Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: Secret Letters by Leah Scheier

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 336
Received: Received from Hatchette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 26, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin's ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits--and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective--to save her cousin's reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way. 

Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature. 

My Review:

Dora wants to help her cousin find out who is blackmailing her, using old love letters, but what Dora doesn't tell her cousin is that she has her own reasons for travelling to London. While there, Dora learns that the person she wanted to see, Sherlock Holmes is dead. She turns to a different detective for help, and with that ends up with a bigger mystery to solve than she bargained for.  

I absolutely love Sherlock Holmes and any mystery books that go along with it. I am also a huge fan of the Victorian era, so when you put those two together, you get SECRET LETTERS by Leah Scheier, which was awesome and completely girpping. 

I was excited to read this book when I first heard about it because I haven't read a good YA mystery book lately. They have all been more so paranormal type books. When I first started reading this, I thought it was going to be a light book, but Scheier gets into some really dark twists with her writing. I definitely was surprised by what happened with a lot of the characters.

I really loved Dora's strength throughout the book. She has a lot of trouble with her family because they expect her to be the quiet and sweet girl, and she feels like she wants to be strong. She is odd because she notices things that normal people don't, and states it out loud (and I say she has a bit of an attitude). But my favourite character had to be that of Peter Cartwright. He's one of those guys that likes to get the girl all worked up by teasing her all the time. He was adorable and very protective of Dora, definitely my type of guy.

I really felt like I was reading a new version of a Sherlock Holmes story with SECRET LETTERS, and found that there are quite a few mentions of Holmes' stories. This is a great story for mystery lovers out there, Scheier writes some great twists that I couldn't even guess. This is a book with great characters and a great storyline.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: Imperfect Bliss by Susan Fales-Hill

Publisher: Artia Books
Pages: 304
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: July 3, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Jane Austen meets the Bachelorette in this twenty-first-century comedy of manners about a suburban family, their four eligible daughters, and what happens when reality TV comes to town. With her acclaimed first novel, One Flight Up, author Susan Fales-Hill is on a roll, already leaving her chick-lit predecessors “in the dust,” as the New York Post put it. Now, in Imperfect Bliss, she offers up a hilarious take on genteel family life with a cast of irresistibly eccentric characters. Meet the Harcourts of Chevy Chase, Maryland. A respectable middle class, middle-aged, mixed-race couple, Harold and Forsythia have four eminently marriageable daughters—or so their mother believes. Forsythia named her girls after Windsor royals in the hopes that one day each would find her true prince. But princes are far from the mind of their second-born daughter, Elizabeth (AKA Bliss), who, in the aftermath of a messy divorce, has moved back home and thrown herself into earning her Ph.D. All that changes when a Bachelorette-style reality television show called The Virgin takes Bliss’s younger sister, Diana, as its star. Though she fights it at first, Bliss can’t help but be drawn into the romantic drama that ensues, forcing her to reconsider everything she thought she knew about love, her family, and herself.

My Review:

From the first line of the synopsis, I was hooked to this book. Jane Austen meets the Bachelorette is a great description of this story. But there is so much more to it as well, in a way this story is about second chances for Bliss. This is a great foray into the chick lit genre that I absolutely love, and yet at the same time it's more than that. 

I was reminded a lot of UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN when reading this book (I have only seen the movie though, so I don't know what the book is like). This book shows that the first guy you meet and fall in love with will not necessarily be the perfect man, and that sometimes you have to go through some men to find the right one. Bliss is a character that I admire throughout the novel. She doesn't take it when people insult her, she is one who jumps back with a sarcastic comment.

For me, the most interesting character in the book was the mother of the group, Forsythia. She worked hard to get where she was in life, and wanted the best for her daughters. Many of Forsythia's actions were misunderstood by her daughters, she is the overbearing mother who thinks she knows best, and wants her daughters to marry into the best family possible. Forsythia is definitely a hard person to live with, and someone who is easy to let down. Bella was an adorable character throughout, when she spoke it was adorable and funny (definitely some sarcasm from her mother). But Bella also was a strong character, for a four year old, she has a disability that she has to live with and through everything she learns to get past it and not take what others say to heart.

The TV show The Virgin added a nice bit of humour to the story, but to be honest, that was the part of the story I could have done without. I can see that in a way it is a commentary on how American television "reality" shows have come to make money wherever they can. It just seemed a little overdone, the whole battle for the maiden's heart. I also felt like the show took away from Bliss, who is the MC, and put the focus more on her sister Diana at times.

