Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pages: 320
Received: Received from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 28, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Serena Frome, the beautiful mathematician daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge before taking a job with MI5 in London. The year is 1972: Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism; the Cold War has entered a moribund phase but the fight goes on and British Intelligence hesitates at little to infuence hearts and minds. MI5 sends Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, on a secret mission that brings her to Tom Healy, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? What is deception and who is deceiving whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage -- trust no one. Ian McEwan's mastery is more dazzling than ever in this superb story of intrigue, love... and mutual betrayal.

My Review:

So ever since reading Atonement I have loved Ian McEwan's writing and have been trying to read through all his books (haven't actually started that list yet but am trying to get there), so I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of his new book. I'm glad I did, it was definitely worth the time I put in to read the story.

I find that McEwan has a unique writing style from what I am used to reading usually, and I really love it. His descriptions are very vivid and the story seems to always have this intense idea behind it with the romance leading to so much more drama. I love how the romance of his stories always leads to something bigger, it keeps you interested in what is going to happen in the story.

I did take awhile to read SWEET TOOTH, I find that it is a book that you will need to devote your time to and not one that you can just read in the middle of doing other things. McEwan is a writer that calls for you full attention (not that I don't with most books, but there are those books that you can pick up and put down easily in between things... this is not one of those). I do feel like a part of me did not devote enough attention and I want to go back and reread it because I know I will love it more than I do now and I think I can learn more about the characters in a second reading (I debated just turning back to the first page after finishing the last page. I feel that because I did not give enough attention I had a few troubles getting through everything and really understanding what was happening with some things (I had to go back a few times to reread something). But as I continued I found I couldn't turn away and put more energy into the book because I needed to know what was going to happen next with the characters and see how they would get out of some of the predicaments.

The best part of this book that really drew me in was how the literary world had such a strong impact on the story. It brought so much more to the story, McEwan does such a beautiful job describing the literary scene and T.H. Haley's stories throughout. And finding out how Haley comes up with ideas for his stories was interesting.

My favourite part of SWEET TOOTH was the final chapter. I did not see what happened coming at all. I find that the last chapter was done amazing and really finished the story well, it was one of the best closures to a story for me. This story has confirmed for me that McEwan is an amazing storyteller and just reinforces my need to read all his previous works one day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 432
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 28, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.

My Review:

I have been eagerly expecting the release of this book, everything about it sounds amazing and really draws you in. There is a strong message embedded in this story that really makes the reader think about things. I love that a lot of THE LOST GIRL comes from the story of Frankenstein, it gives the story a great start and a bit of creepiness.

I have really gotten into the books lately that give this idea of eternal life in a certain way and this is one of those that once you are finished reading you still think about the ideas that are brought up, long after you are finished reading it. Though this is not an action packed novel (there is a bit of action though), it is very moving and definitely thought-provoking. This is one novel that is hard to put down, you just want to read more about Eva's story of having to abruptly change lives.

The characters were a large part of what made this book what it is. Eva was such a strong character yet fragile at the same time, and she grows a lot throughout the novel. Though she understands what she was made to be, she still has her own personality which makes her life a lot harder and it is interesting to see how she deals with being in the position of having to take over another person's life.

I do have to say the most interesting character for me was Matthew, who is Eva's "weaver". We don't get to see a lot of him in this novel but I can tell there will be more of him in the future. He is a character that is really hard to get your head around the way he acts. There is something about Matthew that really makes you care for him even though a large part of you doesn't want to.

This is a book that is worth picking up ASAP, Mandanna has a beautiful writing style, especially for being a debut author and this novel really hits the spot ;)

For more information on Sangu Mandanna and THE LOST GIRL visit the Harper Collins Canada webpage.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Debutantes by Cora Harrison

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Childrens
Pages: 320
Received: Borrowed a copy 

Release Date: August 28, 2012 (CAN)
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Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.

Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.

But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.

My Review:

The cover of this book is what originally drew me in. I love the colour scheme and how you are just drawn in by the flowers that the girl is holding. The writing of the title is beautiful and really goes well with the picture on the front.

