Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: The House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 352
Received: Received an e-copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: April 15, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.

My Review:

This book was really intriguing, the witch story really caught my attention. The book starts out right away with some great creepiness to it, as we follow Josephine navigating keeping her two lives apart, none of her friends have seen her house because her grandmother is so secretive and very wary of outsiders. But now that danger is lurking around every corner, and this Curse is coming after Josephine and her grandmother, Jo needs to find the mystery of who and what she is going to fight.

The magic aspect of the book was fun, sometimes a little over the top, but what isn't when it comes to magic. It was definitely fun reading about the spells and the way the magic works in this book. There are two different types of witches, those who let the magic control them (who become evil) and those who are able to control the magic themselves. But what really made this book stand out to me was the family aspect of the book.

This is a story that really values family, Josephine is determined to find out what happened to her mother and who gave her the Curse that killed her. Along the way you see those closest to Josephine become targets of major danger and you see all those that mean things to her, and her family slowly grows over the course of the book in different ways. Even though Jo's mother is no longer around, she still makes a huge impact on her life and there are still many great memories.

I really had a lot of fun with this book, and I really did enjoy the magical aspect of it, I think Natalie Whipple did a great job with everything. The characters are tough, yet they still have their downfalls sometimes, but there is always someone for them to lean on, which I really love. Definitely a great read!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: The Lovely and the Lost by Page Morgan

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: The Dispossessed #2
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 13, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ingrid and Gabby survived the Underneath. They saved their brother, Grayson, from a future of dark servitude and exposed a plot to undermine the Alliance. But danger still lurks in the streets of Paris, and the Dispossessed, perched on the city's bridges and rooftops, might not be able to save their human wards this time.

My Review:

This series has become a new favourite of mine, I remember saying how excited I was for this book after finishing the first one (review here), and it definitely delivered in so many ways. The characters are just as strong, if not more so after the events in book one. I can say that I enjoyed book one more but this was still a great follow up story. There are many different points of view throughout the story, so you really get a good feel for each of them, readers get to see Ingrid, Gabby, Grayson and Luc, I really like seeing this and it brings out the plot of the book even more so.

This story follows as Ingrid, Gabby and Grayson are all coming to terms with the events ending the first book, you get to see them all fight harder for what they believe in (especially Ingrid and Gabby). These two girls are invested in protecting themselves and want to learn as much as they can so that they don't need help all the time, it is what I love most about these books, that these girls don't want to depend on others and want to be able to do their own things. Ingrid and Gabby know that they are not completely in the clear from danger, but this book brings about a brand new sort of danger for the family, seeing more than just the Underneath is out to get them.

What I really enjoyed is that you get to see a lot more of Grayson in this book and see things through his perspective. It is interesting to view the difference of how the experience in the Underneath has affected each of these three in such different ways. Grayson obviously takes things the hardest because of what he is, and he wants to keep that evil part of him at bay. Readers also get to see a lot more about the Alliance and learn more about how exactly they work as a team.

The romance in this book is the one part that is difficult to discuss, it is not a clear cut route, but everything is understandable, and just like in book one you never know what is going to happen. I love that there are many different romance plots throughout, each of the characters have their own lives outside of this supernatural element that it is great to see. The siblings also have a lot of things to work through together, work on their relationships with one another, family is such an important part of this series.

All in all this is an amazing sequel (may not be as awesome as the first book for me, but I still loved it!). You can really see that Page Morgan has set things up in this series perfectly, and that there is a lot of things to go down in book three (The Wondrous and The Wicked). I myself cannot wait for more of these characters, but I hope not to have to say goodbye too soon!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Pages: 373
Received: Received an e-copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 8, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

It takes guts to deliberately mutilate your hand while operating a blister-pack sealing machine, but all I had going for me was guts.

Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller in an America rigidly divided between people who wake, live, and work during the hours of darkness and those known as Rays who live and work during daylight. Impulsive, passionate, and brave, Sol deliberately injures herself in order to gain admission to a hospital, where she plans to kidnap her newborn niece—a Ray—in order to bring the baby to visit her dying grandfather. By violating the day-night curfew, Sol is committing a serious crime, and when the kidnap attempt goes awry it starts a chain of events that will put Sol in mortal danger, uncover a government conspiracy to manipulate the Smudge population, and throw her together with D'Arcy Benoît, the Ray medical apprentice who first treats her, then helps her outrun the authorities—and with whom she is fated to fall impossibly and irrevocably in love.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights—and a compelling, rapid-fire romantic adventure story.

My Review:

I had heard a lot of interesting things about this book before picking it up, and the cover really caught my eye, after finishing this book I did really enjoy it but it wasn't absolute love. I really believe Elizabeth Fama has a beautiful writing style that kept me intrigued throughout the whole story. I found myself immersed in this new world where people share day and night, having many places open around the clock.

When Sol decides to try to kidnap her niece so that her dying grandfather can meet her, problems arise and change Sol's world quickly. Sol finds herself in the middle of a political conspiracy and her life changes drastically, with the help of D'Arcy Benoit, who has treated her injuries and now ends up helping her through her issues. I enjoyed the interactions between D'Arcy and Sol, they have this good back and forth, where they are both sarcastic and they take their time to really get to know each other. What really caught my interest was how you get to see a lot of Sol's past and you learn why she is so jaded towards certain things.

The one thing about the characters in this book is that they are very real, living in this divide they are two completely different people who each have different outcomes. I enjoyed the world that Fama created in this story, but I feel like the story itself took some time to get into, and by the time I was truly invested in the controversy the story ended. I felt that there could have been a little more intrigue with the conspiracy idea in this story.

The romance was what really kept me reading though, I wanted to know more about Sol and D'Arcy, watching as they spend more time together and really get to know and understand one another. The end of the story left me wanting a little more and yet at the same time I think it had a perfect ending where you see that anything can happen.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee by Carolyn Brown

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Series: Cadillac, Texas #1
Pages: 321
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: March 1, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Bestelling author Carolyn Brown makes her first foray into women's fiction with this poignant and hilarious novel about four friends in Cadillac, Texas—where the best jalapenos in the world are grown.

Everything is calm in Cadillac, Texas until Aunt Agnes declares war on Violet Prescott, the president of the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society, just in time for the annual jubilee. But after the festivities—and the hostilities—are over, it's four friends who are left standing, proving once again that friendship is forever.

My Review:

This was an absolutely adorable story and I had so much fun reading this. The characters were hilarious and you enjoy watching them work through some difficult times. The book mainly follows three women, twins Marty and Cathy and their friend Trixie (who all run a cafe in town together). Along with their Aunt Agnes and their friend Darla Jean they navigate through life, showing how friendship really prevails over everything.

These ladies live in a very small town where everyone knows everything, and as soon as something happens it is all over town. The best part of this book is this war between these two older ladies Agnes and Violet, these two have a feud that has been going on for years, and it has escalated so much at this point that they can`t stand to be in the same room together. I loved how far Aunt Agnes would go to protect her nieces, and the outcome to some of the situations. She seems like a crazy woman, but she has such a big heart and is a great comic relief to some more difficult situations.

The one thing about this book that was difficult was for me to get through was how quickly the voices would change, we follow through all the characters, as well as a few secondary characters get some points of view. I think it is because this was an advanced e-copy, the formatting was difficult, but I think the story could have worked a little better with a few less voices.

I do find this book a bit hard to talk about, just because it is the type of story that really needs to be experienced by readers themselves. These characters are people that you really need to get to know yourself and watch as they grow and learn that no matter what happens they have each other to rely on. This is a true story of friendship and family. Some situations are over the top but they are just so hilarious that you want to keep reading to know how things will work out. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 480
Received: Received an copy from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 15, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this mesmerizing debut, a young American discovers he may be heir to the unclaimed estate of an English World War I officer, which launches him on a quest across Europe to uncover the elusive truth.