What I did enjoy was the little history lesson added into the story. You get to learn a few tidbits of Cheavlier de Saint-Georges through Bliss' Ph.D research. I felt like I got to learn some new things through the story, while travelling along with the characters, another thing I wished there was a little more of. I was hoping for a little more travel and more of the characters in different places. They travel to a few places throughout for the show to take place but it wasn't as much as I was expecting it to be.

All in all this was an enjoyable book, despite some of my misgivings about it, I was captivated by the characters in the story. This is one story I flew through and am glad I got to go back to my chick lit love. If you enjoy that genre, this is one story you will defintiely enjoy reading.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Publisher: Bond Books
Pages: 288
Received: Received from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 26, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

My Review:

I was very intrigued by the synopsis of the story, time is slowing down and everything is changing. How do you deal with normal circumstances throughout all this disarray? This book definitely is a beautiful coming-of-age story in world where nothing can be determined. Walker's story has an eerie truthfulness to her story, we don't know the future of our world and anything could happen, and people still have to deal with day-to-day problems.

When I started reading this novel I found the main character, Julia, to be quite younger than I expected her to be, but as I continued on through the story I came to terms with the age, it made for a great way to tell the story. The whole story is told through Julia's eyes as she learns to grow up, friendships change and all the while the world is slowing down, days are becoming longer. It's a contemporary novel set in a sort of dystopian world.

A lot of quotes in this book deal with both sides of not knowing how to deal with life, and also not knowing what will happen to the future of the world. My favourite quote from this book is when everyone is realizing what is happening to the world, Julia writes "I guess it never is what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different--unimagined, unprepared for, unknown."(pg.29). This one little saying encompasses so many different situations, and really is the beginning to what happens in Julia's life throughout the rest of the story. She is always worrying about one thing, and something else seems to come up behind her that she would not have expected. 

I enjoyed that Walker added in different religious opinions throughout the story. Many people had different beliefs in what was happening to the world and each family took different steps to prepare themselves. Watching as the world dealt with this new problem was definitely interesting. I was a little disappointed by the ending of this novel though. There was all this build up in the story, and in the end the reader is still not sure what is going to happen. I can see that the ending shows the uncertainty of life but was hoping for a little more to wrap up the story.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Virals by Kathy Reichs

Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 454
Received: Received from Razorbill in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 23, 2011
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot-if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent. Fortunately, they are now more than friends: They are a pack. They are Virals.

My Review:

I absolutely adore Kathy Reichs, BONES has been one of my favourite TV shows for years. I've read a few of her adult books that the show is based on and they are done very well, with all the science explained for her readers. So getting the chance to see how Reichs transfers her skills to a YA audience was a no-brainer for me. 

What caught my attention first off was that Reichs still uses Temperance Brennan (her character from her adult books) as a back drop, the main character in this book, Tory, is Brennan's niece. Reichs uses the science in a different way for her YA audience but it was nice to see that Tory knew a lot because of her aunt. I understand it being hard to be an adult writer and transition into YA, but Reichs does a great job with VIRALS. 

Reichs' characters in VIRALS are a great bunch that readers can look up to. I loved Tory, she was smart and wasn't afraid of showing it. Tory works hard to get the answers she wants, she is also a very brave character (I also enjoyed that she was not a girly character who dresses up, she's more comfortable around the boys). Tory has definitely become one of my favourite YA female characters because she is so much like a young Brennan. 

Just like her Temperance Brennan books, Reichs has a great mix of mystery and action in VIRALS. But she adds in a little extra punch with these characters gaining an extraordinary gift that helps them through their adventures. What I also like about this series is that each book is a different mystery so it is not vital to read one book before the others (though it definitely helps).

Reichs is an author I will continue to follow, and am happy to see that she is able to write for a varied audience. This is definitely a great series to check out (I will definitely be reading the rest of these books!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: The Red House by Mark Haddon

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Pages: 272
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: June 12, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A dazzlingly inventive novel about modern family, from the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The set-up of Mark Haddon's brilliant new novel is simple: Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister Angela and her family to join his for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Richard has just re-married and inherited a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, a staple of family gatherings the world over.

