Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 416
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 2, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

My Review:

Oh my gosh! Why have I not read anything by Jennifer E. Smith sooner! I heard all the talk about her last book The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but never got around to it (after finishing this book I ran out to buy a copy of her other book). I have so much love for this book, it's absolutely adorable and just such a great story! I have absolute cover love for both of Smith's books and I think they match perfectly (even though these are not part of a series).

When I started this book, I fell in love with both of the characters right away. I don't know if this has ever happened to me before when reading a contemporary novel, but they were just so darn cute, and so were their interactions with one another. I could actually see people giving me weird looks because I had such a goofy smile on my face and I wanted to laugh out loud so much during this book. The story was such a cute idea, how would you answer if fate came calling, would you answer the email from a random person?

When Graham accidently sends an email to Ellie (her email being one number off from a friend Graham's) they begin an unlikely friendship opening up to one another, without actually knowing who the other one is. I really enjoyed seeing the emails between these two characters, everything is so easy and I can imagine how Ellie felt being excited by these emails. When Graham realizes his new movie needs a new location he does everything in his power to get it filmed in this small town so he can meet this girl that he has been emailing.

Honestly reading through this book, I loved so many of the interactions between the characters of Graham and Ellie, she didn't change her thoughts on him just because he was some big movie star. Ellie would say what she thought and she wasn't nervous being with him because she knew a different side of him.

I was also really interested in Ellie's story. Smith really kept me intrigued with this secret past of Ellie's that no one seems to know about. When it came out it really surprised me, and I really felt for Ellie just wanting to take her in my arms and hug her forever.

I honestly loved everything about this book! Jennifer E. Smith has a way with words that just made me go "Awww" and kept me with this goofy grin on my face! I can't wait to read THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT now and more from her! I want everyone to go out and read her books!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: Serpent on a Cross by Darya Asch

Publisher: Northampton House Press
Pages: 241
Received: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 30, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When peaceful Drovania is suddenly destroyed one Sabbath morning by a legion of clawed, black-clad demons, led by a Russian nobleman with a mysterious connection to her mother, Dennah, a seventeen-year-old healer and archer, must face the truth of her heritage and the explosive Power that murder, rape, and pogrom have awakened within her.

Accompanied by Jeth, a blacksmith, and a group of guardsmen from their village, Dennah will face golem-like constructs, a witch with an uncanny resemblance to Baba Yaga, and a dangerous half-human who’ll stop at nothing to claim her as his own.

Set in the second half of the 11th century in Poland and Kievan Rus, SERPENT ON A CROSS is a fantastical mix of medieval adventure, Slavic mythology, and Jewish mysticism.

My Review:

I always have fun reading self published books once in awhile, there is something intriguing about them. This book really stood out to me because of the medieval fantasy aspect, which I have really come to enjoy since I began blogging. When Darya Asch contacted me I was happy to help get word about her book out in the world.

This is a book that is full of action and intrigue right from the beginning of the story. Being a medieval fantasy book, there is a lot of death and destruction throughout, and Asch definitely goes all in with it. I felt disturbed at times, but it's what it was like in those times. I do feel that this book was a lot more adult than I was expecting it to be. The one thing I found very difficult were the many characters in this book. I realize that fantasy books have many characters that are to be followed, but I found that there was no real introduction to each of the characters, and not much time to really get to know these characters. I felt like I was thrown into this story and the lives of the characters and there really needed to be more of a build-up, and this book was just a little too short to get into all of that.

I really loved the character of Dennah, she grows throughout the book, quickly learning about her power and using it to save those she loves. She is on a quest to save her mother and she will stop at nothing to do it. Dennah has amazing strength throughout the story but she has her weaknesses too (especially letting her emotions take over and her power getting the best of her). Dennah is the character that the book is focused on and you do learn a lot about her and her past, and she is one of the characters that is the most fleshed out, but even still I think there is more to her to be known (I did have to keep reminding myself that this is the first in a series).

I did find I was confused by the plot at certain points, it seemed that the story jumped around quite a bit from the perspectives of different characters and I would get lost as to who I was following (I think because some of the characters were not described enough). But the main problem for me was the love story between Dennah and Jeth, I found them confusing  saying they love each other and then talking about how they haven't really talked about their feelings. It was a very complicated storyline and the back and forth between these two characters took away from the story a little bit for me. I also found myself confused with the many Jewish terms throughout the book (I didn't realize until after that there was a glossary at the back of the book, which is difficult to work with in an ebook). The Jewish mysticism was interesting and made me want to research it more, but it was difficult not understanding a lot of what was being talked about.

