Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 256
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: February 4, 2015
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

An international bestseller, The Taste of Apple Seeds is a story of love and loss that will captivate your heart

When Iris unexpectedly inherits her grandmother's house in the country, she also inherits the painful memories that live there.

Iris gives herself a one-week stay at the old house, after which she'll make a decision: keep it, or sell it. The choice is not so simple, though, for her grandmother's cottage is an enchanting place where currant jam tastes of tears, sparks fly from fingertips, love's embrace makes apple trees blossom, and the darkest family secrets never stay buried.

As Iris moves in and out of the flicker between remembrance and forgetting, she chances upon a forgotten childhood friend who could become more.

The Taste of Apple Seeds is a bittersweet story of heartbreak and hope passed down through the generations.

My Review:

To be honest, I picked up this book because I was taken by the cover so much, it just drew my eyes that I didn't really think much about the synopsis, then I took a quick glance at what it was about and thought it would be kind of interesting. I always love a good story about family secrets and how when we go back, we remember things that may have been hidden from us long before.

After Iris' grandmother passes away, she is surprised when she inherits the house... she is not too sure if she wants to keep it now that she has her own life somewhere else. Iris is convinced that she can decide what to do with the house if she lives in it for a week and see what she gets out of it. The house holds so much more than Iris ever could have expected, family secrets and memories of herself and cousins as children, but it also brings back people from the past that will help her put her memories in order and maybe even help her realize her future.

There were great parts to this story, especially the idea of going back to a childhood home to remember the past. Katharina Hagena really brings out the idea of family in this story and how an enchanting place can really bring back those feelings of happy times. The one thing about this book was that the back and forth from past memories and the present got a little confusing at times, and it also seemed that there were many different stories going on at once.

I can say that this was a great story about family and memories of the past that answer questions that have been laying dormant for years. But I felt like the book was short and that certain storylines could have gotten more depth to really bring out the story that much more. A lot of this book will touch your heart as you read about Iris's childhood and her relationship with family members, showing why she would be the one to come back to this place, and you can see that Hagena does have a beautiful way of telling a story, if only more detail could be added, this story would be one that is beyond words.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Review: A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Publisher: Hogarth
Pages: 205
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: June 9, 2015
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Eimear McBride's debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator's head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn't always comfortable - but it is always a revelation.

Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.

My Review:

This was a beautiful book in so many ways, the different topics that are touched on really make it stand out in a reader's mind. It is truly a realistic portrayal of life in the way that instead of being one perfect stream, it is a story that goes all over the place and is written in a way that a person thinks about things, just jumping from one topic to another.

I was definitely invested in this book, really wanting to learn more about this girl and her relationship with her brother. Now as much as I am saying all this good stuff about this book, I do also want to say that I had a lot of problems getting through the story. Eimear McBride tackled some very hard-hitting issues with this book, but it is very easy to get lost with what exactly is happening because of the writing style. This is a book that really needs a reader's attention, and there will be points where you will want to go back and re-read things because you aren't sure that you understood what exactly happened.

Eimear McBride writes this story as if the reader is truly in the mind of this character, it is how a person would think. There are so many thoughts flying around that it is hard to really keep track of the story, for me this made it hard to follow and stick with, I wanted to give up many times because I was so lost (it also didn't help that I continually put the book down). I believe that this book could easily be a top book for many readers because of the way Eimear brings out such difficult topics, and how she shows a personal struggle against real problems... But at the same time readers need to invest themselves in this book and not leave it for too long of a time otherwise they will be completely lost and you won't be able to find your way back.

At the moment I have to sadly say that this book was not one that I enjoyed, but I do want to shelve it and come back to it in the future when I am more invested in the writing style that McBride has. I am just the type of person who needs everything to line up in an easy way, I enjoy more stories to be a bit more linear rather than a jumble of thoughts, and I am truly disappointed that this book wasn't for me because it is a touching story. And I do recommend it to those that can handle the writing style, just be prepared for a jumble of thoughts!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Publisher: Blazer & Bray
Pages: 384
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: April 21, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

My Review:

OH MY GOD! What in the world did I just do to myself?!?!?!?! This book kind of killed me, I absolutely loved this story and I was so enthralled, but thinking about it, I really don't understand why I loved it so much. This is such a horrible plot and I mean who actually does something like this? But the writing truly pulled me in and I was hooked from the beginning. I wanted to throw the book against a wall (but it was my e-reader so that would have ended badly for me) and yet I felt like it was a train wreck happening and I just couldn't turn away.

Honestly, I flew through this book, I could not stop reading. As the days of the summer continued on, I wanted to know what else Julia would end up getting into. All Julia wants to do is get through her summer with no problems and then be off to university in the fall, but readers quickly see that you can't outrun or even hide from your past, it will always come back to find you.

