Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Publisher: Angry Robot
Pages: 400
Received: Received egalley from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: January 29, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is the heartbreaking story of the journey from childhood to adulthood, with an intriguing science fictional twist.

There’s never been anyone - or anything - quite like Finn.

He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is to tutor Cat.

When the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.

My Review:

The Mad Scientist's Daughter opens up with Finn being brought to spend time with Cat and her family, and he becomes Cat's tutor when she is a young girl. Finn is a robot, unlike any other, he looks like a person and for the most part acts like any other person as well. This story is about how Cat grows up and how her relationship with Finn changes and grows as she does.

I've heard from many people that Clarke's debut novel THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE was such a fun read, and her writing was awesome, so I was intrigued at what her writing would be like, and this story sounded so beautiful that I knew I would read it ASAP. I was really intrigued with the romance story taking place, and how you really get to see Car grow up and change throughout the novel.

I really found this story to be beautiful, it's one of those stories that if you think about it too much than your opinion will change. I found that by staying immersed in the story and just going with the flow that I really felt for Cat and Finn and everything they had to overcome. Cat was a very complex character, she grows up with Finn and eventually falls in love with him, but she must deal with the struggle of never being together because he is a robot. Everything that Cat goes through is so heartbreaking and I loved seeing her and Finn have scenes together because there was so much tension.

The one little issue I had with the book was how it was broken up at times. I found that there was a lot of jumping forward years, I felt like there was more I wanted to know about Cat as she grew, though I do understand it is hard to do so in a story that is so filled with information already. I loved as time went by, there is a new view on robots on the world and there is a fight about giving them rights, it adds a lot to the story.

This story is a beautiful love story, as long as you don't think too much about what is happening the story will definitely draw you in. If you are someone who really thinks about what you are reading than this story will be weird for you. But if you just let the story go, you can become immersed in Clarke's writing and her prose.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Publisher: Harper Collins Children`s Books
Series: The Body Finder #1
Pages: 327
Received: Borrowed from the library

Release Date: March 16, 2010
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.

My Review:

Wow, was this book ever emotionally charged. I had seen a few things about Derting's body finder series when the third book came out a little while ago but never really checked it out because it was so far along, and I must say that I am thoroughly disappointed in myself for not looking into it more earlier. Just reading the synopsis hooked me into the book, I love that Violet has this huge secret, and it was interesting to read about how something like this affected a person. I mean I don't think I would be able to handle stumbling across dead bodies all the time, that would disturb me to say the least!

I love that this book is a psychological thriller, there is a serial killer on the loose in Violet's small town and she has been the one to find the victims. The way Violet has dealt with her ability over the years was because she has so many people that rally around her. Family is such a strong presence in this book, I loved how Violet always went to her family in times of trouble, and not just her parents but her uncle was always there for her as well. What really kept me going were all the emotions going on in this book.

I loved how effortlessly Derting could jump from this heated emotional exchange between Violet and Jay, to something so creepy as finding a dead body. I found the story was fluid and did not feel jumpy, the writing was absolutely amazing, really making you feel happy one moment and then creeped out in the next sentence.  I could never figure out what was coming next, and I was pleasantly surprised at the turn of events in the book.

The romance in this book was beautifully done as well. These are two best friends who have spent years together and begin to realize they have feelings for one another. I really enjoy hoe Derting played out the romance with Violet and Jay. Because these two were friends they really try to deny their feelings, scared that it will ruin their friendship. This is a relationship that you really root for throughout everything because they are adorable and they really know each other. Jay is the only one outside of Violet's family that knows what she can do, and he's always there to watch out and keep her safe.

I absolutely loved every minute of this book, finding myself engrossed in the mystery as well as the romance, and I am so excited to continue this series. I definitely plan on going out and buying all of the books for this one!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Emblaze by Jessica Shrivington

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Series: The Violet Eden Chapters #3
Pages: 464
Received: Received a copy from Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 19, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Once again Violet Eden faces an impossible choice ... and the consequences are unimaginable.

Violet has come to terms with the fact that being part angel, part human, means her life will never be as it was.

Now Violet has something Phoenix - the exiled angel who betrayed her - will do anything for, and she has no intention of letting it fall into his hands. The only problem is that he has something she needs too.

Not afraid to raise the stakes, Phoenix seemingly holds all the power, always one step ahead. And when he puts the final pieces of the prophecy together, it doesn't take him long to realise exactly who he needs in order to open the gates of Hell.

