Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WoW: Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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. 

My pick this week is by an author that is on one of my auto-buy authors. I have not read everything by Kristin Hannah yet but what I have read has been fantastic. Here is a little more information on the book. 

Publisher: St. Martins Press
Publishing Date: February 4th, 2015
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pages: 448 pgs

Summary from Goodreads:

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
FRANCE, 1939
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he head for the Front. She doesn't believe that the Nazis will invade France... but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child's life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gaetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can... completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real-- and deadly-- consequences.
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France-- a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resiliance of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime. 

I am a sucker for WWII fiction so I think this is going to be awesome. What are you waiting on?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Picks

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week we are discussing what books we would love to read for a book club. I am currently a part of 2 different books clubs and generally speaking I feel like the book blogging/booktube community is a one huge book club. One of my book clubs is an adult book club while the other focuses on YA. This week I have picked books that are not books that I have scheduled to read for my book clubs. These are ones that I'd love to read in the future and I think they'd make for really interesting conversations.

Without further ado here are my picks this week:

Red Rising by Pierce Brown- This book is about humans who are trying to colonize Mars. There is a caste system involved and it seems to have a lot of buzz on the internet. 

A Circle of Wives by Alice La Plante- A man shows up dead and during the investigation they discover he has multiple wives. I have to admit that I watch Sister Wives and this storyline appeals to me.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang- Everyone I know has read this and every one of them raves about this book. It tackles suicide and I feel like it is probably slightly heartbreaking. 

Say What you Will by Cammie McGovern- This book has a character with cerebral palsey and a character with OCD. You could discuss so much with these two topics alone. 

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer- I saw the author speak at Inspire Book Fair in Toronto in November and the way she describes this book made me immediately want to read it. She is so well spoken that I can't see her books not being well written. 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- This book has a lot of things that could spark discussion. It is set in Paris and Germany during WWII. Need I say more. Not to mention so many people rave about this book.  

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey- This book is about an elderly woman searching for her friend Elizabeth. It's a psychological thriller that makes you really think about memory and the role it plays in our lives. 

Love, Water, Memory by Jennie Shortridge- This is another book about memory loss but this time we are trying to piece together what happened to the main character. 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta- If I'm being honest I don't know what this book is about but I have heard nothing but good things about it. 

The Returned by Jason Mott- This is a book that is about people who come back from the dead. Not zombies but they come back as they were before they died. I am pretty sure this was made into a TV show which I have not seen. Interesting premise.

Well these are my picks and I'm looking forward to seeing what you have all picked out. 

Happy Reading! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Publisher: Broadway Books
Publishing Date: January 1st, 2011
Genre: Adult, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, YA Crossover appeal
Pages: 372 pgs
ISBN: 0307887448
Source: bought at Chapters

Summary from Goodreads
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune- and remarkable power- to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved- that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt- among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life- and love- in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready? 

My Review:

