Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: The Lovebird by Natalie Brown

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: June 18, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A spectacularly original, vibrant, and spirited debut narrated by a shy, sensitive college student who, in her search for love and family, must flee everything she knows.

Margie Fitzgerald has always had a soft spot for helpless creatures. Her warm heart breaks, her left ovary twinges, and Margie finds herself smitten with sympathy. This is how Margie falls in love with her Latin professor, a lonely widower and single father who trembles visibly in class. This is how Margie joins a band of ragtag student activists called H.E.A.R.T. (Humans Encouraging Animal Rights Today) in liberating lovebirds from their pet-store cages. And this is how Margie becomes involved in a plan so dangerous, so reckless, and so illegal, that she must flee her California college town, cut off contact with her dear old dad, and start fresh in a place unlike anywhere she has ever been. Introducing one of the most unforgettable heroines in recent fiction, The Lovebird is a novel about a girl who can't abandon a lost cause, who loves animals, and who must travel to the loneliest place on earth to figure out where she really belongs.

My Review:

I remember reading the synopsis of this when I first requested it off Netgalley, but to be honest by the time I got around to reading it I forgot what it was about... I knew I liked the colours of the cover and I knew there was something interesting about it or why would I have requested it, right? Well it definitely was a cute book, but at times I felt that I was reading two different stories (both were interesting, but there needed to be something more to connect them).

The first half of the book focuses on Margie while in college and on her romance with her Latin professor. Throughout the book, I really sympathized with Margie, she is lonely and a very homey kind of girl that is always on the outside, until her Latin professor brings her to the inside of something, and that changes her life. When Margie finally finds her place it all becomes so much, she changes everything because of this love she has for her professor, she becomes vegan and becomes heavily involved in this group of animal activists. When the relationship falls apart, you really see how this person affected Margie and slowly everything around her starts to unravel and she gets herself in trouble. From here, we come to the next part of the book where Maggie must flee to the most secluded place ever... Crow country, a native reserve.

I really felt that the first half and the second half were almost two different books, Margie is a completely different character in each section. I do understand that the setting really changes her, and helps her learn about herself and what she needs to do to change. I really loved the characters during this part of the book, they help Margie learn so much about her life and they become family to her. This time alone gives Margie the chance to reminisce of her past and realize her mistakes.

The one thing about this book that I didn't realize until it was mentioned was when this was all taking place. Something about the beginning made me feel that this was a book that took place more in the past, something like the 70's or 80's... but it actually all takes place in present time. It's great to read a book about someone who becomes so passionate about a cause that it really takes over their life, and seeing how it effects not only them but the people they spend time with too.

In the end, I did enjoy myself with this story. It was great to see Margie learn that to grow up she needs to choose her own path instead of letting other choose it for her. Margie is a character that really grows up over time and learns where home really is for her. Though I felt that there were two different stories, I still enjoyed Margie's story.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Series: Born of Illusion #1
Pages: 373
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 11, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:


A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage shows and seances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians and mentalists in 1920s New York. For Anna, the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini - or so Marguerite claims - handcuffs and sleight-of-hand illusions have never been much of a challenge. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her mother: because while Marguerite's power may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people's feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna's powers intensify, she experiences frightening visions of her mother in peril, which lead her to explore the abilities she's tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a society that studies people with gifts like hers, she begins to wonder if there's more to life than keeping secrets.

As her visions become darker and her powers spin out of her control, Anna is forced to rethink all she's ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna's visions merely illusions? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite's tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, with the temptations of Jazz Age New York --- and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

My Review:

This cover is absolutely beautiful, I love how the black background really makes the model on the front stick out (she is a bit creepy because she looks so pale). And  I really love the font used for the title of the book, I think everything about this book makes me want to stick it face out on my bookshelf. Now on to talking about the book...

This story takes place in New York during the 1920's, which I think is such an awesome era, and it is definitely brought out well in the writing. Teri Brown describes what New York was like in that time, and goes into detail of the types of clothes the characters wear to be more respectable in the eyes of the public. The setting alone makes this book awesome, but the characters and the story make it that much better.