But because of Haddon's extraordinary narrative technique, the stories of these eight people are anything but simple. Told through the alternating viewpoints of each character, The Red House becomes a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly-guarded secrets and illicit desires, all adding up to a portrait of contemporary family life that is bittersweet, comic, and deeply felt. As we come to know each character they become profoundly real to us. We understand them, even as we come to realize they will never fully understand each other, which is the tragicomedy of every family.

The Red House is a literary tour-de-force that illuminates the puzzle of family in a profoundly empathetic manner -- a novel sure to entrance the millions of readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

My Review:

The synopsis of this book really stuck out to me from the beginning, I've heard only great things about Haddon and thought that this would be an interesting story. I love books that deal with family issues. And yet show the bond that families have through everything.

The idea of this book is placing a dysfunctional family in a cottage where, let's be honest, they're in the middle of nowhere, for a week and really need to deal with many different issues. Haddon delves deep into the minds of these eight characters. I was nervous going into this book knowing that Haddon uses all eight characters as narrators, and it did take me awhile to get into, but in the end I actually got into the different feelings of these people ranging in ages eight to forty.

I did have a few difficulties with the narration because Haddon jumps around quickly from each character and it is not always obvious who is talking. There are times when each character has a paragraph devoted to them and other times there are a few pages. I felt myself losing track easily of who I was reading, but about halfway through I was able to  pick up on slight things that I was able to distinguish the characters easier.

What made this book different from many I have read in the past is that Haddon rarely uses dialogue in his book. There is a bit of conversation between some of the characters but most of the story is told through each of the characters' thoughts and actions. And when the conversations were placed in the book, there was no use of quotations, Haddon instead changes the style of the type to italics.

The characters were difficult to connect with in this novel for me because of how many different POVs were seen throughout. I felt that with this many characters there wasn't time to really get to know any one specific character. Though I did enjoy reading and seeing Angela and Richard (the brother and sister) come together and begin to understand one another.

Haddon writes an interesting tale with THE RED HOUSE, bringing together a family that has many problems and still can come through for one another. Though I had a few issues with this book, it was still enjoyable and emotional at times.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: June 19, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

My Review:

I love zombie novels that are dark and creepy, this is exactly what you get from Summers in THIS IS NOT A TEST. Right from the beginning I could tell this was going to be a dark tale, but I had no idea what Summers would do with this story. I was taken on such a ride with this book! Summers did not slow down with the story, every little thing would make you jump. 

As I was reading, I kept thinking to myself, this book is so much like THE BREAKFAST CLUB, only 100 times more creepy. You have all the different kids locked together in the school, each with their own different family background, and their own issues.

Summers has amazing writing skills! She does an amazing job detailing Sloane's character. Writing a character who is ready to give up on everything would be hard, but Summers does a beautiful job. I wanted to know more about what Sloane was going through and how she was feeling about everything around her.

What I really found different about this story that was so intriguing was how the zombies were almost like a side note. Yes, the zombies were the reason for these characters being stuck together, but Summers only touched on the zombie part a little bit. This book was about facing fears in a different way. Sloane has to learn how to work with these people who want to live while she is trying everything in her power to just die.

This is not a book to be read at night, it definitely scared me quite often. But Summers takes you into an amazing world. Pick this book up today!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cover Reveal! All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen

I am so happy to be a part of this new cover reveal from Entangled Publishing. ALL THE BROKEN PIECES by Cindi Madsen comes out in December.

Here is the blurb for the book:

What if your life wasn’t your own?

Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.

Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

And now for the cover:

What do you guys think? Absolutely gorgeous!

I also have a great excerpt for all of you today! It sounds like an amazing book. Check it out below:

Olivia reached up, feeling the tender spots on her head. Her fingers brushed across a row of—were those little ridges made of metal?
“Careful. The staples are almost ready to come out, but it’s still going to be sore for a while.”
Staples?!Her stomach rolled. I have staples in my head? She lowered her now-shaking hand. “Can I get a mirror?”
Mom looked at Dad, then back at her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not until you’ve healed a little more.”
Mom patted Olivia’s leg. “You just relax. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”
The two of them left the room, but when Mom swung the door closed, it didn’t latch. Olivia could hear their voices in the hall.
“I still think we should…” She couldn’t make out the rest of Dad’s muffled words. “…know if I can do this.”
“…late for that,” Mom said. “We’d lose everything, including…” Her voice faded as they got farther away. “…have to move.”

