Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pages: 386
Received: I received a copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 2, 2017
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

My Review:

Like everyone else in the world, I fell in love with the mystery of Paula's first novel The Girl on the Train. It was the type of book that kept me on my toes and I was guessing throughout the whole story, and when I came to the end, I was still left so surprised. So naturally, after hearing about this new book I had to jump right in as soon as I received the book. 

This book definitely has a great mystery surrounding it, me being someone who is already nervous in water (I am not a great swimmer at all!), this book had me a little uncomfortable at times. But, sadly, as I read this story I compared it to her first one (as much as I tried not to it was difficult). I can't say that this book lives up to what The Girl on the Train was, I had a hard time because there were so many characters involved, it took me awhile to catch up to which character I was following at one time.

There were some characters that I wanted to follow more often and I felt that with the amount of characters I lost out on getting deeper into their thoughts.Paula goes back in time showing how history may have had a hand, and yet I felt like if the book was longer there could have been more details.  Despite this, the story still drew me in, something about how everyone's stories came together, especially the stories of these women ending up in the water... how did these two women who are a generation apart end up with the same fate, what about their lives were intertwined? But more so, the way Paula goes into the aftermath and how everyone else has been affected by these tragedies is what really kept me going with this story.

This book may not be anything like Paula's first novel, and yet she still writes a mystery that will leave you guessing. This book just left me wanting a little more from the characters in the end, yet still had me intrigued as to what happened and why. Though I did not like this one as much as The Girl On The Train, I still think I will give Paula another try with her next book, her mysteries are gripping enough to keep me intrigued! 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spotlight: The Measure of the Moon by Lisa Preston

Publisher: Thomas Mercer Publishing
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: May 16, 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:

When eight-year-old Greer Donner falls off his horse in the Washington wilderness, he braces himself to face the long hike home alone. But screams pierce the darkness, and he stumbles upon a dead-end road where a man is beating a woman—nearly to death. In a moment of courage, he stops the assault, but he’s left to face the man, who turns his wrath into an ominous threat: if the boy ever reveals what he has seen, his family will pay the ultimate price. The secret Greer now carries begins his emotional unraveling.

In Seattle, Gillian Trett is a photographer with a troubled marriage and a childhood she’s trying to forget. Domestic tension mounts when her husband’s stepsister arrives. Desperate for a distraction, and a way to advance her career, Gillian throws herself into uncovering the history behind an old man’s Holocaust photo of boys in a forest. The mysterious children and the truth behind the scene haunt her—she can’t let go of the image, or of her own shadowed past.

Then a horrifying revelation entangles Gillian’s path with young Greer’s. The boy and the woman, separated by a generation and a hundred miles, each confront the terrible power of harbored secrets—not only to eclipse the truth but also to illuminate the dark, unknown dimensions of their loved ones and themselves.

My Review:

I was very intrigued with the synopsis of the book, Lisa Preston really tackles how one moment can affect someone. But what really brought everything together was the way she intertwined the different stories and brought these two unlikely characters together. I will say it took me some time to get into the story, I found that there is a lot of time spent on getting the readers to know the different characters, that it took away from the story at first.

I really enjoyed the story of the Donner family, I loved how they are a huge family who all come together and care for each other. Though I will say that it was hard to follow along with which character was which, I felt that everyone in the family all seemed very similar and there were not too many huge character differences. I think this was done to really single out Greer (which was absolutely achieved), since he is the main character going through the difficult time.

The biggest concern I had while reading this book is how long it took to bring these two stories together to meet, everything happens closer to the end of the book and it made it quite difficult to keep reading. I felt disconnected through a lot of the story and felt that the second storyline did not need to be as in depth, that really took away from the main idea of what is happening to Greer and I felt myself wanting more of that family dynamic while I was with the other story.

Lisa Preston keeps you intrigued and on your toes, but I felt like something just missed the mark with this story, and things just felt a tad bit disconnected from one another.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Discussion - Podcasts

I always hear people talking about different podcasts that they have really gotten into, and a few years ago I went on a binge (around the time that Welcome to Nightvale came out, that was the reason for my binge) but then I kind of lost interest and stopped listening to podcasts.

Well last night, I started a binge again, I went on a day of searching for podcasts that would pique my interest, I of course went back to Welcome to Nightvale, which is what got me started again, and I also went back to the more humourous ones, like The Nerdist podcast which I was listening to before as well. 

Image taken from
But of course, me being who I am, a lover of books, my search obviously went straight to podcasts related to books. The one that I immediately downloaded was one done by The New York Times, it's called "The Writer's Voice". Once a week, you are able to listen to an author who reads one of their short stories that has been published in The New York Times. I'm not usually one for short stories but listening to this has absolutely changed my perspective on that. These are usually only little half an hour episodes and it's something that would be nice to listen to on my way to work, I don't really listen to audiobooks because I don't have that long of a drive and then I sometimes forget what happened, after working an 8 hour day.

I've loved listening to these authors read their short stories and it is just enough for one car ride. I find it's also been a great way to get to know some new authors and sample their work. I definitely believe I will find many more authors to read with this podcast! I hear THE NEW YORKER has some great podcasts that will keep me busy!

So tell me, what podcasts have you been listening to? I'd love some new recommendations if you have any! 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Pages: 288
Received: Purchased my own copy

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of the beloved New York Times best-selling The End of Your Life Book Club, an inspiring and magical exploration of the power of books to shape our lives in an era of constant connectivity.

Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape from reality? For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In this delightful celebration of reading, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions. In each chapter, he discusses a particular book—what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world. These books span centuries and genres (from classic works of adult and children’s literature to contemporary thrillers and even cookbooks), and each one relates to the questions and concerns we all share. Throughout, Schwalbe focuses on the way certain books can help us honor those we’ve loved and lost, and also figure out how to live each day more fully. Rich with stories and recommendations, Books for Living is a treasure for everyone who loves books and loves to hear the answer to the question: “What are you reading?”

My Review:

My love for Will Schwalbe happened very quickly after reading The End of Your Life Book Club. As soon as I found out he had another book coming, I knew that this book needed to be on my shelf. Will's writing has a very special place in my heart and on my bookshelf because of how he is able to equate each book with a special time in his life. Books for the Living truly takes that and runs with it.

Each chapter is based off one specific book and as Will writes about this book, he talks about how the book has shaped his life or how he is able to equate a certain situation to situations in the story itself. Will Schwalbe's books are truly written for lovers of books like himself. I found many times while reading this book that after finishing a chapter I would need to put the book down and think about what Will spoke about and the things he felt while reading these books. Will truly makes you think, and he makes you want to read these books to see what you get, but even more than that, Will makes you think about what books you have read and which ones have touched your life in the way these books have touched his.

Reading this book reminds me of why I love books so much, sometimes I love books because they take me on a journey and yet I also love books that truly make me think and that change the way I may look at life after finishing it. This book truly makes me think of the conversations I have with people, one of the great things for me is that at my work I get to have a lot of conversations with people and many times while these people are walking around I get to have a lot of conversations with them about what they are reading. And I have learned that by talking about the books we are reading we get to know each other that much more, just like Will discusses in this book.

Honestly there are just so many great pages and quotes throughout the book, if I was one of those people who hi-lighted my books, I believe that there would not be a part of this book that would be left bare. That is the type of book that Will writes, every word absolutely touches you and leaves you thinking about what you just last read. I truly hope that Will continues to write about the books that he has read and what they mean to him. He is absolutely an author for those that truly love books and want to read about books.

I will end this review with the quote that stuck out to me the most, and it is how Will ends his book "When I read, I'm reminded to be more thoughtful about how I approach each day. And that's not just important for living: it's the least I can do for the dead. I read to live. I read for life." Those last few words truly hit home for me.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Blog Tour: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie LovettPublisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 398
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 3, 2017
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn't mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie's life. That includes taking her job... and her boyfriend. It's a huge risk — but it's just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

My Review:

First off I want to say thank you to Raincoast Books for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. This book was so much fun to read, and it is quite different from a lot of other books. I am so glad that I am able to talk a bit about this story.

When a girl from town goes missing, the whole town starts to speculate about what happened to her, she was a very beloved girl that everyone knew, and they all want to know the mystery. Even readers want to know what happened to Lizzie Lovett, as the story continues on though, I almost felt like I forgot about Lizzie's story and I fell into Hawthorn's world.

Hawthorn knows who Lizzie is, let's be honest the whole town knows who she is, but somehow Hawthorn gets herself immersed into her own investigation of what happened to Lizzie Lovett. She comes up with many of her own theories, but one theory really sticks out in her mind, and she does everything that she can to investigate this theory. Hawthorn takes over Lizzie's life to find the answers, to what seems like a crazy theory. While investigating Lizzie, Hawthorn is able to learn a lot more about herself and she finds where she fits in with people.

What I really loved about the book that kept it interesting is how Hawthorn needs to come up with crazy ideas, her life seems boring so she comes up with things to make it more adventurous and fun. Hawthorn is the type who is sarcastic and doesn't care to other people, but when you get to know her you can tell that she is lonely and feels left out, which is why she comes up with all these crazy theories. I can definitely relate to Hawthorn, finding comfort in fiction over reality when I feel like I don't fit in somewhere, it's a way to escape and feel like you belong. Hawthorn goes beyond that fiction though and truly turns it into a reality, but that is what makes this book so much fun.

The secondary characters really help enhance that feeling in Hawthorn, they all look and treat her like she is crazy, except for Enzo. He is looking for what he lost, and in that he enables Hawthorn's crazy ideas. I don't truly like him, I find he is using Hawthorn (then again she seems to be using him as well). It just is not the greatest pairing. Then you also have Hawthorn's family, who in themselves seem crazy and you can see why Hawthorn needs to find her own reality.

This is such a fun book, and yet it is about finding yourself in the absurdities around you as well.

Don't forget to stop by the other blogs this week that will be featuring this book!

Also included in this blog tour, I got to ask Chelsea Sedoti a question about writing and her book. Check out her answer below:

What characteristics of yourself do you see in your characters?

One of my favorite things about writing is that it lets me live lives that aren’t my own. I can create characters who do things I’d never in a million years do. I can invent situations that, realistically, I’ll never find myself in.

For that reason, I try not to make my characters too autobiographical. I’d quickly get bored with them.

At the same time, it’s impossible to entirely remove myself from a story. No matter how different from me a character might be, they still came from my head. They’re a part of me.

Hawthorn and I aren’t the same person. But I understand her feeling of not fitting in. Of not being able to relate to other people. I share her desire to escape from the world. To Hawthorn, real life will never be as exciting as something she’s read in a book or seen in a movie. My outlook isn’t quite as extreme, but I can certainly empathize.

There’s a key area where Hawthorn and I diverge, though. She thinks she can shape the world around her to make it whatever she wants it to be—no matter how outlandish, and no matter what negative impact it might have on other people along the way.

I deal with my desire for magic and adventure differently. I write books.

So, while none of my characters are exactly like me, they definitely have little pieces of my personality or elements of my own experiences. More interesting versions, hopefully.  Because according to Hawthorn, fiction is always more fascinating than reality.


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