Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Review: City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan, #1)Publisher: Random House Canada
Series: Casey Duncan #1
Pages: 480
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 2, 2016
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. But that's not why she's on the run. Her best friend's ex has found Diana again, despite all Casey has done to protect her. And Diana has decided the only way she'll ever be safe is if she finds the mythical town she's heard of where people like her can go to hide. Turns out the town really exists, and will take Diana, but only if Casey, a talented young police detective, comes too.

Imagine a hidden town, isolated in the Yukon wilderness, where everyone is pretending to be someone they're not. Even good people can get up to some very bad stuff. The laconic town sheriff dispenses his own frontier justice, but he's more accustomed to sobering up drunks in the horse trough, than attempting to solve the series of brutal murders that has rocked the town. As much as he hates it, he needs Casey. As for Casey, coming to the far North may have started out as a sacrifice she was willing to make for her best friend. But maybe, just maybe, she needs Rockton as much as the town needs her.

My Review:

I don't know why I put off Kelley Armstrong books when I get them, these are the type of books that I just need to dive right into as soon as they arrive at my doorstep. I honestly find that Kelley Armstrong truly can do no wrong in her writing. All of her books keep me on the edge of my seat wondering what she will come up with next!

In a small way this book reminded me of her other series she is working on Cainsville but yet still very different! I was taken with the mystery that Kelley sets up in this book, there is definitely a dark side to this new town Casey has come into, but who is involved in everything.... I absolutely loved Casey, she is a tough woman, and even though she has a rough past she tries to work past that and she just wants to do what is right. Casey is the type who gives up a lot for those that she loves, she wants to protect everyone around her and that is exactly what she does for her friend Diana.

What would you do coming into a very isolated town where there are many secrets hidden, how do you deal with the problems when everyone has something to hide from their past. As much as Eric Dalton wants to think he can handle everything on his own, he begins to understand that Casey may actually be able to help solve the brutal murders that are happening.

As I continued reading I wanted more of Casey and Eric, I loved their interactions with one another. You can really see their relationship grow as Eric begins to trust Casey more and learns that maybe she can help him with her outsiders perspective. Because Casey is an outsider she has a different view and can see things that Eric may miss. As the book continues, you can feel the story getting more tense and you can see that things are going to unravel but the turns that Kelley Armstrong takes, makes it impossible to ever see what is actually coming.

I have found with all her stories, Kelley Armstrong is able to keep readers immersed and you are always left wanting just a little bit more. It is the type of thriller that every chapter leaves you reeling with a revelation and you can't put it down because you want to know how the characters will handle everything next. I was so shocked at everything that Kelley came up with, and I want to be able to expect things after reading so much of Kelley's writing and still she knows how to shock her readers.

I need more Kelley Armstrong, but even more I need more of this series. I want to see what more Kelley can do with this small little town that is just full of secrets waiting to come out and bring more trouble for the residents of Rockton. But I also need more of Casey and Eric because there is still so much more to be said between them, and their relationship still has so far to go.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never ListPublisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 303
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: July 16, 2013
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the “Never List”: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism.

Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, living as a virtual recluse under a new name, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail.

Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias and the other survivors—who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, she begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.

My Review:

I was very intrigued when I first heard about this book, I love a good mystery/thriller read, but this book was much more than that, and I actually found it to be quite disturbing to the point that I had a lot of problems getting through it. I really wanted to get through the mystery of the book, I wanted to find out about this man who has ruined so many peoples lives.

Sarah is still struggling years later to get past the incident and live a normal life, when all of a sudden, everything is brought up again when the girls' abductor is up for parole. With this, Sarah begins a journey to find out more about this man, and keep him in prison. I was interested in the mystery of what has happened over the past few years and who are all these people that have worked with him and known him the best. What I did enjoy was watching Sarah grow as the novel continued on, she is able to get herself together little by little and she throws her insecurities to the wind to get justice, not only for herself but for her friend Jennifer as well.