Olivia could tell the conversation was tense, but the words were impossible to decipher now. Holding a hand in front of her face, she turned it back and forth. A plastic tube ran from her arm to a machine next to her bed. She peeked into her nightgown and stared in horror at the long red stripe running down her chest.
You’re alive. You shouldn’t be thinking about looks.
Lowering her hand, she scanned the room. I wonder how my face looks. From the way Dad stared at me, plus the fact Mom won’t let me see a mirror, it must be bad.
Brains are more important than looks.
That’s what ugly people say.
Olivia put her hands on her head and squeezed. “Stop it,” she whispered to her arguing thoughts, hysteria bubbling up and squeezing the air from her lungs. What was happening to her? Why didn’t she recognize her parents or know where she was? Who she was? Tears ran warm trails down her cheeks. “Just make it all stop.”

Definitely add this book to you TBR! I know I am! :D

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 336
Received: Received from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 12, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...

Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong?

Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devastating results.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough...

The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.

My Review:

There has been a lot of talk about this book, McEntire's series has become a very popular read. And I can completely understand why. McEntire has a way of writing that she encompasses so much scientific information, along with mystery and some paranormal in this story that it becomes very interesting. You can't turn away. 

This is the second of a series and picks up some time after the last novel ends. I have to say I enjoyed this one a lot more than the first one. The POV is from a different character from the first one (Kaleb, who is Jack's son). You really get to see and understand more of his ability and how he comes to deal with it. There was also a lot more of Emerson's best friend Lily in this novel, and I really came to love her character. She is someone who knows how to take care of herself and you learn a lot more about her and the things she can do (which isn't really explained much in the first novel). 

I wasn't much of a fan of the main characters from the first novel, especially Emerson. She seemed a little too immature in this one, and the kind of person who is glued to their boyfriend's side. I felt like she needed to be a little more independent and learn to take care of herself.

This book started out with the action in the beginning, making you know that you will be on the edge of your seat the entire time. I do admit, it slowed down a little bit after that, but picked right back up again. I believe that so much more happened in this book compared to the first one. And I really enjoy that there were a lot of answers given about how the Hourglass got started.

TIMEPIECE was definitely a great sequel, with an awesome cast of characters to follow. McEntire does a great job putting together so many genres in one story, that it doesn't seem like too much happening. It's a great mystery story, running against the clock to find what you need. If you haven't read this series, you should definitely check it out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 352
Received: Borrowed from a friend

Release Date: June 19, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

I turned to Luke and reached for him. My blood felt as though it had seized up in my veins.

“Lanny, what is it?” Luke asked.
I clutched his lapel desperately.
“It’s Adair. He’s free.”


He gave her immortality.
She tried to destroy him.
Now he is searching for her.
They must not meet.

Or there will be a RECKONING


Katsu's first book THE TAKER, took readers on a supernatural journey that was beautiful and scary at the same time. THE RECKONING continues this journey. Katsu's writing is beautiful and draws you into the story. It is impossible to turn away from everything that happens. 

This book starts a few months after THE TAKER has ended. We see Lanny settling into her new life with Luke. And then we find out that Adair has been released from his prison that Lanny created for him two hundred years earlier. I love that Katsu brings back Adair, he was such a big part of Lanny's past that I wonder how he will affect her present life.

In this story we get to see a lot more of Lanny's past life, seeing what she did following the imprisonment of Adair, all her travels and what happened to her. You also really get to see how she dealt with Jonathan leaving her alone for so long.  But what really made the book for me was learning a little more of Adair's history. I felt that Alma did an amazing job bringing readers into the mind of the most feared person of all time.

I felt that I really came to like Adair's character in this book. I really hope to get more of his story in the next book. He is a very complex character, and I really want to understand him more. Alma's characters are all so intense and are really what make the story. Adair was the main thing that kept me glued to the pages of this one, I really liked how Katsu incorporated the change that Adair must come to terms with. I found there was some good humour in Adair learning how to navigate in this new world with all the technology at hand.

I also liked that there were some new characters added into the mix. And that we got some history of a couple of the old characters as well, and you get a quick recap of what they went through since Adair was trapped.

