Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publishing Date: May 31st, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 224 pgs
ISBN: 9780670012251
Source: Review copy received from Razorbill for honest Review

Rating: 4.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
A romantic and empowering book about bullying
Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

My Review: 
I wasn't sure what to think going into this novel because I have never read anything by Susane Colasanti. My first impression, if I'm going to be honest, is that the book would probably gloss over the issue of bullying. My reason for this is because the novel is so short but I have to say that Colasanti surprised me in a good way. This book follows Noelle who is living with a neglectful mother and she also lives in poverty. For these reasons, Noelle is bullied by a few girls.
It was heartbreaking to read this book. I kept wanting to jump in and help her out. I just couldn't believe the way some people treat each other. I realize that this is fiction but I have seen some people acting similarly in real life.
As a teacher, I have witnessed my fair share of people being mean to their peers. I also wonder about the things that I don't see. If they are acting this way in front of me, what are they doing when I am not there to see it?
I really enjoyed the writing in this book. Colasanti writes characters that you become invested in. You want to know what is going to happen and you want to be there to read about their accomplishments. I will definitely be reading more from this author. While the book is short, it really packs a load of information and a load of action in its pages. I really enjoyed this novel and I think it is an important novel for teens to read. Bullying needs to stop and people need to start treating each other with respect and tolerance. We are all different and we need to start appreciating our differences rather than ostracizing people for them.
Overall, I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. My only complaint is that it wasn't a little longer. I would have liked to see a little more in the conclusion of this novel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wow: Carnival

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

Here is my pick for this week:

Summary from Goodreads
In a city of daimons, the Carnival of Souls hosts a deadly competition. Once in a generation, every citizen can fight to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures—if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

In our own world, Mallory knows that her father—and every other witch—fled the daimons’ city long ago. She trains to be lethal because it’s only a matter of time until the daimons catch up with them.

While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans there for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series, comes a brand-new tale of secrets, love, and the struggle to forge one’s own destiny.

I haven't read Marr's Wicked Lovely series but it is on my to be read list.  I've read Graveminder and enjoyed it so after reading the premise of this book I really wanted to read this one.  It comes out September 4th, 2012 and I know it'll be at BEA this year.  

Happy Reading! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

Publisher: Atria Books
Publishing Date: October 18th, 2011
Genre: Adult, Verse Writing, Fiction
Pages: 529 pgs
ISBN: 9781451626339
Source: Borrowed from my local library

Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
THREE FEMALE FRIENDS FACE MIDLIFE CRISES IN A NO-HOLDS-BARRED EXPLORATION OF SEX, MARRIAGE, AND THE FRAGILITY OF LIFE.Holly: Filled with regret for being a stay-athome mom, she sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Will it bring the fulfillment she is searching for?Andrea: A single mom and avowed celibate, she watches her friend Holly’s meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for—a committed relationship with a decent guy. So what if Andrea picks up Holly’s castaway husband?Marissa: She has more than her fair share of challenges—a gay, rebellious teenage son, a terminally ill daughter, and a husband who buries himself in his work rather than face the facts.As one woman’s marriage unravels, another’s rekindles. As one woman’s family comes apart at the seams, another’s reconfigures into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman’s up is another one’s down, and all of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.Unflinchingly honest, emotionally powerful, surprisingly erotic, Triangles is the ultimate page-turner. Hopkins’s gorgeous, expertly honed poetic verse perfectly captures the inner lives of her characters. Sometimes it happens like that. Sometimes you just get lost.Get lost in the world of Triangles, where the lives of three unforgettable women intersect, and where there are no easy answers.

My Review: 
I really enjoy Hopkins' books for teens and so when I saw this book at the library I had to take it out and see what she could write for adults. Hopkins is not one to shy away from controversial topics and she doesn't shy away in this novel either. It is told in the perspective of 3 different women who are all connected in some way. Each woman is dealing with different situations when it comes to their relationships with the opposite sex and with their families.
This book is full of adult content and is definitely not a book intended for teens. The book is chalk full of infidelity, promiscuous sex, teen pregnancy, cancer and homosexuality. It seems like Hopkins threw in every controversial issue all into one book. That is not to say that it is not done well but at times it seems like things aren't as well explored as I would have liked.
I love that Hopkins continues with her style of writing in verse. I quite enjoy reading books that are written in this fashion. They are easy to read and it goes by quickly.
I have to admit that while some things shocked me, other parts of the book were quite emotional. I will admit to crying but that doesn't seem like anything new with me. I think that if you are the least bit squeamish I would stay away from this book but if you are willing to give something new a try I would definitely pick this book up. It is well written and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publishing Date: February 5th, 2008
Genre: Women's Lit, Adult Fiction
Pages: 496 pgs
ISBN: 9780312364083
Source: Bought

Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.
From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness. 
Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .
For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship---jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.
Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you---and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.