Just after graduating college, Tristan Campbell receives a letter delivered by special courier to his apartment in San Francisco. It contains the phone number of a Mr. J.F. Prichard of Twyning Hooper, Solicitors, in London and news that could change Tristan's life forever.

In 1924, Prichard explains, an English alpinist named Ashley Walsingham died attempting to summit Mt. Everest, leaving his fortune to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson. But the estate was never claimed. Information has recently surfaced suggesting Tristan may be the rightful heir, but unless he can find documented evidence, the fortune will be divided among charitable beneficiaries in less than two months.

In a breathless race from London archives to Somme battlefields to the Eastfjords of Iceland, Tristan pieces together the story of a forbidden affair set against the tumult of the First World War and the pioneer British expeditions to Mt. Everest. Following his instincts through a maze of frenzied research, Tristan soon becomes obsessed with the tragic lovers, and he crosses paths with a mysterious French girl named Mireille who suggests there is more to his quest than he realizes. Tristan must prove that he is related to Imogen to inherit Ashley's fortune but the more he learns about the couple, the stranger his journey becomes.

The Steady Running of the Hour announces the arrival of a stunningly talented author. Part love story, part historical tour de force, Justin Go's novel is utterly compelling, unpredictable, and heartrending.

My Review:

I didn't really know much about this book when I went into it, but I was surprised at the intriguing story and I really found myself wanting to know more not only about the characters of Ashley and Imogen but also more about Tristan himself. The story opens up with Tristan receiving a mysterious letter that eventually leads him on an adventurous search.

I will say that this was a long book and sometimes the story could be a bit tedious, but despite some of these things the mystery of what happened between Imogen and Ashley will captivate many readers. The novel moves back and forth from Tristan's adventures of solving this mystery and finding out what happened between these two, to the story of Imogen and Ashley, so that readers can actually get a first hand look into their lives. As much as I loved the story of the lovers, I seemed to become more invested in Tristan's story as the novel progressed. I really felt like his search was also a way for him to grow up and learn more about himself and what matters to him.

Tristan meets so many interesting people along the way, and he is able to get them to help him with his search even if it sometimes seems like a far-fetched request. As the days begin to diminish for Tristan to find this mystery, he becomes more involved in learning something else that may not necessarily be important. Tristan is one to follow the facts and everything he finds leads him to new adventures and new pieces to the puzzle. What really kept me going through this book, other than just the mystery, was all the places that Tristan traveled to, he follows Imogen and Ashley through letters and tries to go places that they have been to.

This is definitely an unpredictable story, you never really know where Tristan will end up next. The one thing that I disliked was how I felt after finishing the book, it seemed that things were left unfinished and there are still so many questions left unanswered. A part of me felt like it was missing an ending and that there is still more to Tristan's story. I do think that this is a very engrossing novel that you want to take your time with and really get to know the characters in both stories. A great historical story with an intriguing mystery, I recommend picking this one up. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 256
Received: Received an e-copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: March 26, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

There are some things you can’t leave behind…

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

My Review:

Wow, what an emotional read this book was, I did not believe that I would be going into a story that really has some dark moments to it. This is by far a book that will stick with me for years to come. A story about a girl who has lived in the woods and really been taking care of herself and her sister for years, all of a sudden these girls are taken from the one place they have known as home and brought into a completely new place with new people and they have to learn how to get around this new society.

This story follows Carey as she is taken out of her woodland home and brought into the city where she meets new people and has to keep her life a secret. Throughout the book, there is a dark undertone of something that has happened to Carey and her younger sister Jenessa. I really loved how Murdoch was able to show these two girls learn to socialize and be around many people. It's great to see how Carey will do anything for Jenessa, these two are extremely close and it is an amazing bond to read about.

I think Murdoch does a great job showing how hard it is for these girls but also for the family that these two girls join. It is hard to all of a sudden have two older girls who need help adjusting to society, but despite the hardships, the family is very patient and honestly amazing with these girls.

