Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA: Genre Non-Fiction

Today's post for Armchair BEA is all about the non-fiction genre. I personally do not read non-fiction, I have tried a few times and I just could not get into it at all. I think a big part of it is that I read because I want to escape reality and non-fiction is too real for me.

I have heard a lot of good things about autobiographies though (and I have actually read one of those...) I read Brad Paisley's DIARY OF A PLAYER, I am a huge country music fan and I did really enjoy this book learning about his journey to a huge musician (spoiler, he actually failed a music class when he was younger).

I feel like I should try to read some more non-fiction, just to immerse myself into something different (my BF always tries to get me to read THE WEALTHY BARBER because it's supposedly got some great advice in there). I just find that I am always more drawn to fiction to take myself into something fun that I would never experience otherwise.

Any of you readers have some good advice on how to get into non-fiction?

DNF Review: A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

Publisher: Random House
Pages: 224
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: March 12, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

For readers of Jonathan Franzen and Richard Russo, Jonathan Dee’s novels are masterful works of literary fiction. In this sharply observed tale of self-invention and public scandal, Dee raises a trenchant question: what do we really want when we ask for forgiveness?

Once a privileged and loving couple, the Armsteads have now reached a breaking point. Ben, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has become unpredictable at work and withdrawn at home—a change that weighs heavily on his wife, Helen, and their preteen daughter, Sara. Then, in one afternoon, Ben’s recklessness takes an alarming turn, and everything the Armsteads have built together unravels, swiftly and spectacularly.

Thrust back into the working world, Helen finds a job in public relations and relocates with Sara from their home in upstate New York to an apartment in Manhattan. There, Helen discovers she has a rare gift, indispensable in the world of image control: She can convince arrogant men to admit their mistakes, spinning crises into second chances. Yet redemption is more easily granted in her professional life than in her personal one.

As she is confronted with the biggest case of her career, the fallout from her marriage, and Sara’s increasingly distant behavior, Helen must face the limits of accountability and her own capacity for forgiveness.

My Review:

Sadly, this book ended up being a DNF for me. I don't have a lot of books that I'm not able to finish but this book felt all over the place that I couldn't get into it. I will say that I read about 35% of the book before I put it aside for something else and I had no motivation to pick it back up.

The synopsis had me interested, a woman having to pick her life back up again after her husband's midlife crisis. Helen is learning how to take a crisis and turn it into a second chance for others, but there is a difference between what she is doing in her Public Relations job and how she handles her personal life.

For me the biggest issue I had while reading the story was that even though the narrative was in third person, the story still jumped around between characters and it came at weird times. I felt confused about who I was following at certain times. It seemed that one thing was happening and then all of a sudden I was placed at a different part of the story.

I also was not a fan of the characters, they all had issues of some sort and it made it difficult to connect with them. From what I read, the characters also did not feel real to me, the way the spoke and acted just seemed too over the top. I hope that other readers can enjoy this one more than I did.

I really did want to get to the halfway mark for this book, but the chapters were very long and drawn out and not something that could keep my attention. Too much happened in one chapter, by the 35% mark I had only finished two chapters and there were many different character views within the short span of time.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren

Publisher: Anthonyann Books
Pages: 364
Received: Received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 2012
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the small town of Hadlee, Mississippi, during the 1980's, Jason Lee Rainey struggles to find his way amongst the old, steadfast Southern attitudes about race, while his friendship with a black boy, Samson Johnson, deepens.

By way of stories from others, Jason Lee learns about his larger-than-life father, who was killed in Vietnam. He longs to become that sort of man, but doesn't believe he has it in him.

In The Clock Of Life he learns lessons from the past, and the realities of inequality. He flourishes with the bond of friendship; endures the pain of senseless death; finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right; and comes to realize he is his father's son.

This story explores how two unsettling chapters in American history, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, affect the fate of a family, a town, and two boyhood friends.

My Review:

This book reminded me a tiny little bit of To Kill A Mockingbird. I really enjoyed this story, it's really about a boy who is growing up during a time of change, and yet in a town that refuses to accept this change. I thought Jason Lee's character was strong and despite some obstacles he learns a lot about himself over the course of the novel.

As much as I really enjoyed reading the story, and got into everything that was happening, I felt that many of the characters were missing something that I can't quite grasp what it is. The main character of Jason Lee was interesting and I loved his thoughts and really watching as he learned about himself, but I wanted more from the secondary characters. I wanted to know more about his friendship with Samson, it seemed like that became pushed into the background as the book went on and as Jason began learning about his father. For me as I was reading, I felt that I missed out on aspects of this friendship and I had thought it was supposed to be a large part of the story. I just wanted a little more from it.

What really got to me in this book was the way that Jason Lee changes over the years as he learns more about his father and what he was like when he was alive. Learning the story of his father when he was young and how he helped to change the future has such a huge impact on Jason Lee and how he views life. Jason Lee slowly learns secrets about his father, things his mother has kept hidden from him and as these stories come out, Jason grows more and finds that he wants to become more like his father.