This was an intriguing book, but there was too much going on for me to understand everything. Asch incorporates some great history into her book, the characters just need a little bit more of an introduction to make it easier to follow. I can see many people enjoying this, I just felt that there were too many characters that were not absolutely needed and that there was a bit of a disconnect in the plot.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 287
Received: Received a copy from Strange Chemistry in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 2, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.

Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.

With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.

My Review:

I was really surprised when this book arrived, it seemed so small for such an adventurous story, but what Martha Wells was able to fit into 287 pages was full of intrigue and I had so much fun reading this book. The cover is what first drew me in to the story, it's so colourful and different from many books out there, it really stands out on a bookshelf. And honestly, the story stands out as well (in my opinion), Martha Wells really engages her readers in The Hollow World.

This book was an adventure of a lifetime for me, I fell in love with Emilie very early on in the story. She is an adorable character in a crappy family situation, so she decides to run away and do something for herself. One little issue for me was that you don't really get to know Emilie and her situation until a little while into the book, she doesn't want to look bad so tries to keep it a secret why she has left. I wanted a little more from Emilie's past, but for this story it really worked. Her character is absolutely adorable, first I will talk about how she is an avid reader of adventure novels, this continually comes up in the book when things start happening. Everytime Emilie dealt with something new she would go back to thinking about things in the books she had read, this also helps her at times when she is in danger (I wonder if I can use some of the tactics I've read about in a dangerous situation...)

Another great aspect of this book was the steampunkiness of it. There was a great amount of explanation about how the contraptions run and the world was definitely interesting, though I was hoping for a little more explanation to it and the creatures from there. I think that some of the secondary characters needed a little bit more of a background, and that this story was just a little to short to get everything in. But I do think I overlooked that for such an action packed story. Right from the beginning Emilie is thrown into a war between two Lord's and from there we are just brought into more battle, I really loved everything that happened because there were so many twists that I did not see coming.

I did feel like a little more could have been added to the book to explain a few more things, but this action filled book was so much fun that you get taken with the world and everything that is happening. I also really liked that there wasn't a romance featured in this book, it was all about the characters. I do hope that Martha plans to write a sequel, I would love to see more of these characters!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 464
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: October 9, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.


Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal... and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

My Review:

Oh how excited I was for this book when it came out, I mean first look at that awesome cover, it really stuck out in my mind... well this was one of those the cover tricks you kind of books... and even more than that, the synopsis tricked me! So this book was about a girl who was killed at the young age of 16, now she is a ghost living in purgatory with only revenge on her mind. Her plan to is to haunt her killer "Bonesaw" and give him the punishment he deserves... Doesn't this sound like such a great concept to a book?! Sadly, this is not what I got out of this book at all. This book very quickly takes a different turn than I was expecting and in the end I was just confused with everything I had just read.

I was definitely interested in the concept that actually came out of this book, but I just felt like that the story was a little all over, and it didn't make a completely coherent story. The whole Velveteen haunting her killer and getting revenge really took a backseat to a bigger plot idea, this idea of the ghosts going to purgatory until they fulfill needs that will help them cross over. These ideas always interest me, the problem with this book is that it's not really brought up until quite a ways into the book.

Velveteen was an interesting character and I really liked that she had an attitude, after what she went through I wouldn't be so forthcoming with people either. But I found that there were some sections where her personality didn't really connect with how she acted in the rest of the book, she was a very confusing character, especially when it came to the guy that shows up in the book. She became very back and forth with her attitude.

The biggest thing about this book that brought it down for me was that it left me with so many more questions than answers (and I don't know if it's part of a series). There is this idea in the book about how those living in purgatory all have some sort of job, being "collectors" or being a "salvager", which is a team with many different jobs to it. But how do these ghosts know where they belong, and how did Velveteen get to be the commander of her own team? It was a very confusing book that I just felt I couldn't grasp the concept.

This book is really teaching me to be wary of a book synopsis, in the past I have had too much given away about a book, and this one just gave me a different expectation. I may have liked the book a little more if I hadn't gone in with one idea about what the book was to be about.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 320
Received: Purchased own copy

Release Date: October 26, 2009
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Goodreads Synopsis

The magical new novel from number one bestseller Cecelia Ahern. Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she's ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She's always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever. Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin.When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core.

