But what if the hope that should sustain it, is the very thing that pulls it apart? Another tour de force from Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf examines the wild and lonely terrain upon which love battles reason.

My Review:

I have always been a fan of Jodi Picoult! Though her novels all have the same idea they are still quite different from one another and I always find myself drawn back to all the moral dilemmas she brings up in her books. Jodi Picoult really draws you into the story and makes you think about what you would do in certain situations, she's amazing!

What I really enjoy is how she uses different perspectives in her novels. I like to hear from all the different characters because I feel that I can connect with them easier by seeing how they think about things. And Jodi really does well with that in this new novel of hers. I really connected with Cara the most during her chapters because she really delves deep into her emotions about everything that happened in the past with her family. I did find that Edward's chapters were very drawn out and that it was difficult to connect with him because the way he was written seemed very standoffish. There were also some characters I felt didn't really need their own voice, it just seemed they were added in because they could be.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that Jodi brings a little mystery to her story, why did Edward leave, what was the fight about, and what happened to cause the accident. I really enjoyed going through the story and slowly getting the answers along with the other characters (like their mother) who know nothing about what happened.

What I really love about this book is the issue that Jodi deals with, the fight to terminate life support. What the reasons behind each child's choice is. All of Jodi's stories have some morality issue embedded inside, but this one is so different because this story is less about the moral issues and more about the family issues. She really pulls at your heartstrings seeing everything the family went through.

What I really enjoyed was Luke's chapters about the lives of wolves. Jodi did a lot of research on how wolves interact with one another and incorporated in her book in a way of showing family ties and the different ways family can be seen. It made for a really interesting read, and was definitely intriguing to learn more about the way wolves interact.

This was definitely an emotional read, especially in the end when you learn all the secrets of the family (I definitely found myself crying at the end of the book). I will always be a fan of Jodi Picoult's writing!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 288
Received: Borrowed from a friend

Release Date: February 28, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

My Review:

Lauren Oliver does it again! Wow, she definitely captured my heart in this book. There is so much to say and yet it is so hard without giving away spoilers. A lot happens in this book, it's not like a lot of other sequels that are more just a filler story. There is just so much that happens to Lena throughout this book, it is so much more than just the in between book of the first and the third. Trust me you will not be able to put this down!

There was so much about this book, and Lauren does not hold back her writing, you are sucked back into Lena's world once again. This time the book is written in a then and now aspect. I really enjoyed this type of  chapter breaking because you get to go through Lena's journey from where she ended in Delirium to see how she gets to where she is now. I really enjoy seeing her journey and how she becomes stronger because of what she must do. We really get to see Lena adapt to new surroundings and she shows off her strength a lot more in this book.

This book really gives the reader a view of the "Invalids" side of things. I really enjoyed that, in Delirium it is all about what Lena grew up being told, and now she finally gets to see the other side. I feel like this lets her make her own decisions of what to believe by being able to experience both 'worlds'. I will say that the world of the "Invalids" is not as perfect as we see it to be in Delirium. It shows that everyone has something to hide.

I enjoyed meeting the new characters that were introduced in this book. It made it seem like it was a whole new place. I have to hope that some of the old characters from DELIRIUM will return in the third book (*crosses fingers*). The new characters brought something different to this book, and definitely made it interesting, getting acquainted with new people instead of characters you already know.

And then of course, there is the ending of this instalment. Oh how Lauren Oliver had me yelling and screaming. I can't wait to read the last book of the series to see what Lauren will do next. She continually surprises me with her stories, and her writing just keeps getting better. Well done Lauren! I love it!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 404
Received: Bought own copy

Release Date: February 14, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The time is the present.

The place, the rugged coast of northern California. A bluff high above the Pacific. A grand mansion full of beauty and tantalizing history set against a towering redwood forest.