Julia has ruined her friendships with some of the greatest people and she ran away when everything exploded on her. Now that she is back for the summer after a year away, she has to deal with the fallout from everything, Julia has to work at her friendships again. The problem I had with this book is that Julia gets herself into more trouble when she is back, first she attempts to hide away and then when she actually takes herself out into society, she starts having a good time, until things go wrong.

The one thing I will say is that Katie Cotugno's writing style just draws you in and it's hard to not keep reading because you want things to turn out for the best. This book does truly show that not everyone is perfect and as a teenager Julia is still learning about herself and where she fits in the world. As much as I loved this book though, the ending truly upset me, I understand it shows that who you are in high school does not determine the rest of your life, but so much was still left unsaid.

This book had its ups and downs but I did absolutely love everything, Katie brought me a beautiful story. And I loved how it was written, each chapter is another day of the summer, some are shorter and some are longer, and it's so easy to keep going, just a couple more chapters, until before you realize the book is done and you are longing for more.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Review: Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 7, 2015
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

A fiercely imagined fiction debut in which two young women face what happened the summer they were twelve, when a handsome stranger abducted them 

Everyone thought we were dead. We were missing for nearly two months; we were twelve. What else could they think? -Lois

It's always been hard to talk about what happened without sounding all melodramatic. . . . Actually, I haven't mentioned it for years, not to a goddamned person. -Carly May

The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still. Maggie Mitchell's Pretty Is beautifully defies ripped-from-the-headlines crime story expectations and announces the debut of a masterful new storytelling talent.

My Review:

This book had quite an interesting premise and I found myself intrigued by the story and seeing how these two girls would live a life after what happened to them. I thought that this was a book that would be a lot about coping with PTSD or something like that. I can say that this story did not end up being what I thought it would at all.

The story follows both Carly May and Lois in their adult lives as they have dealt with the events of the summer they were abducted, and now they are each trying to live their lives away from everything where people won't know them. All of a sudden the past comes rushing back to them when a movie begins to be made that has many similarities to their past events. All of a sudden these two women who have not been in contact are being brought together in very unnatural circumstances to confront what really happened that summer.

I have to say that I didn't really like listening to either of these two characters, it made the book a little difficult for me to get through. Neither of the women were someone that was easy to connect with, and I understand they both have a difficult past that made their future tougher to deal with, but I just felt that they were both still very immature. It takes some time to really learn about the details of the their summer, there are a lot of things that are hinted to, and then there are chapters that come from a book written about an event very similar to their situation, but it is not exactly what happened. I found that it almost seemed easier for Carly May to let go of the past than it was for Lois, and everything comes crashing down for Lois quickly that makes her confront her past a lot sooner.

What I did feel is that this book shows sometimes it is hard to let go of the past, it will stick with you no matter how far you try to run. Both of these girls have tried to forget and let go of that summer and yet it keeps coming back. They need answers as to what really happened and why of all people it was them, and the only way to get the answers is to meet up again after so long. Honestly, I felt a little disappointed by the meeting of these two, I thought it would be intense and there would just be more to it than what actually happens.

I was excited, I believe this book had a lot of potential, it just didn't work for me, it took too long to get into the story at times. And then when readers get the details, it just seems like something was missing. I wished for a little more from this book. I do believe there are people who will like this type of story, it just wasn't my type of book, sadly.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Random House of Canada
Series: Welcome to Cainsville #3
Pages: 458
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 18, 2015
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Olivia’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she’s not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders, but also her stalker ex-fiancĂ©.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a
green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating their triangle. Will darkness prevail or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?

My Review:

Oh how happy I am to be back in the town of Cainsville, no matte how creepy things are, I cannot help loving this town. As the story continues, readers slowly learn more about Olivia's past life and why she is so important to the town of Cainsville. Not only does Olivia have the problem of two different groups of fae are fighting for her but her ex-fiance is still stalking her.

I absolutely love what Kelley Armstrong brings to her stories as they continue along, there is always trouble waiting around a corner for Olivia and she realizes that she needs to learn a lot more about the past to understand what is exactly happening to her. These books are the hardest stories to put down because so much continually happens you don't want to lose Olivia's story. Readers have learned more about Olivia's past as she learns about her birth parents, but the town of Cainsville has a history that affects Olivia as well, and this book focuses more on that.

The only thing that was kind of weird is how Kelley Armstrong mixes different historical aspects into this series. It starts out with the history of the fae, but added in is some Greek mythology as well, I'm wondering if there is going to be more supernatural entities added in along the way...