My Review:

So anytime I see a book with the name Cecelia Ahern on it, I automatically pick it up and bring it home with me. Ever since randomly finding PS, I Love You in my library one day, Cecilia Ahern has become my favourite author, she has such a magical way of bringing me into her stories and the worlds she creates are always so magical. I was really intrigued by the synopsis of this book, a girl who has found herself in the middle of the country with nothing to do after such a devastating event suddenly finds this gorgeous book that is locked. What she finds inside the pages of this book changes her life in a large way. Tamara is used to focusing on the now, she will fight to get what she wants right at that moment and doesn't think about how her future will be affected (I am completely the opposite, I always worry about my future... maybe a little too much). This book she finds really teaches her about looking to the future and thinking about how her actions will have an effect on that.

This book was a lot different from many of Ahern's other books, and it really surprised me. I had a lot of trouble getting into this book, the narrator (Tamara herself) was a very difficult character to connect with. She didn't have a care in the world, she was selfish and just obnoxious a lot of the time. There were actually a few times I was thinking of putting this book aside for another book, but I trudged through (mainly because it is a Cecelia Ahern book). But I will say I grew to understand Tamara as I followed her story, and then came to really wonder what would happen next in the book.

What really took me by surprise was the dark turn this story took, I'm used to Ahern's stories being somewhat on the lighter side and this story is definitely different from that. This story takes you for a ride, there are so many twists that I was completely taken aback by the end of the book, and I found that the story redeemed itself with everything that happens. I was really surprised at this book and I think Ahern actually made me think more about looking at how every little thing can affect the future.

I also have to mention one of the quotes at the end of the book that really made me go back and read it again: "I think that most people go into bookshops and have no idea what they want to buy. Somehow, the books sit there, almost magically willing people to pick them up. The right person for the right book. It's as though they already know who's life they need to be a part of, how they can make a difference, how they can teach a lesson, put a smile on a face at just the right time." (pg. 417-8)

I love how books become a character themselves in this quote and I completely agree with this, I think the book chooses the person and can really touch their lives. Even though this book wasn't one of my favourites of Cecelia Ahern's, it still solidifies my love of her as an author and I know I will continue picking up anything that she writes.

Trailer Reveal: The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

There's evil-a coming from up on the hill
If the Mist doesn't get you, the Agromonds will.
   —From an old Anglavian rhyme


Thunder roared, and lightning speared down. In its brief flashes, Jemma could see more shadows gathering. They looked like pale Mordsprites, small, bedraggled, skeletal. She lengthened her stride, but the ground was slick and she slipped, slamming face down in black mud. Hauling herself to her feet yet again, she came face to face with one of the shadows.

It was not a Mordsprite at all, but the gray silhouette of a child, a sunken-cheeked, hollow-eyed boy of no more than five, his ragged arms reaching out to her through the Mist.

Jemma stood petrified, her heart pounding as he swayed closer, oblivious to the chaos raining down around him. Others closed in behind him, a straggling band of waifs, all moving in the same direction.

Toward her.


"Fast, creepy fun. A bit of The Addams Family, a bit of dark fantasy, and a boatload of monsters and magic make this read a ghoulish delight." - Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar

About The Flame in the Mist:

The sun never shines in the land of Anglavia. Its people live within a sinister mist created by their rulers, the cruel Agromond family. The Agromonds' control is absolute; no one dares defy them. But things are about to change, for the youngest of them is not like the others...

Fiery-headed Jemma has always felt like the family misfit, and is increasingly disturbed by the dark goings-on at Agromond Castle. The night before her thirteenth birthday, Jemma discovers the terrifying reason why: She is not who she thinks she is, and the Agromonds have a dreadful ritual planned for her birthday—a ritual that could kill her.

But saving her skin is just the first of Jemma's ordeals. Ghosts and outcasts, a pair of crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient Prophecy—all these gradually reveal the truth about her past, and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than any she could imagine.

With her trusted friend, Digby, and her two telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, Jemma faces enemies both human and supernatural. But in the end, she and her untapped powers might be the only hope for a kingdom in peril.

About Kit

Kit Grindstaff was born near London, and grew up in the rolling countryside of England. After a brush with pop stardom (under her maiden name, Hain), she moved to New York and embarked on her successful career as a pop song writer. Kit now lives with her husband in the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania, where she still writes songs as well as children's books. The Flame In The Mist is her first novel. 