This was my first book of the year and it set the bar high for 2015.  I absolutely adored this book. It is set in the future where everyone seems to be plugged into a virtual reality world called OASIS. Other than needing to eat, drink, sleep and go to the washroom some people spend all their time in the game world. When the creator of the world dies he leaves a large fortune to whomever can win a huge digital scavenger hunt. These hunts involve knowing quite a bit of 80s trivia and pop culture. I had heard a lot about this book online and everyone who has read it seems to love but I went into this book slightly hesitant. I am not a big video gamer and the idea of spending all your time plugged into virtual reality freaks me out. The enthusiasm for this book from its readers is what drew me in. 
First of all, let's talk about Wade. He is the main character of this book and he is essentially a poor orphan boy. He "lives" with his aunt in a modern trailer park. By live I mean that he spends as little time as humanly possible there because she is not exactly warm and fuzzy. His end goal is to win the contest and help move up in the world. This means that he spends quite a bit of time online but his problem is that this online world requires a decent amount of money. You can't help but really fall for Wade. He is a loner and has to overcome a lot of adversity. As you read, you are standing on the sidelines cheering him on. I also really enjoyed seeing how his relationships developed and grew with his online buddies. This is pretty close to home because I have made a lot of friends this way. There are people that you meet through book blogging that do not live close by and that doesn't make a difference at all. You are able to form relationships based on your shared common passion for reading. Well take that idea and translate it to Wade and his shared common passion for all things Halliday, 1980s and gaming. 
The author highlights the problem of the growing gap between the rich and the poor. This future is not one that is highly improbable. I feel like it's not unrealistic to think that in several years from now there will be people that are unable to overcome their poverty because the rich hold all the power. In this novel things are extrapolated slightly and those with the most money essentially manipulate things in order to get what they want. That being said, it was nice to see that even those with the most money and power aren't able to just waltz in and take what they want in the game. They need the skill and smarts to do so as well. That's why Wade is such a lovable character. 
Being someone who was born in the 1980s (yes- I am old!), I loved all the 80s references in this book. It was nostalgic and I found myself smiling during most of it. Overall, this book is very well crafted and it's also one that you won't be able to set down. It didn't take me long to plow through this because I wanted to know what was going on. You are able to try to figure out these puzzles right along with Wade if you're familiar with 80s pop culture. 
I have to say that I am hopeful that this is not the way our society is going. I do not want to be one of those people who live in an artificial gaming world. It would be a shame to not go outside and enjoy the little things in life. The fresh air on your face, the sound wind blowing through the leaves on trees, the personal connections. One of my favourite things to do is people watch and that would be a much more boring thing to do if everyone is jacked into the web. No more spying on what people are reading. No more smiles as you pass by a stranger. While the internet has brought me some of my dearest friends- Ottawa bloggettes I'm looking at you!- I'd still miss being unplugged. A balance is definitely needed. 
If you haven't read this book please go out and pick it up! It is currently on my favourites list. 5 out of 5. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

ARC Review: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: December 9th, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 368 pgs
ISBN: 9780062270993
Source: Given to me by the publisher for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:
Amber Vaughn is a good girl.  She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon's house. It's only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free- and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.
When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream- to sing on bigger stages- could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon's older (and unavailable) older brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes... and Amber starts to wonder if she's such a good girl, after all.
Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family's world- and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between "right" and "wrong," there's a whole world of possibilities.

My Review:

This review is seriously overdue but I thought better late than never. I have to admit that the big draw of this book was the cover. I am a self proclaimed cover whore and this one is so cute. It's got the map, a cute heart pin and the font is nice. This cover screams roadtrip and I have to say that reading the book- not so much. That being said, I still enjoyed it.
The book centers on Amber, a church going girl who loves singing. Singing has always been something she liked to do but was never something she thought she could actually pursue. Her family is not exactly rolling in money and Amber never considered going away for school until now. With help from others she is starting to believe in herself and is willing to take some chances. Without getting into too much information, she may take a few too many risks to try to get where she needs to be.
There is a little romance also peppered into this story but what stood out for me was not the romance but the friendship that Amber has with Devon. It just stood out as genuine and I really liked reading passages about the two of them. I also liked how when romance got involved the two struggled with how to maintain their friendship when all they want to do is spend time with their romantic interests. This to me is reality. When you first start hanging out with someone you like, you just want to spend all your time with them and this can affect your friendships.
I also liked reading about Amber and her family. It wasn't a perfect family and that wasn't the focus of the book. There was a lot about her family in the book but it doesn't overpower other parts of the story. I like how her family is involved in her life and not just absent. Amber's personality and growth is shown through the depiction of her interactions with her family.
I will say that while I really liked this story when I was reading it, that now about a month later, it's not a book that stands out in my mind as fantastic. I would say that it's fun and cute but it won't be going on my favourites list. If you asked me why, I'd have a hard time telling you the reason because  nothing really stands out. I guess that's the reason- nothing stands out. If you're looking for a fun contemporary then you will enjoy this book. Overall I'd say a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ARC Review: Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: October 14th, 2014
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 368 pgs
ISBN: 9780062293695
Source: borrowed from fellow blogger for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne's at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator's daughter. Most people do.. or they think they do. Charlotte certainly never expects she'll be Julia's friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl's world- a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation home, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia's handsome older brother, Sebastian.
But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden... until now. 