I really loved Anna's relationship with her mother, there is the mistrust between the two of them and yet you can really see that Anna cares for her mother. She does everything she can to protect her and her mother from harm even though most of their interactions are arguments about something or other. I loved the relationship and really getting to know that there is more than what you see in a relationship.

The magic aspect was so intriguing, and I loved the added bit of Harry Houdini and his shows of proving seances to be a sham. I love books that weave themselves around historical events, but this book has a great supernatural element to it as well. Anna has lived with her secret gift for her whole life and has never been able to trust anyone. This is one book that I want to share with everybody because it is just so much fun! So on that note I am giving away an ARC of Born of Illusion, this contest is for US/CAN only.

You can check out more information of Teri Brown and Born of Illusion on the Harper Collins Canada website.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Love in Translation by Sara Palacios

Publisher: Self-published
Received: Received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Still reeling from the unexpected breakup with David, Emily nurses her broken heart by spending time with her best friends and taking one-too-many vodka shots. After one long night, she takes a good, hard look at herself in the mirror and doesn’t like what she sees. She realizes that she has sacrificed too much in her failed relationships from the past and vows to never settle for anything less than almost-perfect again. As she picks up the pieces and regains her confidence, a sexy Spanish chef moves in across the hall and completely knocks her off her feet. What ensues is an unexpected and tantalizing affair that opens her eyes, and her heart, to a whole new world and leaves her feeling sexier than she has ever felt. Emily finally sees how easy love is supposed to be. Is happily-ever-after actually possible? Just when she starts to think so, she realizes that sometimes life gets more complicated before it gets easier. And complicated is an understatement when Steven (her best and oldest friend) confesses his love for her. Everything spirals out of control as Emily must make a choice between love and friendship, and in doing so, possibly risk it all.

LOVE IN TRANSLATION, is a modern day love story about following your heart to unexpected places and taking chances in life … because sometimes you will find exactly what you are looking for.

My Review:

This book sounded right up my alley, and I'm really glad I read it. After her boyfriend breaks up with her, Emily decides she needs to move on and not settle anymore. It was really great to see Emily grow and learn about herself and learn from past mistakes. This book is very fast paced and in a way I think it took away from the story.

As much as I enjoyed everything that was happening, I found that the story needed to be longer and a little more fleshed out with the story. Everything just seemed to happen so fast and then the story ended. I think the story could have been a few chapters longer so that readers could have gotten a little more.

I did really love most of the characters, Emily's friends are so supportive through everything and I love reading a book with people like that. Both of her girl friends are the type of characters that just add that little extra fun into the story. But the one person I loved the most was Emily's friend Stephen, he was adorable and seeing everything they had been through together was adorable, I wished there was a little more of him and Emily together.

What really grabbed my attention with the story was how Emily learns to put herself out there. And also, how Sara  Palacios shows that sometimes you find what you are looking for when you actually take a step back and let things happen for themselves.

All in all I did enjoy the story, I just felt like there was a little something missing and that it was too short to really get into the story. The story starts and before you know it everything is happening and it's wrapping up.  The characters were good and there was a lot of fun things happening in the story though.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Publisher: Dutton Adult
Series: Age of X #1
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: June 4, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of Xseries, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such mega successes: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

My Review:

I was really excited about this book when I first heard about it, though I haven't read anything by Richelle Mead before, I've heard so many awesome things about her writing, and I thought this was a perfect series for me to get into since it was just starting out. There is a lot going on in this book that it definitely takes some time to get through it (at least it did for me). The story is told from three perspectives, that of Justin, Mae, and a teenage girl living with Justin, named Tessa (she really intrigued me).

I found I had some trouble really getting into the book in the beginning, I was confused about the world and I did not like the main characters. Justin was full of himself, he is an alcoholic, womanizer and addicted to drugs and to get him through the day, and really doesn't seem to care about anyone else. Mae, I liked a little more in the beginning she is strong, being a member of the military, but there is still something off-putting about her. What I did find was that as I learned more about these characters, I began to trust them more and actually start liking them (Mae more so than Justin). I really loved the slow build up to find out everything that she dealt with and why she acts the way she does, but I understood her a lot more by the end of the book.