A young reporter on assignment from the San Francisco Observer. . . an older woman, welcoming him into her magnificent, historic family home that he has been sent to write about and that she must sell with some urgency . . . A chance encounter between two unlikely people . . . an idyllic night—shattered by horrific unimaginable violence. . .The young man inexplicably attacked—bitten—by a beast he cannot see in the rural darkness . . . A violent episode that sets in motion a terrifying yet seductive transformation as the young man, caught between ecstasy and horror, between embracing who he is evolving into and fearing who—what—he will become, soon experiences the thrill of the wolf gift.

As he resists the paradoxical pleasure and enthrallment of his wolfen savagery and delights in the power and (surprising) capacity for good, he is caught up in a strange and dangerous rescue and is desperately hunted as “the Man Wolf,” by authorities, the media and scientists (evidence of DNA threaten to reveal his dual existence). . . As a new and profound love enfolds him, questions emerge that propel him deeper into his mysterious new world: questions of why and how he has been given this gift; of its true nature and the curious but satisfying pull towards goodness; of the profound realization that there are others like him who may be watching—guardian creatures who have existed throughout time and may possess ancient secrets and alchemical knowledge and throughout it all, the search for salvation for a soul tormented by a new realm of temptations, and the fraught, exhilarating journey, still to come, of being and becoming, fully, both wolf and man.

My Review:

I was so excited to pick this one up, I'm a huge fan of Anne Rice and I wanted to read this before I met her at her talk at the Toronto Reference Library. This book is Anne's foray back into horror after her angel series and her fictional tales on Jesus' life. I'm happy that Anne went back to those horror roots, it's what she does best!

This story opens up quickly, I find that Anne quickly gets into some action. I really enjoyed how Anne wrote all the wolf scenes, her descriptions of Rueben's change really makes you imagine it yourself. Anne's characters are written interestingly (very gender neutral, how she writes all her characters).

I found that there was a bit of history included in this book, which made it really interesting. There is a lot of research on werewolves, but I also enjoyed the family history of those that used to own the house. What is done really well is the descriptions of the house, Anne makes it a character of it's own throughout the story. It really makes for an interesting read.

What I really enjoyed throughout this book is the morality issues that come up a lot. It's interesting to see the inner arguments the main character has with himself about religious aspects.

There were a few parts of the novel that disappointed me a little while reading. The first was the women characters. I just found that they were over the top. They had no cares about what was happening. I just couldn't see any woman being like these people in the real world. The other problem I had was at the very end where everything is being explained. I found that this part was dragged on a little longer than need be and I found myself losing interest.

Despite these issues this was a great read and I am happy to welcome Anne back to her supernatural element, it's really where she belongs!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 341
Received: Received from Ontario Blog Squad

Release Date: February 21, 2012
Buy from Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

My Review:

I definitely enjoyed this book a lot more than Wither (see my review here). What really caught my attention with the book was that so much more happened to Rhine now that she is out of the mansion. I found this story was a lot more fast paced and had more action to it compared to the Wither. I felt more interested in everything that was going on in this book.

I find that Rhine is a lot better of a character throughout this story. I found her to be weak throughout the first one, whereas she does things for herself throughout the novel. She is able to take care of herself more. I also really liked that the characters throughout this story had more of a purpose (excluding Gabriel... I still don't like him). The only thing that disappoints me about this book (the same as the first) is Gabriel. I feel like his presence is not important to what Rhine is doing. At times I felt that he held her back from what she should have been doing.

There were many new characters introduced in this novel, that I enjoyed. These new characters made an impact on Rhine like the sisters did in the first book. There is a connection with some of them that adds to Rhine's character. This book was a lot more about Rhine and her different relationships. You really get to see more into how Rhine feels about things. Though Linden is rarely in it, I almost felt that he grew up more in the section that he is in. I respect his character more now.

The darkness of this book makes it seem a lot different from the first one. You get to see how different it is for Rhine to be on her own in the outside world, and how much harder it is (in the first book, Rhine only gives us little glimpses of the outside world, this book shows that it's much worse than she imagines it).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Recap of the Anne Rice Event

Last night, I had the chance to hear the lovely Anne Rice, master of horror, talk about her venture back into the horror genre with her new book The Wolf Gift.

