Thursday, August 21, 2014

ARC Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: April 22nd, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 374 pgs
ISBN: 9780062252289
Source: Received from publisher for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:
Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.

Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.

All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.

Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too....

With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.

My Review: 

This review is long overdue. I received this as an ARC from Harper Collins Canada quite a while ago. My life was a bit of a mess for a while but now I'm back on track and I'm getting caught up on reading and reviews. This book came out in April of this year and I had never read anything by this author. It's marketed as a re-telling of Jane Austin's Persuasion but I have to admit to not having read this before. That being said, I don't think that takes away from this story. This is the story of Anna, a high school girl who is trying to find a way to be comfortable in her own skin. It opens in the 9th grade when she meets a cute but nerdy boy, Finn. The two begin dating but secretly because she is concerned about her cool factor with her friends. This leads to an awkward encounter at a school dance and as a result the two part ways. (This all happens in the first few pages so no spoilers here.) Jump to Anna's senior year and Finn returns after his almost 3 year hiatus. Not only does he return but he is cuter and geeky in an intriguing way. If being back at Anna's school isn't enough he is also now hanging out with her group of friends.
The story is super cute but isn't just all fluff like some contemporaries can be. I have to say that you get a really well rounded view of Anna through her narration as well as through the depiction of her relationships with her best friend, her group of friends and her family. This is one thing that I think LaZebnik does really well; she is able to write a great cast of characters. Each character is interesting in their own way and I feel like I got to know Anna a little better because of this.
My one gripe would be that I kept mixing up her two friends. One is named Lucy and the other is named Lily. The names were too closely related for me and I found myself having to look back again and again to figure out if it was Lucy, Anna's bff, or Lily, one of the twins.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was just what I needed as the summer draws to an end. It's a story about self discovery and becoming comfortable with who you are without worry about judgement. I think this is something that a lot women, regardless of age, can relate to. It's a constant struggle to be yourself and to not worry about what others think (at least for me). I think this is why I could relate to Anna and also to Finn.
Let's talk about the romance for a minute. This book takes a while for the romance to start and usually this drives me nuts. I think there was enough going on in the book that it made it okay. I think that some books focus solely on the romance to the exclusion of other personal relationships and this is not the case in this story. The tension between Anna and Finn is just too cute. I loved Finn! He was sweet and nerdy and who doesn't like that? Especially book geeks.
This book is well written and I will be definitely be finding more novels by her. If you want a fun contemporary with great main characters and even brighter secondary characters then this is the book for you. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it is a weekly feature where bloggers share what they are excited to read next.  Here is my pick this week:  

Publisher: Ecco
Publishing Date: September 23rd, 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Supernatural
Pages: 320 pgs
ISBN: 9780062223197

Summary from Goodreads:
The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.
I love Oliver's writing and I can't wait to see what she does with an adult novel. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Do I Really Want to Read That?

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's edition is: 
Top Ten Books I'm Unsure I Want to Read. 

These are all books that I own that I am now re-thinking: 

I read We Need to Talk About Kevin and while I enjoyed the story, I found the language a bit pretentious. It makes me nervous for this one. I'll contemplate it.

This is another case of I'm worried about the language in this book. I mean I graduated honours with an English degree but I have to admit if a book is too much work then I tend to get bored.

I have enjoyed the Vampire Academy novels but I have pretty much figured out what is going to happen next. It makes reading the rest of this series a little less appealing.

This was one of our book club picks and I didn't get around to reading before the meeting. I still went to book club and just hearing about some of the plot really makes me want to give this one away unread.

I have read the other two books in this series and while they were enjoyable I had a few problems with the story after thinking about it. Perhaps one day I'll pick it up.

After reading a few fae books I have to say they're not my cup of tea. Anyone want to change my mind?

These books are just waaaayyyy too long!

I read the first book and really enjoyed it. It's been so long between the first and this one that I forget a lot of the story. Also, I've heard mixed reviews about this one.

This is another case of hearing mixed reviews. You either love it or hate it. I'm sure one day I'll form my own opinion but for now I'm hesitant.

While I don't mind spoilers, I found out the end of this one and I have to say, not a huge fan of what happens. I know I will read it but when I don't know. It's not on my priority list.

Well that's my list. If there are any here that you think I absolutely have to give a chance please let me know. I'm curious to see what is on your lists. 

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Publisher: Dutton
Publishing Date: August 14th, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages:  339 pgs
ISBN: 9780525425632
Source: Bought from Chapters

Summary from Goodreads:
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

My Review: 