I'm a fan of the 1920's and am interested in stories about that era, I really enjoyed how this was a book about sisters in this time all trying to be something different than the normal, except one. There is the character who wants to do everything to have her coming out ball and marry rich. What I really enjoyed was the strong family presence in this book. The sisters are there for each other and are always trying to help where they can. Though there is not a strong parental presence there is still one there that keeps the children from going over board at times.

Harrison's descriptions throughout the story are detailed and I felt like I was transported back to 1923. She made everything seem real and life like for her readers. She also does an amazing job giving each of the sisters their own voice in the story. Though this is told in third person point of view it is easy to tell each sister apart throughout, each person has such a unique personality.

There was also a bit of a mystery added in to the story which I found added more to the story. The secret that is found in the house I did not see coming, but when as the story went on, I could see what would happen with the secret. I would have hoped for a little more information on the secret and to spend a bit more time on what comes out of it.

I also found the ending to be a little disappointing compared to the rest of the novel. Seeing that this is not part of a series (that I know of) I was hoping for a little more resolution to the characters' stories. It just seemed like after everything that happened the ending came quick and there needed to be more to each of the girls' stories.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 336
Received: Received from Hatchette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 07, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

My Review:

I will admit that I am not a fan of epistolary novels usually because I feel that I can't follow them as easily. But this is why I love blogging, because I am always open to try some new things and find that I can fall in love with something I previously couldn't get through. Where'd You Go Bernadette was this book for me.

Semple does a great job using the different documents to show Bernadette and her family's life in Seattle (obviously with a large focus on what Bernadette is like). It was interesting how among the documents you also get Bee's story and it helps the reader connect with her more than you would through the documents. By telling this story through the many different documents I find that readers are able to get a more intense view of Bernadette and some of the things that she feels that would not be stated otherwise. 

I loved Semple's writing and the exaggeration of the elite parents, it made for great humor throughout the story. One of the funniest things mentioned by Bernadette is how Seattle people always wonder about why the weather is so rainy even though everyone else who isn't in Seattle knows that it's known for it's rainy weather. But Semple also has a way of pulling at your emotions as she delves into a dysfunctional family life and how it could affect not only them but others around them.

This book is hard to put down, I found myself pushing through to find out more about Bernadette and learn about her disappearance and see if they ever find her. I really liked the mystery aspect that Semple gives to this story of finding out why Bernadette disappeared, but there is also a great mystery to Bernadette's past.

When it came down to it, the ending was actually my favourite part of this book. Though being sad for the story to end, Semple had the perfect ending to Bee's story of finding her mother. It brought everything together and really made the story.

This was such a fun book to read, Semple has a great sense of humor and really brings it out in her writing. Pick this book up when you're feeling down and it will definitely be a great pick me up.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Touched by Cyn Balog

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 320
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: August 14, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Nick Cross always listens to the voice in his head. Because if he doesn't? Things can go really, really wrong. Like the day he decided to go off script and saved a girl from being run over . . . and let another one drown. Trying to change the future doesn't work.

But this summer at the Jersey Shore, something's about to happen that Nick never could have predicted. He meets a girl named Taryn and finds out about the Book of Touch. Now the path that he thought he was on begins to shift . . . and there's no way to stop things from happening. Or is there?

In a life where there are no surprises, nothing has prepared Nick for what he's about to discover--or the choice he will be forced to make. . . .

My Review:

This book jumps into Nick's life right from the beginning, readers are thrust into the fact that he is able to see into his future and how it affects him and his mother. The premise of this story is very intriguing, it's interesting to think about how one little change can affect someone's future. The synopsis made me think a little bit of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, except that Nick doesn't go back in time, but he sees how his future is changed.

I was really interested in the story of Nick and Taryn and it was interesting to see how everything connected between these two. The story of each of them was slowly brought to the forefront and really changed the story from what I thought it would be. The idea of the Book of Touch added an interesting subplot to the story that I did not see coming and everything that dealt with it brought about some great twists to the story.

I do admit that I felt like there were parts of the book that moved slow. A lot of the book felt like I was watching Nick run around in circles around town but not really getting anywhere. I was expecting a little more action from a book where the main character can see into the future and tries to drastically change things.