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Mount Pleasant by Don Gillmor

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

Release Date: March 26, 2013
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Synopsis from the Publisher:

In middle age, debt has become the most significant relationship in Harry Salter's life. He was born to wealthy parents in leafy and privileged Rosedale, at a time when the city was still defined by its WASP elite. But nothing in life has turned out the way Harry was led to expect. He's unsure of his place in society, his marriage is crumbling, his son is bordering on estranged, and on top of it all his father is dying.

As he sits at his father's bedside, Harry inevitably daydreams about his inheritance. A couple of his father's millions would rescue him from his ballooning debt—maybe even save his marriage. But when the will is read, all that's left for Harry is $4200. Dale Salter's money is gone. Out of desperation and disbelief, Harry starts to dig into what happened to the money. As he follows a trail strewn with family secrets and unsavory suspicions, he discovers not only that old money has lost its grip and new money taken on an ugly hue, but that his whole existence been cast into shadow by the weight of his expectations.

My Review:

I always love finding books that take place in Toronto, I find they are few and far between, and this one had a specific focus, that of the more well-off area of Rosedale and it's surroundings. While I found this book interesting, I had a few problems keeping my attention on what was happening. I'm a huge fan of books that deal with family and working through issues they have, but I just had a hard time connecting with the characters in this book.

This book is centred around the idea of money (which I thought was actually really intriguing). Harry grew up in the privileged area of Rosedale (you know that part of Toronto with the huge houses.. .yeah I'd like to go there one day), he is used to having the money to spend on what he likes. Now he has grown up and has a family of his own, and his situation is completely different. Harry has gotten himself into loads of debt and is ultimately waiting for his father to pass to come into his inheritance so that he can pay it off and start a new life. When this happens, Harry finds that his father didn't have any money in the end either, and so begins a search for this lost inheritance.

The idea that readers are a fly on the wall of Harry's life was interesting, but those type of books are difficult for me to get into, every little thing is described in detail (which really gets a reader into the setting of a book, and was well done with this book). I will say that Gillmor's writing style kept me entertained and yet at the same time the story just fell a little flat, and a part of it was the descriptions because those are not my type of books.

The parts that kept me reading this book were the family interactions, and seeing how they would eventually deal with these money issues. I really felt for these characters at points because this is such a hard thing to go through, and so any more people are dealing with not being able to afford anything these days. The problem with them though was that they couldn't communicate with one another and instead continued to spend money that they didn't have.

Gillmor definitely took on a great topic in his book, making it relatable to many readers out there, and I can see many people enjoying what he has done with his story. There were some interesting twists as to what happened to the money, but in the end this book just couldn't keep my interest.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow

Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 1, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Decades ago, as Nazi planes dominated the British sky, eighteen-year-old Lily Verner made a terrible mistake. She’s tried for decades to forget, but now an unexpected event pulls her back to the 1940s British countryside. She finds herself remembering the brilliant, lustrous colors of the silk she helped to weave at her family’s mill, the relentless pressure of the worsening war, and the kind of heartbreaking loss that stops time.

In this evocative novel of love and consequences, Lily finally confronts the disastrous decision that has haunted her all these years.

My Review:

This book was such a beautiful love story, I always say on my blog how I used to love chick lit and love stories before reviewing books, and I always love coming back to those once in awhile. Liz Trenow takes readers back to the time of WWII and you are taken into the lives of the Verner family. The family owns a silk factory, that has been in their name for generations, and they learn to stay afloat by making parachutes to help the war effort.

I loved how Liz Trenow placed this story during such a hard time for people, and the love story that she added in was such an amazing part to this story. This book is about so much more than a romance though, this is about Lily's growth over the years and the secrets she struggles with for so long. I loved Lily's character, she learned a lot about herself during hard times and she really grew over time. There are a lot of hardships that Lily must overcome to become stronger, but there are definitely a great cast of characters that help her through things.

The secondary characters were very important to Lily's story as well. Some of them stood in her way of success while others were always behind her helping her achieve what needed to be done. I find in more books, the secondary characters are just there without any real purpose but in THE LAST TELEGRAM, every person had their purpose to the story. Gwen was one of my favourites, she had her own secrets, but she was the one that really gave Lily her strength when she hit bottom. This is a character that I want with me when I'm in a crappy mood, she knows when to let you talk and when to just sit there in silence. Gwen was one of the strongest people and I absolutely loved her from the beginning.