I did like that as time went on, Justin did learn that it's not always about himself. I found he grew as the novel progressed, mind you it was a very slow kind of growth, but he begins to care for others around him. I found that Tessa had a large influence on his character and really helped him through things. She was an interesting character and I hope to see more of her in the rest of the books.

The part of the book that really kept me reading was the mystery of these deaths. This was introduced in the beginning and then I felt like the story shifted for a little bit to give readers a chance to get to know the characters better, but once we got back on that subject I was hooked. I really loved the mythical history that Mead adds in to this book and it made me want to read up more on some of the gods that are mentioned. Some of the ideas that came out were intriguing, and after the ending that Mead leaves readers with, I really want to know what happens next.

I'm glad I didn't give up on this book when I was thinking about it because in the end I really enjoyed it and I hope to see these characters grow more as the series continue. I will say this book is not for everyone, the characters take time to warm up to.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blog Tour: Interview with Catherine McKenzie

Today as a part of the blog tour for the book HIDDEN by Catherine McKenzie, I have the pleasure of having an interview with her! Thank you so much for being here today :)

This book has a different tone from your other stories. What made you choose this topic to write about?

Like all of my books, it's really just about the story that comes to me. I did want to push myself as a writer with this one, and by that I mean, challenge myself with things like multiple narrators to see if I could do it. Hopefully I pulled it off! I wasn't really going for a completely different tone. I see it more as an evolution for me as a writer, with each book, hopefully, getting better.

Whose voice was the most difficult for you to write? Whose story was the easiest to write?

I think Jeff was the most challenging in a way but also the easiest if that makes sense. I was nervous writing from the male point of view; what if I got it totally wrong? But his was also the first voice that came to me when I thought up the book, and because his chapters are generally lighter in tone that the others, they were easier to write.

Do you identify with any of the characters in HIDDEN?

I identify with all the characters in my books in one way or another. Oh, I know that sounds like a cop-out! What I mean is, writing a character means you have to inhabit them, see things from their point of view, so even if you disagree with their voices, you know why they made (and hopefully the audience understands too).

What is your favourite book and why?

I love so many books, but my all time favourite is probably Pride & Prejudice. Again with the cliche, right? But honestly, it's so sharp whited, so tightly told. Every character in the book is fully realized. As to my current favourite book, anyone who follows me knows I've been shouting about The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison from the rooftops; I really think the book is kind of a master class for anyone writing in contemporary fiction these days, but also, just a great read.

What advice do you have for someone trying to become a writer?

Write, write, write and then write some more. Get some honest, third party advice. If one person tells you something needs to be fixed in your book, consider it seriously. If two people say the same thing, they are right and you are wrong.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blog Tour Review: Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Pages: 366
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 18, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When a married man suffers a sudden fatal accident, two women are shattered—his wife and someone else's—and past secrets, desires and regrets are brought to light

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Not one but two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son and contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother—her ex-boyfriend—Tim.

With Tish’s co-workers in the dark about her connection to Jeff outside the workplace, she volunteers to attend the funeral on the company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life. Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, our personal choices and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

My Review:

I have so much love for Catherine McKenzie, I stumbled upon one of her books last year and from there read everything that I could of hers. I've been lucky enough to be on blog tours for her last couple of books, and I'm so glad that I got a chance to read her newest book. Honestly this is one book I have been excited about since I heard about it. And this book lived up to all my expectations, I kept needing more from these characters to see what they would do.

I was really intrigued with this book when I heard about it because it deals with something so much different than Catherine has written about before and I really love seeing how an author grows... and trust me Catherine definitely grows with each of her books. They all touch on a different subject but each book has become more serious, and I definitely see this one as her most intense subject.

The fact that this story is told from three perspectives gives readers the whole story, I loved the back and forth of how Jeff's death affected these two women. But seeing Jeff's perspective of the back story was an added bonus and really gave more detail for readers.Catherine McKenzie has told a beautiful story of how one small thing can affect so many people.