My Review:

I was excited to be a part of the blog tour for this book and when fellow Ottawa blogger, Kathy lent me this book I was really happy to read it. It's got a very summer time feel to it with a story about best friends. I really liked watching the relationship between Julia and Charlotte grow and enfold. They start off as stranger and quickly become entangled in each other's lives. Well, I would say that Charlotte becomes more enfolded in Julia's life than the other way around. It seems very easy for Charlotte to become integrated into the Buchanan family. She wants to throw herself into the relationship and the family welcomes her in with open arms. I would say that this is not just a story about BFFs and more of a story about one girl falling in love with an entire family. 
I have to admit that I can very much relate to this. High school Meaghan got very involved with her BFF's family. I was at her house every weekend without fail and was even invited to her father's second wedding. Unfortunately over the years, we have lost touch but sometimes I don't just miss her but miss her family. I wonder where they are and what they're up to. Facebook helps the creeper in me keep me connected. I think that when you are close with someone you become close with the people they are close to. I think this is something that YA is missing sometimes and I was really impressed with the story that Philpot was able to weave together. It wasn't just a story about best friends but a story about all kinds of relationships. 
I also really liked reading about the familial connections in the book. The whole Buchanan family had a place in the story. The parents were what you would imagine a senator and a wife to be like but they also surprised me sometimes. Their tenderness towards their children was sweet but their overprotectiveness was also frustrating at times. I just wanted to let them know that they weren't doing any one any favours by hovering around the periphery all the time. The siblings were well-rounded and I can see why Charlotte was fond of each of them. 
I enjoyed the story line with a bit of mystery involved. I kind of figured it out but I was never 100% sure if that's what was going on. I think that you are supposed to have it sort of figured out because it helps to understand the character development in the book. 
If I'm honest I think that some people may not respond well to the ending of this book. I personally thought it was well done and well written. I know that many people don't enjoy the epilogue and the ending has this feeling about it. Sometimes I think the epilogue wraps up some questions you may be having and leaves you feeling more settled about the finale. 
Overall I quite liked this book. Philpot writes her characters well and to me that to be able to do this isn't always the easiest thing. If you have great characters they will drive the plot. I would definitely suggest reading this book- perhaps on a beach. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ARC Review: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Publisher: Quirk Books
Publishing Date: September 23rd, 2014
Genre: Horror, Adult
Pages: 243 pgs
ISBN: 9781594745263
Source: Received from the publisher for an honest review (Thank you Eric!)

Summary from Goodreads:

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking. To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they'll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination. A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstor comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk's labyrinthine showroom. 

My Review:

Ok, where do I start with this review? Firstly, let me begin by saying that my family is IKEA-centric. My aunt was a big honcho there and my sister is currently a manager there so we always joke around with them about so many things. Well, as soon as I got this book from Quirk Books I had to send a picture to my sister. The book is unique in the sense that it is shaped like a catalogue, looks like a catalogue on the cover and flaps and it also has very fun design elements throughout the book. 
It is essentially a horror story set in an IKEA-esque type furniture store. Every night when the workers come to open the store there are things broken or in the wrong place. In order to figure out what is going on the floor manager enlists a couple workers to stay overnight to find out what is going on. As the night goes on it becomes clear that something supernatural is going on. 
I have to say that I was pretty excited to read this book. I enjoyed it while I was reading it and found it intriguing. It was creepy and I really wanted to find out more about what was going on. 
As I continued reading I kept thinking that this would make a great movie. I would love to see how they'd pull it all together. I am a bit of a scary movie enthusiast. I find movies scare me way more than reading. When reading, it takes me a lot of really freak me out. This was the case with this book. I liked it and it was entertaining but it didn't super scare me. 
I also finished the book wishing they had explained more. It felt like I had too many questions left at the end of this book. I can why the book ended the way it did but it seemed like there were too many loose ends. I'd be interested to see if there is going to be another book. 
Overall, I liked it and it was a good story for October. If you like creepy things then this is for you. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blog Tour: Q & A with author Chelsey Philpot (Even in Paradise)

Today I am lucky enough to participate in the Even in Paradise blog tour. This is a novel by Chelsey Philpot which I enjoyed very much. (Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for my review.)