I really enjoyed how this story was told, readers begin years after the event, following the death of Lily's husband and she begins to reflect on a past mistake that has haunted her for years, and we begin to learn her story and the secret that she has kept with her for so long. The harsh reality of what happened to Lily all comes together when she finally opens up and it is such an emotional journey that Lily must take. This book is really about learning to forgive yourself and showing how secrets can affect your life.

I also have to add how much fun it was learning about silk weaving in this book, in the back of the book there is an added section and Liz Trenow talks about the research that she put into this book, and that though the characters were not real, this is still very loosely based on some interesting facts (that interestingly came from Liz's family tree).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore

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

Release Date: March 12, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Meet Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean. . .

Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat is home away from home for this inseparable Plainview, Indiana, trio. Dubbed “the Supremes” by high school pals in the tumultuous 1960s, they weather life’s storms together for the next four decades. Now, during their most challenging year yet, dutiful, proud, and talented Clarice must struggle to keep up appearances as she deals with her husband’s humiliating infidelities. Beautiful, fragile Barbara Jean is rocked by the tragic reverberations of a youthful love affair. And fearless Odette engages in the most terrifying battle of her life while contending with the idea that she has inherited more than her broad frame from her notorious pot-smoking mother, Dora.

Through marriage, children, happiness, and the blues, these strong, funny women gather each Sundayat the same table at Earl’s diner for delicious food, juicy gossip, occasional tears, and uproarious banter.

With wit and love, style and sublime talent, Edward Kelsey Moore brings together four intertwined love stories, three devoted allies, and two sprightly earthbound spirits in a big-hearted debut novel that embraces the lives of people you will never forget.

My Review:

I don't really know what I was expecting when I went into this book, so the story that I read actually kept me entertained since I didn't have any ideas going into it. The book was fun with a great emotional side to it as well. This is a book that is about a friendship that stays strong through many years and many hurdles. The Supremes are three women, who were given that name by high school friends and since then have stayed together. These three women are the most different people but when brought together they are the strongest group and help each other through everything.

I will admit I was nervous going into the book, having a male writer tell a story from a women's perspective is difficult and this is the story of the three different women. But Edward Kelsey Moore did a fantastic job bringing these stories to life. This book goes into detail of everything these three women have been through, and I enjoyed how Moore slowly reveals each of their pasts through things that have happened in the present. I found that he takes us on a journey and slowly Moore lets us into the lives of these friends so that by the end you feel like you have been let in on a secret and have joined "The Supremes" yourself.

The one thing that I found a little weird in the writing style was that, Odette's voice is from a first person narrative but everyone else is from the third person. I found this took away from my reading experience as the story kept switching perspectives. I wasn't sure if the whole story was supposed to be told from Odette's POV, but there were things that happened that Odette could not have known about. I believed that Moore should have had each of the three women tell their story or have the whole book told in thrid person narrative so as not to confuse the reader.

I really loved the characters in this book, and they really made for an interesting story. Odette was by far my favourite of the three women, she really is the strength of the group. It's explained that because of where Odette was born she has no fear, and since she grew up hearing that so much, she came to believe it herself. Whenever things were difficult, Odette would be the one to tell things as they are instead of beating around the bush (she's the type of friend that is true and you can tell she loves with all her heart). All in all I think the characters were the best part of the story, really watching them stick up for one another despite the differences.

The ending of this book really surprised me, I found myself getting emotional, but at the same time there was a great sarcastic type of humour. Edward Kelsey Moore did a great job telling this fun and beautiful story of friendship, and I hope that everyone can join this group of friends themselves.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins)
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 19, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing-and ultimately empowering-page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

My Review:

So... this book... WOW. I went into this book not knowing too much about the story (which is the best thing to do for this book), except for people saying how good it was, and just let Angie tell her story to me. I started this book and refused sleep until I got to the end because I needed to know how Angie got through everything. I'll be honest, I was a huge emotional basket case at the end (and quite a few times through this book),

Angie was thirteen when she was kidnapped, this is the story of her return and how she must deal with everything that has happened to her. This was a difficult book to read, because of the content, but it was so beautifully written as everything slowly unravels for Angie. When Angie comes home, she believes that she has just come back after a camping trip and doesn't realize she has been gone for three years, thus begins a story where Angie must reacclimate to this new life.