It started out waiting in a nice long line to get in. Where I finally got to meet Michele (Just A Lil' Lost) and Wendy (A Cupcake and A Latte), they ended up in line right behind me! So I got to pass the time chatting with them, which was lots of fun! We met up with Christa (Hooked on Books) and then waited for Anne Rice to come in.

Anne Rice (on the right)

And then Anne Rice came up and started talking. This woman is absolutely hilarious, she had the audience laughing until they were crying with some of her comments ("I never thought to make my vampires sparkle in the daylight, then again my vampires couldn't go out in daylight"). It was interesting to hear Anne Rice talk about her "Queen of Facebook" status, mentioning that she wants to have vigorous conversations happening and she always goes through the comments that she receives to keep the conversation going.

Anne Rice also talked a lot about her new book. She mentioned how she based the main character of Reuben off of Matt Bomer (a character from a show called "White Collar"). Most of her characters in other books are based on people she sees around (she said that she based a character off one guy she saw on a bus one day!) It was amazing to hear Anne talk about how passionate she is about her writing, and on why she never wrote about wolves before (her sister has a series out about wolves and she didn't want that to influence her writing).

Following the talk, we all got to wait in a long line up to get our books signed by Anne herself! Some pictures of Anne signing some books!

Michele getting her books signed

And Christa with her book.

Look it's me... I'm like a kid in a candy shop!

She has such neat handwriting! 

It was such a fun event and I'm glad I was able to go. Can't wait to see what Anne does next for us!

Guest Post: Sarah Glover Author of Grave Refrain

So earlier this week I reviewed Grave Refrain: A Love Ghost Story (check it out here) and today I'm happy to invite Sarah Glover to do a guest post about her book (which is out today!). And take a look at the giveaway below as well.
Welcome Sarah!

Hello everyone!  I’d like to thank Andrea for inviting me over to Cozy Up with a Good Read for a guest post.  My debut novel, Grave Refrain:  A Love Ghost Story will be released on Valentine’s Day.  The story follows Andrew Hayes, a brilliant but troubled guitarist in an up-and coming band, who has been haunted since childhood by the presence of his muse.  One night during a performance in San Francisco he spots her, but before he can catch her---she vanishes from sight.  Desperate to find the woman, he accepts a curious offer to stay in the city, moving into a dilapidated Victorian undergoing renovations that stir up more than dust.  Andrew’s life becomes even more chaotic with the arrival of martini-swilling ghosts and a band of flesh-and-blood stoner spiritualists bringing bad tidings from the Great Beyond.  As he struggles to solve the mystery surrounding the woman he loves, Andrew discovers his life is repeating a refrain more deadly than he’d ever imagined.

Andrea asked me how I first got involved in writing and what provided the inspiration behind Grave Refrain.  In my author’s biography I often use the term, “recovering CPA.”  For those of you who have experienced the eighth ring of hell that public accounting can be (especially during this time of year---I still have flashbacks to the seventy hour work weeks and the mountains of paper) you have my endless sympathy.  Writing was my outlet from that world, but I had bills to pay and that endless tower of papers to attend to, so it was relegated to the notebook I stashed in my briefcase and opened up during the flight home. 

I’d always been involved in the arts; I had published articles and essays here and there, but between the demands of a job and young children I didn’t have the energy to make spit, let alone wordsmith a novel.  And trust me, I’m an editor and typesetter’s worst nightmare.  I still think I owe my current editor a round of drinks…or a winery.

One morning at the crack of dawn, I was getting a cab to the airport from my home in San Francisco.  My young son had awoken and was calling out to me from his bedroom (his dad had not yet made it to the crib).  I remember sitting in the backseat and crying as I tried to give the taxi cab driver directions.  He turned to me and announced that in “his country” women stayed home.  Well, good feminist that I am, I told him we weren’t in his country, thank you very much, but it didn’t stop the tears.  Later that week, my husband and I decided that two demanding jobs weren’t working for us -- we’d take the plunge and I would stay home and he would make video games.  Sometimes I think he got the better deal…

So I plunged.  When not volunteering at my children’s elementary school, I began to network with other San Francisco authors and joined a writing class which consisted of a marvelous group of women.  We critiqued each other’s work – honestly, but kindly.  It smarted in the beginning, but hearing the truth always makes for better writing.  Eager to get my stories out there, I wrote fanfiction in different fandoms, wrote musical comedies, wrote for Public Radio---just wrote and wrote and then wrote some more.