Well this has been one of the most anticipated books in the blogosphere. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised when my pre-order came early and after a pretty sad, tragic day for me I was happy to start it right away.It didn't take me long to get right into the story and I finished it in less than 24 hours. I may have stayed up until 3am to finish it.
I was a little nervous that I wouldn't like this book as much as Anna and the French Kiss or Lola and the Boy Next Door but let me tell you, I liked this book the best. Perkins did not disappoint and I will forever buy every single piece of writing this woman puts out.
The novel is a contemporary YA story following Isla (that's Eye-la, not Iz-la) and Josh. Both hail from the great NYC but attend a boarding school in Paris, France. The very same boarding school from Anna and the French Kiss. Josh and Isla both made their debut in Anna but Josh had a more predominant role. He was still a secondary character and it was very nice to read more about him and delve into his life.
I fell in love with both of these characters. Isla is slightly insecure and has trouble making friends. Her one true friend is Kurt, whom she has known since she was a child. Kurt has high functioning autism, otherwise known as Asperger's, and is a great side character. I mean the guy is named after Kurt Cobain. I grew up listening to Nirvana so there's no way I wouldn't like this character. Also, speaking of character names- Isla is named after Prince Edward Island. This is one of Canada's treasures and I have been lucky enough to visit there for the past 2 summers. Thanks for the Canadian shout out Ms. Perkins.
Joshua is the son of a man running for Senate. He is artistic and most of this friends graduated the year previous. The two fall for each other but things get a little complicated in their relationship. I can't say much except that this is the perfect read for the summer. You get glimpses of NYC, Paris and Barcelona.
Perkins has a way of writing characters that you adore. They aren't perfect and polished; they have their flaws but that just makes them all the more realistic. It is not only the main characters but also all the secondary characters that make this book well rounded. While I grew frustrated with Isla's sister Hattie for most of the book, by the end of the book she was endearing. We also get a few cameos from our favourite characters from the previous books. I may have gotten a bit teary during some of these scenes.
I quite enjoyed this book and I think that if you like contemporary novels with a cute storyline and beautiful settings then this is the book for you. This book is perfect for the beach because it is light and fun. I can't wait to see what Perkins comes up with next. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Publishing Date: April 13th, 2013
Genre: Adult Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 394 pgs
ISBN: 9780399159343
Source: Borrowed from the Library

Summary from Goodreads:
At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died...

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

My Review:

What Alice Forgot was a book I really enjoyed and this book has been getting a lot of good hype. I have to say that this book lived up to the hype. I both listened to this book and read this book. While I was in the car I listened to it and when I was at home I read the book. I found that I was so hooked to the story I couldn't wait to be in the car to listen to it. I also found myself staying in the car a few extra minutes to finish listening to the book. It was that addictive. 
The novel starts off with a prologue about Pandora's box. It basically makes you think about the human nature to be curious and to want to know what they shouldn't. It really sets the tone of the story which is told in the perspective of three women. The first woman is Cecilia, a super organized successful mother and wife. She finds a letter tucked away in a box in the attic; the letter is written by her husband with the express directions to only open in the case of his death. She hems and haws over whether or not she should open it. In all honesty I don't know how she holds out for so long. I am the nosiest person alive and I would have a hard time holding off from opening up something like that. Who am I kidding? I'd rip that puppy open after maybe a minute or two of deliberation. We all know the thing about Pandora's box is that while you may find something good in this box, inevitably something bad comes with it too. I don't think I need to tell you that the mystery of the book lies in Cecilia's letter. 
The second woman in the book is Tess. She has just moved back in with her mother because her husband has announced that he is in love with her cousin. Tess has a small boy and her storyline focuses on how the affair has affected her. One side affect Tess's heartbreak is a slight interest in her ex boyfriend. I really liked this character. Even though she was handed a tough break, she remains strong and doesn't allow her husband and her husband to step all over her. She also has a little sass in her.
The third woman in the story is Rachel, an older woman who has a great relationship with her grandson. She has been dealing with something for a long time, the death of her teenage daughter. 
All these stories end up weaving together to create a beautifully written book. When you pick up this novel be prepared with a good chunk of time to dedicate to it. You will not want to put this down at all. If you are listening to the audio version of this book you will enjoy the Australian narrator. It's enchanting and you'll find yourself looking for reasons to drive somewhere so you are able to listen to it. 
Also can we please discuss the cover appeal? I love the look of the flower in the midst of being destroyed. It's a great photo and I would buy this book on the cover alone. Overall I think it's safe to say that I quite enjoyed the quick paced, curiosity filled novel. Go out and get this book as soon as you can!                                                                                                                                

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

W.o.W: Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it is a weekly feature where bloggers share what they are excited to read next.  Here is my pick this week:  

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publishing Date: August 5th, 2014
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Pages:  304 pgs
ISBN: 9780425276310

Summary from Goodreads:
Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.


This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious. 

 This is my pick for the week. I've heard some great things about it already and I'm looking forward to finding out more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Owned Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's edition is the top ten authors I own the most books from.  Here are mine: 

Well this one comes in first with 26 books. I went on a huge Patterson kick a few years ago and read everything I could get my hand on. I haven't read anything by him in a while but I own quite a few of his books still.

This makes sense. I own 20 books from Picoult. She is one of my favourite authors and on my auto-buy list. I know some people say her writing is prescriptive but I love it.

Another fave! Who doesn't love Kinsella. If you're not aware she also writes under the name Madeleine Wickham so I couldn't those as well. Her new book Shopaholic to the Stars comes out soon.

I quite enjoy a good murder mystery and Gardiner is the queen of thrillers. I will always read her novels.

I went to Prince Edward Island for the last two years and while there I always pick up a L.M Montgomery book or two or six.

Love Kelley Armstrong! I have a lot of her novels adult and YA.

I think I would say Atwood is my favourite author of all time. Her stuff is so well written and always makes you think.

Sarah Dessen is the epitome of YA contemporaries. I still have to read quite a few of these but I own a lot!

Another fave. Marian Keyes writes women's fiction that is thought provoking but hilarious at the same time.

Okay, this is what I call mind candy. It's not particularly good but it's addictive like candy. You can't just read one. 

 Well those are my top authors. I'm looking forward to seeing all of yours. 

Happy Reading!