There are a lot of secrets hiding out in this novel, Sarah is hiding something, how she was able to save the girls years ago. Understandably, these girls don't want contact with one another after everything, it brings back reminders, and yet as the mystery deepens, these girls begin to want to help one another because the idea of having their captor out is a much worse possibility. In many ways this is a book about confronting your past, even though it may be the most difficult and dangerous thing.

The problem I had with this book was how disturbing it was, there were so many points where I could not continue because I was just disgusted at the torture being done. Honestly, this book was very dark and twisted and I just couldn't get into everything that was going on. The book goes darker and darker as you continue on, and there were so many parts where I just did not want to continue with the story. I will say in some ways despite the twisted and disturbing parts, I am partly glad that I continued on with the story and got to the end of the mystery, I was shocked and Koethi Zan definitely brings about an ending that readers don't really see coming.

Honestly, in many ways this was an interesting novel, but in the end it just didn't really appeal to me. There were too many parts that just became too much and I couldn't get past these terrifying ideas. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac GirlsPublisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 496
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: April 5, 2016
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

In Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages.

My Review:

To be honest this book took me quite awhile to really get into, I think it had to do with how often the story switched perspectives between the three girls. It was really hard to connect in the beginning because the story didn't stick with one person for very long, I'm always a huge fan of historical novels and the fact that this book is based on the lives of real people, it made me more intrigued and really had me pushing to get through. 

I know there are a lot of books out there based on events of World War II, but I felt that this one was really different. This story gives readers the view from so many different perspectives during that time, from a woman doctor working in the camps, from a woman who is prisoner in a concentration camp, and then from someone on the other side of the world, whose life changes because of these events as she works for the French consulate. I can definitely say after some time, when I really got into the events, I was truly invested in each woman's storyline (though I feel like Herta's somewhat fizzled out at a certain point, and then we jump back into it later on in the book). Each of them have their own hurdles to get through, and are all trapped in different ways. 

This book spans years, showing how these girls deal with not only the horrors of the war, but we also get to see the aftermath and how it has affected their lives for years to come. What I was really looking forward to was how these three ladies would meet and how that would impact their lives, I was truly impressed with how Martha Hall Kelly really brought this out. The stories don't cross right away, we really get to know each of the three ladies before they actually meet, but once they meet their impact on one another is remarkable.

I can truly say that this book really touched me and brought me to tears many times as I followed the stories, but it was mainly Kasia's story that really brought this book together. She is the connecting factor in this story and I found her life to be the hardest (for obvious reasons). But what I found Martha truly brought to life was how it also affected Kasia after the war, how difficult it was for her to be true to herself and to those she loved the most.

I can honestly say that this was a beautiful book, despite some issues in the beginning with the ever changing stories, once things actually settle into a smooth pace this is a book that you want to immerse yourself in. Readers easily connect with the characters and you don't want to let them go, you want to help them through everything and be there for them. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Blog Tour: Shimmer by Paula Weston

Publisher: Tundra Books
Series: The Rephaim #3
Pages: 416
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 8, 2016
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Gaby thought her life couldn’t get more complicated.

She’s almost used to the idea that she’s not the nineteen-year-old backpacker she thought she was. She can just about cope with being one of the Rephaim - a 140-year-old half-angel - whose memories have been stolen. She’s even coming to grips with the fact that Jude, the brother she’s mourned for a year, didn’t die at all.

But now Rafa—sexy, infuriating Rafa—is being held, and hurt, by Gatekeeper demons. And Gaby has to get the bitterly divided Rephaim to work together, or Rafa has no chance at all.

It’s a race against time - and history. And it may already be too late.

My Review:

I have been a part of the Rephaim series blog tours since the very beginning, so I am so happy to continue being a part of this tour and bringing this series to the forefront. I've been waiting for this book to come out for so long, especially after the ending of Haze. I'm so excited that the rest of the series is finally making it's way to me. There are still so many questions, especially since Gaby still has no memory of her past life. 