Now, writing with small ones under foot is no small feat.  There’s a line in Grave Refrain where a woman states, “…it ultimately comes to down to someone sacrificing to make it work. And women are engineered to sacrifice, it’s in our DNA. Whereas the best of men, no matter how talented or intelligent or attractive, will suck you dry and then complain to you about the aftertaste.”  I think that can be true of anyone who has a pull on your time.  My children, especially my daughter, do not like sharing my lap with a laptop.  Writing for me is also difficult at times. Just like going to the gym, the hardest part is putting on my shoes.  It’s always so much easier to check my e-mail, surf my favorite sites (oh look---there’s a sale on at Zappos.com!), and let’s not forget Bejeweled.  Yet once I hammer down I can disappear into another world, and nothing in this world can compare.

The inspiration for the world of Grave Refrain came from many different sources. Ghosts feature heavily in the story – both the charming and malevolent types.  Believe it or not, the oppressive fog of my neighborhood planted the original seed for the story.  The fog becomes so thick at times here that it didn’t take much to imagine it hiding a whole secret society of ghosts (and even ghosts visiting from out of town), hovering and spiriting along.  It’s especially evocative at night, conjuring up the secret image of ghosts living amongst us.  They would have come from different eras, of course, and I had always been captivated by the 1930s and 1940s.  Yet they were ghosts for a reason.  Why?  What was left unresolved?  What if it was love?

In regards to love, I wanted to turn the paradigm of boy meets girl on its head.  What happens if a boy has loved a girl for his whole life but she has no idea who he is?  How does he even begin to romance her without scaring her to death? I also wanted to play with the idea of what it means to be haunted:  haunted by loves, past and present, haunted by lost opportunities, haunted by ghosts both fascinating and deadly.

Here’s a snippet from the story to illustrate.  In this scene, a stoner spiritualist, Dwayne, tells Emily, our leading lady, the meaning behind the life line in her hand (while she is forced to share a chair with our equally confounded, but lethally charming leading man, Andrew):  “You belong to him.” The words froze them, inches from each other. They blinked their eyes at the same time and stared at him. Dwayne beamed at Emily. “You can’t diss this kind of fate. No how, no way. No matter how hard you try and fight it, no matter how far apart you are, it’ll always find you and bring you two together. I mean it’s seriously big-time karmic. You’re his. Always have been. Always will be. There’s never been a lifetime you haven’t been completely and totally his. I mean, like in the core of your being. See here? Slave, concubine, mistress, mistress, lover…goes on and on.”

So don’t diss fate and go get yourself a valentine you’ll enjoy:  Grave Refrain:  A Love Ghost Story!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all.  Thank you Andrea for allowing me to stop by.



The lovely Micha over at Omnific Publishing has greatly offered an ebook of Grave Refrain for me pass on to a great reader! Just leave a comment and I will choose a random winner (this giveaway will end on February 25).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In My Mailbox (9)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It allows us to show off the things we have received over the past week.

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
(Just in time for her talk at the Toronto Library on Monday, yay!)

Dark Magic by James Swain                  Talisman of El by Alecia Stone

The Taker by Alma Katsu
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Need by Carrie Jones
Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

For Review:
Triggers by Robert J Sawyer
(Thanks Penguin Canada!)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Pages: 451
Received: Borrowed from friend

Release Date: February 14, 2012
Buy from Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

To Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic and wholly unknown. But when her life in Brooklyn begins to fall apart, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where centuries of family secrets await her.

Once there, Rosa falls head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both fascinate and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem.

Hidden caves, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a history of familial bloodlust mean that Rosa can’t trust anyone. Torn between loyalty to her family and love for their mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love…or run as far and as fast as she can.