I found everything about this book so beautiful and heartbreaking, Emily Murdoch has definitely delivered an amazing story that is hard to forget. Readers get a glimpse of Carey's life in the woods with her mother among everything that is happening now as she navigates her new life. It is a great distinction and you can really see why Carey tries to hide so much of herself. This is one book that has a special place not only on my bookshelf but in my heart as well. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends 
Series: Broken Hearts & Revenge #1
Pages: 339
Received: Received an e-copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 13, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Summer, boys, and friendships gone sour. This new series has everything that perfect beach reads are made of!

Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long?

When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it.

Gemma's plan is working (she's finding it hard to resist Josh), but she's finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is?

Katie Finn hits all the right notes in this perfect beginning to a new summer series: A Broken Hearts & Revenge novel.

My Review:

This book was a cute idea, and I did enjoy reading it as a quick read on a nice day, but I think this story also went quite over the top on a lot of things that made it difficult to love. I found it hard to really believe some of the things that were going on in this book, and yet it was one of those kinds of books that as bad as things seem, you just can't stop because you need to know what will happen next.

The book begins with Gemma getting ready to spend a few weeks away with her boyfriend, when all of a sudden he ends things with her, now she is spending the summer with her dad (where she hasn't been for five years after a bad experience). I did enjoy the little bit of mystery of what exactly happened to Gemma in the Hamptons five years earlier, things are alluded to throughout the story, but it takes some time for the story to really come out. Gemma plans to make things right this time around but things seem to go wrong around her all the time. These situations seem to be the most ridiculous things that can happen to someone in such a short amount of time.

The one thing I found about this book was that it was a bit predictable, I had an idea of what was going on, and yet I still found that a few things in the end did surprise me. I did really feel that the story was drama that I couldn't find myself to care about, Gemma went about things the worst way possible and you really expect that things will not work out the way she wants it to. Despite the issues of this being over the top and really not seeing kids doing the things that Gemma and Hallie pull, I still found myself immersed in the story, wanting more. I wanted to see things come crashing down, but I feel like the ending left quite a bit to be desired (even though it is a series).

The characters in the book acted younger than I would have expected, Gemma especially seems like someone I would not like. She dates a guy because he seems perfect and completely compromises herself when she is with him, she is the type of person who loses herself because she wants to be able to do everything and like everything that the guy likes. I also felt like Gemma was just getting herself into more trouble as soon as she gets to the Hamptons, all she thinks about are these schemes to really make things work for her. And I will say there is some great humour, with how things easily go wrong and you wonder if this is coincidence or if something else is going on.

I also wanted more of Gemma's parents, from people who seem close despite some issues, you never really see them and Gemma is just able to do what she wants during the summer. You never really get a good scene between Gemma and either of her parents during this book, and I felt like they needed to be there more.

I do think this is a fun summer beach read, just to get into the drama and be in a story that does not really resemble real life. I'm not completely sure if I have the interest to know what will happen next because I feel it will be very similar to this book with more revenge plots and more over the top situations.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis

Publisher: Dial
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 1, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

For fans of Sara Zarr and Stephen Chbosky, an achingly raw and surprisingly funny novel about coping with loss

Emmy’s best friend Kim had promised to visit from the afterlife after she died. But so far Kim hasn’t shown up even once. Emmy blames herself for not believing hard enough. Finally, as the one-year anniversary of Kim's death approaches, Emmy is visited by a ghost—but it’s not Kim. It’s Emmy’s awful dead science teacher.

Emmy can’t help but think that she's failed at being a true friend. But as more ghosts appear, she starts to realize that she's not alone in her pain. Kim would have wanted her to move forward—and to do that, Emmy needs to start letting go.

My Review:

This is a book that I really wanted to love, the synopsis really caught my attention and made me look forward to reading a story about someone dealing with loss. By the end, I felt that something was missing throughout the story and that maybe it was a little too short for everything that I was hoping for.