Nancy Klann-Moren adds in some great history to this story as well, taking readers back to the Civil Rights Movement and the march from Selma to Montgomery. There is also mention of Bloody Sunday and many issues that people went through to get to where we are today. And I think that little bit of history added in, in such a real way changed the tone of the novel for me.

I did have one other tiny issue while reading, and that was some of the transitions between chapters and between sections in a chapter. At times I felt that they were a little choppy and I found myself a little confused at times. The story itself was great and very touching but I just felt that it jumped around at times.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA: Classic Literature

Today's discussion post for Armchair BEA is on classic literature. This is one that I'm a huge fan of because before I started blogging I really loved reading the old classics. I really wanted to work my way through a lot of those books that have been around forever.

These books were actually the reason I studied English Literature at university, I really loved learning about the change of the novel over the time. I actually took a class that we had to read a book a week and we went through the times, beginning with Don Quixote by Cervantes and going through Jane Austen and so many others. It was one of my favorite classes.

But I will always say my favorite class of all time in university that dealt with classics was one that was dedicated to all the works of Shakespeare. A lot of people find me crazy but I had so much fun reading each of Shakespeare's plays and really taking time with them and breaking it down scene by scene. 

When I think of classics these are the books that come to mind. Classics are the books that have stood the test of time and you still find people reading hundreds of years after. I think this is something that all books will be compared to. What do you think of classics?

Armchair BEA: Introductions

So it's that time of year again... BEA. And of course it was not in the budget for me so I am taking part in Armchair BEA where I can have all the fun of BEA from the comfort of my own home! Today is an Introductions Post where I tell you all about myself by answering a few questions. So here goes...

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

My name is Andrea, I've always been a lover of books (it runs in my family), and now I work in the publishing industry at a small independent publishing company, so that I get my fill of books in all aspects of my life. I've been blogging for about a year and a half now. though it doesn't feel like that at all. And I got into blogging for a few reasons, when I moved out of town from my family I didn't really have people I could talk books with so this was a way for me to do that. I also got a huge push from a few other Canadian bloggers who had been reviewing for some time and kept telling me how fun it was and how amazing the people were that did it, so as you can tell I was convinced and I have met some amazing friends through this!

2. Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?

I have participated before, last year was my first year doing Armchair BEA, I had so much fun learning about other bloggers and I loved all the discussions about new books that I knew I had to come back again. The twitter parties were also so much fun, really seeing what books people were excited for and some of their favourites of the year so far.

3. What are you currently reading, or what is your favourite book you have read so far in 2013?

I just started reading Red Joan by Jennie Rooney today, and I'm definitely excited about it. As for favourite book of 2013, that's a toss-up between a few...Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson, Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado, and The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley.

4. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

The one literary location that I have really come to love (other than Hogwarts of course) is Austenland. I would love to go on vacation at a place that lets you live like you are in a Jane Austen novel. For me I think that would be so much fun and so different.

5. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community?

My favorite part of the book blogging community is how nice so many of the people are. I love being able to chat books and no one judges you, some of my best friends are people I met through blogging. They are easy to talk to, and they really understand you.

Review: Any Other Name by Emma Newman

Publisher: Angry Robot
Series: The Split Worlds #2
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: May 28, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cat has been forced into an arranged marriage with William - a situation that comes with far more strings than even she could have anticipated, especially when she learns of his family's intentions for them both.

Meanwhile, Max and the gargoyle investigate The Agency - a mysterious organisation that appears to play by its own rules - and none of them favourable to Society.

Over in Mundanus, Sam has discovered something very peculiar about his wife's employer - something that could herald a change for everyone in both sides of the Split Worlds.

My Review:

I had a lot of fun with the first book in The Split Worlds series, BETWEEN TWO THORNS, and I was excited to see what was next for the characters. ANY OTHER NAME was just as fun, though I was hoping for a little more world building, I am still a little confused by how these different worlds all exist together. This book begins right where we left off in BETWEEN TWO THORNS, I love when a book continues at the same time and we are not missing pieces.

Cat has now been forced into her marriage with William, and yet every step of the way she still fights for what she believes in. I love that Cat's attitude comes back full force in this book, she was a character that I really admired in the first book and still really love in this story as well. But also in a way, Cat's priorities change in this book and she realizes that instead of trying to run away, things in their world need to be changed and she is in the perfect position to do it. With everything though, I think there should have been a little more focus on Cat and instead we got a lot more of William and other characters.

I still found that there were a few too many stories to follow along with in this book. As interesting as all the stories were, I felt that at times I was missing out on other character's because there is a lot going on. There is an added mystery of Sam's wife in this book that I think helped take away from the bigger picture.

I also found that this book more focused on William's rise to power and not much really happened for the characters until the end of the story. The story dragged at parts and I could tell that as things began happening I was closer to the end. The first book had a lot of action and intrigue, and I felt that this book didn't hold up as well to the first book, though there was still some intrigue. As a reader you get to see more than the characters, and there were parts where I felt that some of the characters were too trusting of others.