This book picks up right after we left off in Haze, there is more action as things begin to heat up between the Rephaim and the Gatekeepers. Not only that, but there is more disagreement between the Rephaim angels, which makes for a more difficult plan of attack to save Rafa. Honestly, I love growing alongside Gaby as she is slowly getting information about her past, and she somewhat is reminded of who she used to be. But there is also the interaction between her and Jude, now that she knows her brother is truly alive and well (with also no memory of their past), both of them are learning to navigate this world together as a team, while learning about each other. 

This is one of those series that just keeps getting more intense as Paula Weston continues with the story. As each book comes out, Gaby learns that there are more secrets being kept and even though questions are answered, more also come up. Readers continue learning along Gaby, I've always loved stories where the main character doesn't know everything that is going on, because readers get more details and it helps readers connect with the character more. I honestly can't wait to find out what will happen in Burn. The way Paula ended things in this book (as in basically every other book of this series) was with a bang, and leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat just needing the next book and more of these characters! I can see that there will be so much to learn as soon as the next book opens.

I can't wait to see more of Gaby and Rafa in the next book as well! The relationship between these two has grown so much over this series, despite whatever happened in their past (which is still very much left unknown). These two are so amazing together and especially with how everything progressed in this book, I just can't wait to see how everything will be handled after the ending of this! 

This series is one of my absolute favourite angel series of all time and I am so excited and yet scared out of my mind to see how Paula will end everything with these characters. I have truly come to love everyone here, and this is my review on how much I love everything about Paula Weston's writing!! So thank you very much Paula for bringing such a beautiful story to the public!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Publisher: Penguin Press
Pages: 277
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 16, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we've seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

My Review:

Honestly, I wasn't too sure what I would think about this book, I'm just now getting into non-fiction reads, but I can say I was really invested in this book. I really loved how Aziz Ansari really detailed how technology has changed the way that we interact with one another now. What I really loved is that even though Aziz has done so much research for this book, there is a great amount of humour added in as well, that just made it that much easier to read through (I'm used to non-fiction being very dry).

This book was very well done, the many different ways that technology has changed dating in our generation is shown very well. What I really enjoyed is how Aziz also travels the world to see how romance happens in different cultures, and readers really get to see that not everyone is truly taken with the technology and there is still a small group that will find their partner the old fashioned way.

The reason this book really stuck out with me is because I never really got into all the apps that are out there for meeting people, but I've been around people that are and I am always interested in how things work out. Aziz not only dives into how technology has changed the way we meet people, but he also shows how different communication is, and especially at the beginning of a relationship it can be very dangerous. Aziz even adds in some fun bits of his own interactions through texting.

I really loved the mix of humour and social science to bring to light how society has changed because of technology. Aziz Ansari was the perfect comedian to write this book, I could just imagine his voice while reading this (even better when he suggests that you think of him saying certain things in a very dark voice). I can truly say that I am getting more and more into non-fiction because of books like this that can add some great humorous stories to get their point across. If you haven't read this one yet, definitely pick it up, not only is it funny but it really makes you think about the way we use technology!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Review: Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Series: Flirting with Fame #1
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: February 23, 2016
Buy From Chapters.ca 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Elise Jameson is the secret author behind the bestselling, cult hit Viking Moon series. But when a stranger poses as Elise, the painfully shy, deaf nineteen-year-old starts to see how much she’s missing. Can she really hide in the shadows forever? This clever, coming-of-age debut is for anyone who has ever felt unsure in their own skin.

After a freak childhood accident leaves her deaf and physically scarred, nineteen-year-old Elise Jameson retreats into a world of vibrant characters she creates on her laptop. She is shocked when her coping mechanism turns into a career as a phenomenal bestselling novelist. Fans are obsessed with Elise’s Viking Moon series and its author—a striking girl with zero resemblance to Elise who appears on the back covers. Elise sent the randomly Googled photo to her editor following a minor panic attack. Now, horrified to learn she is expected on set of the television pilot based on her novels, Elise tracks down her anonymous stand-in. To Elise’s surprise, Veronica Wilde has been taking credit for Viking Moon for years. She eagerly agrees to keep up the charade if Elise will pose as her assistant.

