Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WoW: Arcadia

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 this week's pick:

Summary from Goodreads:

In the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s, several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what becomes a famous commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this lyrical, rollicking, tragic, and exquisite utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after.

This book comes out March 13th from Harper Collins and I can't wait to read it.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Publisher: First Second
Publishing Date: February 28th, 2012
Genre: Graphic Novel, YA
Pages: 224 pgs
ISBN: 9781596435568
Source: NetGalley

My Rating: 4 stars 

Summary from Goodreads

A coming-of-age tale with a spooky twist!

Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers.

Funny, surprising, and tender, Friends with Boys is a pitch perfect YA graphic novel full of spooky supernatural fun.

My Review: 
 I don't often read graphic novels but from time to time I really enjoying reading these novels. It is nice to read something that has such a visual component. I had heard quite a bit about this book, especially from Misty at The Book Rat and I was curious to see what this book was all about. I was lucky enough to be able to read this novel from NetGalley and I wasn't disappointed.

I loved all the images in this graphic novel and I thought that Hicks depicts a pretty typical family. I really dislike reading books with the "perfect" family and I was glad to see that this family had its quirks. The twin brothers were constantly fighting and Maggie is the only girl after her mother leaves. I think the author did a very good job at showing the idiosyncrasies of a family that has its ups and downs. I grew up with twin brothers and they were similar to the twins in this book. They were always together, always bickering and always trying to figure out who they were without the other half of themselves.

I also really liked the paranormal element to this graphic novel. Hicks does a great job of incorporating a bit of a ghost story without it completely taking over the plot of the book. The characters are interested in the ghost but they also have their own lives and their own issues to work out.

I am looking forward to see where Hicks goes with the rest of this story. Overall, I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (25)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It gives bloggers a chance to show off all their goodies for the week.

Here is what I got in my mailbox this week:

For Review: 

Thank you Simon and Schuster!  I can't wait to read this one!

From Simon and Schuster- unsolicited... not sure what I think of this one but I guess we'll see


I'm really looking forward to this one

Library Loot: 

This looks great!

I loved her other book so I can't wait to read this one.

This just looks hiarious

Another audiobook for my long commute

I've heard great things about this one

After reading Paranormalcy I had to get this one.
That's what I got in my mailbox.  What did you get in yours?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Karma by Cathy Ostlere

Publisher: Razorbill
Publishing Date: March 31st, 2011
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Verse
Pages: 528 pgs
ISBN: 9781595143389

My Rating: 5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi is gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards. The murder sparks riots in Delhi and for three days Sikh families are targeted and killed in retribution for the Prime Minister’s death. It is into this chaos that sixteen-year-old Maya and her Sikh father, Amar, arrive from their home in Canada. India’s political instability is the backdrop and catalyst for Maya’s awakening to the world. KARMA is the story of how a young woman, straddling two cultures and enduring personal loss, learns forgiveness, acceptance and love.
My Review: 

I absolutely adored this book! Most people have difficultly reading novels that are written in verse but I think that Ostlere did an amazing job trying to write about such a serious topic in such a difficult form. I do agree that at times books written in verse can be very plot driven to the detriment of description but this is not the case for this book. I was able to really visualize India and the chaos occurring during the uprising. I was also able to see the countryside and the places of Maya's travels. 

I have to admit that the father in the book really enraged me at times. Yes, he was driven by grief but at the same time he helped to fuel the fire of descrimination through his ignorance. I kept thinking: "You married someone who was of a different religion- why can't you see that this is wrong?!?" I also found him to be incredibly overbearing. After being separated from her father for so long, I couldn't believe that he was still wanting to control Maya's life. 

The history in this book is rich and I loved reading it. Overall, I give this novel 5 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend you read it. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WoW: Goddesses

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 this week's pick: 

Summary from Goodreads
Kate Winters has won immortality. 

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it. 

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans. 

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future. 

Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

I read The Goddess Test last summer and I am looking forward to reading this one.  It comes out March 27th and it looks fantastic.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publishing Date: February 21rst, 2011
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 368 pgs
ISBN: 9781442409071

Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary from GoodReads:
Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

My Review: 
I received this book in the mail and it was a complete surprise that it was coming to me.  I hadn't read Wither yet but it had been on my TBR pile since it came out last year.  So I immediately picked up Wither and I couldn't put it down and I was really happy that I could pick up Fever immediately after
completing Wither.  Fever didn't disappoint; it picked up where Wither left off.  I was excited to see what kind of adventures Rhine and Gabriel were going to go on.  I couldn't believe how quickly they got into trouble.  I felt for them because no sooner do they leave one bird cage when they are put into another.  This is the kind of book that evokes all kinds of emotions; it really is a roller coaster ride.  While I felt outrage at the state of the society in this book and at the treatment of Rhine, a part of me wanted her to find her way back to the estate so that I could see what was going on there.  I started to really feel for Linden, who throughout all of Wither and for most of Fever is completely ignorant of what is occuring around him.  He seemed to be just as much a victim as the women and servants in this book.  His father, Vaughn, is a tyrant who believes he can do whatever he wants regardless of who he affects.  Vaughn has no regard for human life and walks all over everyone he comes in contact to.  I despised that man and that just shows me that
the writing is good.  I was invested in what happened to the characters and that is not always the case for some of the books that I read.  Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.  My only concern is that now I am going to have wait a long time to find out what happens next.  Grrr.. sequels! Thanks again to Simon and Schuster for sending me this amazing novel.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox Vlog (24)

In My Mailbox in hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and it allows bloggers a chance to show off all their goodies for the week.

This week I have decided to do a vlog and I'm hoping to do a lot more of them in the future.  Sorry for the awkwardness and the gum chewing but I hope to improve in future videos.

I mention in the video that I met up with a bunch of Ottawa area bloggers for lunch and a book exchange.  We were quite lucky that Harper Collins and Hachette Group sent us some great goodies too.  I met two new bloggers: Kathy from A Glass of Wine and Katie from Bookishly Yours.  There were also two other ladies there that I had met previously at the Smart Chicks tour: Katherine from The Lady Critic's Library and Emilie from Emilie's Book World.  This was loads of fun and here is a pic from our day:

Katherine, Kathy, myself, Emilie and Katie- of course we're at Chapters! 

And without furthur ado, my vlog:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Publisher: Starscape
Publishing Date: Originally in 1985
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi
Pages: 336 pgs
ISBN: 9780765342294

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Summary from GoodReads
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

My Review:
I read this book for our January book club pick. Well, I actually did not read this book but I listened to it. I wasn't sure if I would like this book because it is a little out of my comfort zone in terms of genre. That being said, I think this book evokes so many questions and discussions that I ended up really enjoying it.
To begin with, the idea of childhood came up when discussing this book. How important is a childhood and at what point to children become adults. In this book Ender is put into military training at a very young age and is forced to grow up very very quickly. Is Ender every really a child? The book also brings to mind child soldiers in war torn countries. To western society the idea of a child soldier is completely horrific and it is not something that would be considered morally ok.
In this novel, it seems like childhood is not a very important part of society and as a result children going to war just seems like a natural progression throughout the book.
This book brought me through a variety of emotions and anger was one that prevailed while I listened to the plot. I couldn't believe the way in which Ender was manipulated and the government didn't really see anything wrong with what was happening. I just wanted to yell at them and in fact I found myself expressing such anger as I was driving down the highway listening to my audiobook.
I think that demonstrates just how powerful this book is. It made me think about things in a new way and I think that the sign of a good book is one that makes you think and analyze things. Overall I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top Ten Tuesdays: Heart Breaking

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's editon is the top ten books that broke your heart.  Here are mine in no particular order:

I just finished this book and it is quite an emotional read

I actually ugly cried on the bus reading this novel.

I read this when it came out and again found myself crying.

I am sure most of you have either read this or saw the movie.

If you haven't read this- read it now!

Great book- very sad ending

Anyone who has ever had a dog should read this book.

Disturbing and sad at the same time.

I couldn't imagine having to deal with the issues in this book.

I've seen this on a few other lists already.

This is my 11th book but it is so good.
I'm curious to read what is on your lists.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jodi Picoult Contest

Well, for those of you who don't know I am a HUGE fan of Jodi Picoult.  I have most of her books; I think I only have 3 more left to read.  I am excited to let you know that Picoult's newest book Lone Wolf is coming out February 28th from Simon & Schuster. 