My Review:

This book really caught my attention for different reasons. First was the cover. I kept seeing this book on the sidebar of A Cupcake and A Latte's blog and I just had to see what it was about (so lots of thanks there!). I absolutely love the green of the snake, it just absolutely drew me in. The second thing was that this is a translation of a book, I haven't actually read many books that have been translations, really only Haruki Murakami (I've heard that a lot of them seem to miss something through the translation part). So I decided I wanted to give this one a try. And let me tell you I am so happy I did!

I absolutely loved the setting of this book! Yay for Italy, I could relate (being part Italian myself) this made the book jump out to me because I haven't actually found books that take place there. I am such a huge fan of books that take place in European countries because I find they are so few and far between. The descriptions of the surroundings and the towns/cities are well done and I was able to imagine myself there looking at all these different things.

The one thing that really got me was that the synopsis really gives you the idea of a Romeo and Juliet retelling, and I mean really who doesn't love that story! But there was so much more underneath that story. I liked that there was that aspect but there wasn't much to seeing their relationship grow as much as I would have liked, there was a lot of a back and forth that confused me a little.

It's interesting to see the whole story revolve around a Greek myth, it really made the story interesting, and I was enthralled to see what was happening and what would happen next.

I also found that there were so many twists to the story. It was difficult to actually believe in what anyone would say. This book is definitely one of those where you never know what to think of the characters and don't know who is trustworthy throughout the story. Everyone has their secrets type of story, and I love those!

For a book about the Mafia I was expecting a lot of action and fights, but that is just a little part of the story and doesn't have as much to do with what happens as I thought it would. No complaints though, I really enjoyed the story despite there not being a lot of action (the action scenes are interesting though as to how they come about).

The characters were interesting in my opinion. Rosa has a very harsh exterior but there are moments where her walls come down and I could connect with her and sympathize with her situation. And then Alessandro, I was never sure what to think of him, I think that there was so much more to learn that I didn't get to know the characters as well as I would have liked. Despite all that I enjoyed this book and sped through it, not wanting to stop. I am excited to read the next one to see what happens next!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Grave Refrain by Sarah Glover

Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Pages: 448
Received: Received from publisher in exchange for honest review

Release Date: February 14, 2012

Publisher Synopsis:

Andrew Hayes, a brilliant but troubled musician, has been haunted since childhood by memories of his muse. One night from a San Francisco stage, he spots her, but before he can reach her, she vanishes from sight.

Desperate to find the woman, he accepts a curious offer to stay in the city, moving into a dilapidated Victorian undergoing renovations that stir up far more than dust.

Andrew’s life soon becomes even more chaotic with the arrival of martini-swilling ghosts and a troupe of flesh-and-blood stoner spiritualists bringing bad tidings from the Great Beyond.

The dark side of his obsession creates visions both thrilling and menacing, and as he struggles to solve the mysteries threatening him, Andrew discovers his life is repeating a refrain more deadly than he’d ever imagined.

Inspired by the sexy noirs and comedies of the past, Grave Refrain transports the reader to a place where the things that go bump in the night not only thrill you, but might just take your breath away for good.

My review:

This book was definitely an interesting read for a romance novel, nothing like what I was expecting at all! I have not read many romance novels, to be honest, but I am so glad I read this one (I have a preconceived notion about romance novels and this one definitely changed that for me!) This book really blew me away because it so much more than just a love/romance story. I have to start out by saying that I do believe in ghosts, so this story really creeped me out even more!

So I don't usually do this but I have to mention the cover of the book. I absolutely loved it! After reading the book I feel that it definitely captures the whole feeling of darkness that the story has to it. This is definitely a book I would pick up in stores if I saw just because of the cover.

Sarah has amazing descriptions that really make you feel like you are feeling it yourself. In talking about the band's music playing she writes:
Sound exploded against the walls. Sound so raw and vibrant...
I love reading something that uses such descriptive words, it makes me fall into the world the author created even more. And with this book I definitely feel into Sarah's world!