With the help of surprising new allies, ancient prophecies are deciphered, a destination set and, after a shattering confrontation with her father, Violet leaves for the islands of Greece without knowing if she will have a home to return to...

My Review:

This series has me completely hooked, each book just gets better and so much more intense. So much happens throughout each book, and Violet must deal with so much, and she is a character I am so proud to follow her story along.

Shrivignton has given so much development to all her characters in this series, and you can really see how each of them grows from one book to the next. Violet is the character with the most to learn and always has the largest trials to go through, it's amazing how she gets through everything. There are so many people around Violet that are there to help her through it, but what I loved most of this story is how Violet's dad has such a large presence, especially compared to the last few books. It shows that even the secondary characters grow over time as well.

The part of this that really keeps me invested in this story is how multifaceted the characters are. Phoenix is one of the most intriguing characters and as much as I dislike him, there is so much I want to know about him as well. There are many characters throughout that make it hard to get to know and you are always left wondering about their intentions.

And then of course, there is the romance in this series. The tension is so strong and every scene with Lincoln and Violet and even those with Phoenix are always so emotional. Shrivington has a beautiful writing style, and really having in an amazing amount of action and romance that keeps your heart pounding throughout the whole story.

The only tiny thing that got to me with this story was that I felt that Violet and Lincoln keep going around in circles and having the same argument over and over again. There is so much happening with their relationship making everything so much more intense as they try and stay away and yet always end up together. There was one scene in this book that reading it made me feel hot and a lot of blushing. Shrivington has this great way of keeping her readers on edge and bringing the romance to a certain point and then pulls back at just the right moment, which I find always brought me back to try and get more.

This series is absolutely amazing and so beautiful. I love that even though this is an angel series that it's not overly religious. There is so much about good and evil but this story really shows how it's not one against the other but a choice between the two. I for one am in awe of Shrivington's writing and can't wait for more from her in the future! And I am happy to hear that there is another book following the fourth book because I am not ready to say goodbye to any of these characters just yet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch

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

Release Date: February 12, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives -- all over the course of one meal.

It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse -- the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

My Review:

Everyone has been talking about this book lately, from the publishers to book sellers, and now that I have finally finished reading it I completely understand why! There is so much to this book and it's hard to talk about without giving things away so this will be a bit of a short review, because this is a book that you need to go into knowing nothing about the story, and just let it take you away.

This whole book takes place over one night, and a short one at that. It starts out as we follow the narrator getting ready to go to dinner with his wife, his brother and his sister-in-law. We come to the restaurant and things slowly unravel from there. In the beginning, I wasn't really sure what I was feeling with this book because there are a lot of descriptions of the dinner and what the characters are eating. But trust me, you need to stick with the story, there are some huge things that happen along the way. There are so many twists to this book, and the way things come out is just stunning.

There are so many points in the novel when I just found myself shocked at the way these characters were acting. Koch's writing is very descriptive of the events and it's almost like you need to take a step back to really take in everything that happens throughout the book. I found myself furiously flipping the pages, hoping to myself that this is not how these people really were. I enjoyed that even though this takes place over one little dinner, you still get a back story to the characters, I feel like that added a lot to the story.

This is a book about secrets and what they can do to families. This is a book that will be one of the most talked about books all year, it will sit with you after you've read it and you wonder what you would do in a situation like this. I can guarantee you that this is one scary family, but that they are definitely worth getting to know at THE DINNER.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Pantomime by Laura Lam

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 392
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: February 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

My Review:

This review is a hard one to write, I wasn't really sure what I was going into with this book, but what I came out with was such a beautiful book about coming to terms with who you are. There is so much I want to say about this book, but can't because of spoilers. Many of the characters have their own secrets as to what their real lives are.

Gene is a noble girl who would rather spend her time playing with the boys than by dressing up and really being a lady. And then there is Micah who is a runaway boy trying to live on the streets when he comes to the circus and begins a new life there. The story alternates between these two characters, and comes to what brings these two characters together. There are some really interesting reveals throughout the story of these two characters that I really didn't see coming.

Lam has beautiful descriptions throughout the story, I loved following the circus night after night and seeing how much work is put into getting things right at the circus. She also really shows how those who are inside the circus feel towards outsiders and how hard it is to really get into the circus. I really loved how this story happened around a circus, it was a huge part to the story and a large part of Micah learning about himself. He has to work hard to gain the approval of those in the circus, much like Gene has to gain the approval of her friends around her.

I really enjoyed the characters in this story and what you learn from everyone. This definitely was an interesting story, with readers slowly learning about the characters along the way.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 309
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines.