My Review:
This book is about a life-long friendship between two women. This is my 2nd Kristin Hannah novel and I have to say that I liked this one far more than Winter Garden. For some reason, while I enjoyed Winter Garden, I couldn't really feel a strong connection to any of the characters. This was not the case with this novel. This novel begins when Kate and Tully are pre-teens and just meeting for the first time. When the book ends the girls are now women and their friendship has been through it's share of ups and downs.
This book really took me back to my childhood/teens when I had a close friendship with one girl in particular. We have since gone our separate ways but I can't help but draw parallels between the characters in this book to our friendship. Throughout the novel, Kate is the type of girl who takes a backseat in her life at times and Tully is this headstrong character who can be a bit of a hurricane in the lives of others. Many times I wanted to slap both of them silly. I wanted to tell Kate to speak up and tell Tully what she was thinking and I also wanted to tell Tully to stop meddling.
A word of warning for this book though: it is a heartbreaker. I was reading this book and ugly-crying. No word of a lie, my husband kept looking over at me on the couch trying to figure out what my problem was. So if you are about to read this book make sure to bring your tissues with you.
Hannah has a way with her writing to draw you in and immerse you in the story. She went back and forth between Kate's point of view and Tully's point of view so you get a better idea of what each character is thinking. I really like when authors use different points of view to tell their story. This is a fairly big book and I read it all within 24 hours. That being said, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Go out and read this book soon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WoW: Belonging

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

Here is my pick for the week:

Summary from Goodreads:

The author of five blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin, delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.

For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.

I quite enjoy Giffin's novels.  She wrote Something Borrowed which was turned into a movie with Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin.  I can't wait for this one to come out on July 24th, 2012.  

I look forward to seeing what you have picked for your weekly wishlist.  Happy Reading! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Publisher: Penguin Press
Publishing Date: January 11th, 2011
Genre: Non-fiction, Parenting
Pages: 237 pgs
ISBN: 9781594202841
Source: Bought for book club

Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.

My Review: 
This is our book club pick for the month of May and I was looking forward to reading this because I had heard so much about it.  It is a short book and doesn't take long to read but it is not one that I would considered well-written.  I found the actual writing in the novel to be simplistic and at times a little bit boring.  It is about a woman who has decided to raise her children in the "Chinese way" which essentially means being extremely tough on her children so that they can learn the value of hard work.  Chua believes that western parents are too permissive with their children and that this is teaching the wrong values to these children.  
I think there is something to said for this and I wouldn't disagree that some parents are a bit too permissive in their parenting.  I have a bit of a theory on this though.  I think that every parent wants to give their child more than what they had.  At a certain point giving your child more than what you had becomes impossible and it becomes excessive.  I will say that I am not a parent but hope to be in the future. Now, none of this is in the book but it is just something that I was thinking about while reading this book.  Also, while I do think there are some trends in parenting recently that I don't necessarily agree with, I also don't agree with Chua's point of view either. 
The novel starts off, almost immediately, with a story about Chua bringing her child outside in the winter with no winter coat or boots, to teach her a lesson.  While I was reading this I couldn't help but think of how wrong this is.  It seemed a little extreme to teach a small child a lesson.  
The book focuses on Chua's two children and most of the novel centers on their piano/violin lessons.  It seemed like the only thing that Chua was concerned with was having her children practice their respective instruments.  She went as far as pulling her children out of school to practice and it often happened that they would miss important family bonding time in order to practice.  Chua seemed almost obsessed with having her children be child prodigies in terms of their musical abilities.  
The whole time I was reading this novel I never felt love between a mother and daughter.  There was never a warmth or an endearing story and I found this to be a bit strange.  I also had to question the husband in this book.  Where was he and why didn't he step in to say that things were going a bit too extreme?  There is a point in this book where the chlidren give their mother a hand-made birthday card and instead of saying thank you, Chua tells them that it is not good enough and they must make her a new card.  She told them they were lazy and that she wanted a birthday card that was made with more effort.  I think my jaw dropped to the ground when I read this.  While I know Chua must love her children, I never felt that she showed her children this. 
This book also makes me wonder about the things that we are not seeing.  Were things really this bad or did she leave out fond memories to keep them private?  Or were things really a lot worse than this?  If Chua is willing to write about herself in this light are there things that she is too embarassed to put into a book?  
I struggled with rating this book.  As a said before I did find it to be a bit dry and the writing is  not all that good so I thought about giving it 2 stars.  In the end I went with 3 stars because while it was dry, it does provoke a lot of controversy and it sparks a lot of discussion.  I'm curious to know what you thought of this book if you have read it. 