I loved the ending of this book of all, it was the biggest twist of all. Nick is desperate to save his family from being hurt and does everything he can. And what ends up happening is a really great change to the story. (Obviously I can't go into more information without giving out major spoilers) But I can say the ending made up for the issues I had with the slow pace of the book, it was a really interesting way to finish the story, and I love that this is a standalone novel (from what I can tell...)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Publisher: Atria
Series: Beautiful #1
Pages: 432
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: August 14, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

My Review:

Okay so I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book when I started it, I read a review or two before going into this that warned me of the emotional rollercoaster you would go on, but I still didn't expect it to be that much. I found myself in bed all day with this book refusing to put it down. At times I honestly felt like it was a train wreck I couldn't turn away from (but in a good way). McGuire's writing was absolutely beautiful and the detail she goes into keeps you invested in this story and in her characters.

I will admit this book is not for everyone, there are a lot of difficult situations that these characters are put in and their actions are not necessarily the best choices. Also I found that some of the things happening are romanticizing an unhealthy relationship. A lot of the things that happen throughout the book show that these characters have a lot of issues (which is mentioned in the synopsis) but it was a lot more than I thought. I did find that it took time to learn about Abby's past and what she was running away from,

I felt that McGuire did a great job of delving into the psychological impact that the relationship of Abby and Travis has on each of them. Everything is so intense and emotional and it affects everything these characters do. I found myself sympathizing more with Travis than with Abby throughout the story, her personality seemed to take different paths at times.

This book definitely had me going through many emotions and I needed to keep going to see what the characters would do next. And long after I've read this book, parts of it still stick with me, some in a good way and some in a "I'm not sure what to think" way.

I'm not sure what this book is classified as, I've heard that it's YA from some people, but the writing and the content is a lot more adult (I hope it is classified as this). I can say that this book is definitely not for everyone, there are a lot of issues these characters go through that takes the reader on a whirlwind of emotions. I really enjoyed this book myself and find McGuire's writing to be beautiful and really captures the reader. I'm interested to read the second book (called "Walking Disaster"), which is told from Travis' point of view.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: The Blondes by Emily Schutlz

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

Release Date: August 14, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A breakout novel for a young writer whose last book was shortlisted for the Trillium Prize alongside Anne Michaels and Margaret Atwood, and whom the Toronto Star called a "force of nature."

Hazel Hayes is a grad student living in New York City. As the novel opens, she learns she is pregnant (from an affair with her married professor) at an apocalyptically bad time: random but deadly attacks on passers-by, all by blonde women, are terrorizing New Yorkers. Soon it becomes clear that the attacks are symptoms of a strange illness that is transforming blondes--whether CEOs, flight attendants, skateboarders or accountants--into rabid killers.

Hazel, vulnerable because of her pregnancy, decides to flee the city--but finds that the epidemic has spread and that the world outside New York is even stranger than she imagined. She sets out on a trip across a paralyzed America to find the one woman--perhaps blonde, perhaps not--who might be able to help her. Emily Schultz's beautifully realized novel is a mix of satire, thriller, and serious literary work. With echoes of Blindness and The Handmaid's Tale amplified by a biting satiric wit, The Blondes is at once an examination of the complex relationships between women, and a merciless but giddily enjoyable portrait of what happens in a world where beauty is--literally--deadly.

My Review:

Wow, what to even say about this book. I've been hearing quite a bit about it lately and was definitely intrigued by the hype. The idea of an illness affecting blondes in the world and turning them into killers, I needed to get my hands on this book. The narration of the story hooked me in right away. The whole story is told from Hazel's point of view as she is telling her story to her unborn child. I felt that everything was more descriptive because it's hearing the story told from a first hand point of view.

I really enjoyed how the epidemic is the main idea of the story but the biggest point is how Hazel deals with everything in her vulnerable position. It felt like there were two parallel stories happening. It was interesting to see the back and forth to where she is now and her story of how she dealt with getting there. What I really love about this book is that it Schultz delves deep into the psyche to show how people would react to a disaster like this, it's scary to see what the world turns into.

Schultz did a great job making the disease seem believable, she brings the science out and explains how something like this could be possible. I've read a few books where there is no explanation as to how something happened, and I find it's easier to enjoy the story if you can the author makes it plausible.