It’s hard for Elise to watch a stranger take credit for her work and get all the perks she desires, including admiration from the show’s heartthrob star. Edged onto the sidelines of her own life, Elise reconsiders her choice to stay anonymous. Is she ready to come to terms with her true identity—and with the long-buried secrets that could cost her her career, her fans, and the few precious friendships she’s made?

My Review:

Well I don't really know what I was expecting from this book, but I can definitely say I had fun with it. This is one of those books that is cute and fun, but yet I can say that Samantha Joyce added in a bit of a serious undertone, with how insecure Elise is about herself. Elise has had a very difficult time after her accident leaves her scarred, in more ways than one, but she spends her time writing, and has secretly published her own book series. Now she runs into a huge problem, she is expected to appear on the set of the television series they are making based on her books, but no one actually knows what she looks like, since she gave in a fake picture.

What I really loved about this book was how Samantha Joyce wrote a character that is very strong, but she still needs to learn that herself because she is insecure and feels like people see her differently. I really loved how Elise wants to do everything she can to stay under the radar and just be a normal college student, and yet at the same time she has gotten herself into a situation that makes her reconsider why she has hidden so much, and is she finally ready to admit to the world who she is.

There were times where I really didn't like how Elise handled situations, but at the same time being someone who has had my own insecurity issues, I can also somewhat understand. She wants to be noticed but at the same time she wants to fly under the radar and not be seen as the girl with all these scars. I have to say I loved the interactions that Elise had with the stars of the television show, I really think that Samantha Joyce gives readers a different view on actors and it was actually sweet. This book also couldn't be what it is without the secondary characters, they bring a breath of fresh air to the story, and are an amazing counter to Elise.

This was definitely a really adorable book that I flew through because I just wanted to see Elise get everything that she deserved. This is a great book for readers who have felt unsure about themselves and have just wanted to stay hidden behind others. Very cute book with some great humour, and some very amazing boys... Clint the cowboy (I would take him anyday!) 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Blog Tour: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor
Series: Shades of Magic #2
Pages: 512
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 23, 2016
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

My Review:

Oh, I am so happy to be a part of this tour! I have fallen in love with everything and anything that V.E. Schwab writes. Honestly, the way everything ended in A Darker Shade of Magic easily could have been left at that but I am so glad V.E. Schwab had more to tell with these characters. I fell in love with Kell so easily in the first book, and Lila as well, both of them are strong individuals and yet very stubborn about how they see the world.

This book picks up four months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, not to say that we don't get glimpses of what happened over those four months, we definitely do slowly get to see everything after Kell and Lila parted. This book was a lot different than the last one for sure, and yet I was still absolutely enamoured.. I needed to see when Kell and Lila met up again, how would they react after so long apart. This series is not disappointing at all, what I loved is that this book introduced new characters and more information about the different kingdoms. But also we got a deeper look into Rhy's mind and how he feels after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic.

It's interesting to watch Kell and Rhy live now that they are so closely linked to one another. Everyone is more aware of how these two live and they are under more scrutiny to make sure that nothing bad happens. Kell is having nightmares of a darker time and it is making life more difficult, as well as having Rhy spend night after night getting himself into trouble just to feel good about himself.

I can say that this book was not as intense as A Darker Shade of Magic but there were still a lot of great scenes and it was interesting to learn more about each of the characters. It was really nice to see Lila grow more in this book, but the way things ended I need the next book immediately! It was so intense and I'm scared to see how everything is going to play out. V.E. Schwab has written another amazing story and I know that she will always deliver some of the best fantasy stories I will read.

On top of my review I got to ask one question for V.E. Schwab... There are also still many other blogs along this tour, check out some of their great reviews!

What inspired you to write mainly in the science fiction/fantasy genre, were there certain books that influenced your love of the genre?