This story moves back and forth from now (a year after Emmy's friend has died and her still dealing with the aftermath) and before, as we see how these two were with one another right before she passed away. I felt like through these two different versions of Emmy, what she is really like got lost in there somewhere, it seems like Emmy's character revolves around her friend Kim no matter what. I wanted to get to know Emmy a little better, though I can say that Ann Dee Ellis does a great job dealing with the situation of loss in this story.

I thought the idea of seeing these ghosts was an interesting one, all Emmy wants to see is Kim one last time and yet she sees all these other people that don't matter instead. Emmy wants to move forward but all she can think about is being there for Kim, like they had planned, but in order to really move on she needs to let go of everything that is really affecting her. Emmy misses out on a lot of things because she is dwelling on how things were when Kim passed away, she doesn't really have many other friends and she is very much on her own.

I did like how as the story continues, Emmy does begin to grow a bit more and understand that she needs to let go and that life continues on after death. It takes her a lot of time, because she is still intent on seeing Kim's ghost at least once. I do think this is a good book for teens dealing with loss, helping them understand how to move on, I just think it did not work for me because I am older, the writing is very much geared towards a younger audience I believe. 

Review: The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 432
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 20, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In her eagerly awaited new novel, beloved New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin returns with an extraordinary story of love and loyalty—and an unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile both.

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.

My Review:

Emily Giffin is well known for taking some tough topics and turning them into such awesome books, her newest book is nothing different. I don't think I could find another author that could pull of this kind of story like Giffin, though it is tough to imagine something like this happening, the writing of the story is amazing and really makes you want to keep going and hope that everything works out perfectly.

This book really revolves around football, and I was a little hesitant, but I loved how the main character is a girl living and working in a man's world, and she definitely has a lot of hoops to jump through. Shea Rigsby is stuck in this town she grew up in and has never really changed, after a close family friend passes away, it starts Shea on a new path to see where her life is going. So many people love Shea and want to help her get her life on track so she isn't stuck in this one place forever (despite how much she says she loves it).

I love that Shea is someone who makes mistakes and messes up, she makes for a very real character to follow, the only thing that got me was how she followed her heart. I am still unsure if I am all for how this book ended because it still leaves me wondering why... A part of me thinks that if anyone else had written this story I would not have enjoyed it as much as I did knowing it was Emily Giffin, but her style has a way of captivating me.

The one person I truly loved through this was Shea's best friend, Lucy. Despite these two being complete opposites, they are really there for one another. Lucy is very judgmental when it comes to the guys Shea is dating because she only wants the best for her. These two are basically family and it really shows in how they communicate with one another sometimes.

I did have so much fun with this book (like any Emily Giffin book) and am glad I got the chance to pick up her new one. I find that even though her stories are fun, Emily Giffin really makes you think about things as well with her writing, wondering what you would do in a situation like that. Her books are ones that are great to reflect on once you finish reading. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review: Great by Sara Benincasa

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 272
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: April 8, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In Sara Benincasa's contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, a teenage girl becomes entangled in the drama of a Hamptons social circle, only to be implicated in a tragedy that shakes the summer community.

Everyone loves a good scandal.

Naomi Rye usually dreads spending the summer with her socialite mother in East Hampton. This year is no different. She sticks out like a sore thumb among the teenagers who have been summering (a verb only the very rich use) together for years. But Naomi finds herself captivated by her mysterious next-door neighbor, Jacinta. Jacinta has her own reason for drawing close to Naomi-to meet the beautiful and untouchable Delilah Fairweather. But Jacinta's carefully constructed world is hiding something huge, a secret that could undo everything. And Naomi must decide how far she is willing to be pulled into this web of lies and deception before she is unable to escape.

Based on a beloved classic and steeped in Sara Benincasa's darkly comic voice, Great has all the drama, glitz, and romance with a terrific modern (and scandalous) twist to enthrall readers.