We follow Hazel on her journey trying to find the person who will help her through her turmoil in the time of the attacks which are always random. I loved that you could never expect an attack to happen, Schultz shows the unpredictability of the world. The descriptions of things are creepy and really make you want to keep your eyes open throughout the story just waiting for something else to happen. I felt like while I was reading this I would get lost in the story and forget about the attacks and then something big would happen again.

The best part of the book for me was the ending, usually I don't like open endings, but this one just felt right. Schultz really leaves readers wondering what will happen now after Hazel has basically been through hell and back. This is a book I will recommend to everyone I know, it was fun with some great humour and beautiful writing!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Starling by Lesley Livingston

Publisher: Harper Teen
Series: Starling #1
Pages: 352
Received: Received from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 28, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Love is just the beginning... of the end."

Mason Starling is a champion fencer for Gosforth Academy, but she’s never had to fight for her life. Until now. When a ferocious storm rips through Manhattan and unleashes terrifying creatures onto Gosforth’s campus, Mason barely escapes alive. Without help from the mysterious stranger who appeared in the midst of the storm, she might not have made it at all. But now, in the aftermath, Mason’s life begins to spin dramatically, mystically out of control, and the only one who seems able to help her is the stranger who can remember nothing but his name: Fennrys Wolf.

As Mason and Fenn uncover more about Fenn’s past and the strange events that surround them, they realize that Mason’s family — and its dark allegiance to the ancient Norse gods — is at the center of everything. A predetermined fate seems to be closing in on Mason, but is it possible to change one’s destiny?

Readers who fell in love with Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange trilogy and those who love Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series will be captivated by the sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action of Starling.

My Review:

So I have yet to read the Wondrous Strange or the Mortal Instruments series, but if they are like this book than I am definitely interested. This story was gripping from the first page, everything happens so fast that there doesn't seem much time to breathe in between the big moments of the story. I also really enjoyed the detail Lesley puts into the mythology of the story, I found myself intrigued by the information that kept coming up throughout and how it was connected with the rest of the story.

The characters were the most interesting part of the book for me, especially Fenn. I love when there are secrets about a character in the book and you learn about them along with the character. That's exactly what Lesley does here. Fenn knows nothing about himself except his name, and slowly things are revealed to him along with the readers, until you learn why he is there.

I do have to say though, that I wasn't a huge fan of Mason's character. I felt like she didn't have much emotion throughout the novel unless it dealt with her claustrophobia. I felt like her character needed more development throughout the novel. I am hoping that the second book gives us more to Mason than this one did.

There were also a few points in the story (closer to the end) where information comes out that was never really mentioned before and it confused me a little. The ending left me completely shocked as well, and I'm still wondering about it. I am interested to see what happens next with Mason.

I recommend this book if you're a fan of mythological things and the supernatural. It is a gripping read and Lesley leaves you wanting more.

You can learn more about Lesley Livingston and STARLING at the Harper Collins Canada webpage.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Publisher: Orbit
Series: Bannon and Clare #1
Pages: 320
Received: Received from HBG Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 7, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn't help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon's Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen.

In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs.

The game is afoot..

My Review:

This book really interested me, I don't know a lot about the steampunk genre (I've read very few books in this genre). This book has everything in it, mystery, magic and even a little romance (though through everything else that part did not compare). Everything seemed to happen so fast in the book, but in a good way that definitely will keep readers interested. I did feel like this book took me a little longer to get through than expected because I found myself needing to flip back and forth to understand a few things.

Saintcrow has a very intelligent style of writing, which goes along with her characters. The idea of the mentaths are that they are intelligent people that work with logical solutions and are disturbed when something doesn't make sense to them. At times I felt like I needed a glossary or footnotes to help me understand what some of the things were that the characters were talking about, but as I went along I started to get the hang of things.

The story felt quite like a Sherlock Holmes story with a little more attitude (and a lot more magic/sorcery added in). Bannon is a character that goes against all perceptions of what a woman is like in Victorian times. Bannon often swears and uses "unladylike terms" as is often quoted throughout the book. Her attitude towards things was a lot like Sherlock Holmes, it was very I don't care, everything was focused on solving the mystery.