To start here is a summary of the novel from Goodreads.

Charlotte certainly never expects she'll be Julia's friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger-than-life new girl's world- a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia's handsome older brother, Sebastian. But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden... until now. 
When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne's at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator's daughter. Most people do... or they think they do. 

During this blog tour you will see reviews, interviews, guest posts and top ten lists. Fortunately I got to interview the author. Chelsey has a very kind heart and helped me out a jam when my naughty puppy knocked my friend's signed ARC into the bathtub. Did I mention it was signed? I was super impressed. Anyhow if you'd like to know a little more than that here is her bio:

Chelsey Philpot grew up on a farm in New Hampshire and now works as an editor and journalist. She's written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Slate, and numerous other publications. Like her main character, Charlotte, Chelsey attended boarding school in New England. You can visit her online at or on Twitter @ChelseyPhilpot

Now, without further ado, here is my interview with this wonderfully kind writer of incredible things.

1. What inspired you to write this story?
The long answer to this question is a series of rambling thoughts that I may never fuse into a cohesive whole. The short answer is this: EIP was inspired by Great Gatsby, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, and the realization that it’s possible to fall in love with an entire family.

2. Which character do you relate to most?
I would have to say that I relate most to Julia and Charlie both. Like Julia, I can be impulsive (I recently went skydiving on a Tuesday morning just because I’d never been), but like Charlie I am a listener, an observer, a solver of problems. Charlie could look at what most people would call a mess of junk and imagine how it could be turned into art. I look at a mess of thoughts, fragments, images, and ideas and imagine how they could become a story.

3. What are some of your favourite books/authors?
Growing up, I adored Roald Dahl to the point of obsession. Today, I admire and am inspired by too many authors to mention. However, I can say that Ralph Waldo Emerson has been a constant love.
In high school, I carried a hardcover collection of his essay on a backpacking trip through Maine’s 100 Hundred Mile Wilderness, and in college I wrote my senior thesis on how Emerson’s philosophy has been appropriated and falsely interpreted by self-help books. I worked as a waitress the summer before my senior year, and I’d bring a self-help title in to research during slow shifts. I’m pretty sure my coworkers were worried that I was secretly unhinged because I had a new book every few days.

4. When you're not writing what do you love doing?
I have always had a hard time being still (quite the predicament for someone whose career requires her to be at a desk much of the time), so when I’m not writing I need to be moving. I walk everywhere. Swim from May to October. I love mucking about on my parents’ farm, visiting the latest collection of animals. I hike. I travel. And I go out dancing whenever I can. I figure, that if I’m very good in this life, maybe I’ll come back as a ballerina in the next one.

5. What is your bookish pet peeve?
Censorship. I was lucky to grow up reading what I wanted to read. If a book was too mature for me, well then most of the content went over my head. That I had the option to read freely and widely is why I am who I am today. Books help us develop imaginations.

I love these answers! A HUGE thank you to Chelsey for answering them. I really appreciate it.

Even in Paradise was out last week on the 14th of October. Go out and pick up a copy today.
You can also buy a signed copy through River Run Bookstore.

Also, don't forget to check out the rest of the blogs on the tour:

October 13th: Kathy - A Glass Of Wine - Interview
October 14th: Siobhan - Conversations Of A Reading Addict - Review
October 15th: Emilie - Emilie’s Book World - Guest Post
October 16th: Ambur - Burning Impossibly Bright - Review
October 17th: Lily -  Lily’s Book Blog - Interview/Character Interview
October 20th: Shilpa - SukasaReads - Review
October 21st: Sabrina - Hiver et CafĂ© - Top 5 or 10
October 22nd: Meaghan -  Feeling A Little Bookish - Interview/Character Interview
October 23rd: Ciara - Lost At Midnight Reviews -  Review
October 24th: Jess - Read My Breath Away - Review

Happy Reading!