I enjoy my romance novels but this one definitely had so much more to it than just boy meets girl and falls in love. The martini-swilling ghosts are there for a reason, and it quickly becomes apparent that they are not going to let anyone rest until they can. The ghosts really give this book a creepy aspect, there were parts where I was actually kind of frightened imagining this happening (remember I do believe in ghosts). I think this gave a nice touch to the story and made it more than just a regular romance, there was actually a story and plot behind it.

What made this book fun too was how Sarah added in a little bit of science behind the story. *THIS NEXT PART IS KIND OF SPOILERISH!*

I really thought it was interesting how Sarah incorporated a little section of science behind the debunking of ghosts. Emily being a grad student studying psychology uses the ghosts as a premise behind her grad paper, despite the fact her professor does not believe in ghosts.


The characters were easy to connect with throughout the story as well. I really enjoyed Emily's character because she was a strong woman who didn't rely on Andrew for everything. She took things in her own hands and would go off on her own often. I find in a lot of the romance novels that I've read the girl always needs to be taken care of and is not able to do things on her own.

This story was definitely a great read, though it was a little long, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. And the ghost aspect definitely made this one an amazing read! Be sure to watch out for a guest post from Sarah and a giveaway in the next few days!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that lets us show off books we are most excited for. This week my pick is:

Release Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish.

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.

Doesn't this just sound amazing! I love the cover of this one too! So excited :)

What are you waiting on today??

Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 347
Received: Borrowed from library

Release Date: June 7, 2011
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

When the Robot War ignites -- at a moment known later as Zero Hour -- humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us…and an entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in

My Review:

This book is creepy, but so good, I could not put it down at all! It's so creepy because Daniel makes it feel so realistic. Seriously I still believe that in the future we will have technology that can do things for themselves, and what will life be like then? I really hope it doesn't get to this point.

I enjoyed Daniel's way of writing this story, I was hesitant at first but it really catches your attention. It feels as though it is told in many different short stories that all come together to show the readers how everything started and how people survived the war.

Each chapter revolves around a different person who make a difference to the history of the war that happens. And in the end you come to understand how they all come together. This story was definitely engaging, I couldn't turn away from everything that was happening (I could imagine it happening in our world today). It's a scary book because of how much of it could ring true.

The action in the story is very well written. I found I, myself, was scared of what would happen next with the people. You will not be disappointed with the action in this. As the book (and the robots themselves) evolve, so will the action in this book grow.

It was nice to see how humankind dealt with this war. Daniel has a perspective on how people will fight to save themselves. This was definitely an interesting read. I will definitely recommend this book! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that lets us show off the goodies we've gotten over the last little while. My IMM this week consists of things I've received over the past two weeks.

Won from Chapters Contest:

From Netgalley:

              This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers                   Torn By Stephanie Guerra

Bought from Amazon:

     Shatter (The Children of Man) by Elizabeth Mock     Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fishcer

                         Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams                         Jenny Pox by JL Bryan

                                Death Whispers and Death Speaks by Tamara Rose Blodgett

                    The Book of Deacon by Joseph Lallo                Thirst by Claire Farrell

                 The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos   The Awakened (Book 1) by Jason Tesar

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 448
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: February 7, 2012
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

My Review:

Wow, this book was nothing like I expected to be (in a good way). I wasn't really sure what this book was going to be like when I read the description but it caught my attention, and the cover is just absolutely beautiful. The idea of the fused bodies was actually really interesting, you really don't get much of an idea until you actually read the book, and I was absolutely blown away with the concept. Julianna really takes this story to a different level with the Pures and the Others.

Julianna does an amazing job of introducing this new world to her readers. She doesn't leave a lot of questions hanging about how things got as bad as they did. As the book moves ahead we get to learn more of what happened, and why these things happened. Not that the ending doesn't leave you with some questions (because it does). But Julianna does not leave you wondering why the world came to be.