In order to celebrate the release of the book, Simon & Schuster is hosting a meet & greet with Jodi Picoult and they are offering residents of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) a chance to win tickets to the event.  For those of you who don't reside in Toronto, they are also hosting a contest to win a set of every book Picoult has written, including a signed copy of her newest book.  For more details please go to the following link: 

For those of you interested, here is a synopsis of Lone Wolf.

 A life hanging in the balance…a family torn apart. The #1 internationally bestselling author Jodi Picoult tells an unforgettable story about family, love, and letting go.

Edward Warren, twenty-four, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara.

With her father’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision?

Lone Wolf explores the notion of family, and the love, protection and strength it’s meant to offer. But what if the hope that should sustain it, is the very thing that pulls it apart? Another tour de force from Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf examines the wild and lonely terrain upon which love battles reason.

I don't know about you but I can't wait to read this novel.  There isn't too long to wait now.  

Review: Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale

Publisher: Delacourte Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: February 14th, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 512 pgs
ISBN: 9780385740654

Rating: 4.5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:
When 17-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.
Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all

My Review: 
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book at all but what I got was a charming and touching novel about lives turned upside down.  I received this book via NetGalley and I had never heard of this book before.  The story is about a young girl whose mother just died from Huntington's Disease and after the funeral she finds out that she was switched a birth.  Rosie goes on a journey of self discovery by trying to find her birth parents.  I really liked the way the author wrote about Rosie's inner turmoil.  Rosie has a huge crisis of identity and is unsure of who she really is; she gets a major case of the what ifs.  She can't help but think of what if she had never been swapped at birth.  

At certain points of the novel I couldn't help but get frustrated with Rosie.  She seemed incredibly selfish at points but in the end this is what makes the novel all the more loveable.  Dale writes realistic characters and Rosie's selfishness is just a part of it.  It really makes you invested in the novel and you realize that the secondary characters are just as memorable as the main characters.  I kept hoping that Rosie would wake up and realize how great Andy is and how lucky she is to have had an opportunity to grow up with her mother and her family.  Instead she swoops in on Holly's family without any regard to how she might be feeling.  

On top of everything else, Holly is going through a pretty tough situation. I don't want to give too much away but Dale weaves so many different plots and issues into this book that 500 pages seems like 200.  I couldn't put this book down and read it in 2 days.  I can't wait to read more from Katie Dale and I would definitley recommend this novel.  I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.   

My only qualm about this book is that I would have liked to learn a little bit more about Huntington's Disease.  A part of me wishes that the book had started a bit before it did so that I could have seen Rosie's struggle with taking care of her mother.  I also think it would have been good to see her relationship with her mother and her Nana a little bit more. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In my Mailbox (23)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  This is a meme that allows bloggers to show off all the goodies they got during the week.

Here is what I got this week:

For Review: 
This was a complete surprise- Thanks Thomas Allen & Sons

Library Loot: 
I only have about 50 pages left of this and it is fantastic!

I loved White Tiger and thought this looked good

I just finished Bright Young Things and had to read this one.

I have heard such great things about this book.

This sounded fun and quirky

I needed a new audiobook.

Had to buy this in order to review the 2nd book in the series.  A good enough excuse as any to buy new books.
That's what I got in my mailbox.  What did you get in yours?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Booking Through Thursday: 5 Books

It's been quite a while since I've done one of these.  This week's question is:

If you had to pick only 5 books to read ever again, what would they be and why?’

Well here is my answer:
I would have to make sure I picked some real chunkers if I was only allowed to read these 5 books ever again.  While most people would want to pick something they have already read because they want to make sure they like it, I would pick books that I haven't read because I am not big on re-reading books.  So in no particular order here they are:

I'm curious to see what everyone else picked. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Publisher: Viking
Publishing Date: February 8th, 2011
Genre: Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 579 pgs
ISBN: 9780670022410

Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from GoodReads
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the "Twilight" series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

My Review: 
I was quite eager to read this novel because I had read so many things about it. It is a book about witches, vampires and daemons so I was fairly certain it was going to be the kind of book I would enjoy. That being said, I have am having a difficult time reviewing this book. At certain points I really loved this book and I couldn't put it down and at other points I just kept thinking about all the other books I'd rather be reading. I don't necessarily think that this is a fault of the author but perhaps the fact that I had recently went on a book buying spree. I tend to do that from time to time; I buy a whole bunch of books and then I have a hard time really enjoying them because I just want to read the other new books.