The romance of this book truly keeps readers rapt, yes there is a bit of a love triangle but in a way there is a history behind this triangle that it actually makes sense in this story. Olivia has two people that are the most important people to her and are the ones that will do anything to save her. It's amazing to see how quickly Olivia makes friends and I can truly say Kelley Armstrong does an amazing job writing these relationships and I am interested to see how things will grow between all the characters as the story continues.

Armstrong also brings back more of Olivia's birth parents and we get to learn more about the past and is giving a little more information on what happened, but there is still more investigation into the past murders that still may save her parents. Honestly, this series has kept me in anticipation for the last few years, and I don't want it to stop anytime soon. I have come to love these characters and I really want to see them grow and learn more about themselves, as well as see what will happen in the future now that we know more about the past!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 288
Received: Received an ecopy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 10, 2015
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

A complete re-imagining of Clarissa Explains it All as 20-something Clarissa tries to navigate the unemployment line, mompreneurs and the collision of two people in love. 

She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads.

After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made – her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers?

All of Clarissa’s charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they’ve evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can’t explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents’ divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, “To-Flue Glue,” and then there’s Sam. Where’s Sam anyway?

Things I Can't Explain is about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties.

My Review:

Oh a book that is a sequel to such a loved children's show, I definitely jumped at the chance for this. Though I may be a bit young, I know of Clarissa Explains It All from watching what my sister did. I have a few memories about this show, but I can definitely say that a lot of things came back as I was reading this book. Now don't get me wrong, you really don't need to know the show to enjoy this book, Mitchell Kriegman brings in a lot of Clarissa's back story to explain how she has gotten where she is now.

It's great to see the story of Clarissa grown up and is dealing with a new life away from where she grew up. Kriegman does an amazing job bringing Clarissa back to life but is now at an age where those who grew up with her can relate to some of the issues she is going through. I love how Kriegman shows the difficulties of going out on your own and starting life, nothing can be perfect, there are always problems that need to be solved before things begin to fall into place. I love the writing style, Clarissa is definitely back and she is still a force to be reckoned with, readers still get this sassy girl who is obsessed with charts and graphs and it helps her control her world around her.

We get a glimpse of Clarissa's parents who definitely bring some great humour to the story and throw a huge wrench in some of her plans. It's great to see how Clarissa's past really shapes her future self and the people that she has befriended over the years, including old friends. You can't have a book like this without bringing back so many old characters, and it truly adds to the story to see these people come back and still have an effect on Clarissa.

Honestly this was such a cute book, though I am disappointed that there are certain people who seem to be missing. Maybe it has more to do with Clarissa moving on with her life and getting away from her past but it would have been nice to have a little more of a certain someone... This is definitely a great sequel to an awesome show from years ago (and I can definitely picture Melissa Joan Hart flawlessly pulling off the roll of Clarissa in her twenties). Doesn't matter if you were a fan of the show when you were a kid or you're just looking for a cute read that will leave you laughing as well, this is for sure a book to pick up!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Review: Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Pages: 400
Received: Received an ecopy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 6, 2015
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

My Review:

Well this book definitely had an interesting concept, I'm not too sure on all my feelings about the story, while I was truly taken with everything that was happening, I think I felt lost a couple of times too. But this story intrigued me a lot, the idea that there is a team trying to get political information through people's dreams... Lindsay Smith had a unique idea and truly brought a story that is full of intrigue, drama and even some romance.

Livia has worked hard to become a great dreamstrider, though there have been difficulties in her past she has worked through them and is one of the best talents so that she is able to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. There is a lot of tension throughout the story, Livia and her partner are having some issues and when a new opportunity arises for Livia with a neighbouring kingdom that has come to help them with their assignment, she begins to debate starting anew. Livia has a huge crossroad, one that could be very dangerous, and she is already playing a dangerous game in her job. She is very dedicated though and you can see that she truly regrets her past mistakes and she works hard to make up for them. The other problem for Livia is that she is trying to live up to what people say about her being the best, she doesn't want to look bad to those she looks up to the most in her life and it makes her that much more dedicated to what she does.

I really enjoyed the dream sequences, it was very high fantasy and yet so adventurous as well. The dream world added in some extra danger to the world, at times I kind of felt like there were two different storylines happening in the book, and that confused me sometimes, but by the end I was able to put everything together. I actually enjoyed the dangerous dream story a bit more, Livia is still growing and learning a lot throughout the novel and I always love a book where the main character still has things to understand, there is this rising arc to the story.

There is a lot of world building that and it Lindsay Smith takes her time bringing the reader into the Dreamstrider world, but if you stick through it the story is very well done and I can say it is always interesting. The story has a little bit of everything that will bring in readers from all genres, it's a fun story with a great fantasy world and also mixed into a realistic world with political drama. Definitely give this book a go.


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