What I really liked about this book is that you think you know what is happening and then Julianna pulls something out that completely blows your mind. I was not expecting what came out of this book at all and I actually really enjoyed it! Also there are snippets of action throughout the novel, but it takes awhile to get into those parts. When those parts come in, they are intense sections that are very well written. I felt like some of the parts just jump out at you.

Julianna writes the story in first person persepctive but she uses many different characters. I really liked this because I got to see the different views on each side. Julianna's characters are very interesting people. I really enjoyed Pressia's character the most. I found Pressia to be a strong character throughout the story. I really liked that she did not have to rely on the men in the story to do everything for her.

I also have to add the fact that there is no love triangle in this story (Yay!) As much as I understand the love triangle obsession I like finding a book every once in awhile that doesn't have this added into it.

This book is a great addition to your collection, especially for those fans of dystopian novels. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this one. I want to know what happens next now! I will be recommending this book to everyone I talk to for sure! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 288
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: January 31, 2012

Goodreads Synopsis:
When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?

The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end?

My Review:

I found this a cute story, very similar to Austenland yet still very different. You do not need to read the first of the books, Austenland, to understand this book (which I enjoy, it is a part of a series and yet still can be standalone). What I really enjoyed about this story that made it different was that it had a lot more of a mystery aspect to it. This story was more focused on Austen's Northanger Abbey (which I have not yet read but plan to after this book). Whereas the first one was very focused on Pride and Prejudice. Some characters from Austenland do return which I find fun because it still gives me a sense that it  is the same place and there are a few subtle hints to the first book as well.

This book still had a lot of aspects of Austen's other books, specifically the romancing seen in all Austen's books (the reason that people seem to flock to Austenland). Shannon Hale writes a much different story with Midnight in Austenland, there is a lot more darkness to it and more mystery. I found there were a lot of twists and turns and it was fun because she added in two different mysteries to the story.

I enjoy the aspect of the book going back and forth from Charlotte's past and the present she experiences at Austenland. I found that this helped me understand her character more, and the reader can come to know why she acts the way she does throughout the book.

I kind of saw the end of the book coming but I still enjoyed it. It gives you a sense that everything has been wrapped up. And it also gives the idea that Austenland is kind of a nice therapy for people that go there, and in a way they change who they are after leaving Austenland.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen books, you will love Shannon Hale's Austenland series.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and lets us show off some books that we are excited to read when released. 

This week my pick is: 

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Release Date: February 14, 2012 

The time is the present.

The place, the rugged coast of northern California. A bluff high above the Pacific. A grand mansion full of beauty and tantalizing history set against a towering redwood forest.

A young reporter on assignment from the San Francisco Observer. . . an older woman, welcoming him into her magnificent, historic family home that he has been sent to write about and that she must sell with some urgency . . . A chance encounter between two unlikely people . . . an idyllic night—shattered by horrific unimaginable violence. . .The young man inexplicably attacked—bitten—by a beast he cannot see in the rural darkness . . . A violent episode that sets in motion a terrifying yet seductive transformation as the young man, caught between ecstasy and horror, between embracing who he is evolving into and fearing who—what—he will become, soon experiences the thrill of the wolf gift.

As he resists the paradoxical pleasure and enthrallment of his wolfen savagery and delights in the power and (surprising) capacity for good, he is caught up in a strange and dangerous rescue and is desperately hunted as “the Man Wolf,” by authorities, the media and scientists (evidence of DNA threaten to reveal his dual existence). . . As a new and profound love enfolds him, questions emerge that propel him deeper into his mysterious new world: questions of why and how he has been given this gift; of its true nature and the curious but satisfying pull towards goodness; of the profound realization that there are others like him who may be watching—guardian creatures who have existed throughout time and may possess ancient secrets and alchemical knowledge and throughout it all, the search for salvation for a soul tormented by a new realm of temptations, and the fraught, exhilarating journey, still to come, of being and becoming, fully, both wolf and man.

Oh my gosh, I absolutely love Anne Rice! I'm so excited that she has a new book, and doesn't it sound amazing! Plus, she's coming to Toronto in a few weeks, and I'm so excited to meet her! Yay!

What are you waiting on today?  


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