Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: April Fools

Book Blogger Hop
Today's question is as follows:

Since today is April Fool's Day, what is the best prank you have ever played on someone OR that someone has played on you?

Well, I do recall playing a prank on my younger sister. Now keep in mind that I was a lot younger when I played this prank and looking back it may have been a bit mean but at the time I thought it was hilarious. During the 80s we had this massive alarm clock in the room that we shared and my sister had no idea what the snooze button was and kept pestering me one day asking me what it was. For some reason I decided to tell her that it was a bomb button and that if I pressed it a bomb would go off in our house. I didn't think for a minute that she would believe me but low and behold she fell for it. Well anytime that she was doing something that was irritating me I would warn her that I was going to press the bomb button if she continued. My sister was terrified of that button and one day when she was being particularly annoying (which I sure wasn't really that annoying at all) I warned her I was going to press the button. My sister continued doing what she was doing and I pressed the button. I have never seen anyone run out of a room as quickly as she did that day. She was in a panic trying to get the rest of my 5 siblings out of the house. To this day, she brings it up and I will never live it down. The joys of the being an older sister, I guess.

I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of pranks you pulled. Enjoy the weekend :)

Review: Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish

Publisher: Carolrhoda/Orion Children's Books
Publishing Date: April 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781842551127
Pages: 234 pgs

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

15 year old Savannah Grey has never felt she's belonged. She keeps her distance, so she's surprised by her attraction to the new boy Reece. Then strange things begin to happen: nature, it seems, is exerting an overpowering force on the world. Birds behave strangely; gusts of wind blow leaves so fiercely they seem to lure people away. And Savannah learns she has supernatural powers. Nature has a purpose for Savannah and her friends. For they are on course to meet the vile and evil Orcrassa, who wants to destroy the world by corrupting nature. And it wants Savannah Grey to help realise its savage intent.

My Review:
This is one of the first books I ever requested from NetGalley and I was excited to be approved for it because I definitely love a good monster story. I really enjoyed the way McNish narrated his story not only in the point of view of Savannah but also in the point of view of his monster the Orcassa. I really found the parts about the Orcassa the most interesting parts of the novel. I have read many monster stories and I found that McNish was able to find a new and interesting way to write his own monster story. I don't think I've ever before seen a story with a protagonist who has a whole defense mechanism against the monster stored in her throat. I have to admit that I did guess the plot twist in the end but I am constantly reading mystery novels so I most often guess the plot twists. The only thing that I would have changed about this story is the ending. I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and doesn't really tie up all the loose ends. I don't feel like there was a detailed enough explanation was given for the thing in Savannah's throat. Also, what happens now? I found the book just kind of ends and I was left with a feeling of wanting more. Overall I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. If you like monster stories then you'll like this one.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Sookie Stackhouse Continues

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

It gives people a change to share what books we're so excited about that we can't wait for them to come out.

This week's book is part of my favourite series: Sookie Stackhouse! I love love love these books and can't wait for the newest addition to Charlaine Harris' series. The 11th book in the series is called Dead Reckoning and here is a preview of the cover and a summary from GoodReads.

"With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit - and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can't 'read' vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his 'child' Pam well - and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human - and that there is a new Queen on the board . . . "

This book comes out fairly soon on May 3rd, 2011. If you haven't read this series yet I would definitely recommend reading them and watching the HBO series True Blood, which is based on the books.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones

Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publishing Date: April 1rst, 2011
ISBN: 9780062024671
Pages: 416 pgs

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

Celebrated YA novelist Sonya Sones makes a HUGE splash with her first adult novel, The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, spinning a funny, fierce, and piercingly honest coming-of-middle-age story about falling apart and putting yourself back together. Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck meets Elizabeth Berg—boldly original and endlessly enthralling—The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is a luminous, brilliantly told story of life, marriage, and parenthood that you will not soon forget.