In My Mailbox (33)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It allows bloggers a chance to showcase all the goodies they received for the week.

Well this week is pretty small which is good.  I have so many books to read that it's ridiculous.  All 4 books are from the library and without further ado here they are:

I can't wait to see what you got in your mailbox.  Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: May 15th, 2012 (in US- this book is already out in Canada)
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Pages: 416 pgs
ISBN: 9780062115393
Source: Received from Harpers Collins US for an honest review

My Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can't seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she's engaged, Anne can't help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn't a dating service; it's an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company's success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn't it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.

My Review: 
This is such an interesting concept for a book.  It is about a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend and has a bit of a crisis of identity.  It is during this time that she attempts an arranged marriage service.  I do not want to give too much of the book away but it was fantastic.  I've said it before, and fairly recently too, I love Mckenzie's books.  She takes these type of "what if" ideas and brings them to life.  We have all say around and played the "what if" game and I love that McKenzie takes it a step closer to reality with her books.  This book in particular makes you think about the construct of marriage.  Many people around the world are in arranged marriages and many of these marriages are quite successful so why couldn't this work in the western world? Personally, I don't think I could do it but that's just me. 
Again, McKenzie is able to really draw a reader in with her beautiful story writing.  I loved Anne's character and I really felt for her when things don't go quite as planned.  I loved this novel and I will read anything that McKenzie comes out with.  Last week, I actually got the chance to interview this author so if you are interested you should check that out.  Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Author Interview: Kim Izzo (The Jane Austen Marriage Manual)

Well, just last week I had my first author interview and now I have a second one.  This one is for author Kim Izzo who wrote The Jane Austen Marriage Manual.  I loved this book and I am sure you will too.  Her writing flows easily and her protagonist is always getting herself into some interesting situations.  Without further ado here is my interview with Kim Izzo:

Tell me a bit about yourself.  What can you be found doing when you aren't writing?

Riding my dressage horse, Astaire, spending time with my fiance Richard, or often at my desk as deputy editor/beauty director at Zoomer Magazine.

Where did you get the idea for this novel?

I had turned 30 and felt that I wasn't where I wanted to be in my life: career, relationship, finally and I joked with my friends if I was too old to marry for money.   It seemed like a fun idea and I just went about plotting a story that had a fantasy element to it, one that I could picture happening, if for no other reason than to cheer myself up!

What is your writing process like and did you have any times when you found it difficult to move forward with The Jane Austen Marriage Manual?

It's not as streamlined as I'd like!  I wrote this novel on Sundays, and holidays, with as many early pre-work mornings as I could.  I did find it difficult.  There are many distractions in life when no one is waiting for your manuscript and no one cares if it ever gets finished!  I ended a six year relationship and bought a house/moved in the middle of the first draft.  Suffice to say I didn't touch the book for four months!

What is your biggest bookish pet peeve? 

People who ask me how much money my book has made! It's like asking someone how much money they make at their job. 

Are you working on anything else right now? 

I'm hard at work on my second novel.  Also a romance but with a mystery/fantasy element.

Well there you have it.  Kim can be found at her website, on Facebook and on Twitter (@kimizzo).  An exerpt of The Jane Austen Marriage Manual can also be found here.  It is a great read and I definitely recommend that you check it out!  Thank you to Kim and to Harper Collins!  Happy Reading!