My Review:

So all I have heard about was how this is a retelling of The Great Gatsby, I have sadly not had the chance to read this, but from what I can tell I would definitely enjoy it. This story starts out slow, but there was a certain point where I found myself engrossed in everything that was happening and wanted to see how far Naomi would go to fit into this world.

Naomi is from a different world but every summer is thrown into the Hampton's to spend time with her mother. Every year up until now she has been on the sidelines and never really makes friends or gets into the events going on, until this year when she is pushed to spend time with the most popular girl, Delilah Fairweather. All of a sudden, Naomi's life is completely changed, as the summer goes on, she sees that not everything is as it appears to be. I admit that this was a weird story, and I was shocked at some of the turns it took, but yet it was hard to turn away and I needed to keep reading to see what the characters would do next.

I find Naomi can be a bit naive at times and you can really see that she does not fit into the world of the Hamptons. She believes every thing is perfect, and does not really understand that there are so many layers to the people of this place. The only one that she doesn't see as perfect is her mother. They have a very strained relationship because she sees her mom as someone different, and as the story grows you can see how Naomi does not fit into the life her mom wants for her.

The characters in this book are quite a bit selfish and really full of themselves, making it difficult to really connect with them. A part of me felt that this was a guilty read type book because of the way these girls acted. I did think that it took awhile to get into some really interesting things and by that time it was close to the end, though at the same time it felt like there was some great build up to that ending, which for me ended up being quite emotional. I definitely think Naomi learns a lot about herself and the Hamptons, and she learns that not everything is absolutely perfect and happy all the time. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Review: Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani

Publisher: Atria
Pages: 288
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: June 18, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:


Neda is born in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where her mother is allowed to nurse her for a few months before the arms of a guard appear at the cell door one day and, simply, take her away. In another part of the city, three-year-old Omid witnesses the arrests of his political activist parents from his perch at their kitchen table, yogurt dripping from his fingertips. More than twenty years after the violent, bloody purge that took place inside Tehran’s prisons, Sheida learns that her father was one of those executed, that the silent void firmly planted between her and her mother all these years was not just the sad loss that comes with death, but the anguish and the horror of murder.

These are the Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Set in post-revolutionary Iran from 1983 to 2011, this stunning debut novel follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers, some related by blood, others brought together by the tide of history that washes over their lives. Finally, years later, it is the next generation that is left with the burden of the past and their country’s tenuous future as a new wave of protest and political strife begins.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree is an evocative portrait of three generations of men and women inspired by love and poetry, burning with idealism, chasing dreams of justice and freedom. Written in Sahar Delijani’s spellbinding prose, capturing the intimate side of revolution in a country where the weight of history is all around, it is a moving tribute to anyone who has ever answered its call.

My Review:

In such a small amount of pages this book really brings up some heavy issues. I did take awhile to read this story because of everything that is going on and the large cast of characters. The book jumps around between the different people, from those that were inside the prison, to their children and how their lives have been affected by the past. Sahar Delijani has a beautiful writing style but at times I felt like it was a little disjointed because of how confused I could get of who I was following.

Sahar Delijani writes with conviction and this book really shows how easily one generation impacts the following generations, as we see those who have survived the prisons now come back to teach their children about the past and these are the people left to clean up the mess. The one thing that was difficult was how the story was not told in a linear way, it jumps around from the parent to the child and how they have moved on from the war but never forgotten what happened.

When a new generation begins protesting and having political strife, the new generation looks back at history and how that impacted what is happening now. All these characters have so much to deal with, it is hard to imagine being in any of their places. Honestly, as much as I had difficulties with some things, I did love how emotional and beautiful Delijani has made this story. I really enjoyed what came out of this story, especially bringing out a real look into what happened years ago in Tehran and how those people dealt with the aftermath. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 416
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 25, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of the international bestseller Lullabies for Little Criminals, a coming-of-age novel set on the seedy side of Montreal’s St. Laurent Boulevard.