I really enjoyed the interaction between Bannon and her Shield. Emma is used to being in charge and refuses to relent, even though the Shield is there to protect her. The dynamic between the two was interesting and at times I found it could be quite humorous.

I really enjoyed this story, and am interested to keep going with Bannon and Clare's adventures in the future, but I will warn readers that this was quite a read and it took me quite a few days even though it is just a little over 300 pages. I found myself getting lost easily and things were a little dense at times that I really needed to reread paragraphs.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cover Reveal: SWELL by Julie Duck

I am happy to help out a great author Julie Rieman Duck (who wrote A Place in this Life reviewed here) with a cover reveal for her new book. I love my contemporary books, and Julie's last book still has a place in my heart. Her writing really hits emotions, and I am excited to say she has a new book coming out in September! 

Here is the blurb for Swell:

For 15-year-old Beck Ionesco, discovering love with the most popular guy in school is a surprise. So are the bottles and cans he hides in his room and under the car seat. Through Christian, Beck enters a world where you can never be too cool or drunk, and finds herself falling for him, the bottle… and Christian’s dangerous friend Hillman falling for her.

Thank God for that bottle, though, because it’s all Beck has left when Christian abandons her, Hillman begins stalking her, and she finds herself on the wrong end of popularity in the back seat of his car. She’s left to fend for herself and her heart until she finds friendship – and possibly more - with fellow student Jesse.

But Christian wants another chance with Beck, and collides with a drunken fate that becomes his last call. It’s now up to Beck to clean up and reclaim her life, and discover sober love with the one whose life secretly parallels her own.

And here is the cover: 

What do you guys think? I love the colour scheme of it, and I love the writing of the title! Can't wait to read it and see what the story is like, sounds beautiful and emotional.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Series: Glitch #1
Pages: 371
Received: Received from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 7, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.

My Review:

The cover of this book is really interesting and drew me in right away. Then after reading the synopsis I was even more intrigued with this story. I feel bad that in the end I was a little disappointed with the story (I think it has a lot to do with the dystopian stories all being very alike).

The story itself was very well thought out. Anastasiu did a great job with the idea of computer chips being implanted into people's heads to have them all thinking in a communal way. I enjoyed Anastasiu's writing throughout the story, she could really bring out some of her characters emotions through her descriptions at times. Anastasiu has a way of describing Zoe's view of her sight changing from grey to colours that is very thorough and I found it quite charming. She also did a great job of writing some of the more disturbing scenes. Highlight for a little spoiler: There is a part that deals with Zoe going through an underground tunnel and Anastasiu writes about a pack of rats running towards her and literally overtaking the character. I literally found myself shivering because I could picture it and it was just so disturbing to me.

There were also some great scenes throughout that had some action which kept me interested in the story. But I found those scenes a little too few for the book. There was also some great twists closer to the end of the book that I enjoyed and really did not see coming which I like. I thought I knew what was going on, and at times I did see some things coming but at others times I did see myself getting a surprise.

In the end there were a few things that distracted me from the story that I couldn't wrap my head around. For one, I felt like Zoe did not have much characterization in the story. She was very dependent on Adrien all the time and never really got confidence for herself. And there was of course the somewhat love triangle which did not make sense to me. One character stood out more than the other, and I found myself disliking Zoe the more she spent time with the other character because of his attitude towards things.

I am interested to see what happens next in the story but it's not a book I will be holding my breath for sadly. In the end I just felt like this book was like many of the other dystopian stories out there.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 304
Received: Received from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 7, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the spirit of ONE DAY, comes a fresh and warmhearted love story for the 21st century. Sometimes the end is just the beginning . . .

Sam Elling works for an internet dating company, but he still can't get a date. So he creates an algorithm that will match you with your soul mate. Sam meets the love of his life, a coworker named Meredith, but he also gets fired when the company starts losing all their customers to Mr. and Ms. Right.

When Meredith's grandmother, Livvie, dies suddenly, Sam uses his ample free time to create a computer program that will allow Meredith to have one last conversation with her grandmother. Mining from all her correspondence—email, Facebook, Skype, texts—Sam constructs a computer simulation of Livvie who can respond to email or video chat just as if she were still alive. It's not supernatural, it's computer science.