My Review:
This book is a book written completely in poems which for the most part I am not a huge fan of. That being said, I think it worked well for this novel. I received this novel from NetGalley and I was on the fence about whether or not I thought I'd enjoy it but as soon I started reading I knew that it would be a book I would really like. It is a story about a woman who is going through middle age and is questioning a lot of things in her life. Her daughter is about to leave the home for university and Holly is having a serious case of Empty Nest anxiety. She is also going through menopause, having trouble writing her manuscript, dealing with a sick mother and questioning at times her marriage. I couldn't put this book down because it was just so well written. Sones brings humour to things that could be seen as depressing and I found myself laughing throughout that entire thing. While I am only 28, I could relate to the character as a woman. Overall I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5 and I definitely recommend reading it if you get the chance.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (13)

In My Mailbox in a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Here is what I got in my mailbox this week:

This is what I got in my mailbox this week. What did you get in yours?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Those That Wake by Jesse Karp

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publishing Date: March 21rst, 2011
ISBN: 9780547553115
Pages: 340 pgs

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

New York City’s spirit has been crushed. People walk the streets with their heads down, withdrawing from one another and into the cold comfort of technology. Teenagers Mal and Laura have grown up in this reality. They’ve never met. Seemingly, they never will.

But on the same day Mal learns his brother has disappeared, Laura discovers her parents have forgotten her. Both begin a search for their families that leads them to the same truth: someone or something has wiped the teens from the memories of every person they have ever known. Thrown together, Mal and Laura must find common ground as they attempt to reclaim their pasts.

My Review:

I received this novel from NetGalley and I was looking forward to reading it. It is described as a type of dystopian novel and I usually really enjoy books like that. The book started out strong and it hooked me in with the characters and the plot. I really wanted to know what was happening to Mal's brother and also why Laura's parents forget who she is. I think that's why I ended up being so disappointed by this book. I was really interested in the beginning and I felt that by the middle of the book it kind of fell flat. I found that Karp never really fully explains the world in which the characters live. A lot of what is happening is implied and at times I had to ask myself if I missed something because I just didn't understand what was happening. There were also times when the plot slipped into someone else's mind but I kept asking myself is this person hallucinating or are they dreaming? I had a very difficult time following the plot near the end as well. I just didn't understand what was going on and I found that frustrating. I took English Literature as my major in university and I am usually pretty good at deciphering metaphor; however at points in this novel I felt a bit stupid and wondered if I just didn't get it because I was missing something. Overall I give this book 2.5 stars out of 5. I really really wanted to like this book but in the end it just didn't do it for me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Flash Back to the Past

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

It gives people a change to share what books we're so excited about that we can't wait for them to come out.

This week my book is a flashback from the past. Francine Pascal is coming out with a sequel to the Sweet Valley High books we all loved as children. I couldn't get enough of these books when I was younger and I'm excited to see what the twins, Elizabeth and Jessica, are up to as adults. Without further ado here is the book I'm waiting on this Wednesday:

Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal
(Summary from GoodReads)
Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.

The release date for this is March 29th so mark it on your calendars.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: Single File or More than One?

Book Blogger Hop

This week`s question is as follows: Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once

I have to say that I usually only read one book at a time but now that NetGalley is having some issues with their Kindle option I tend to be reading 2 books at a time. I will read one book on my computer for review and the 2nd book will be either on my Kindle or in paper format. I don`t usually like to read more than one at a time because I find that I get the books mixed up, depending on the stories. Right now I`m reading Savannah Grey (which is a strange story) and The Book of Awesome (which is, of course, awesome). Anyhow I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I am heading to the States this weekend to go shopping. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Peachy

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

It gives people a change to share what books we're so excited about that we can't wait for them to come out.

This week my pick is for this week is The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. The blurb for this book just sounds amazing. Here is a summary from GoodReads:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.

The release date for this book is March 22nd, 2011 so there isn't much time left to wait!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: The Raising by Laura Kasischke

Publishing: Harper Perennial
Publishing Date: March 15th, 2011
ISBN: 9780062004789
Pages: 496 pgs

My Rating: 3 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

From Laura Kasischke, the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of In a Perfect World and The Life Before Her Eyes, comes a hypnotic mystery about one girl’s tragic death and the fallout that occurs on her closely-knit college campus. Part Stephen King, part Donna Tartt, and wholly unforgettable , Kasischke’s The Raising sets a new standard for hair-raising literary suspense.