I really felt for Angie what she went through realizing that she doesn't know anyone around her anymore, and   then she has the issue of not remembering what has happened to her, she has so many problems to overcome. As Angie starts remembering things she has to decide how to handle everything that is coming out, and through all this she is trying to protect her parents. I found Angie to be such a strong character to go through what she had.

I could really tell that Liz Coley did quite a lot of research for this book, I really enjoyed learning about why Angie doesn't remember, and having it explained so much. This book was really informative in that aspect and really made me more interested in this idea.

My thoughts when I finished this book was how this is a book about one person's strength to deal with such a tough situation, and the strength to save yourself. But even more so this book is about loving yourself, and learning to trust again. This isn't a book that has huge twists, hints are dropped for the readers along the way, but some of the ideas are still shocking. I will admit that some plots that are brought up were difficult to believe and I don't think they added much to the story (one that comes up very close to the end in particular), but by that point it didn't really change my opinion too much, I had fallen in love with the character of Angie.

This book won't be for everyone, but I suggest giving it a chance, the things that happen in this book will stay with you, and really make you think about your own strength.

To learn more about Pretty Girl-13 and Liz Coley, go to the Harper Collins Canada website.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Series: Strands of Bronze and Gold #1
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: March 12, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

My Review:

This is one of the greatest retellings I have read, what really sold me on this book in the beginning is that Jane Nickerson decided to go with such a dark tale, instead of the fairy tales that we've been seeing a lot of lately. I really loved the writing style of this story, Nickerson described each scene perfectly really bringing readers into the world that was created. For a debut author this story was beautifully crafted with a great setting and amazing characters.

What really had my attention was how Nickerson brought de Cressac's character to life. She created a very interesting villain in de Cressac. As I continued through this story I could see how Sophia would get caught up in her attraction for this man, but slowly he unravels and the story starts giving you goosebumps as you can see what will happen. I really loved how creepy Nickerson made this book, really bringing out things at unexpected moments.

I found that the characters are really what drove this book forward (but the plot was just as amazing). Sophia really grew into herself over the course of the novel, she starts out as a shy girl who doesn't really know the ways of life and slowly grows to understand what is happening around her and trying to help those in need. But I really appreciated her for her love of family, she does what she believes is the best thing to help her family out of their troubles and I loved her all the more for thinking more about others than herself.

I thought it was interesting to see where Nickerson set her novel as well, taking place at the beginning of the time of the Underground Railroad, and bringing in the subject of slavery and the difference between the views of the North and South. I found it really added to the tone of the novel and added something to Sophia's character.

This was such an amazing debut book, I hope everyone goes out to buy it soon. The pacing of this book is so well done, everything happens in it's own time and is slowly revealed little by little. I just loved every little bit of this story and all the characters and can't wait to share this book with more people.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: Black Feathers by Joseph D'Lacey

Publisher: Angry Robot
Series: Black Dawn #1
Pages: 393
Received: Received a copy from Angry Robot Publishers in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 28, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Black Feathers is a modern fantasy set in two epochs: the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, and generations into the future in its aftermath, the Bright Day.

In each era, a child undertakes a perilous journey to find a dark messiah known as The Crowman. In their hands lies the fate of the planet as they attempt to discover whether The Crowman is our saviour… or the final incarnation of evil.

My Review:

I will start out this review by saying this book is an adult book, and definitely has some disturbing scenes in it. This book had a really intriguing premise to me, a modern fantasy set in two different times and following two different characters, both of whom have a journey they must take to save the world. The Crowman is the character that will save them all, but you never truly meet him in this book, there are many stories about him and no one truly knows what he is like. This is the first book and it definitely feels like that, D'Lacey takes his time in this book, setting up the world and the characters that readers will follow.

I found myself very confused in the beginning, there is a lot of back and forth between the two different times, but there was no indication of where in time I was reading, so I didn't know which child was in Black Dawn and which was in Bright Day. I did eventually begin to figure out where in time I was... (you really have to pay close attention to details to figure this out). This book takes it's time to get into a steady rhythm, and even then I found that it was slow going. This book is about getting to know the characters and what the world is like for each of them.

There were many times throughout my reading of this book that I was close to putting it down, there were quite a few scenes that disturbed me, and it would get worse in certain places. Though I wanted to put it down I couldn't, these disturbing scenes did add to the book and really helped the development of one of the characters by the end of everything. What really stuck out to me in this book was how D'Lacey gives readers the idea of what people can really turn to in times of need. The violence to keep themselves alive, looting to get whatever they can and hoarding things to keep longer. It is in simple terms a book about survival during the worst of times.