To be honest, I grew up wanting the world to be stranger than it was, and that shaped me, first as a reader, and then as a writer. I love Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Holly Black’s Curse Workers, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.

I still believe in magic, or at least, in the presence of things beyond our understanding, and at the core of my stories, both the ones I live by, and the ones I put on paper, is the belief that there’s more to the world than we can see, we simply lack the right perspective. I write what I want to read, which are stories where those perspectives shift, align, and we’re allowed in.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Review: The Secret Life of the American Musical by Jack Viertel

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 1, 2016
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

In The Secret Life of the American Musical, Jack Viertel takes them apart, puts them back together, sings their praises, marvels at their unflagging inventiveness, and occasionally despairs over their more embarrassing shortcomings. In the process, he invites us to fall in love all over again by showing us how musicals happen, what makes them work, how they captivate audiences, and how one landmark show leads to the next—by design or by accident, by emulation or by rebellion—from Oklahoma! to Hamilton and onward.

Structured like a musical, The Secret Life of the American Musical begins with an overture and concludes with a curtain call, with stops in between for “I Want” songs, “conditional” love songs, production numbers, star turns, and finales. The ultimate insider, Viertel has spent three decades on Broadway, working on dozens of shows old and new as a conceiver, producer, dramaturg, and general creative force; he has his own unique way of looking at the process and at the people who collaborate to make musicals a reality. He shows us patterns in the architecture of classic shows and charts the inevitable evolution that has taken place in musical theater as America itself has evolved socially and politically.

The Secret Life of the American Musical makes you feel as though you’ve been there in the rehearsal room, in the front row of the theater, and in the working offices of theater owners and producers as they pursue their own love affair with that rare and elusive beast—the Broadway hit.

My Review:

I am trying very hard to get out of my usual reading habits and try something new, I am not one for non-fiction but I'm seeing ones pop up that I believe are great ways to start with for me. I love plays and especially Broadway musicals, it's always been on my list to see a show on Broadway in New York City, so when I saw this book I was interested and I thought it was a great way to get into something new.

I definitely found this book to be interesting, the way Jack discusses how a Broadway play is made and the way he shows through many examples of different plays. I could sit there and picture other plays that definitely had the same story arc to get through. Jack Viertel definitely organized his book in the way that a Broadway play is put together, that I almost felt at times I was actually sitting watching a play myself.

The one thing that got me was that some of the chapters seemed to drag on a little bit, where it felt that Jack was overdoing his examples. Yet I understand, he wants to show that some musicals may veer a little off course yet they still stick to main plot line, making sure to have the lightness and the dramatic songs to keep the audience interested. The one thing that gave me trouble while reading it was Jack's comments on the racial side of Broadway. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it, but I can say it was a put off... it felt aggressive to me as a reader. That was the biggest thing for me, other than that, when Jack Viertel stayed on the topic of how a musical is set up it was great to read.

This book helped me get out of my comfort zone, and I'm definitely trying more non-fiction books. Despite some things this book definitely helped show me that other genres can be interesting and I just need to find the right topic. Hopefully more non-fiction books will catch my attention!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 19, 2016
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s travelling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

My Review:

The title of this book is what really peaked my interest, I didn't even really read what it was about, the cover was interesting and the title hooked me. After finishing this book, I'm still a little unsure of how I feel about everything that went on through the story. I liked the storyline and the romance and intrigue throughout, and yet I felt like everything went by so fast and then the story was over... I actually wish there had been more to the book.

I really enjoyed Juliana's character, she knew how to play her part and yet she also fought things in a bit of a more sly way. She acted interested and yet at the same time, used being in London to research more and also to find someone to publish the research her and her father compiled. What I loved is how Cindy Anstey opens this story up with such an intriguing first scene, I feel like I was hooked knowing that these characters we've been introduced to are very unconventional.

I can say that this was an adorable book in so many ways, I love how Juliana and Spencer interact and you can see how their relationship grows over the book. As they spend time with one another they learn more about themselves and they grow as people, learning that they can have everything. Juliana is able to continue her research and still have love. I really enjoyed their time together and how they helped each other through the season.