All she wants is for Mark the Soccer Stud to notice her. Not as Josh's weird sister who drives a turd-brown minivan. And not as that nerdy girl who draws comics.

What she gets is her very own arch-nemesis.

Name: Mark Deninger, aka Mark the Shark
Occupation: Soccer star and all-around lady killer
Relationship Status: Serial dater
Group Affiliation: No loyalty
Known Superpowers: Anti-girlfriend force field, breaking hearts

Mark may have humiliated Blaze supervillian-style, but what he doesn't know is how geek girls always get revenge.

My Review:

So I admit I am a total geek, and I always have been so when I read about this book I thought it sounded awesome (even though I'm not a comic book geek...) I really loved everything that went down in this book. I found myself really connecting with Blaze, when I was in high school I was the geek on the sidelines who had no idea how to talk to guys and more than once I made a fool of myself with guys (so I ended up sticking with my books more often than not).  I loved being able to really know how Blaze feels, it's not often that I really see a character like her in books, and I found myself wanting her to come out on top!

The humour in this book is something that kept my attention, it's not a humour I see often. Blaze has this snarky attitude to her that really keeps things light hearted. I really loved the interactions between Blaze and her brother and his friends, it was adorable and you could see that even though Blaze had this amusing snark she really cared for these characters. Family is such a huge part in this novel, we find out that Blaze's father left when she was young and she has become a second mother to her little brother while her own mother works long hours.

I loved the relationship between Blaze and her brother, it was adorable and they always had such great interactions. I loved how you see him grow up during the span of this book (even though it's only a couple months). Even though he is a younger brother, Josh is there to help take care of his sister, and I just loved the stuff that he does for her. It was great to see each of them doing things to protect the other one without either of them knowing what is happening.

I did find that it took some time for the big thing to happen and then it was just like everything spiralled out of control from there. But the book felt so realistic and Crompton really brought out emotions I've had from seeing people go through these things. I really hated reading as Blaze was humiliated from something that was not her fault at all, and even having friends rally around you doesn't always help.

This book was beautiful and really meaningful, and I think it's one that everyone really should read. I am disappointed that by reading the ARC, I missed out on some beautiful artwork that goes along with it, but the story itself was so captivating. I loved the way Crompton added in comics to the story and how Blaze felt that she was in her own superhero story. This is definitely a story that will stick with you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: Parlor Games by Mayrka Biaggio

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: January 15, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A sweeping historical novel about a beautiful con artist whose turn-of-the-century escapades take her around the world as she's doggedly pursued by a Pinkerton Agency detective

The novel opens in 1917 with our cunning protagonist, May Dugas, standing trial for extortion. As the trial unfolds, May tells her version of events.

In 1887, at the tender age of eighteen, May ventures to Chicago in hopes of earning enough money to support her family. Circumstances force her to take up residence at the city’s most infamous bordello, but May soon learns to employ her considerable feminine wiles to extract not only sidelong looks but also large sums of money from the men she encounters.  Insinuating herself into Chicago’s high society, May lands a well-to-do fiancĂ©—until, that is, a Pinkerton Agency detective named Reed Doherty intervenes and summarily foils the engagement.

Unflappable May quickly rebounds, elevating seduction and social climbing to an art form as she travels the world, eventually marrying a wealthy Dutch Baron. Unfortunately, Reed Doherty is never far behind and continues to track May in a delicious cat-and-mouse game as the newly-minted Baroness’s misadventures take her from San Francisco to Shanghai to London and points in between.

The Pinkerton Agency really did dub May the “Most Dangerous Woman,” branding her a crafty blackmailer and ruthless seductress. To many, though, she was the most glamorous woman to grace high society. Was the real May Dugas a cold-hearted swindler or simply a resourceful provider for her poor family?

As the narrative bounces back and forth between the trial taking place in 1917 and May’s devious but undeniably entertaining path to the courtroom—hoodwinking and waltzing her way through the gilded age and into the twentieth century—we're left to ponder her guilt as we move closer to finding out what fate ultimately has in store for our irresistible adventuress.

My Review:

A historical fiction novel about a con artist, well let's say I was intrigued. I will admit that the cover of this book turned me off a little, it seems a bit cartoony, but the synopsis kept me interested (and since I had an ebook version the cover didn't make much of a difference to me). I really enjoyed the perspective that this story is told in, May is telling her story to readers so that we get a different side from what we think we know.