Meredith loves it, and the couple begins to wonder if this is something that could help more people through their grief. And thus, the company RePose is born. The business takes off, but for every person who just wants to say good-bye, there is someone who can't let go.

In the meantime, Sam and Meredith's affection for one another deepens into the kind of love that once tasted, you can't live without. But what if one of them suddenly had to? This entertaining novel, delivers a charming and bittersweet romance as well as a lump in the throat exploration of the nature of love, loss, and life (both real and computer simulated). Maybe nothing was meant to last forever, but then again, sometimes love takes on a life of its own.

My Review:

This is going to be a hard book to write a review on. This book was very emotional for me and I had a lot of issues getting through it because of everything going through my mind. This is one of those books that has caused me a "book hangover". I can't concentrate on another book because I think of everything that happened throughout this book. This is one that I will put on my to-read again pile (as soon as I finished it I wanted to turn the book over and start again...). This book really touched home with me because I lost someone really close to me (it was quite a few years ago, but I still think about what it would be like to spend time with him now...).

This book is definitely thought-provoking for readers. What would you give to talk to a loved one again after they have passed away? How do you think this would affect different communities? Frankel does a beautiful job showing the ways that technology like this could affect people in different ways. Frankel goes deep into the controversy a program like this would cause. The way Frankel shows the controversy gets to be very emotional, she shows how people react to this new program and it can her descriptions are heartbreakingly beautiful.

Frankel's writing style throughout the book was very different as well. I really loved how effortlessly she was able to go from a funny moment to making you cry in a matter of a few sentences. It's been awhile since I've been so emotional over a book, but Frankel hits everything. I found myself getting angry at the characters for what they were doing and then balling alongside them the next minute.

This book has a special place among my books and I will definitely be passing it along to everyone I know. I will be thinking about the idea of this book for weeks to come, this book is utterly unforgettable and one I will pick up again in the near future.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Wake by Amanda Hocking

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Series: Watersong #1
Pages: 309
Received: Received from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 7, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

My Review:

I never read Amanda Hocking's other books but I've heard a lot of great things about her writing, so picking up her new series was a must for me. I had to see for myself what her writing was like. The book opens up really well, I enjoy the creepiness of the prologue showing what the sirens are like and you see they are determined to get what they want. Hocking does a great job showing these girls to be people you would not want to run into on the street. I also really enjoyed how we learn the story of the sirens, the mythology aspect of this book was done well and the story was very detailed.

The best part of this novel for me was the romance, can I say how amazing it was to see a novel with no love triangle!! Each of the girls has their own love interest (I thought there may have been one coming at one point, but Hocking quickly took that one off the table). The other thing I really enjoyed about the main romance was that you could see where the attraction came from, it wasn't that the guy just suddenly appeared out of nowhere. These two characters grew up next door to one another, they know each other well.

The one thing that struck me as different with this book was that there was a strong family presence throughout. Gemma's dad is very much in the picture and comments on quite a few things. It's nice to see parents actually being there for their teenagers in YA novels, it doesn't happen often enough in my opinion.

There were a few issues I found with the story itself that distracted me a little bit. The first was I found myself confused at times with the narrative. Though the story was told in third person perspective I found that Hocking continually switched back and forth from Gemma to her sister. I found myself taking time to figure out which sister I was with. I also found that the character of Gemma didn't seem to have much emotion in the book, I wanted a little more from her, she is said to be someone who fights back but it wasn't something that was seen much in the book.

I am interested to see what happens in the next book, I'm hoping for a little more action, but I really want to see where Hocking takes the story from here. WAKE was definitely an interesting opening to a new series and a very quick read. This book may not be for everyone but I definitely enjoyed it for the most part.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: The Black Isle by Sandi Tan

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 480
Received: Received from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 7, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

There are ghosts on the Black Isle.
Ghosts that no one can see.
No one...except Cassandra.

Uprooted from Shanghai with her father and twin brother, young Cassandra finds the Black Isle's bustling, immigrant-filled seaport, swampy jungle, and grand rubber plantations a sharp contrast to the city of her childhood. And she soon makes another discovery: the Black Isle is swarming with ghosts.