The characters in this book are so real, there is nothing over the top in this story. Readers get an emotional ride as you read about Claire and Tish dealing with the fallout from Jeff's death, as well as seeing how Tish and Jeff met and what happened with them. I loved how real the emotions were, and how you can connect with each of the characters, this story is so complex and really shows that not everything is black and white.

The secondary characters also make such a huge impact in the story, and there was not one character I did not like. I loved the complex relationship we learn about between Claire, Jeff and Tim - it was something that I do wish was fleshed out a little more, but I understand that it was just a small part of such a complicated relationship.

Catherine McKenzie is an author that will always be on my watch list, her books are always so engrossing and I'm proud that she is Canadian! HIDDEN really shows that Catherine is able to write about anything she dreams and I for one can't wait for more from her.

Check back tomorrow for an interview with Catherine, and don't forget to follow along on the blog tour! For more information on Catherine McKenzie and her newest novel HIDDEN, check out the Harper Collins Canada website.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith

Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pages: 256
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 11, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A wonderful new stand-alone novel from the internationally beloved and bestselling Alexander McCall Smith: a story that explores the nature of love--and trains--through a series of intertwined romantic tales.

The rocking of the train car, the sound of its wheels on the rails...there's something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation. Which is just what happens to the 4 strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers. As they travel by rail from Edinburgh to London, they entertain one another with tales of how trains have changed their lives. A young, keen-eyed Scotsman recounts how he turned a friendship with a young woman co-worker into a romance by spotting an anachronistic train in an 18th-century painting. An Australian woman shares how her parents fell in love and spent their life together running a railroad siding in the remote Australian Outback. A middle-aged American arts patron sees 2 young men saying goodbye in the station and recalls his youthful crush on another man. And a young Englishman describes how exiting his train at the wrong station allowed him to meet an intriguing woman whom he impulsively invited to dinner--and into his life. Here is Alexander McCall Smith at his most enchanting.

My Review:

So this is my first Alexander McCall Smith book, and I've heard a lot of great things about his other books but they are all series and I wasn't ready to get into a new one. Well after reading this book I think I may need to check out his other books (even though they are series) because his writing is so absorbing and real that you just have to fall in love with the story. Honestly, with this book the cover was the first thing that caught my attention, and it's not really what I thought it would be about, and yet at the same time it kind og was.

This book tells the tale of four people who are sitting together on a train and as time goes on, each of them start sharing their stories of love and romance. This book has so many beautiful quotes that it's hard to pick one to share... but I knew after reading the first chapter of this book that I would be in love by the end. Alexander McCall Smith describes what love is to different people in that first chapter, and from there begins a journey of four different people and their experiences with love.

Each of the stories that are told are about a chance encounter with a person, and the stories all revolve around trains in one way or another. I was really interested in how McCall Smith wrote this book, one person begins their story and something about that story sets another person off into their tale, but eventually we come back to how each of these stories end... some are happy and some are not, but they all learn something new about what love is to each of them.

By the end of this book many readers will look over what they think about love and how they see relationships. And the one thing that really got me with this is don't let yourself be scared to say something because in the end it will eat you up, and you will always wonder what could have been. This is a short book (and it's actually smaller in size than I expected) and this is hard to put down because you love reading about each of these love stories and how they came about. And you will want to keep going to find out how everything ends for each of the characters.

This book is so real, I can see myself having a random conversation with a person on a long train ride and learning so much about them. Alexander McCall Smith has warmed my heart with this adorable book.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Linked by Imogen Howson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: Linked #1
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 11, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Riveting, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, Linked will make you question what it really means to be human.

My Review:

I am writing this review, right after closing the pages of this book because I really don't want to forget the story I just read. When I asked about this book, the only thing I knew was that the cover was gorgeous and looked so cool that I wanted to read it. And I'm glad that this cover is so gorgeous, because this book was so great.

Imogen Howson has created such an intricate world in LINKED, I really liked how this story was not just confined to one world, but that there are many different planets, and each of these planets has it's own history. We only learn a little bit about these other worlds, but I am already intrigued with what we are given. And I do have to say as an added bonus there are pirates (and it takes place in space), that just was so cool to read about!