Anyhow, back to the actual novel, I have to admit that I really liked the tenacity of Diana Bishop. Come hell or high water she was going to do as she pleased. She was not going to use magic, she was going to start a relationship with a vampire and she was going to push boundaries doing it all. She ruffled quite a few feathers but at the same time she managed to win everyone over.

Matthew Clairmont on the other hand, I'm not so sure about. At times I found him very charming and at other times I kept thinking that he was incredibly old fashioned. He always wants to be the hero and he does so at times by hiding things from the woman he claims to love. Everything he does seems convoluded and I really dislike how he tries to pull the wool over Diana's eyes at every turn.

In turn, this is the one thing that bugs me about Diana. While she can be so strong-willed, she can also be a little permissive when it comes to the way Matthew treats her.

The writing is fluid and beautiful and I think that Harkness does a great job at describing different settings.
Overall I have to give this book 3.5 out of 5 because as I say I found myself distracted by other things. I will have to read the second book in this series to really know how I feel about Harkness.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WoW: Sophie Kinsella's Newest

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 Sophie Kinsella's newest novel I've Got Your Number.  Here is a summary from GoodReads:

I've lost it. The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It's been in Magnus's family for three generations. And now, the very same day his parents are coming, I've lost it. The very same day. Do not hyperventilate Poppy. Stay positive!!

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry the ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her 'happy ever after' begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring but in the panic that followed, she has now lost her phone. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton doesn't agree. He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other's lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents... she soon realises that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

I have always loved Sophie Kinsella's books and I usually like her stand alone novels better than her Shopaholic books.  I can't wait to read it.   

Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

Publisher: Penguin USA
Publishing Date: Febrary 7th, 2012
Genre: Adult, Mystery
Pages: 400 pgs
ISBN: 9780525952763

My Rating: 4 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

In "New York Times" bestselling author Lisa Gardner's latest D.D. Warren thriller, the relentless Boston investigator must solve a coldly calculated murder--before it happens.
"In four days, someone is going to kill me . . . "
Detective D. D. Warren is hard to surprise. But a lone woman outside D.D.'s latest crime scene shocks her with a remarkable proposition: Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant believes she will be murdered in four days. And she wants Boston's top detective to handle the death investigation.
"It will be up close and personal. No evidence of forced entry, no sign of struggle."
Charlie tells a chilling story: Each year at 8:00 p.m. on January 21st, a woman has died. The victims have been childhood best friends from a small town in New Hampshire; the motive remains unknown. Now only one friend, Charlie, remains to count down her final hours.
But as D.D. quickly learns, Charlie Grant doesn't plan on going down without a fight. By her own admission, the girl can outshoot, outfight, and outrun anyone in Boston. Which begs the question, is Charlie the next victim, or the perfect perpetrator? As D.D. tracks a vigilante gunman who is killing pedophiles in Boston, she must also delve into the murders of Charlie's friends, racing to find answers before the next gruesome January 21 anniversary. Is Charlie truly in danger, or is she hiding a secret that may turn out to be the biggest threat of all?
"In four days, someone is going to kill me. But the son of a bitch has gotta catch me first. "

My Review:
I have always loved a good Lisa Gardner book and I was excited to see her new DD Warren book on NetGalley. I was even more excited when I was approved for this novel and I started reading it right away. Again, Gardner does not disappoint. From the very beginning I was hooked and I couldn't put this book down. I wanted to know exactly what was going on and why Charlene was so strange. Most of the time I can't figure out who the killer is in Gardner's books and it was the same with this one. I knew that it wasn't who was singled out as the killer but I couldn't quite piece together what was going on. This is pretty difficult to do because usually when I'm reading a mystery or even watching a movie with plot twists, most times I have it all figured out half way through. It's interesting to see Detective DD Warren as a mother in this novel. When I first started reading this series, I never would have pictured her in the role of a mother but I think it suits her just fine. I really enjoyed this book and overall I give it 4 out of 5 stars.