If you haven't read THE TAKER yet, definitely pick it up, these are books that need to be read. Katsu's writing is just as beautiful in this book. I usually have high expectations when it comes to sequels and this book far surpasses those expectations. I can't wait to see what Katsu does next with these characters!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: Gold by Chris Cleave

Publisher: Doubelday Canada
Pages: 336
Received: Received from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 5, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Building on the tradition of Little Bee, Chris Cleave again writes with elegance, humor, and passion about friendship, marriage, parenthood, tragedy, and redemption. Gold is the story of Zoe and Kate, world-class athletes who have been friends and rivals since their first day of Elite training. They’ve loved, fought, betrayed, forgiven, consoled, gloried, and grown up together. Now on the eve of London 2012, their last Olympics, both women will be tested to their physical and emotional limits. They must confront each other and their own mortality to decide, when lives are at stake: What would you sacrifice for the people you love, if it meant giving up the thing that was most important to you in the world?

My Review:

I admit it, I have not read a Chris Cleave book before now... I am ashamed to say it. I'm glad I have now read one of his novels, just as it says in the description his story is filled with "elegance and humour.." I knew from the description that I was walking into a book full of hard times, I just didn't know how much this book would actually get to my emotions (let me say A LOT, I mean crying on the train while commuting to work).

This book is told in a sequential narrative, moving from each character's point of view. There are many different characters, but they all connect with one another in some way. When all the characters have as close a connection as these do, it makes it easier to follow through the different jumps in the narrative.  My favourite narrative voice had to be that of Sophie, the 8 year old. She is a Star Wars obsessed kid, and her parts were always so much fun. Cleave gets some awesome points for all the Star Wars references throughout.

I had a lot of fun reading this book. I felt like it was a puzzle that I slowly had to put together as I was reading. Each character would remember things from their past about how everyone met, and different things that really affected their future in ways. You really get to understand each character in their own way by seeing what got them to where they are now. I was really surprised as the book kept going on, where Cleave took these characters and what things they all actually went through with one another. Once everything was put together I was really shocked with the turn of the story, and it really hit my emotional side more.

What really made this book, one that is going on the re-read shelf is really the message that Cleave with you long after you've finished the book. This story is really about striving for your dreams even when you've been kicked down, work for what you believe in. To me Kate was an inspirational character, I can't really explain why without giving away spoilers, you will just have to read it to find out ;)

If you haven't read any of Cleave's books before, I suggest you get on that. I plan to check out his other books ASAP!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt

Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Pages: 260
Received: Received from publisher in exchange for honest review

Release Date: June 12, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

What if you were mankind’s last chance at survival?

Sixteen-year-old Tess lives in a compound in what was once the Western United States, now decimated after a devastating fourth World War. But long before that, life as we knew it had been irrevocably changed, as women mysteriously lost the ability to bring forth life. Faced with the extinction of the human race, the government began the Council of Creators, meant to search out alternative methods of creating life. The resulting artificial human beings, or Chosen Ones, were extraordinarily beautiful, unbelievably strong, and unabashedly deadly.

Life is bleak, but uncomplicated for Tess as she follows the rigid rules of her dystopian society, until the day she begins work at Templeton, the training facility for newly created Chosen Ones. There, she meets James, a Chosen One whose odd love of music and reading rivals only her own. The attraction between the two is immediate in its intensity—and overwhelming in its danger.

But there is more to the goings-on at Templeton than Tess ever knew, and as the veil is lifted from her eyes, she uncovers a dark underground movement bent not on taking down the Chosen Ones, but the Council itself. Will Tess be able to stand up to those who would oppress her, even if it means giving up the only happiness in her life?

My Review:

I was really happy to be a part of the cover reveal for this book when it came out, so when I got the chance to review I had to jump at it. The cover looks absolutely gorgeous and I loved the synopsis of this one. I wasn't absolutely sure what to expect, the cover makes the book seem a little creepy, and to be honest the opening chapter definitely depicts a creepy book.

As I read this book I have to say it reminded me a tiny bit of DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver. Though this one love wasn't so much outlawed as the people, or 'naturals' were scared to enter into relationships because of the idea that women could no longer bring forth life. It was really interesting where Tiffany took this story.

What made this book really interesting to me was how Tiffany relied a lot on the story of Frankenstein. It was fun to see how she connected it to a lot of the characters in different ways. I found that in a way this story was like Frankenstein, having doctors create their own life forms. This book was definitely as creepy as Frankenstein was back in it's time. Tiffany adds in a few other books as well and incorporates the plot into her own. I really enjoyed as Tess goes through some of the books, she relates what is happening to the characters to her own life and of those around her. Being a booklover, I love seeing characters do that with books themselves as well (because let's be honest I do that all the time).