The characters were very interesting, I really loved how Elissa grew over the course of the story and really came to understand more about her sister. You could really see how their relationship developed and they both began to understand how the other was feeling, and began to trust one another. The relationship between these two is difficult and they both realize that.

The real thing about this book that had me interested throughout the entire thing was the political aspect, this book is a lot about what it means to be human. The entire book, these two characters are fighting to give Lin a chance to be seen and for people to understand that she is still a person despite her situation. I really love when a book deals with such a strong subject matter, I find it really adds to the reading experience and Imogen definitely did that with LINKED.

The one tiny thing I had hoped to see in the book was more of an understanding of how Lin is able to do certain things. And I do hope that the subject of Lin comes up more in the second book. I really want to know more about her and more of her history. Other than that though, this book was absolutely amazing!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cover Reveal: The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

I was asked to help do a cover reveal for a new book called THE SOUND OF LETTING GO by Stasia Ward Kehoe.

About THE SOUND OF LETTING GO: For sixteen years, Daisy has been good.  A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly.  A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad.  She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.

But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal.  Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy?  Should she side with her parents or protect her brother?  How do you know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?

Here is the cover...

I love the colours on this, I find it really pops! What do you guys think? 

Here are some links where you can find Stasia: 
Stasia on twitter:

There is also a giveaway going along with the cover reveal that you can check out with the chance to win an ARC of THE SOUND OF LETTING GO!

Review: The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 316
Received: Purchased own copy

Release Date: March 28, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A luminous and bewitching debut novel that is perfect for fans of Angela Carter. Set in Victorian London, it follows the fortunes of Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and Abel, the Flayed Man. A magical realism delight. Before Eve is born, her mother goes to the circus. She buys a penny twist of coloured sugar and settles down to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion, billed as a monster from the savage heart of Africa, forged in the heat of a merciless sun. Mama swears she hears the lion sigh, just before it leaps...and when Eve is born, the story goes, she didn't cry - she meowed and licked her paws.

When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the mudlarks are sure he is long dead. As they search his pockets to divvy up the treasure, his eyes crack open and he coughs up a stream of black water. But how has he survived a week in that thick stew of human waste?

Cast out by Victorian society, Eve and Abel find succour from an unlikely source. They will become The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, star performers in Professor Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities. And there begins a journey that will entwine their fates forever.

My Review:

This book has been compared a little to THE NIGHT CIRCUS (which I have yet to read, but am definitely intrigued by), so naturally I picked this one up as soon as it was on shelves. I have been loving these books that deal with circuses and just weird things in general lately, so this one definitely was one I could not let sit around for too long. I have to say I have a lot of love for this cover as well, there isn't too much going on, but  it's got this shine that really draws you in.

The book switches POV between Eve and Abel, so that we really get to see what brought each of them to where they are now and we get their history before taking part in Josiah's Palace of Curiosities. I love a story that is so character driven like THE PALACE OF CURIOSITIES is, you really get into the minds of these two and understand all they are feeling. I was always more interested in Abel's story because he doesn't know his own history and always forgets his life when he falls asleep. I found this story to be so intriguing, and I love slowly learning about a character as they learn about themselves as well.

Eve's character is different and the way she is written, makes it easy for readers to sympathize with her. She grew up being kept in the house and away from people because of her looks (she is covered in hair), and she has no contact with anyone other than her mother. This makes her very sheltered and the first person that offers her a kind hand she immediately believes to be love. I really wanted Eve to have happiness and I love how as more characters are introduced, we finally see Eve making friends with people who really care for her.

I will say that I felt like the book moved slow in the beginning, because Rosie Garland takes the time to let us get to know the characters, and then it seems like there is a certain part where everything starts moving faster (around the time the characters join "The Palace of Curiosities"). I wanted a little more interaction between Eve and Abel when they do finally come together. The ending was adorable and really made me love these two characters even more. This book was definitely a gem and brought something different to me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: PODs by Michelle Pickett

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Series: Pods #1
Pages: 312
Received: Received a copy from Spencer Hill Press in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 4, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul.

After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.

Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure

My Review:

I was really excited for this book, the idea of people chosen to live in PODs so that they can survive a deadly virus that is killing everyone really interested me (it kind of reminds me of the movie Contagion, the whole deadly virus thing). What I really liked is that this is realistic in a way, there are always new viruses being found and it takes time to find a cure for these things.

This story started out really interesting, and moved very quickly, there was a focus on the virus and Eva's relationships. But once Eva goes into the POD, I found that the story slowed down a lot and that the focus of the story shifted. I felt like the science aspect of the story got pushed too the background and that this story became more about the relationship between Eva and David. I understand that the book is a lot about their relationship, and I liked to see how it grew over the year they spent in the POD, it makes sense living in close quarters with one another you get to know each other and fall in love quicker.

I did also have a little issue with certain descriptions being constantly repeated, this mainly happened with David and Eva. Readers are constantly told how David smells, what his eyes look like and how good looking he is. I just felt like this was told so much so that I would come to love him too, and I felt like it was overdone.

Other than the romance aspect, this book was interesting, and I really hope that in the next book there is more about the virus and what the government is actually doing. I just felt that this book got distracted and took a more romantic twist instead of the science that I was hoping for. I can say that there were some great creepy scenes when we find out that the virus has mutated and evolved with time, seeing what the virus does to people really gave me chills and I can say I want to stay away from sick people after reading this.

The characters are great, and I did love Eva. She is strong and she does whatever possible to help those around her. She is someone who doesn't let others fight for her, she realizes when she needs to step up and won't let herself be put in a position where she cowers away from a fight. And as much as I liked David, I felt that he was trying to push Eva into this passive role where he did everything for her and he tried to shelter her from everything, that bugged me a lot about him. I hope to see more growth from these characters as the series goes on.

Honestly, this story was intriguing, but at some point it drifts off course, I did enjoy it for the most part but I do hope that book 2 will go back to the science of the virus and take a little break from the romance.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: June 4, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay.

All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a slow-building, character-driven romance about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

My Review:

I was nervous to read this book and I kept putting it off, there has been so much love for this that I didn't want to be the odd one out. Now that I have finally read it, I can gladly say that I loved it as much as almost everyone else out there. I don't read a lot of NA books because they all seem very similar, but there was something about this book that was just beautiful and yet crushing. It's hard to talk about this book without giving too much away, but I will try my best.

The beginning of the story is intriguing and really draws readers in, this book moves slow and really gives readers a chance to get to know and understand both Nastya and Josh. Both of these characters have issues and would rather be left alone, but somehow they come to find solace in one another. What I really loved was that you could really see how the romance happened between these two characters, they get to know one another and it's not just a leap into a relationship. This book is all about these two characters and you can tell Katja Millay spent her time really letting you connect with both of them.

The friendships throughout the book really added to the story as well, seeing how people are able to help these characters through their issues in different ways. But most of all, Nastya and Josh really help one another through their problems. My favorite secondary character was definitely Drew, something about him was adorable and he was such an amazing friend.

I love that this story is all about the characters and watching them grow with one another. But what I really took from this story is the way that these characters learn to start over again and really take back their lives. It takes us a while to really learn what happened to Nastya, but once you do you really understand why she acts like she does.

This is such a beautiful New Adult book, and very different from the few that I have read. I definitely recommend this book to readers that love the NA type books. Second chances is a huge theme, and I loved how all the characters learned about how to appreciate second chances.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blog Tour Review and Guest Post: The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Publisher: Random House Children's
Series: The Knot's Sequence #1
Pages: 416
Received: Received a copy from the Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 4, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

A gripping YA action-adventure fantasy, the first part of a planned duology.

My Review:

I was really interested in the idea of this book when I first heard about it, a story that revolves around keeping promises to your family and friends, and if you break that promise you are exiled from your community. After finishing this book, I can definitely say that Amy McCulloch's story really makes me want to really think about promises before I make them. It took me a bit of time to get into the story, but there was a certain point where I found myself needing more of the characters.

What is really great about this book is how detailed Amy McCulloch is with her writing. There are a lot of descriptions of everything, I was a little worried that the descriptions would overtake the story, but I really found that it added to it instead. These descriptions really help with the world-building, and I really felt that the story was brought to life for me. The setting was amazing and I think the idea of these different tribes being out in the desert made the story even more interesting.