The best part of this book for me was actually watching Cat and William's relationship grow more now that they were married. Despite being forced into the marriage, I felt that Cat understood what she needed to do and you could see her beginning to trust more rather than just hide away from everyone around her. Of all the characters in this series, Cat is by far the best one. She changes and learns more about herself and the world she lives in over the course of these books and that is something that I enjoy reading about, Characters need to have a change to make the story work.

Emma Newman has definitely written a fun and interesting series, I think I just had a few middle book issues with this one. I am excited to finish the series after the ending of this book though!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Series: The Dispossessed #1
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 14, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

My Review:

I fell in love with this book when I first saw the cover, I love the colour and I find it stands out so much. But as beautiful as this cover is, I find that it didn't really fit the story that much. Not that the story wasn't good because I loved it. This book had a bit of everything, there was romance, there was murder and there were supernatural creatures, all within 350 pages.

What I really loved about the characters is that the female characters were strong and had an attitude. These two sisters are not they type to let people save them, they want to be able to do things for themselves... especially Gabby who is used to being treated as a little girl. I loved how both Ingrid and Gabby were determined to find their brother and save him from whatever danger he is in. Family is such a huge part of this book and I love reading a book where the siblings are close.

The romance of the book was the one thing that I didn't really feel for a lot of it. The romance Gabby gets in the story makes sense, there is a build up and I loved the way she interacted with Nolan. It made for very fun and enjoyable scenes. But Ingrid's romance was too much for me to really enjoy, I do like her interactions with Luc, but of course there is another guy that comes in, and I feel like she kind of forgets what is really important when with the guys.

This book was very dark though, there are many disturbing scenes with murders happening all over Paris, and some of them are quite gruesome. I think that this story took some time to really get into the explanation of what was happening and instead focused more on these people that continually go missing. But the explanation was really interesting, especially when we find out more about Ingrid and her brother Grayson.

Despite the cover showing one thing, this book is very dark and the females are definitely not the type to be saved. This story was so interesting and unique to the YA market. I am excited for book 2 to come out and see where these characters will go next.... though I really just want the romance to be pushed to the side and focus more on the supernatural.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Just What Kind of Mother Are You by Paula Daly

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: April 30, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

A searing and sinister thriller for readers who liked Gone Girl.

What if your best friend's child disappears? And it was all your fault.

A searing and sinister thriller for readers who liked Gone Girl.What if your best friend's child disappears? And it was all your fault. This is exactly what happens to Lisa Kallisto, overwhelmed working mother of three, one freezing December in the English Lake District. She takes her eye off the ball for just a moment and her whole world descends into the stuff of nightmares. Because, not only is thirteen-year-old Lucinda missing, and not only is it all Lisa's fault, but she's the second teenage girl to disappear within this small tightknit community over two weeks. The first girl turned up stripped bare, dumped on a busy high street, after suffering from a terrifying ordeal.

Wracked with guilt over her mistake and after being publicly blamed by Lucinda's family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. But as she begins peeling away the layers surrounding Lucinda's disappearance, Lisa learns that the small, posh, quiet town she lives in isn't what she thought it was, and her friends may not be who they appear, either.

My Review:

This book has been talked about a lot lately, and I knew I had to pick it up. This book was shocking and had me guessing until the very end. In my opinion this book was amazing and had just the right amount of creepiness to it.

Lisa Kallisto is a working mother who does her best to care for her children, and one little mistake causes her to lose her friend's thirteen-year-old daughter. There are so many working mothers out there that at times it can be difficult to keep track of everything happening, and this is exactly what happens to Lisa. Feeling guilty, she dedicates all her time to helping find Lucinda, and the secrets that are revealed throughout are shocking.

The story is told through alternating perspectives of Lisa, the detective on the case, and every so often we get a glimpse of the kidnapper's perspective. This last perspective really added to the book, it gives you this insight into what someone like that is thinking, and it makes the book that much creepier for me. I found myself getting shivers every time I read the kidnapper's perspective, and they are very quick chapters but they left me unnerved.

Everything about this book feels so real and is one of those things that could happen to anyone, which is what really makes this book even creepier. After reading this book and getting to the end, I could see there were a few little clues dropped in places, but I never could have seen that ending coming. If you like a good mystery, this book is definitely worth your read. Paula Daly will keep you gripped to your chair, you won't want to stop reading because you just need to know what happened to Lucinda.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: The Originals by Cat Patrick

Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Pages: 304
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 7, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

A riveting new story from Cat Patrick, author of Forgotten and Revived.

17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life...

Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.

My Review:

I read my first Cat Patrick book last year and really loved the story. The first thing that I love is that her books are all standalone's so you don't have all these other books to keep up with. The second thing I love about her books are that they all have this scientific idea behind the plot. The Originals was a unique concept, three triplets living as one person, these three girls are actually clones of someone else and are hiding in plain sight.

This story is told from the perspective of one of the clones, that of Lizzie and how she deals with her situation, this being the only thing she has ever known. I was expecting to hear from each of the three clones, but this was a little short, I felt that there could have been a little more character development, I felt that there was a little something missing. I will say though that Cat Patrick does an amazing job of giving each of these girls their own distinct personalities... I was a little nervous thinking that I would have trouble telling them apart, but I didn't at all, and it made the story that much better.