May has found herself in trouble once again, and this time the trouble has landed her in court, which is where she starts the story. But she wants her readers to be the jury and she tells her whole life story of what brought her to this point, and it really makes readers wonder if she really is guilty of the crimes that she is being persecuted for. I really enjoyed the back and forth of the ongoing trial and May's actual story to see where things get twisted, though it also gets the reader thinking... Is May a reliable narrator?

There is so much travelling throughout this book, May goes all over the world, and I love the different experiences she has at each place she stops. I had so much fun travelling along with May, as she learns about the world on her own, and meets so many interesting characters along the way. Many of whom have such a large impact on her life. She falls in love with some, and uses others to get through each day, all the while trying to take care of her family.

There were a few things that took away from the story in my opinion, the first being the Pinkerton detective, Reed Dougherty. I found it a bit much that with all the different places May travels to over the years, this one detective continually finds her, he is always showing up and I just found it to be over the top, especially when it comes to what happens at the end of the book. I also found that the book is quite long and some parts dragged on a but too much for me to really enjoy the story. There were a lot of descriptions of what May did when she was at a certain place and with certain people that it just seemed too long.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the story and following May`s travels and how she was able to get out of scrapes. This was definitely a fun and interesting story, but a bit long at parts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Publisher: Macmillan
Pages: 263
Received: Was given a copy from Mac Kids Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.

My Review:

So usually I am not a fan of short stories, but something about this book caught my attention, the way each of the stories connect with one another really was intriguing. I wanted to see how all these stories fit together with one another and yet still be so different from the one before.

Each of the stories are very short but so much seems to happen, I was pleasantly surprised at how invested I was in everything happening. Normally when I read a book of short stories, I read one and then do something else, but I found myself continually going back to the stories in MIDWINTERBLOOD. Sedgwick wrote in a way that keeps his readers captivated, starting at one point and working backwards from there to show how everything was started.

Right from the opening, I could see that these stories had an air of creepiness around them, making you wonder what is happening on the island that is so secret. As Sedgwick takes you further back in the past, readers slowly learn more about the island and it's inhabitants, the whole thing is like trying to figure out this mystery of how these two characters are connected. I loved that there were all these other characters, but throughout everything we see these two people always coming together in some way or another. But I felt like the story was not just about the people, but the island was a character as well, the island plays such a large part in each of the seven stories.

There is a beautiful romance story behind everything but I found it took me some time to really find that story underneath everything that is happening in the stories. I have to say I think it's hard to pick one of the stories as my favourite, but I was most interested in the archaeologist story, it ends on such an interesting idea that it was where I found myself needing to just keep going with the stories.

Even if you are not a fan of short stories, I suggest giving these ones a try. The book does not feel like short stories because they are all connected with one another. But it's also such a nice quick read that you don't realize how much time has passed and you've finished another story. I could feel my heart pounding and some of the stories truly gave me shivers because of the mystery and creepiness. It was definitely an interesting read!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: Harper Collins
Series: Shatter Me #2
Pages: 480
Received: Purchased own copy

Release Date: February 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:






it's almost

time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

My Review:

Oh Tahereh, you have done it again, you have captured my heart with your characters and completely blown my mind with everything that you write! Reading SHATTER ME last year, I was in a bubble of emotions and loved every minute of the book, Mafi has such a unique writing style that just draws readers in, so when book 2 finally hit shelves I was on a mission to find a copy along with Michele from Just A Lil' Lost and when I did, I dove right into the book.

I will admit, Juliette was a bit hard to read about in the beginning, she is very much like herself in the first book, very woe is me and self pitying and it just seemed like she needed to get over herself. I loved Kenji and Juliette working together because he was the only one who really told her off for hiding out for so long, and he brings out this other side of Juliette. And honestly with all this TEAM WARNER/ADAM stuff out there (I am all for Adam) I want to throw in Kenji... he was adorable and so funny, he was by far my favourite character in UNRAVEL ME.

There is so much more character development in this book, as much as Juliette got to me, I understand what she was going through and loved watching as she came around slowly. I loved how everything is revealed a little at a time, Tahereh brings in so many twists in this book that I feel like my mind was completely blown and I needed more! The best part of Tahereh's writing style is how different it is, yet so emotional, this is one of those books that you can just feel everything coming out of the character's, and I love how there are those scratched out remarks making you see that feelings are still being hidden.