I really found that the secondary characters really made this book more so than that of Raim, though I did like his character, there were a few times where I thought he was to trusting and just jumped into something too quick. I really wanted him to think before he acted. But despite that, his character is loyal and vows to protect those he cares about and that is something I always admire in a character. For me, I really loved the character of Waid, she is a strong female character that also fights for what she wants.

The book is split into three parts and each section takes readers on a different part of Raim's journey to finding out more about his broken oath. I like how new characters are slowly introduced throughout, we meet many great people in each section and they all have a strong impact on Raim.

I'm also very happy to hear that this is planned to be a duology, the way it ends really makes me eager to come back and read the next book and I know it won't just be filler that can happen with trilogies. I can see book 2 being heavier on the action and it makes me very excited! Everything about this book was so much fun, and readers who are looking for a good fantasy story will find it in THE OATHBREAKER'S SHADOW.

Also as part of the blog tour for Random House of Canada and The Oathbreaker's Shadow, I have a guest post from Amy McCulloch today. Welcome Amy!

Inspiration for The Oathbreaker’s Shadow

If you’re an author, there’s one question you should be prepared to answer A LOT: where did you get the inspiration for your story from? Now, my standard answer to this question cites one major source (my studies), but in fact, inspiration is not made from a single thread but multiple threads weaving together to eventually form a cohesive whole.

Here are a few threads that came together to make The Oathbreaker’s Shadow

1. History

This is where my studies come in. I graduated from the University of Toronto as an English specialist with a minor in History. It was actually that minor in History that led me to learn about the very medieval concept of fealty: an oath of loyalty from one person to another. At the same time, I took a course on the History of China, and learned about Genghis Khan properly for the first time.
I was intrigued that even though I was studying diverse medieval cultures – like China, Japan and Western Europe – this same concept of an oath-until-death kept cropping up.  It’s something so foreign to modern society that it felt natural to twist the idea even further: what if breaking an oath had an actual, physical consequence, like a scar – or a shadow?

2. Travel

I’ve gained a huge amount of inspiration from my travels. I’m lucky enough to have travelled extensively with my parents when I was a kid, to places like India, China, and Pakistan, where I had my eyes opened to different cultures and societies. It was a trip to Lahore, Pakistan that eventually inspired the concept of promise-knots, as I was accompanying my dad on a carpet-buying trip (my parents own their own oriental carpet store in Ottawa). I walked through one of the weaving factories with my dad, completely mesmerized by the way the men (it was mostly men) wove thousands of strings onto gigantic looms to create the carpets. There seemed like magic in those strings.

3. Reading

When I first conceived of TOS, it was totally different from anything I’d ever written before. But I’d read several books that had completely inspired me – and showed me a whole new realm of fiction I had never really encountered before. One of those books was Dune by Frank Herbert. I fell in love with the setting (you can probably tell!) and the philosophy behind the book. Another was The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. Here was a completely fascinating alternate world, amazing characters and a story with so many layers, you could discover something you had missed with every read.
Writing fantasy is such a great tool for breaking and bending the rules – and I learned that by reading. I didn’t want to create a fantasy world that was really foreign to readers, but rather to take a single concept (see above, of fealty) and take it to its fantasy extreme. And if I could throw a bit of action and adventure in along the way, all the better!

Thanks for having me!

And don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour as well!

Me On Books                                    June 3, 2013
Confessions of a Reading Addict        June 4, 2013
More Than Just Magic                       June 5, 2013
Cozy Up with a Good Read               June 6, 2013
Retreat by Random House                 June 7, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: May 14, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

My Review:

I'm not completely sure what to think of this book, I've had some time to really look back on what I read, and I can say I was definitely interested in everything that happened, and yet I think there was something a little more I needed. There was an interesting mystery, and yet at the same time I could see something along those lines coming.