It took most of the book to get to the actual threat of the government, and it felt that it came and went a little to quick, I was hoping for a little more development on that front. But there was an interesting build up to their mother's life. There were definitely some moments of the book that kept me wanting more.

The character of Sean is definitely swoon-worthy, and I loved how his character comes along and really changes Lizzie's view on things. Their relationship develops quickly, like a lot of them do in YA, but they weren't in love right away, and their relationship was realistic in that they argued about things instead of always being perfect around one another.

Though I felt this book was missing a little something, I had so much fun reading about the cloning idea. I loved that though these three girls were technically the same person, they still developed their own personalities and habits. Cat Patrick has always impressed me with her ideas, and this book is no different. She is definitely an original writer herself.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blog Tour Interview with Leslie Lehr

As part of the blog tour for What A Mother Knows, I have an interview with Leslie Lehr for you readers today.

Welcome Leslie, and thank you for being here.

What was the hardest part of writing this book for you?

Starting over! I originally wrote this as my MFA thesis at a really rough time in my life. It was dark and literary, with two different timelines that came together at the end. Just as I was starting to send it out, I had this overnight inspiration to write my second book, Wife Goes On, and I sold a matching screenplay to Lifetime.  I had to put this aside and write those really fast.
It was fun to hear from book clubs that enjoyed it and from readers who were touched by that book. So I decided to go back and revise this into a more friendly form. I taught my MFA seminar on crossing the bridge between literary and commercial books – so this was my chance to try it. I ripped it apart scene by scene and put it back together into this page-turning story. It was like having a puzzle and rearranging the pieces. Since I already knew the story, I could focus on digging even deeper. Plus I made the mom more kickass, so I could live vicariously through her.

Who was your favourite secondary character to write?

Elyse, the main character’s mother, was a blast. She‘s an former ballerina with a lot going on. And Michelle’s two neighbour friends - Julie, whom Cathy thinks is a sexpot, and Cathy, whom Julie thinks is a bore - they turn out to be surprising too. And Asia, Michelle’s old assistant, and Becka, her old film school friend who has her own motives –oops, that’s more than one! These characters are so real to me that I made Pinterest boards for them on my web site. The men are hot and complicated, but the moms make me laugh because they are all so different, yet they all want the same thing.

Emotions really run high in this book, and I felt like as I got further into the book there were more emotional scenes packed closer together, did you plan out everything that was going to happen before writing or did you let the story take over?

I planned it very carefully. That’s the only way to build the momentum up, to have all those emotional revelations back to back: bam-bam-bam. There is so much going on, I had to make sure everything worked perfectly, so the reader believed every moment and could enjoy every payoff. That kind of planning allows for more freedom within each scene. Since I knew what had to happen, I could play with how to do it, how the characters behaved. I did cut some scenes that are fun but didn’t really push the story forward. I thought of posting outtake chapters on my website! 

What books and authors helped influence your writing?

Everything I read influences my writing. Whether I read articles in the Atlantic about powerful career women or articles in Vogue on fashion or in People about celebrities, it all goes into my head and mixes up like stew to come out stronger. Or if I read a book I hate, I figure out why and avoid doing that. I wrote my first novel because I was angry at a book that was popular and I thought I could do it better. I grew up reading science fiction by Madeline L’Engle and Ray Bradbury, but I also read historical romances like Gone with the Wind and books by Jane Austen. I read mostly current novelists now and I review them on Goodreads.

I’m not sure we can be influenced by any one writer‘s style unless it’s on purpose. I write to have a voice, so I hope my voice is distinctive.

Are you working on another book now? And if so can you share anything about it?

I’m torn between two stories now. Both are about contemporary women and continue my obsession with mothers and daughters. But one is dark and dramatic and the other might serve better as a romantic comedy. Both are love stories, based on the what-ifs of real life. I’m hoping to figure out a third story somewhere in the middle.

What advice do you have for other writers out there?

Here are my five top tips:
1.  Love the process, that’s all you can control.
2. Lock your refrigerator.
3.  Read.
4.  Remember that taste is subjective. Sometimes a person will say something mean about your writing just because their stomach hurts.
5. Write something good enough to make your family proud, but don’t let the thought of your family stop you from writing something good. ;)

If you want to follow along on the blog tour here is the schedule.

April 29 – Robin Reads & Writes
May 1 - Chick Lit is Not Dead
May 2 - Bookfoolery
May 3 - The Bookworm
May 4 - Lori's Reading Corner
May 5 - The Self Taught Cook
May 6 - Mrs Condit Reads Books
May 7 - From the TBR Pile
May 8 - Cocktails and Books
May 9 - Burton Book Review
May 10 - Chick Lit Plus
May 12 - The Book Diva’s Reads
May 13 - Peeking Between the Pages
May 14 - Long and Short Reviews
May 15 - Rainy Day Ramblings
May 16 - Help4NewMoms
May 17 - Winey Mommy
May 18 - Cozy Up with a Good Read
May 20 - A Bookish Way of Life
May 21 – Confessions of a Book Junkie
May 22 - 5 Minutes for Mom
May 23 - Angela Klocke
May 24 - WeeShare
May 26 - Brianna Lee
May 28 - Reviewing Shelf
May 29 - Socrates Book Reviews
May 31 - Passionate about Books

Review: What a Mother Knows by Leslie Lehr

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 370
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: May 1, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

An unsettling, emotional and suspenseful novel of the unshakable bonds of motherhood, in which Michelle Mason not only loses her memory after a deadly car crash, but can't find her 16-year-old daughter, the one person who may know what happened that day. But the deeper Michelle digs, the more she questions the innocence of everyone, even herself. A dramatic portrayal of the fragile skin of memory, What a Mother Knows is about finding the truth that can set love free.