My Review:
I got this book from NetGalley for review and when I first started this book I really enjoyed it. It had a rich tapestry of characters and I was drawn right into the story. The story is about a girl who has been killed in a terrible car accident but as the story unfolds something is not quite as it seems. Nicole, the accident victim, is a sorority girl who is dating Craig. Nicole claims to believe in abstinence and in her death many secrets are revealed including the fact that she has been sleeping with Craig's best friend and roommate Perry. The book drifts back and forth between the past and the present. In the present, Craig is trying to deal with Nicole's death, which he blames himself for and Perry is also trying to deal with Nicole's death by taking a course about death and dying. Throughout the novel you start to realize that things just aren't quite right and Nicole starts popping up all over the university campus. People start to believe that they are seeing a ghost. I have to say that I was really drawn into the book and I couldn't put it down. The writing style is amazing and the characters are well rounded. The novel also exposes the life of a student living on campus at university. It exposes the dangers of hazing and also how while it is frowned upon it is still a widely practiced thing on most campuses. I have to admit that while in university I was asked to rush for a sorority and I was tempted at first but then thought the better of it. Don't get me wrong I'm not bashing sororities because they can be an incredible source of support but they were just not for me. Anyhow, in the end I gave this book 3 stars out of 5 because I felt that the ending of this novel was incredibly ridiculous. There were no consequences for any actions.
I don't want to give away the ending of the book but it seems to me that none of this would happen in the real world and the book ends with no real conclusion. I just felt quite unsatisfied. I felt that the whole book was so well written that the ending should have had more pizzazz. I would still recommend reading it because of the rest of the novel. The mystery was well played out and I loved the characters. I would just read this book without hoping for a great ending.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Absence as of Late

I just wanted to apologize that I haven't been keeping up with my posts lately. Since coming back from Barbados, I have been busy with wedding planning. For those of you who are already married, you know exactly what I am referring to. For those of you who aren't, just wait for it. It is incredibly hectic and while it is exciting, I have to admit it is slightly stressing me out. Last week I ticked 6 things off my list. I know this isn't book related but I'd like to share a bit with all of you. Last weekend we went out and bought the bridesmaid dresses. Here is a picture of what they look like:

I was hoping that the blue would be a bit deeper but I really wanted something that would pop. What do you think?

I also got my bridesmaids their thank you gifts. I found them on Etsy by an incredible jewlery designer. Here is another pic:

My fiancee and I also got our wine made and it sounds like it's going to be pretty good. Both the red and the white will be Chilean wine. Mmm.... We have to go back in April to bottle all 150 bottles of wine. Should be interesting and I'm hoping to recruit some help to get that all done.

My wedding favors have been ordered and since we're having a book theme we got bookmarks with little butterflies on top of them. I'm also going to have the tables named after books instead of just numbering them. I'm planning on having the actual book on the table held up with a holder. If you have any ideas for wedding/love themed books please let me know.

Last but not least, I ordered and received 1400 sheets of tissue paper via the mail. We are getting married in our backyard and having a huge 40'x80' tent. I want to decorate the tent with these really great tissue pom-pom type things. Here is yet again another picture:

I'm also making napkin holders to match. Anyhow, this has been a brief interlude from book relating things but I thought that some of you may be interested. I also found out that my wedding dress is in and I am going to get fitted at the end of June. I will reveal the dress after the wedding because I don't want to chance that my fiancee will see it. Anyhow, I promise to stay on top of the book reviews and memes next week. For those of you in the teaching profession here in Canada have a great March Break!

Ooops... forgot to mention the 6th thing. We booked a DJ!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

Publisher: Mira
Publishing Date: January 18th, 2011
ISBN: 9780778328797
Pages: 352 pgs

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:
When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