The one thing that disappointed me was that everything happened so fast, I would have liked to spend a little more time with these characters and learning more about them. One thing happened and then it got settled so quickly. I would have liked this book to be a bit longer so that we could get to spend more time with all the characters, I believe we barely scratched the surface with these people, and that Cindy could have gone a bit deeper.

But all in all this was such an adorable book, I loved the relationship and it definitely made me swoon (hahaha get it, because it's from Swoon Reads...) Everything was so cute and I definitely couldn't put the book down, I wanted more of Juliana and Spencer together because everytime they were put in a situation together I was so happy. This book was not at all what I expected and I really enjoyed it!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Review: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Fewiel & Friends
Series: Flawed #1
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 5, 2016
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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Scarlet Letter meets Divergent in this thoughtful and thrilling novel by bestselling author Cecelia Ahern.

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.

My Review:

Oh, Cecelia Ahern, any book with her name on it already has my heart and I will jump for anything written by her. She quickly became my favourite author years ago... long before I started blogging, so when I heard she was writing a young adult book that seems very different from what I'm used to loving, I needed to experience it myself. I'm glad I picked this book up because it is Cecelia Ahern and like I said I will never say no, but it was interesting to see her attempt to write outside of her usual comfort zone. Honestly, I did enjoy the story, but at the same time it is a story I've seen many times before and I can say that I would rather stick with her usual adult stories. 

This was definitely an interesting idea for Cecelia Ahern, but it just felt like other books I've read in this genre, and as a reader I could see things coming. Mind you I will say that Cecelia Ahern gives us a great villain in this book that is truly creepy and there is still more to learn. I did enjoy parts of the book, Celestine has always been the good girl, but one day she makes a decision that not only changes her life but that of her entire family. Celestine begins to see that not everything is truly black and white, not everything can be explained perfectly.

Right at the beginning I could see how this was similar to The Scarlet Letter, and I loved how that was inserted because it does make things interesting. Those that are marked as "flawed" are looked down upon from society and are very restricted, just like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, except the flaws in this go to any tiny thing that is seen as corrupt. I did enjoy how Cecelia Ahern took this quiet girl and made her into a person who could change the world, everyone can use her actions to get what they want.

Honestly, despite this book being similar to so many other dystopians out there, Cecelia still added her own flare to it, and for that I did enjoy parts of it. But I can definitely see myself sticking more with her adult books, those are what I've really come to love from her. It's nice to see an author attempt to step out of their comfort zone and try something different, and many people will really enjoy this book, but for me I've seen too many of these stories lately. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Series Review: Death Sworn and Death Marked by Leah Cypess

Publisher: Greenwillow
Series: Death Sworn #1
Pages: 344
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: March 4, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

Publisher: Greenwillow
Series: Death Sworn #2
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss

Release Date: March 3, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.

At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.

Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.

My Review:

I was very excited for these books when I heard they about them, magic and assassins together in one, everything about it seemed so intriguing. I expected the books to be very action packed and full of adventure for readers, sadly I was a bit disappointed with what I ended up getting from these books. The covers of these books offers up a dark story with a fantasy feel to it (I kind of thought Lord of the Rings when I saw these covers to be honest lol).

Death Sworn is the first book of this series and introduces us to Ileni who has grown up in the world of magic, but as she has gotten older she has started to lost her magic and she ends up being sent to be a tutor of magic to the assassins. Ileni begins her own mission, now that she is stuck in these caves, to find out what happened to the last two tutors that were there before her. With this I was expecting a lot of action to happen, especially with such a dark idea behind the book, but sadly I was left a bit disappointed, it seemed that the magic and action kind of fell by the wayside (though there was a bigger story that did keep me somewhat interested). I wanted to know what really happened to the tutors, and to find out what the assassins are really after, Ileni soon learns that everything she was taught may not actually be the whole story.