Blog Tour: The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Publishing Date: April 24th, 2012
Genre: Adult Fiction, Chick Lit
Pages: 320 pgs
ISBN: 9781443407236

Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads
Katherine Shaw—Kate— is happy with her life. She has supportive friends, a glamorous magazine career, and a love of all things Jane Austen. But when she loses her job, her beloved grandmother falls ill and a financial disaster forces a sale on the family home, Kate finds herself facing a crisis that would test even the most stalwart of Austen heroines.
Friends rally round, connecting her to freelance gigs, and presenting her with a birthday gift— title to land in Scotland—that’s about to come in very handy. Turns out that Kate’s first freelance assignment is to test an Austen-inspired theory: in the toughest economic times is a wealthy man the only must-have accessory? What begins as an article turns into an opportunity as Kate—now Lady Kate—jet-sets to Palm Beach, St Moritz and London where, in keeping company with the elite, she meets prospects who make Mr. Darcy look like an amateur. But will rubbing shoulders with men of good fortune ever actually lead her to love? And will Kate be able to choose between Mr. Rich and Mr. Right?

My Review: 
I went into this book thinking it was going to be your typical chick lit type book: light and fluffy and very cute but Izzo has proven me quite wrong with my assumptions.  While this book does have some of the elements of a chick lit novel it also delves a little deeper than most chick lit than I have read.  It shows the value of relationships with others but not just romantic relationships.  The main relationships in the novel are not the romantic ones; they are the relationships between siblings, parents, and friends.  That is what I liked most about this novel.  
This book is about Kate, or should I say Lady Kate, who is trying to deal with turning 40 but also with the loss of her grandmother (who was more like a mother to her).  Not only does she lose her grandmother but she also loses her house and her job all at once.  This prompts her to try to find a man in the style of Jane Austen: to marry rich.  Kate starts off not really believing in this idea of marrying for money but as time passes she really begins to believe that this scheme could actually work.  
I loved reading about Kate's shenanigans in Palm Beach, New York and overseas and I found myself laughing out loud at many moments in the novel.  While for a good portion of the novel, Kate may come across as shallow and money hungry to others, I found her endearing.  The essence of her character never really changes even going through all the things she does and that is one thing I adore about this book.  Too often, characters change personalities entirely in other novels and I love that Kate stays true to her personality throughout the story.  
My hat goes off to Izzo for her beautiful writing and her rich characters.  I loved, loved, loved this novel and I give it 5 stars.  It is something that I needed after reading a horrific dystopian novel and I am so happy to have been given this novel for review.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publishing Date: April 24th, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Vampires, Dystopia
Pages: 480 pgs
ISBN: 9780373210510
Source: Received from Netgalley for an honest review

Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

My Review:
I was excited to be approved for The Immortal Rules on Netgalley because I quite enjoy Kagawa's writing style.  Fairies are not necessarily my thing and I did enjoy the Iron Fey series so I was excited to see what Kagawa would do with the vampire theme.  Vampires seem to be everywhere not only in YA literature but also in adult fiction so you never know what to expect when you see a book with this theme.  I have to admit that I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised to see that Kagawa took a whole new twist to the vampire saga.  She makes it a world dominated by vampires; where humans are fighting to survive and at times become almost slaves to the vampire kingpins in the citites.  She also combines an almost zombie/monster-like element to the story with the rabids.  Not only do humans have to worry about vampires in the cities but they also have to worry about the rabids in the wilderness. 
I loved Allison's character.  She was anti-vampire and she had vowed never to be anything like them and in the end she ends up what she hates the most.  I can see this happening from time to time in our society.  People seem to be so vehemently against something and are quite outspoken about it and then when faced with a situation they have never had to face may in fact begin turning to things they say they are against.  That's not to say that these people are hypocrites.  I think that it is difficult to fully form an opinion on something unless you have faced that tough choice.  I also love that Allison struggles to find a balance between her vampire self and her human self.  She doesn't want to become a monster and as a result she forms bonds with those around her. 
I don't want to say too much on the book because I don't want to give too much away.  I really just want to convey that I really enjoyed this book and that I look forward to more books in this series.  I think I will forever be a fan of Julie Kagawa because she has such an incredible imagination and is able to beautifully put into words what she is imagining.  Overall I give this book 4 stars out of 5. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In My Mailbox (32)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It allows bloggers a chance to showcase all the goodies they received for the week.