The characters were really well written. I loved Tess the most of all. She is a strong character, that really knows how to keep her emotions in check for the most part. Tess was always strong for her family, and always knew how to hide her real feelings. The character that I really loved was Tess's father, Tiffany does a great job of having the readers connect with him through his letters to Tess. I thought it was an interesting add on to the story.

Tiffany sets up this series well, and I enjoyed how she explained what happened to put the world in the situation that they currently find themselves in. I also really enjoyed that there was some intense moments throughout this book. I found that when I was hoping for something to heat up in the book, it's like Tiffany knows the reader is wanting that and then it's there. She also does a great job at describing the fight scenes that happen, making them seem very real, describing every little movement.

I definitely say check out this book. I'm excited to see what happens next after that ending. Definitely left me on the edge of my seat wanting more.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 303
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: June 12, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

My Review:

Mermaid books are becoming the new thing, as I've said in previous reviews, and I have definitely jumped on the bandwagon. First I have to talk about the cover, I don't completely understand it, to be honest, I mean the man character is a male. So why have a female on the cover? Lies Beneath follows along with all the mermaid stories in a way, but it very quickly takes a dark turn. I was not expecting such a dark, eerie tale from the synopsis. Brown really pulls you in from the first chapter (pun intended ;) ) I found myself continually going back to the story for more answers. Brown keeps throwing out all this information and slowly gives out answers, little by little.

I'm really enjoying that authors are putting male characters in the forefront lately. I at first thought it would be weird to have a male as the MC in a mermaid book, but this one really worked.  I liked how strong of a character Calder was, he works hard to go after what he believes in. He is definitely one of those characters that throws on the charm extra heavy, and it works (at least for me).

Lily was also an interesting character in the beginning (it seemed that about halfway through the book she kind of did a 180 on me, with how she acted...) There was none of that insta-love in the book, she doesn't automatically trust the guy just because he is good-looking (I know, rare eh?). Lily is cautious, she wants answers and works to get them.

There were a lot of things that came out at the end, that completely threw me for a loop. Brown definitely did a great job keeping you on the hook and then changing the whole thing before you know what's happening. Brown also does a great job with the mythology (I enjoyed that part of the book the best). She really takes you into the history of mermaids, and uses some great poetry while doing it!

Even if you're starting to get a little down from the mermaid books, try this one out, the dark tone of this story changes everything.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: Every Day Every Hour by Natasa Dragnic

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 272
Received: Received from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 5, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

An exquisitely romantic debut novel that, like bestsellers The Solitude of Prime Numbers and One Day, captures the longing of lost--and sometimes found--love. Sold in 28 countries worldwide.

In the mid-1960s in a seaside town, Luka and Dora meet on their first day of kindergarten. The two children become inseparable over the next several years, wandering the shores of their town, lying on the rocks by the sea as Luka paints--until Dora's parents move to Paris, taking her with them. Bereft, Luka grows into a solitary young man and a promising painter. Meanwhile, in Paris, Dora blossoms into a successful actress.

Years later, Luka arrives in Paris for a show of his paintings, and by chance he and Dora meet again. Now adults, they fall back in love. Timing and fate, however, seem determined to keep them apart. Natasa Dragnic's Every Day, Every Hour is a haunting tale of star-crossed love that will entrance readers with its exquisite combination of hope and heartache.

My Review:

Before I started blogging I was all about the chick lit and cute romance stories, and just because I haven't read as many doesn't mean I won't if I find them, this book was right back to my roots. I love books with this kind of idea to them, the whole story of soulmates that just have a hard time keeping their lives picture perfect. I was really excited when I saw this one, especially because it was a translation book. I was a little hesitant going in because it can be hard to keep the voice in translation, but I can tell you this is not a disappointing book whatsoever.

When I started reading this book I was instantly in love with Dragnic's writing style. Her writing is like poetry and she really brings out the emotions of the characters in her words. I'm not usually a fan of poetry (and I'm not saying this is poetry) but it has that poetic feel to it that really works for this novel.

The characters in this book is really what kept me glued to the page, mainly the character of Dora. Both of these characters have their hardships they go through and they still try to come together and beat the odds. Dora was the strong character, who against everything kept fighting for what she believes in, no matter what it is. She hates to give in, and has a stubborn streak when she doesn't get what she wants. Though Luka was not a character that I enjoyed reading, I kept going back to see if he would change (like the synopsis says this is a book about both heartache and hope). Luka was weak and could never face anything that went wrong. He is more of the type that runs away, I mean he faints when he meets Dora for the first time after so many years. 