And then of course Chapter 62... with all the talk surrounding it I kept wondering when I would get to it. And wow did Tahereh get that scene right! I am so glad I was not in public when I read it, it was hot and steamy and so well done! Tahereh you have stolen my heart with this series, and I am so scared to see how this will all end!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review: Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

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

Release Date: February 12, 2013 (PB version)
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Goodreads Synopsis:

For fans of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It comes an irresistible novel of a woman losing herself . . . and finding herself again . . . in the middle of her life.

Maybe it was those extra five pounds I’d gained. Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her. Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other.

But when the anonymous online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my life. It wasn’t long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101).

And, just like that, I found myself answering questions.

7. Sometimes I tell him he’s snoring when he’s not snoring so he’ll sleep in the guest room and I can have the bed all to myself.

61. Chet Baker on the tape player. He was cutting peppers for the salad. I looked at those hands and thought, I am going to have this man’s children.
67. To not want what you don’t have. What you can’t have. What you shouldn’t have.
32. That if we weren’t careful, it was possible to forget one another.

Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor’s appointments, family dinners, budgets, and trying to discern the fastest-moving line at the grocery store. I was Alice Buckle: spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions.

But these days, I’m also Wife 22. And somehow, my anonymous correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpectedly personal turn. Soon, I’ll have to make a decision—one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life. But at the moment, I’m too busy answering questions. 

As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.

My Review:

I always love throwing in a chick-lit novel among all the dystopian and fantasy books I have been reading lately. This book was absolutely adorable and such a fun read. Alice has given up so much in her life and dedicated her life to her family, she works part-time as a drama teacher for younger children but she feels like she is missing out on something. After 20 years of marriage, Alice finds her relationship strained and can't seem to communicate with her husband who is always working late hours. I can tell you that as I got further along in the book I had a good idea as to how it would end, and yet I still loved everything about this story.

This is one of those books that you can really understand where Alice is coming from, she is feeling lonely and as much as she tries to talk to her husband, it feels like there is a wall there. I felt so bad for her character, not only is there a wall with her husband but her daughter is now growing up and  is a teenager, so obviously a wall there (what teenager actually wants to talk about everything with their mother...)

Gideon really brought out how Alice was feeling so alone and how she had turned to the internet to keep her company, readers continually see her checking her FB page and her email over and over again (this is what life is like for a lot of people). There were a lot of great quotes that remind us of how important it is to just step away from technology and spend time with each other. What really stuck out in this book for me was how Gideon added in the different modes of communication through online chats and Facebook updates interspersed among everything else happening in Alice's life.

I loved the questionnaire and how it takes Alice back to when her and William first met and fell in love. The way the story is written slowly takes the readers through this love story and how it got to the point they are at now, feeling lost from one another. The one small issue I had with the story was how Alice answers this questionnaire in little batches but readers are not given the questions, they are in the back as an appendix and I really dislike flipping back and forth.

All in all this brought me back to my days before blogging where I spent a lot of time reading these adorable chick lit books. This was a cute and fun story and I really loved how everything ended, really seeing how two people can grow apart over the years.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Series: At Somerton #1
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: January 22, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

One house, two worlds...

Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada.

For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.

Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All those secrets are waiting . . . at Somerton.

My Review:

I found while reading this book that ir felt very much like a soap opera on page. Now don't get me wrong, I definitely like my soap operas, a guilty pleasure of mine every day, but I felt that there was so much happening within these 400 pages and for teens I think it would be distracting for most readers.

From the synopsis I guessed that this was a story of a friendship between a lady and her maid as well as a touching romantic plot for Ada. What I got out of this story was something completely different. There were so many different intertwining stories, and so many characters to follow around that I got confused often. Most of the story revolves around Somerton House but every character that we are introduced to is the lead in their own drama, it makes for a lot of things happening in one house.

I really adored the friendship between Rose and and Ada, you could really see that Ada needed someone on her side throughout the book and Rose was the perfect person to be there. Ada is a sweet character who is not interested in being a lady, instead she is interested in reading and going to school to study. Sadly this is completely different from what her father expects of her... and there is Ada's biggest hurdle. For the most part, all of the characters were overly dramatic (which is a big part of why this book felt like a soap opera).

Rose and Ada's stories were the only ones I was truly interested in, and I felt that there was just so much else going on that it took away from what I thought was the most important part of the story. I didn't mind learning about Ada's sister, she was a sweet little girl with a big heart, but even though she had her own little part there were things about her life that were not explained.