I enjoyed Ileni's insistence on finding the truth and that is what kept me going through this series. Ileni is strong and she is devoted to making a difference, even if it means giving up everything she loves. Ileni learns very quickly that not everything is true and her whole belief system comes crashing down around her.

Death Marked picks up a little while after the events of Death Sworn and this book gives readers a view of the other side. This is what really makes this series so hard for me, this one had a bit more of the magic aspect and yet it wasn't really the main focus. The main focus is the rivalry between the assassins and the Empire, but which side is truly right and which side is the villain? I will say that I liked how this one had a little more action to it and readers are able to learn a little more of how the Empire works. It was great to see both sides of the coin in this series because it really gives Ileni (and readers) a lot to look at and have them make the decision of what is actually right. I also felt that this was still similar to the first book, Ileni is learning a new culture and everything she has been taught is being turned on it's head.

The biggest disappointment for me was actually the ending... I felt like nothing truly got resolved and it left so many questions up in the air. Where do Ileni's loyalties truly lie, and what exactly happened between the assassins and the Empire. This series had a lot of potential I think for me though it really missed the mark, despite some interesting storylines, there was sometimes a bit too much focus on the romance than other things. It just did not end up working for me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Review: Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 304
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: March 1, 2016
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Goodreads Synopsis:

"The day Savannah was killed she was fifteen minutes late to meet me." So begins bookseller favorite Susan Strecker's second novel of twin sisters and the murder that left one twin behind.

Savannah was the popular bad girl skipping school and moving quickly from one boyfriend to the next, so when she didn't meet Cady as promised, Cady wasn't surprised and the truth was Cady was already a bit mad at her. When Cady suddenly becomes short of breath she realizes Savannah is in trouble, but within minutes Savannah is gone.

Years later Cady, now a bestselling author of suspense, spends her time interviewing killers, hoping each interview will help her understand what happened to her sister. Despite Savannah's death, the bond Savannah and Cady share has never been broken. Savannah still comes to Cady, but the clues her sister sends don't add up until a chance encounter while researching her latest novel provides a missing piece of the puzzle.

My Review:

I always have my moments with mystery/thriller books, something about this one really stuck out to me when I heard about it though. I liked the idea of how it was a story about twin sisters and readers get to see the fallout of the one sister that was left behind. After the events of that fateful day where Cady realized something had happened to her and Savannah was found dead, Cady has now become a famous author of suspense/thriller novels and uses real life stories to help her.

This book takes readers on Cady's journey of researching her newest novel while also going back and finding out the puzzle of what happened to Savannah that fateful day. I will say that this story was interesting and I definitely wanted to know more about what happened to Savannah, but at the same time, I somewhat saw the ending coming, but I will say Susan still brought about an interesting surprise with Savannah's case.  I really enjoyed how Susan Strecker showed readers how hard it is to be the sister left of a set of twins, everyone sees your sister in you (even though there are huge differences between the two of them.)

The story shows how easily a family can brush things off, Cady's family is the type that doesn't want to bring up the past, and they would rather not discuss these difficult situations and just leave things be as they are. Whereas Cady's life has revolved around knowing what happened to Savannah, especially because they have this special connection and Savannah still comes to Cady letting her know that things aren't always as they seem. Yet, this was also a hard book to get into because all the characters are very flawed and difficult to stay with. I couldn't always get myself behind the things Cady was doing, she was hard to take serious sometimes... though I can see why, with the difficulties she went through after losing her sister, and her being the one who could feel that something was wrong.

Cady's relationship with her husband was a difficult storyline for me to get through, but I can see how it is important in showing how Cady and her family have difficulties talking about problems and it causes things to linger and fights to happen. What I really loved was how deep Cady wants to go to research her novels and make the feel real to her readers, she wants to take from real situations and turn it into a strong story that will capture her readers' attention.

All in all I will say that this book captured my attention, and the mystery (though I somewhat had an idea of what happened) was intriguing and kept me going because I knew there was still more to learn about everything, This was a fun book to read, once I got past my small issues, I can say that I sped through this book pretty quickly, it's not too long of a read.


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