Despite my issues with Luka's character this was one book that I could not get enough of and is now in my top books that I will re-read time and time again (along with The Time Traveler's Wife). There was so much to this book that I was not expecting and Natasa does a great job writing this love story to keep the hope alive amidst all the heartache. This book was absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA: Positive Book Blogging Experience

I have had so many positive experiences in the short time I have been blogging. The blogging community is a special place and everyone is so amazing. I have to say my best experience I had was when one of the publishing companies in Toronto hosted an event specifically for their bloggers (and I got an invite!) At this point I was still fairly new and still only starting to make contacts. But I had a lot of friends in Toronto who introduced me around to people and really helped me out. But back to the experience...

Bloggers with some of the authors and Lindsey from RHC
Picture courtesy of Evie from Bookish

I got the chance to really see how publishers respect their bloggers and the things they try to do for them. I got to spend a few hours at a great event at Random House Canada, where they invited a lot of their YA bloggers to come in and listen to a few of their authors talk about their newest books. I got to meet Shane Peacock (author of the Boy Sherlock Holmes series), Eric Walters and Teresa Toten (authors of The Taming), and John Boyne (author of Noah Barleywater Runs Away). On top of the chance to meet these authors, the amazing people at Random House Canada gave all us bloggers a copy of their books and we got to get them all signed. So I got a chance to actually talk with all these amazing authors as well. Where else but here are you able to get so many authors in one room with an intimate group of people and you just talk with them all about books and blogging. The authors were great and really talked about how much they loved the blogging community.

And to top it off there was a huge table of random books that we were able to all just take what interested us, and there were some amazing books there!

This experience really makes me see how great the blogging community is, not only from other bloggers but the publishers. It really makes me value the work I put in to my reviews myself because I see that others really do appreciate it themselves.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Armchair BEA: Best of 2012

Today's topic for Armchair BEA is some of the best books you've read this year, and what books you think will be amazing that will be at BEA. I've read so many amazing books already this year, it's hard to pick just a few.

I have found among YA authors vampire/werewolf books have become the norm so often it's hard to find a different book, but this year I definitely found that.

First with Ada Adams' book REVAMPED , it was such a different take on vampires. There was a lot of great humour and Ada had amazing characters (and a great storyline). Check out my review here. Then came HEMLOCK by Kathleen Peacock. All I can say is Bravo! (and lets add in that Kathleen is Canadian! Love supporting my Canadian authors). The idea of werewolves were definitely changed. Kathleen added in a great mix of mystery, horror and romance to the story, I can't wait to see where she takes her characters in the next book! Check out my review of HEMLOCK here.

Since I've started blogging I've read a lot more YA books than adult, but there have still been the few adult titles that I have read and my favourite by far this year was FORGOTTEN by Catherine McKenzie. Again this is another Canadian author, her books take me back to my taste before I started blogging, the cute and funny chick lit books. FORGOTTEN had such an interesting storyline that I couldn't say no to picking it up. Trust me this book will not disappoint! Here's my review.

The BEA books I'm really hoping will not disappoint are THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray (I read her Gema Doyle series awhile ago and remember enjoying it quite a bit, and this new one sounds incredible), THE NEXT BEST THING by Jennifer Weiner (seriously I adore Jennifer Weiner books, when does she ever dissapoint?!), ADAPTATION by Malinda Lo, CARNIVAL OF SOULS by Melissa Marr, PRODIGY by Marie Lu (loved LEGEND and I'm so excited to see what happens next), SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner and honestly my list could go on.

Can't wait to check out some other favourite books, hopefully lots that I can add to my TBR pile!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

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

Release Date: June 5, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. Enter a stunning world where technology and humanity clash in terrifying and surprising ways.

Some people are implanted with upgrades that make them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities—and rights—of “amplified” humans.

On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, 29-year-old Owen Gray discovers that his seizure-supressing medical implant is actually a powerful upgrade. Owen joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as “amps” and is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumoured, a group of the most enhanced amps are about to change the world—or destroy it.