My Review:

I picked this book on a whim, it has a short synopsis but it intrigued me because I'm always a fan of family books, and this book had such an interesting premise. Michelle can't remember anything from the time of the accident, she has been in a coma for months and wakes up to a completely different reality. She has caused the death of someone and her daughter is now missing.

I was really taken with Michelle's character for most of the book, she doesn't care about herself all that she cares about is finding her daughter and bringing her home to where she belongs. I really felt for Michelle's character, she is someone who tries her best for her children but has a job that takes up a lot of her time. It was amazing to read about how a mother will do anything for her daughter, she goes to any length to find her missing daughter, as other people tell her to leave it be and focus on herself, Michelle does anything but focus on her self.

I liked the back and forth from before the accident to after Michelle wakes up, it gives readers a lead up to the reveal of what caused this huge accident and everything that came before it. I am a fan of books that as a reader you find things out along with the character of the book, but I felt there were hints along the way as to what had happened.

The most difficult part of this book for me was how everyone kept so much information from Michelle in order to protect her and let her figure out things on her own. I'm not a fan of walking on eggshells around a person to make them feel better, everything needs to come out and I felt that the worst person for doing this to Michelle was her husband. He helps her through things but protects her from the truth thinking that she won't be able to handle it.

This book was engrossing, learning little by little about this accident as Michelle slowly gets her memory back, but Michelle also learns new things about herself and her family. This book really shows a mother's love for her children and it's what I absolutely loved about it. Leslie Lehr writes a beautiful story about realizing when your children grow up and change, yet still having that love for them.

Stay tuned later today for an interview with Leslie.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 288
Received: Received a copy from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 14, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Love, tragedy, and mystery converge in this compelling novel from “an author to watch” (Booklist).

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

My Review:

When I first saw this book, I didn't know much about it. The cover was nice but I just didn't feel very interested... and then the reviews started coming out and I realized that this book was not what I was thinking it was going to be about. I didn't really read the synopsis much, I just kind of assumed it was a contemporary book like many others out there (well my mistake for assuming something... I should know better by now).

When I started reading this, I was really intrigued, I loved how Jessi Kirby introduces this idea of writing a journal before you graduate and receiving it 10 years later.. I would love to be able to look back on my life like that. I wish I had something like that to be able to look back on the past and see how the path I chose changed me. But anyways back to the actual story...

When Parker finds Julianna's journal she wants to read about this amazing love story that she grew up with. Parker loves things like that, Romeo and Juliet and The Notebook are continually mentioned throughout this book. But what Parker finds is a different story and one with a mystery attached to it. I felt very connected with Parker in some ways... I was never one to really cross the line when I was in high school, I didn't do a lot of things other people did (though I was not as studious as Parker is). Parker was such an amazing character though, this book is about her finally learning to let go and do something for herself, and Julianna's journal is what finally pushed her there.

Parker really grows throughout the book and learns a lot about herself and what it means to take a different path than expected. I loved the little bit of romance for Parker in the book, but it didn't overshadow what the book was really about. This book is really about learning to live for yourself. This is a book that I think everyone needs to read, it's not like a lot of contemporaries out there (at least none that I have read). This book has found a special place in my heart now, and I would love to read more from Jessi Kirby after this story.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

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

Release Date: May 7, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Hamburg, 1946. Thousands remain displaced in what is now the British Occupied Zone. Charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the de-Nazification of its defeated people, Colonel Lewis Morgan is requisitioned a fine house on the banks of the Elbe, where he will be joined by his grieving wife, Rachael, and only remaining son, Edmund.

But rather than force its owners, a German widower and his traumatized daughter, to leave their home, Lewis insists that the two families live together. In this charged and claustrophobic atmosphere all must confront their true selves as enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.

The Aftermath is a stunning novel about our fiercest loyalties, our deepest desires and the transformative power of forgiveness.

My Review:

I've been really enjoying books that take place around war lately, I think it has something to do with the way authors show the humanity in people and what some individuals would do to save themselves. THE AFTERMATH is a story about what comes after the war. This is specifically about a man who is overseeing the de-Nazification of Germans and how the war changes him and his family.

This book was emotional and beautiful, the way Brook describes what the war has done to each of the different characters and how they are trying to survive this new place they are in. Brook's storytelling was absolutely amazing, and I was engrossed in this story of love, loss and learning to forgive and move on. I felt like so much happened in such a short amount of time.