Haunted and lonely, Cassandra at first tries to ignore her ability to see the restless apparitions that drift down the street and crouch in cold corners at school. Yet despite her struggles with these spirits, Cassandra comes to love her troubled new home. And soon, she attracts the notice of a dangerously charismatic man.

Even as she becomes a fearless young woman, the Isle's dark forces won't let her go. War is looming, and Cassandra wonders if her unique gift might be her beloved island's only chance for salvation . . .

Taking readers from the 1920s, through the Japanese occupation during WWII, to the Isle's radical transformation into a gleaming cosmopolitan city, THE BLACK ISLE is a sweeping epic--a deeply imagined, fiercely original tale from a vibrant new voice in fiction.

My Review:

So I absolutely love ghost stories, and haven't had a good one in awhile. And the synopsis of this book took my breath away, I was ready to dive in as soon as I got it (I did hold off though). While I did fall in love with this book at the beginning, I began to realize that this story was much more than a ghost story. This story is Cassandra's life story, she tells her story so that people will remember her and what happened in her past.    

I have to say Sandi Tan's writing took my breath away. The details are beautiful, and everything is described amazing. From the setting to the people and ghosts around Cassandra I was able to picture everything clearly. At times these descriptions could be quite gruesome, and yet I couldn't tear myself away from this book. This story definitely had some heavy content throughout, it took me quite awhile to read the book (not that I couldn't finish it but there was so much to it), but Tan's descriptions keep her readers glued to the page no matter how horrific the scene is.

The characters were well developed throughout the story. At times I felt a little more interested in some of the secondary characters because of the effects they had on Cassandra's life, some in such drastic ways that you wonder what her life would have been like if she chose a different path.

I also loved how Tan incorporated a lot of Chinese superstitions into the story as well, they really define the lives of some people. The one that had the largest effect on the story was the idea that twins are strongly tied to one another, almost like being soulmates.

The ending really took me by surprise, I was not expecting for it to take the kind of turn. I definitely suggest picking this book up, Tan's writing will keep you invested in this story, even during some of the harder parts.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: Westmore Volumes 1 & 2 by Carol Cassada

Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: N/A
Received: Received from author in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 11, 2012


Set in a fictional New England town, follow the lives of three families; The Greens, the Braxtons, and the Reynolds. The Greens: * Widowed matriarch Charlotte never thought she could find love again after the death of her husband Michael, until handsome Detective Bryant comes to her rescue. * Youngest son Peter returns home from college with his new girlfriend, who's ten years older than him, and is a problem for Mama Charlotte. * Scott and Alicia are singing siblings who are on their way to the top, until tragedy strikes one night. The Braxtons: * Andrew Braxton is a ruthless and powerful businessman who runs his household the same way he runs his company, with an iron fist. Upon learning his son Wayne plans on abandoning the family company, he'll do everything in his heart to stop him from leaving. The Reynolds: * After the divorce Laura Reynolds and her daughter Megan move back home with her father, where she plans to start life anew, but little does she know that it's not easy to escape your past.

My Review:

*This is a review based on both volumes.*

The cover conveys a very WASPish type book, which is exactly what this book is. Most of the characters in this book are conveyed as rich and spoiled. The whole story was exactly like a soap opera. I definitely feel that these books are a guilty pleasure for those who enjoy soap operas. They were both very short and quick reads, which was nice.

I had some difficulties throughout the books though because there were so many characters to follow. Cassada introduces the families very quickly and then takes her time to show how they all connect with one another. I also found that the story seemed to jump between the characters very quickly and it made it difficult to connect with the characters. I felt that if the books were longer there may have been more of a chance of connecting more with some of the characters.

The story seemed to move quite slow in the beginning until the ending of the first one and the beginning of the second book. I was really enjoying it when the drama started to pick up (I admit it I love my soap operas, they are so much fun, definitely a huge guilty pleasure). But I felt like everything slowed down again in the end, and I found myself losing interest once again.

My biggest issue was how the story ended as a whole, I wanted more. It seems like Carol may write more to the story in the future because everything ended on such a cliffhanger. I feel like a few more chapters to clear everything up would have been nice instead.

My biggest issue throughout reading this was some editing mistakes. I found more of them in the second one and started to become a little restless, it made the second book a lot more difficult for me to read.