My Review:

I have really enjoyed sci-fi books lately, and if you are a fan, you definitely need to check out Daniel H. Wilson's books. Daniel Wilson turns heads with his writing, and really makes you think about how the world would be in different circumstances. This book is a lot like Wilson's first book ROBOPOCALYPSE, where he deals with the threat of technology. What I really enjoy is how well Wilson is able to write from both perspectives of judgement, those who love technology and those who are completely against it.

The difference of this story that made it stand out a lot for me compared to Wilson's first book was that this story mainly follows one character's journey. I found myself more invested in this story because Wilson wasn't jumping to different parts of the world, you really get to know Owen and the people around him.

I really became invested in Owen's story while reading this. It's interesting to watch him grow and come to terms with him being an actual "amp" rather than just having a medical implant. It's hard to find out everything you're told has been a lie, and that's exactly what Owen deals with, and it makes it harder when it seems that a war is breaking out in the world over this technology. Owen was a great character, I felt in the beginning that I wasn't going to like him, he was a little over-dramatic with finding out he is an "amp", but he definitely suppresses that and comes to be a character to admire.

Wilson does an amazing job with the science aspect of the story, he does not dumb down the book (readers are as smart as you write for them). Wilson gets his readers to see how technology could grow in the future and what kind of things we could do with it. I am a fan of technology and can't wait to see what the future holds and how it will continue to grow.

Science fiction lovers will definitely want to add Wilson's newest to their lists, he brings you into a world that could actually happen in the future.

Armchair BEA Introductions Post!

So since I can't go to BEA with everyone this year (extremely jealous) I decided to take part in Armchair BEA, so that I can still be there in spirit. Hope you're all having fun! So to start out the organizers are doing a blogger interview for everyone taking part so that we can all get to know one another. So here goes...

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
I'm Andrea. :) HI! I'm from Toronto area and I've been blogging for about 8 months. I got into blogging because I love talking about books and really wanted to learn about new books and authors. I also got a lot of advice from some friends about how great it was and how you meet such great people (which I have done as well, I have some great friends through this).

2. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?
Currently I'm reading Every Day, Every Hour by Natasa Dragnic, from Random House Canada. My favourite read so far of 2012 has been Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers. It was amazing, a monastery that trains assassins, there was so much action throughout, and a very slow burning love story which you don't see a lot these days (I find more of the insta-love in books).

3. Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?
My reading tastes have changed quite a bit since I started blogging, I find I'm more open to different books and authors. I used to focus a lot more on the chick lit genre and since I've started blogging, I've gotten into more science fiction books and dystopian.

4. Where do you see your blog in five years?
Hopefully five years from now I see my blog thriving. I hope I can take part in more events and write about them. As well I kind of hope I have my blog more under control and able to have things scheduled further in advance and have more posts going up. At the moment I'm a little slow going with reading and reviewing.

5. If you could eat dinner with one author or character, who would it be and why?
I would love to have dinner with Alma Katsu, author of The Taker and The Reckoning (out June 19). I would love to talk to her more about her books (which are absolutely amazing!) and if you follow her on twitter, she seems like such a fun person.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Winner of The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze!

True Random Number Generator  2Powered by RANDOM.ORG
So the winner of the giveaway is Christa! Congrats! :D Hope you enjoy it. 

Review: Intangible by J. Meyers

Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 264
Received: Received from author in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 29, 2012
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift.

Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it.

My Review:

I had heard a lot about this book from other bloggers and got really interested so when J. Meyers asked me to review it for her I jumped at the chance. This book had me intrigued from the beginning, and it was definitely one of those books that I did not stop reading for anything.

Right from the beginning you can tell that this book will be intense and keep you guessing. Meyers opens up the book with Lucas's vision of Sera being killed, so you're hooked wondering when everything is going to happen. Meyers has a way of keeping you invested in the characters and what they are going through. It's interesting to see how Luce and Sera keep their secret from everyone around them.

I absolutely loved all the characters that you meet in this story. There are so many different personalities throughout, that works so well for the story. Meyers did a great job with the sibling interaction between Luke and Sera. Reading about their relationship made me love this story so much more, Luke wants to do anything he can from stopping his vision from coming true, each of these characters are like a half of one person.

I was surprised at all the different elements of the supernatural world that Meyers adds in to the story. It is a little like Julie Kagawa's world in the Iron Fey series except different supernatural characters. The abilities these characters posses becomes so much more than I would have ever expected. This was a great book that was really quick (I was actually disappointed when it ended, I wanted more), and I love the supernatural aspect.


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