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.