Overall I did enjoy the story a bit, me being the soap opera fan that I am. I wished there was a little more focus on characterization rather than heavily focused on the drama though. I do believe, with a little bit of editing Cassada could write some great books.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 416
Received: Borrowed from Christa over at Hooked on Books

Release Date: August 7, 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

My Review:

I really love historical fiction novels, add in fantasy elements and I have found a new favourite book for sure! The concept drew me in because it seemed a little like GRAVE MERCY, one of my favourites of the year so far. The trained assassin going to court, and that's about the only similarities between these two books.

Celaena was a very interesting character, she had a few similarities to Ismae from GRAVE MERCY, they both had very hard lives but Celaena and Ismae deal with that differently. I found Celaena to have a great amount of sarcasm throughout the story, and she always has this attitude about her, which is understandable (I mean I wouldn't want to be there either).

I am also a huge mystery fan and this book had some great mystery to it with the contestants continually falling victim to murders. Sarah does a beautiful job bringing in twists to this story. With everything happening I really was expecting the book to focus mainly on the competition, but there is so much more to the story. There was a huge political aspect to this book as well which is always interesting.

I am still a little unsure of how I feel on the love triangle throughout the book. I really enjoyed the budding romance that is written and could see the other romantic partner coming up but it seemed that for the most part there was nothing there until the very end. This was really the only issue I had, I really enjoyed this story and everything happened so fast but yet the story was drawn out perfectly.

I definitely suggest picking this up if you are a fan of historical fantasy books. But if you do have an interest in this I would also suggest checking out the novella ebooks before reading this book. I felt like I was missing a little of Celaena's story because I haven't read these (though I don't think it's absolutely necessary to read them).

Here are the links to the ebook novellas that tell Celaena's story before Endovier.
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
The Assassin and the Desert
The Assassin and the Underworld

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In Honour of Maeve Binchy

This picture links to her obituary on The Guardian website.

So all day yesterday I kept hearing about how Maeve Binchy passed away at the age of 72. I have been a fan of her books for quite a few years now. I find myself always immersed in her stories of such lasting friendships and some great romantic entanglements in some others. The one thing that really got me into her books was that all of them took place somewhere different than I was used to (Ireland). Over the years I started to fall more in love with chick lit novels that were by Irish and English writers, they were always funnier and they had a different feel compared to the American writers.

So today I am going to mention some of my favourite books by Maeve Binchy.

Synopsis From Maeve Binchy's Website:

Big, soft-featured Benny, an adored only daughter, and Eve, the little bird-like orphan brought up by the nuns, are best friends in the small Irish town of Knockglen.  On their first day at University College, Dublin, an accident brings the pair together with fellow students Nan Malone and Jack Foley, and new friendships are quickly struck.  But beneath their carefree student existence, trouble is brewing for the circle of friends.  Benny, the good-natured clown of the group, always seems to draw the short straw in life, while Nan, selfish and very attractive, takes what she wants without expecting to pay for it.  And Eve, intensely loyal to Benny, and resentful of Nan’s careless optimism, becomes obsessed with the need to avenge Benny’s disappointments.

Synopsis From Goodreads:

With the insight, humor, and compassion we have come to expect from her, Maeve Binchy tells a story of family, friends, patients, and staff who are part of a heart clinic in a community caught between the old and the new Ireland.

Dr. Clara Casey has been offered the thankless job of establishing the underfunded clinic and agrees to take it on for a year. She has plenty on her plate already—two difficult adult daughters and the unwanted attentions of her ex-husband—but she assembles a wonderfully diverse staff devoted to helping their demanding, often difficult patients.

Before long the clinic is established as an essential part of the community, and Clara must decide whether or not to leave a place where lives are saved, courage is rewarded, and humor and optimism triumph over greed and self-pity.

Heart and Soul is Maeve Binchy at her storytelling best.

I haven't read that many of her books but of those that I have read these two were my favourite. Maeve was a beautiful storyteller and I will definitely remember her books for years to come. If you haven't read any of her books before, I definitely suggest trying one of these two (though I have heard many good things of her last book, MINDING FRANKIE). 

What were some of your favourite Maeve Binchy books? 


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