Though I was interested in things about this book, I just found that it couldn't really keep my attention. When my attention was grabbed at certain parts I wanted to put it down again within the next few pages because I couldn't handle what was happening. D'Lacey really knows how to give his readers chills and can really imagine a dark and twisted world, but for me, sadly, this book was not my cup of tea. I can definitely see readers enjoying it, I just found that it took too long to get into things (but it was great world-building). I do hope the second book answers many of the questions left behind after this book. I'm just not sure if it will be my thing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: The Holders by Julianna Scott

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Series: Holders #1
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: March 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he's settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he's done?

My Review:

When I started reading this book I felt kind of meh about it, it felt like a lot of other books out there where kids with special powers go to a special boarding school. I found that the characters weren't anything over;ly special... but then I got more into the book and I started really enjoying everything that was happening (it was close to the halfway point). When more information started coming out I became more invested in the story of the Holders. I felt like it took a long time to learn everything, but Julianna definitely took her time to build everything up.

The story was interesting because Becca's brother is the one with the special abilities but she has spent her life protecting him from being labelled as crazy and being scrutinized by too many people. I really loved how Scott shows the family love in this book. Becca refuses to leave home for college because she doesn't want to leave her little brother alone and when he is taken to this boarding school, the only way she agrees is if she can follow and make sure that he will be safe there. I loved seeing their relationship grow and change as Ryland learns to do things for himself. Ryland was a great character and I wish there had of been more of him in the book rather than it being about Becca and everyone discussing Ryland while he was doing his own things.

What I liked was the history behind the Holders. Scott really made that part interesting with a special higher up giving powers to certain people so that they can protect the world. And yes there is that instant love between the characters, but I really like how it was handled. There is a back story to why these two have such a strong connection, but I like that though they find themselves with this connection they don't act on it right away, the romance is drawn out as Becca and Alex get to know each other a little more. It makes sense that these two characters get together, they both have such a strong sense of loyalty to those that are considered family, and it made me fall in love with Alex very quickly.

Scott does a great job incorporating the secondary characters into the story that for much of the book I felt they were just as important (if not more important and interesting) as the main character. Everyone has such an important role to the bigger picture that this story could not be what it is without all these characters. This book is about so much more than the special powers, I found it was also about finding family where you can. This school is a family of people (not everyone who attends has special powers).

Though this story took me awhile to get into, I found that Scott was able to make her world believable, and more than that, she brought me into this special family of characters that she created, where I fell in love with each and every one of them because of how they care for one another. This book is similar to many other books out there, but I definitely still enjoyed it (especially since it takes place in Ireland - always a favourite setting of mine).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Series: Unremembered #1
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The only thing worse than forgetting her past... is remembering it.

When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

From popular young adult author, Jessica Brody comes a mesmerizing and suspenseful new series, set in a world where science knows no boundaries, memories are manipulated, and true love can never be forgotten.

My Review:

There's always something interesting to me about books where the MC has lost their memory and is working towards this mystery of their life. So naturally the story of UNREMEMBERED really stuck out to me when it was advertised. There was so much more to this story though, and I definitely had all my attention on this book while reading. The book opens up with a teenage girl found among the wreckage of a plane crash, and she is the only survivor, and we come to the mystery of how she ended up there and why no one knows about her. The book is broken up into three parts, and each part begins after Seraphina has learned something big dealing with her mysterious past life.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book and felt that it was what really drove the book forward. Jessica Brody takes her time getting to all the answers, and everything is slowly revelaed to readers and to Seraphina alike. The plot of the book had many twists that made it hard to really figure everything out, and I enjoyed being surprised over again with what Brody came up with in this book.

I did have a few problems connecting with the characters, which I can understand when it comes to Seraphina's issues. Though I couldn't connect with her emotionally, I did enjoy her character, how she was careful to trust those around her (at the beginning at least). She trusted her gut instincts and I liked that about her, but I felt like there was still something missing to fully connect with her. I did like that she was a girl with an attitude and fought to find the answers she needed. I mean seriously if you couldn't remember anything about your life wouldn't you run off to find answers where you could (I definitely would!)