Ashley Elston really goes into detail of how so many different moves and name changes can really affect not only one person but how it affects relationships in the family. After so many moves, Meg is the one who has to take care of everyone, her father barely acknowledges her and her sister, and her mother has become an alcoholic. I really enjoyed the relationship between Meg and her sister, she is the only one that her sister really trusts. I felt really bad, watching as her little sister reverts back to needing almost everything done for her and always being scared. This story really shows off how traumatic it can be for people going into Witness Protection.

The mystery of what got Meg and her family into Witness Protection was really interesting, but at a certain point in the book, you can tell the direction that the story will go in. Though there was some good lead up to what happened. Meg works hard to figure out what has kept them running and she will do anything to finally end it. Her character is strong, but at times I felt that she needed to make up her mind what she wanted. I understand that she has this list of rules for herself so she doesn't become too attached, but it's like she forgets them the next minute.

The relationship part of the story was not that interesting to me, but I did love Ethan's character. He was always around to help out no matter how often Meg pushed him away. He was a really sweet guy and it did make me love him a little more.

Despite my few issues, I really enjoyed reading this book, there is a great build up to what happened and I didn't feel like the ending happened too fast (which I find can happen in YA mysteries.) The ending is left open so I wonder if there will be more of Ethan and Meg in the future (but I hope not, for me it ended perfectly, leaving readers with a question).

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review: Red Joan by Jennie Rooney

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

Release Date: May 21, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Joan's voice is almost a whisper. 'Nobody talked about what they did during the war. We all knew we weren't allowed to.'

Joan Stanley has a secret.

She is a loving mother, a doting grandmother, and leads a quiet, unremarkable life in the suburbs. Then one morning there is a knock on the door, and suddenly the past she has been so keen to hide for the last fifty years threatens to overturn her comfortable world.

Cambridge University in 1937 is awash with ideas and idealists, yet unworldly Joan feels better suited to a science lecture and a cup of cocoa. But a chance meeting with the glamorous Russian-born Sonya and her charismatic cousin Leo blurs the edges of the things Joan thought she knew about the world, and about herself.

In the post-War world of smoke and mirrors, allegiance is a slippery thing. Working in a government ministry with access to top-secret information, Joan is suddenly faced with the most difficult question of all: what price would you pay to remain true to what you believe? Would you betray your country, your family, even the man you love?

My Review:

When I finished this book the first thing that came to my mind was how this was reminiscent of an Ian McEwan story, and I absolutely love his writing. There was so much to this story and I was so engrossed in Joan's story, that I didn't want this to end. The story opens up with Joan reading about the death of someone from her past and at this point her past comes back and is close to ruining her life.

The way this story is written is that Joan is telling the story of her past, so readers get a back and forth of Joan present and Joan past. What I really enjoyed about this writing style is that you get to see how Joan's secrets affect her future, now that everything is coming out we get to see the fallout it brings to Joan and her family. Joan was able to hide this secret for 50 years and it comes back to haunt her when she is too old to really fight anymore, thus begins the history of Joan's time during the war.

What really caught my attention with this book was that this was a spy story wrapped in a love story. Joan was a very naive girl and didn't really understand what she was getting into when she meets Sonya and Leo. But what she does know is that her conversations with Leo are always interesting and Joan quickly falls in love with Leo. Their relationship was an interesting one, and the story was really about these two (and Sonya). What was really difficult was how as Joan remembers her time in University, other secrets come out as well and I felt so bad for Joan, and yet wanted to yell that she should have seen it earlier.

Little by little we get to see how Joan's decisions in her past have affected her future. Her son is with her and learns that he has never known his mother and the truth is a difficult thing to hear. The love story between Joan and Leo was beautiful but what I loved even more was seeing how Joan took the heartbreak and how she learned to love again.

I loved how Jennie ended the story, she leaves a little something to the readers imagination... what really happened to Joan after everything? Jennie Rooney really gets into Joan's head and I really loved seeing what really caused her decision to do what she did. And also seeing how Joan was able to handle things, I really admired her character at times (even though there were the times I wanted to yell at her for being naive).

If you are a fan of Ian McEwan, I think RED JOAN is the perfect book for you. Jennie really keeps you guessing about things until the very end and the characters are very well developed.


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