Gorgeous twins Noushcka and Nicolas Tremblay live with their grandfather Loulou in a tiny, sordid apartment on St. Laurent Boulevard. They are hopelessly promiscuous, wildly funny and infectiously charming. They are also the only children of the legendary Québécois folksinger Étienne Tremblay, who was as famous for his brilliant lyrics about working-class life as he was for his philandering bon vivant lifestyle and his fall from grace. Known by the public since they were children as Little Noushcka and Little Nicolas, the two inseparable siblings have never been allowed to be ordinary. On the eve of their twentieth birthday, the twins’ self-destructive shenanigans catch up with them when Noushcka agrees to be beauty queen in the local St. Jean Baptiste Day parade. The media spotlight returns, and the attention of a relentless journalist exposes the cracks in the family’s relationships. Though Noushcka tries to leave her family behind, for better or worse, Noushcka is a Tremblay, and when tragedy strikes, home is the only place she wants to be.

With all the wit and poignancy that made Baby such a beloved character in Lullabies for Little Criminals, O’Neill writes of an unusual family and what binds them together and tears them apart. The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is classic, unforgettable Heather O’Neill.

My Review:

Okay, after hearing so much about this book I knew I needed to check it out, especially being a Canadian author. I have had Lullabies for Little Criminals on my TBR list for a while and after reading this one I will be picking it up ASAP. There is just so much to love about this book that is hard to choose a place to start.

This is a beautiful book about relationships and how the way that we are raised can really affect the future. The story mainly follows Noushcka Tremblay for about a year or so as she tries to find her place in the world. Noushcka has grown up in the spotlight because her father is a famous musician in Quebec, but it is a place that she has tried very hard to get out of, she is someone that you want to dislike because of the way she acts a lot of the time, but as you understand her more you come to sympathize with her. Her relationship with her brother is disturbing at times, and you see that what she looks for in a mate is what her father and brother are like. Each of these two have very destructive tendencies, especially when together, it is like a dark hole for Noushcka when Nicolas comes around.

I really loved how Heather O'Neill has taken a character from such a tough upbringing and elevated her in the reader's eyes (at least mine). The way Noushcka views the world is skewed and yet she slowly grows and realizes where she belongs and where her mistakes have been over time. Noushcka learns that she needs to do things for herself and she needs to learn about herself by getting away from what she has known for so long.

This story is definitely unusual and yet so beautiful, and unforgettable, everything that O'Neill writes really sticks with you, showing a family that in the worst of times can still stick together through things. I had so much fun and this book was such a great story that I will remember the characters for years to come. Heather O'Neill is definitely a strong writer, and I believe her characters will grow more, I kind of wish to see more of Noushcka's adventures, like a sequel to see more of what she has learned over time. I definitely suggest picking this one up ASAP.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: October 1, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira's psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan's secrets prove evermore deadly, Kira's only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can't escape.


My Review:

This story starts right away in a very intense moment between Kira and Rogan. Readers are instantly thrown into the game of Countdown and as the story moves along we learn more about the history and what happens in the game. At one point in the beginning I had flashbacks from the SAW movie franchise (though not as sickening as those challenges, this is still a very dangerous game where you are really playing for your lives).

Each level of this game becomes more dangerous for the players and they need to decide if they will do everything to win not only their dreams but their lives as well. Kira and Rogan were both interesting characters with very opposite personalities and I think it made the story work so well. They both are very sarcastic people and the way they act help them through the game itself. The one thing I really enjoyed about Kira was that she is someone who has been relying on herself for so long, she is a bit self-centered (though it's an understandable flaw), but she is tough from being on the streets. The only thing was it seemed that she didn't grow much over the course of the story, I wanted her to learn a little more from the game.

I really think this was an interesting story with some interesting twists that really kept me guessing about what was real and who could be trusted throughout the game.This was an intense book, but it followed a lot of similar storylines, you could see the romance coming and I kind of felt like it was a bit forced and over the top. But other than that I did really enjoy this book, and loved how intense Michelle Rowen made some of the scenes, surprising readers with the things that these characters were forced to go through. 


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