My Review:
I got this book from NetGalley for review and I am so glad that I did. This book was amazing! Gudenkauf has a writing style that draws you in and you end up not being able to put the book down. The book is told in the viewpoint of many different people including Allison and Brynn who are two sisters who share a horrible secret. At the beginning of the novel Allison is being released from prison for infanticide. I have to admit from the very moment I first met Allison I had a hard time believing that she would do anything like this. I didn't think that she was necessarily the nicest girl in high school but I felt sympathy for her when we first meet her and it lasted throughout the novel. I had a hard time feeling the same sympathy for Brynn, her sister or the sisters' parents. They were quick to dismiss Allison completely from their lives and while their reason may have been valid I still can't believe people could be so dismissive. Gudenkauf was able to keep the mystery going for the entire length of the novel. I was constantly guessing as to what was going to happen and in the end I was still surprised. I was blown away by the ending of this book. I do not want to give away the ending because it is so much better when you read it for yourself but if you are anything like me you may just have to pick you jaw up off the floor. Overall I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5 and I couldn't recommend it enough.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publishing Date: February 7th, 2011
ISBN: 9780547482477
Pages: 293 pgs

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

My Review:

I was very excited to get this book for review from NetGalley. It has been getting a lot of hype lately and I am glad that I was able to read it. It is set during the last 19th century and I really liked reading about all the clothes and customs of that time. It is funny to compare the way Amelia date to the way that dating happens today. Then they went to dances, with date cards, and had to have escorts to court. Kissing was scandalous, dating always lead to marriage and you had to marry within your own class or higher. Nowadays dating doesn't have to be about getting married, sex is barely scandalous and you can date whomever you want regardless of social class, race or sex. I'm not sure which is better; I believe there are advantages and disadvantages of both. Dating in the 19th century has a certain kind of mystery and naiivity that just isn't present today. That being said there was so much prejudice back then and I sometimes think that many people who got married were essentially strangers. I also enjoyed the future teller part of the story. Amelia is able to see things that will happen in the future and not all of these things are positive. I found it interesting how the author tied this into the plotline. The reason I only gave this book 3.5 stars is because I found at times that the book lagged a bit. It seemed that there would be long periods where not too much was happening. I also wasn't too sure on the ending of the novel. While the rest of the book was slow I found the ending to be a bit rushed. I'm fairly certain there will be a sequel to this book and it will be interesting to see where the story goes. I would recommend reading this if only for the vivid picture of the 19th century.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publishing Date: March 1, 2011
ISBN: 9780761361558
Pages: 240pgs
My Rating: 3 stars
Summary from GoodReads:
Seventeen-year-old Marisa's mother has been saying this for as long as Marisa can remember. Her parents came to Houston from Mexico. They work hard, and they expect Marisa to help her familia. And they expect her to marry a boy from the neighborhood, to settle down, and to have grandbabies. If she wants a job, she could always be an assistant manager at the local grocery store.

At school, it's another story. Marisa's calc teacher expects her to ace the AP test and to get into an engineering program in Austin—a city that seems unimaginably far away. When her home life becomes unbearable, Marisa seeks comfort elsewhere—and suddenly neither her best friend nor boyfriend can get through to her. Caught between the expectations of two different worlds, Marisa isn't sure what she wants—other than a life where she doesn't end each day thanking God it's over.

What Can't Wait—the gripping debut novel from Ashley Hope Pérez—tells the story of one girl's survival in a world in which family needs trump individual success, and self-reliance the only key that can unlock the door to the future.

My Review:
I received this book from NetGalley for review and I read this book fairly quickly; it was done in 2 days. That being said, I had mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed the plot of the book which is about a senior in high school trying to keep her familial cultural identity as a Mexican but also her identity as a high school senior in America. At times these two things do not fit cohesively. There is a strong pressure to stay in town and take care of her family rather than move forward, do well in school, graduate and move on to college. Marisa is struggling through this and also has to deal with some pretty serious personal issues regarding a boy. Marisa's fate seems almost doomed from the beginning but in the end she turns it around and tells the people she is closest with how she truely feels. The problem I had with this book is that I felt that some of the plot was glossed over. The author could have really gone a bit deeper and made the story a little more heart-touching. I also became very frustrated with not only Marisa's father but also her mother and sister. I felt that at times they were relying on Marisa for everything without thinking of what they could do to help themselves. They always relied on the fact that this is the way it is and that's that. I am a true believer that you are not predestined by your situation. You can always make different choices and you shouldn't use your situation as an excuse for not changing or trying. Overall I give this book 3 out of 5. As I said I read it quickly and was intrigued by the characters and the plot but I thought that the author could have gone a bit deeper with the story and emotions of the characters.