For me, I found Colonel Morgan to be the hero of the book, he has this huge heart and wants to keep everybody safe. As Germans are being forced out of their homes and the English move in, Lewis decides that the house he has been assigned to is big enough that the owner should be able to stay there, and what follows is a story of learning who you really are and how these people deal with this new situation. Colonel Morgan sees the best in people and he does what he can to get others to see it too.

I love how Lewis tries to instil this view into his family. As his wife and son are coming across, they are being taught to avoid the Germans at all costs because they are evil, but Lewis thinks that they need to get to know these people and interact with them. Rachael tries hard to stay away and create boundaries, but quickly a bond is created through a shared emotion.

In THE AFTERMATH, Rhidian Brook shows that despite all this evil in the world, there is always good and someone willing to help. I loved how each of the characters learned about themselves and how they reacted to the situations around them. The story that Brook has written has stuck in the back of my mind and I keep thinking about everything that happened, for me I know this is an amazing book because it has the power to keep my mind on it after I've read it.

If you're a fan of historical fiction books than I definitely suggest picking up this one. It's beautiful seeing how someone can pick themselves up after much of the horror they have seen. This story is an inspiration.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile 
Series: The Fifth Wave #1
Pages: 480
Received: Borrowed from Christa @More Than Just Magic

Release Date: May 7, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

My Review:

Oh gosh, this book gave me the chills. After hearing everyone talk about it I had to read it, I was one of those people that bugged Christa with "Have you read it yet? How about now?" Because I kept seeing reviews about it and crying that I didn't have it yet. When I finally got the book in my hands I started it right away. I'm glad that I'm not scared of hyped books anymore (I've had really good luck with them *knocks on wood*)

This book was intense, and yes I know I heard that from a lot of people who had read it before me but I still was not prepared for anything that Rick Yancey wrote. I was shocked at the events that happened, and as I started realizing what was happening for the 5th wave, I didn't want to believe it! Yancey introduces readers into a terrifyingly real world... honestly I could actually see these things happening if there were an alien invasion. The fact that I imagined these things happening, shows that Yancey has an amazing writing style, detailing everything and making it so plausible.

The characters in this book were amazing as well. Readers follow Cassie as she watches her brother leave and then journeys to find and save him from wherever he is. Cassie (short for Cassiopeia .. how awesome is that name) was such a strong character. She fought when she needed to but had this guilt of harming people, it shows that she is human and thinks about her actions. Cassie has a huge heart and that is what really drew me to her character. And Evan, oh how I swoon for him. He kept me guessing about what he wanted and why he did some of the things he did, but he was so adorable.

This book has everything you need in it, romance and action, with some intrigue as to what will happen next. I kept going back and forth on what I thought was actually going on, Yancey really keeps you guessing throughout the book and definitely gives you a ride for your life with this story. These aliens are smart and know what they are doing, they have been watching and waiting for the perfect moment... can you imagine them right now watching us? It's creepy and plausible....

I really think this is one book that needs to be read... prepare yourselves readers, the aliens are coming! ;)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: The Loop by Shandy Lawson

Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 208
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: March 1, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal days—both the best and worst of their lives—they struggle again and again to resist the pull of fate and the force of time itself. With each failure, they return to the beginning of their end, a wild road trip that brings them to the scene of their own murders and into the hands of the man destined to kill them.

As time circles back on itself, events become more deeply ingrained, more inescapable for the two kids trapped inside the loop. The closer they come to breaking out, the tighter fate’s clutches seem to grip them. They devise a desperate plan to break free and survive the days ahead, but what if Ben and Maggie’s only shot at not dying is surviving apart?

My Review:

Back to time travel books with this one, my one true love... sadly this book was nothing like I thought it was going to be and in the end left me a bit disappointed and extremely confused. The idea behind the book is that the characters of Ben and Maggie are stuck in a time loop and relive the same day over and over, where at the end of the day they die. Throughout the whole book we are told over and over how neither of the characters can change "fate" and that they can change small things throughout the loop but they will never change the big things.

What really disappointed me about this book were all the questions that went unanswered. There is no explanation as to why these loops happen and why it is only specific people they happen to. There needs to be a reason why something like this would happen. There is one point in the book where Maggie explains that she has been through a loop four other times, but how did she get out of those to get to where she is now? And why has this loop happened so many times before? Why can't they get out of this one, is it because they die at the end?

This book is very plot driven, I found that the characters didn't grow or change through the course of this book. I had issues with Ben because he seemed to just accept everything he was told. With a plot like this I find that if someone told me that time just kept replaying I would have some questions rather than just saying okay I guess I will keep doing the same thing because I'm told I can't change it. I really wanted more from the characters, just to understand why they would do something rather than just being told it's because they have to stick to what will happen.

The story is told from Ben's perspective as he learns that he can change things and he tries to figure out how to save him and Maggie. But then three quarters of the way through, the story changes to Maggie's perspective and this really threw me, I was lost for a few pages before realizing what happened. It was interesting to see things from her mind set because there were sections where they left each other, so you get to see what happened to her.