I found that I connected a little more with the secondary characters than with the main characters, especially the family that Seraphina is placed with as foster care. I really enjoyed her little brother, and how he learns to care for Seraphina like she is family. He comes out to protect her even though he is young. I loved the dynamic between the two of them.

I do admit, that yes this story is similar to other stories, but Jessica Brody really drew me in and kept me reading with the mystery she added into the story, and with the twists that she added that even I didn't see coming. I really enjoyed this book, I did find that the ending fell a little flat for me and I was hoping for something a little more. I do understand that it's part of a series and that's why it ended as it did, but after everything that happened I was left feeling a little deflated. I do think I will continue on with this series to see where Brody will take the story.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Series: Dualed #1
Pages: 304
Received: Received from publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: February 26, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

You or your Alt? Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.

My Review:

There was quite a bit of talk about this book before it came out and I was really intrigued by the synopsis of it, a world where you must prove your worth by killing your twin. I really wanted to know more about this world and the characters that would occupy it. The book opened up with a huge bang, I felt like I was hit with a lot of emotions all at once as we realize all the people that West has lost in her life, and now she is close to losing someone else. I loved seeing what many people had to go through.

But following the opening, I really felt like the story slowed down quite a bit for a while, and I had a bit of a difficult time picking up this book. I just found that there was not much to the story, and there really wasn't any world building, I didn't know why the idea of the Alternates was brought about, and why there is this city of people raised to be violent. I wanted and needed more information to really understand this world and the characters that exist in it.

I also found there to be a lot of descriptions throughout the story as to what each place West was staying at looked like and the clothes she would wear each day. The descriptions definitely helped me picture the city but I felt that at times it was taking over the story and it made it difficult to get through, I am a person of action and can't sit through while everything is described. Not that this story didn't have it's fair share of action as well, because it definitely did! Which helped me continue on, this is a book about people continually killing their Alts all over the city so the action was definitely intense it just took time to get to it.

I will say that I loved West as a character in this book. She had her faults but she learns a lot about herself in the book. When she first receives her assignment, she does the only thing she thinks of, runs and hides, and we see her over the course of the month trying to decide if she really deserves to be the one to live. I found that West learns a lot about herself and that she develops over the course of the novel, learning that she can't run away from everything, and that trying to protect someone can still put them in danger.

This book was a lot different than I was expecting it to be, I went into this thinking it would be similar to many of the other dystopian books out there, but Chapman gave this book a different twist. DUALED is more about the characters themselves than the world that they live in, and I really enjoyed the uniqueness of this story. If you're looking for something a little different, this is a great book to pick up.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Delirium #3
Pages: 400
Received: Borrowed from Christa @ More Than Just Magic

Release Date: March 6, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

My Review:

This is a series that I have fallen in love with over the past year (I only started reading it around the time PANDEMONIUM was coming out). This has been a series that I continually suggest people read because it so so unique and beautiful and I have fallen in love with all of the characters. This is a hard review to write because of my love for the series and I don't want to spoil this book for readers. This whole series is completely different, and Lauren Oliver's writing is beautiful and she such a large fan base, Lena's story is absolutely captivating.

I was nervous going into this book, wondering what Lauren Oliver would do and where she would take the story... Would my heart be broken into a million pieces when I finally closed the book? I was definitely surprised at everything that happened in this book, and yet I loved every minute of my reading experience. I wish I had savoured it more, knowing that I have finished my journey with these characters. I loved Lena throughout everything, she really grows over the entire series, and you can see a huge difference in her at the end of this one.

It was interesting to see the two different perspectives, a back and forth between what Lena is going through and what Hana is dealing with after Lena left. After reading the short story Hana, I was interested to know more about her situation and what things must be going through her head, and Oliver really made you care for Hana in this book. There were definitely some interesting characters in Hana's life in REQUIEM, that I was very surprised by at times.

There was only one small thing in this book that kind of disappointed me and that was that there were things that came up quite late in the book. I felt that things were not as fleshed out as they could have been if they were brought up earlier in the book. I can't really say much without giving away spoilers...

The ending of this book really took me by surprise, and after finishing, I sat down and really thought about everything that happened in this series. It's one of those books that after reading it you really just want to reflect on everything that happened and really think about what you have been through with the characters. I love everything that Lauren Oliver did with this book, and I'm sad to see this series end... to be honest a part of me was hoping as I was reading that she may try to drag it out a little longer.

If you have yet to read this series, now is the time to go through all three books without having to wait for the next one!


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