I also felt that there were a few things that were revealed close the beginning of the story, that, in my opinion, the story would have been a bit more interesting if the secret were kept from the readers as well as the characters throughout more of the story. I definitely feel like this story was fun, but is definitely a guilty pleasure type of read. It's fun and you can't turn away because of all the drama but there are just way too many storylines in one book.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: The Finishing School #1
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

My Review:

Gail Carriger has written some interesting stories with her Parasol Protectorate series from what I've heard, and I really love the idea of ladies learning to fight. In my head, I imagine these women in large dresses (similar to the one on the cover) kicking butt. I was interested in this story but there were a few things with this that got in my way of really loving everything.

The main character of this novel, Sophronia, was a really interesting girl. I enjoyed following her through everything. She was very inquisitive and knew to question everything and anything. I like seeing a character who knows how to think for herself and doesn't just blindly follow along with everything that she is told. Sophronia also knew how to get answers to her questions, everything about the finishing school is shrouded in secrets, no one tells Sophronia anything so she works her own way to get information.

The secondary characters were well written and did a great job helping Sophronia through her troubles. I really liked Soap, he was adorable and a great match for Sophronia, and you can see a hint of a romantic interest but nothing actually happened in this book, it was all about getting answers. Vieve was my favourite of everyone, such an adorable character, and I loved how Vieve was the smart one, and was able to make the different devices used throughout the novel.

There were a few issues I had, that kept me from really loving this book. The biggest one for me was the names of the characters, it's such a small issue but I found myself distracted because the names were a little weird and I lost track of who was who at times. The names were long and awkward to read, but I will admit that they were fun by the end of the book. The biggest thing for me though was that there wasn't much information on the teachers of the school. I found that the teachers and even the headmaster were a big part of the story but we don't know much about them or the school. I felt like I was missing out on something.

As much fun as I had reading this book, I just felt like I missed out on information and by the end I got a little distracted with things that I was lost to what was happening with everything. This was definitely an adventure of a book, but I hope that the rest of the series will give out more information about the school and the characters involved.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black

Publisher: Nan A. Talese (Random House)
Pages: 288
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: January 15, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A gripping suspense story about a woman who returns to Galveston, Texas after a personal tragedy and is irresistibly drawn into the insular world she’s struggled to leave.

Photographer Clare Porterfield's once-happy marriage is coming apart, unraveling under the strain of a family tragedy. When she receives an invitation to direct an exhibition in her hometown of Galveston, Texas, she jumps at the chance to escape her grief and reconnect with the island she hasn't seen for ten years. There Clare will have the time and space to search for answers about her troubled past and her family's complicated relationship with the wealthy and influential Carraday family.

Soon she finds herself drawn into a century-old mystery involving Stella Carraday. Local legend has it that Stella drowned in her family's house during the Great Hurricane of 1900, hanged by her long hair from the drawing room chandelier. Could Stella have been saved? What is the true nature of Clare's family's involvement? The questions grow like the wildflower vines that climb up the walls and fences of the island. And the closer Clare gets to the answers, the darker and more disturbing the truth becomes.

Steeped in the rich local history of GalvestonThe Drowning House portrays two families, inextricably linked by tragedy and time.

My Review:

I'm always intrigued by stories that deal with family secrets and mysteries, so the synopsis to THE DROWNING HOUSE definitely caught my attention. Sadly this book didn't really hit it's mark for me. The book felt longer for me than 300 pages because there was just so much happening and yet not much really going on at the same time. Readers are introduced to Clare and can see how she is struggling with her marriage because of this tragedy.

What really made this book difficult to read for me was how jumpy the writing style was. I felt that Black jumped back and forth between Clare dealing with her current problems and remembering her past, and what I found confusing is that readers are not taken back to the past in a chronological order, the story is always jumping around to different parts of the past. I felt confused at where I was with Clare often throughout the book.

I really enjoyed Black's descriptions throughout the story, the island and its inhabitants are very intriguing. I love small town type of novels where it is hard to keep a secret and yet there are still things hiding everywhere (in the case of this book all the secrets are in the past). Clare's character was interesting, and I found that Black really did a great job in getting her personality and her fears across to readers. I enjoyed that she is seen as distant and scared through her interactions with her camera, she always reaches for it when nervous and hides behind it so that people don't get to close. The one thing I would have liked from the book is that Clare had more interaction with her husband to show the distance between them, it's more of a side note in the book and I just felt that you missed that part of her life.

Even though this story was intriguing and could be captivating at times, I felt that it was missing something to really keep my interest, and it felt so much longer than it was. Clare spends most of the story searching for something and it gets a bit crazy and unbelievable at times. I can see some people enjoying this one, for me it just wasn't what I was expecting.


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