The idea of characters being stuck in a loop was really interesting, and this book does have a lot of potential. I was intrigued at the idea of changing fate, remembering something that happened and tweaking your future just a little more could have a large outcome. This book was a really quick read and I think that is why a lot of information is glossed over. I got through this book in a few hours and there was a lot that kept me interested but there were just too many confusing things.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Review: In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl

Publisher: Allison and Busby
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy through the Book Depository affiliate program

Release Date: March 1, 2013
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis

A vivid and compelling story of love, war and secrets, set against the backdrop of WWI France. 'In the beginning, it was the summers I remembered - long warm days under the palest blue skies, the cornflowers and forget-me-nots lining the road through the Lys forest, the buzz of insects going about their work, Violet telling me lies.' Iris is getting old. A widow, her days are spent living quietly and worrying about her granddaughter, Grace, a headstrong young doctor. It's a small sort of life. But one day an invitation comes for Iris through the post to a reunion in France, where she served in a hospital during WWI. Determined to go, Iris is overcome by the memories of the past, when as a shy, naive young woman she followed her fifteen-year-old brother, Tom, to France in 1914 intending to bring him home. On her way to find Tom, Iris comes across the charismatic Miss Ivens, who is setting up a field hospital in the old abbey of Royaumont, north of Paris. Putting her fears aside, Iris decides to stay at Royaumont, and it is there that she truly comes of age, finding her capability and her strength, discovering her passion for medicine, making friends with the vivacious Violet and falling in love. But war is a brutal thing, and when the ultimate tragedy happens, there is a terrible price that Iris has to pay, a price that will echo down the generations. A moving and uplifting novel about the small, unsung acts of heroism of which love makes us capable.

My Review:

This book really stuck out to me because it was more than just a romance during the war. This book is about family and how secrets from the past can come back generations later to make an impact on their lives. This is also about friendships and family throughout and how those stick with someone years after. I was really intrigued in how Grace's past during WWI could affect her granddaughter's future. This story is told in alternating perspectives between Iris and Grace.

I found that I did enjoy Iris' perspective more, but I was confused often. Iris is an older woman and is very confused about where she is and who is around her. Her perspective jumps back and forth from the present to her past at Royaumont (which is the part that kept me interested in the story). I really loved the slow build up to what happened at Royaumont and what brought Iris to where she is now.

I loved the sense of family that is portrayed in this book. Iris has gone to Paris to bring her little brother home and convince him to change his mind about joining the war. Throughout her time at Royaumount, Iris is continually thinking about her brother, she sees herself as his protector. Iris also has this strong relationship with Violet bringing out her strengths. I love a friendship with two people that are so opposite from each other, you really see another side of the character.

Grace's perspective was not as in depth as Iris' but you do see her strength. Grace has her own issues to deal with in family and her career. Grace is a surgeon in obstetrics but she is fighting to prove her worth because she is a woman, Grace works long hours and must deal with three children while her husband is also a doctor. As much as I wasn't as interested in Grace's story it did add to show how Iris was as a person. Since Grace's mother passed away, Iris took her in and raised her as her own, even though she was older at that point.

All in all this is a story that is all about Iris and her personality. But I did enjoy the little bit of mystery behind Grace's family and what happened to her mother and father. I was actually surprised at how the book ended, and what everything came to about the past. This book really shows how secrets can affect children and even following generations. This book was a beautiful story, even though it felt a little disjointed at times.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Publisher: Dutton Adult
Series: ???
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: April 23, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future. 

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

My Review:

The cover of this book was the first thing that really grabbed my attention. I absolutely love the colour scheme and how the title is placed. Then I read more about it and learned it was about time travel, well I had to have this book at that point (as you may be able to tell I am a sucker for time travel books). I was intrigued by this idea of travelling to the future and there being something of a Talisman that is causing some mysterious things to happen.

As much as I enjoyed this story, I felt like there were quite a few times where things dragged on for some time. This book is filled with information about how people are able to travel through time. I felt like I was on information overload at times, but I think it was a great introduction to everything that happens and will happen in the future.

I really loved the romance in this story, but I felt like this was not the focus of the book. I really liked that there was so much more to the story than a romance plot, not that I don't like romance in my books because I love it! I was so interested in "The Guild" and "The Ofan" though, always wondering what is causing the war between them. I definitely hope (and I'm almost certain) that there is a sequel coming soon, because I have so many questions about what will happen. What really got my attention with this book was how everything took place during a major historical event, I love when things like that happen (it's what drew me to A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES). So there is an added bonus to this book!

I loved all the characters as well, both the main and secondary characters really added to this story. Nick and Julia slowly learning about what they can do and how it affects so many people. But the characters I really loved were Nick's sisters. They learned to be strong after Nick was believed to be dead and learned to take control of the household. But they also have this attitude and something about the way they hold themselves just always made me want a few more scenes with them.

Honestly, this book was a lot of fun, and Ridgway added in a great amount of detail to make everything realistic. Readers will fall in love with the strength of the characters but the plot will also keep you coming back to this book. This book is definitely loaded with information, introducing readers to the world of time travel, but it is definitely set up for more action in the future.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: Icons by Margaret Stohl

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Icons #1
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 7, 2013
Buy From / Buy From /
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Your heart beats only with their permission.

Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol's family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting.

Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside -- safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can't avoid.

She's different. She survived. Why?

When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador's privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn't a coincidence. It's a conspiracy.

Within the Icon's reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions -- which they've always thought to be their greatest weaknesses -- may actually be their greatest strengths.

Bestselling author Margaret Stohl delivers the first book in a heart-pounding series set in a haunting new world where four teens must piece together the mysteries of their pasts -- in order to save the future.

My Review:

This book has been on my to-read list ever since I heard about it last year, I have really wanted to see what Margaret Stohl's writing on her own would be like. I also thought "Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting..." My first thought was ALIENS, I need a good alien book. And in a way this is an alien book, but that is not the focus of it at all. This review is difficult because the book was not what I was expecting and I'm still not completely sure how I feel about everything together.

I will admit when I started reading this book I wasn't absolutely sure where Stohl was taking the story, she takes her time to introduce everything to the readers. Slowly letting us get to know the characters and what exactly "The Day" was. For me I felt like it was taking awhile to get into the story, but there were sections that intrigued me and convinced me to keep reading, in between each of the chapters are documents about different things that lead up to a big reveal at the end of the book (which in the end, was not really as shocking as I would have thought).

This book is all about these four teenagers (but the main character is Dol) and what really brings them all together at this time. I found it took a lot of time to get the answers, but there were a lot of moments in this book that still got my heart pounding wondering what would happen next.

The characters were for the most part interesting, and I wanted to know more about their uncontrollable emotions. I will admit though that I got annoyed at the characters often throughout the book, Dol was someone who could not make up her mind for the life of her, she kept going back and forth on what she believed and I just wanted her to make a decision! I find there are characters that I want fleshed out more in the rest of the series, Tima was one of my favourites and there is still a lot to learn about her I think.

The romance is also a very interesting one, because all the characters have this growing connection, they are all linked with one another and it's kind of like a square with everyone liking everyone (in a way). I could see how Dol and Lucas connected, and there is a back and forth unsure of who to trust. All in all though, the romance is very much in the background of this story.

I will say that even though this book was not what I was expecting I still enjoyed it, but I just wanted to know more about "The Day" itself and those that caused it. There was also not much of a mention of what the Icon's really are, but I think this book is an interesting start to the series, Stohl has me intrigued with her characters she created, and how they all connected with one another.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison

Publisher: Self published
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 19, 2013
Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Neil Kazenzakis is barely holding his life together: ever since an accident left his wife profoundly disabled, he's been doing his best as a single dad and popular high school teacher. He's also been dealing with Lauren Downey, his sort-of girlfriend of the past two years who's pushing for a commitment—and for Neil to finally tell his son Christopher about their secret relationship.

Neil's carefully balanced world begins to fall apart when some questionable footage of him is anonymously posted to YouTube...just as Chris learns about Lauren in the worst possible way. Doubting his own recollection of the events in the online video and threatened with the loss of his job and the ability to care for his wife, Neil must find a way to prove the truth to his family, his community, and himself as he struggles to regain the splintered trust of his son.

Heartbreaking, poignant, and written with devastating humor and warmth, The Banks of Certain Rivers is a shattering story of memory, loss, and just how far a man will go to show the people closest to him the meaning of love.

My Review:

This book has been on my radar because of a group I am part of on Goodreads, so when I got asked if I would like to review it, I was happy to check it out! I really enjoyed the idea of this book, looking into a familial relationship during a very difficult time. This book really spoke to me at times, really showing what people will do for those they love the most.

I found that it took a bit of time to get into the drama of the book, but when Neil's world begins to fall apart little by little, you will be gripped with how real the story feels. Harrison really brings out realistic issues in this book. Everything that Neil goes through it heartbreaking, Christopher is his only family at this point and he must figure out how to tell his son that he is in a new relationship without it sounding like he doesn't care about his wife.

I really enjoy that there are parts in this book that detail how much Neil misses his wife, he opens up an email account that no one can access to send emails to his wife about what is happening in his life, even though she can't respond it's a great way for Neil to open up about things.

What was really great in this book were the secondary characters. Harrison has such a range of personalities in this book, but I loved seeing how people would come together for others in their time of need. No one knows what to believe when this video comes out, and slowly Neil finds himself in more and more trouble, and his son is pulling away from him at a time when he is needed the most. Alan was my favourite character of all, he was eccentric and I loved how he was the voice of reason for Nick through everything. Nick wanted to take the easy way out at times, always looking for the perfect moment, but what Harrison shows in this book is that there never is such thing as a perfect moment to come out with difficult information. It will always be hard and there will always be problems.

There was one small issue I had at the end of the book, and that is after everything that happened, I felt like I missed out on an explanation of why something was happening throughout the story. (I can't explain without giving everything away). I felt that with this one little issue, there was a quick mention and I think readers were supposed to understand it, but I wanted to know why.

Other than that one thing though, this book is beautiful and an amazing story about family and friends. Harrison tells such a true tale with this story and really shows the meaning of family. I am one of those people that my family is everything to me, and I will always be there, but we see that family is not just blood relations but friends as well.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...