Well this is 2 weeks worth of books and I must say it is a little ridiculous so without further ado here are my books:

For Review:
Thanks Simon & Schuster Canada

Thanks Simon & Schuster Canada

Thanks Simon & Schuster Canada

Thanks Simon & Schuster Canada

Thanks Simon & Schuster Canada

Thanks NetGalley

Thanks NetGalley

On Tuesday night I met up with some Ottawa area book bloggers and we did a book exchange.  Here is what I got from that night:

Last weekend I went to a Friends of the Library sale and I purchased 10 books for $1.  Can you believe it? Essentially each book was 10 cents.

I also went bought a few books from Chapters:

The same day I bought this I also received a copy for review from Razorbill.  A giveaway maybe?

I have heard nothing but good things about Melina Marchetta

I have already read this and I love it!  When does book 3 come out?

This is an adult pick but it has been getting a lot of good reviews.

I have heard nothing but good things about this book. 
Well that was a bit ridiculous.  What did you get in your mailbox?  Happy Reading

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Author Interview: Catherine McKenzie (Spin, Arranged & Forgotten)

 Good morning lovely readers.  I have a special treat for you today; I have my first ever interview with an author on my blog.  I have read all 3 of Catherine McKenzie's books this year and I have loved all three of them.  Spin, is about a woman who enters rehab to follow a celebrity to get the inside scoop for an article she is writing.  Arranged is about a woman who decided to try her luck with an arranged marriage rather than go the traditional route to finding a man.  Forgotten is about a woman who comes back after being stuck in Africa for 6 months to find that everyone thought she was dead.  Her writing style is fun and easy to read and I have  no doubt that you will enjoy her books.  She is a fellow Canadian (living in Montreal) and you can find more information about her from her website.  Without further ado here is my interview:

1. Where did you get the inspiration for this novel?

I actually heard of a woman who was placed in a similar situation: was away, got sick, came back and her apartment was taken over.  I never met her, never knew her name or anything else about her; in fact I stopped the person who was telling me the story because I immediately saw the potential of the premise & didn't want to know too much.  I'd been looking to explore the issue of what happens when everyone in your life thinks you should change but you don't for a while, and this seemed like the right premise.

2. Who is your favourite character in this novel?

Emma of course.  But I also found writing Sunshine a lot of fun.

3.  What are some upcoming books that you are looking forward to reading?

I think I'll be reading Lisa Brackmann's "Rock, Paper, Tiger" next.  And after that, who knows.  Suggestions appreciated.  

4. What are some of your bookish pet peeves?

Books where there are no relatable characters.  If I don't care about at least one person in the book, why should I care what happens to them? 

5. What can we expect to see from you in the future? Are you currently working on something new?

I am working on a fourth novel but it's too early to say anything about it right now, sorry.  It will (hopefully) be out in  Canada next year.  

 Well there you have it.  I want to extend a great big thank you to Catherine for answering all my questions and I hope you all enjoyed the interview.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Blog Tour (Review): Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Publishing Date: May 1st, 2012
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pages: 367 pgs
ISBN: 9781443409919
Source: Received for review from Harper Collins Canada

Rating:4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?

My Review:
This is a book about a young woman who goes on a trip to Africa that goes horribly wrong and in the end is presumed dead by all back home.  She returns to her apartment to find that it has been rented to someone else and all of her belongings have been sold.  This idea is simply terrifying to me.  I can't even imagine trying to navigate through my life when everyone had thought I was dead.   I can't begin to think of what it would be like to feel left out of everything and to know that everyone has moved on and life is going on without me there.  I know that the world is big and that I am obviously not the center of it but it would still be devastating to see how easily life can continue without me there.  I think there is a little part of everyone that would like to think they are important and that their life has an impact on others.  

I really enjoyed this book.  I love McKenzie's writing style and I love the way I can relate to her characters.  I felt like I was in the book at times and I wanted to just shake some people silly.  I really felt bad for Emma but at the same time I almost feel like this was a huge turning point in her life.  

This book was beautifully written and it gives readers a chance to think about the important things in life.  Do we really want to slave away all day in a office or should we be out there living life to the fullest?  While I do think it's important to work hard I also think there should be a balance and I love that McKenzie gets this message across loud and clear.  The book is haunting but it also gives us a bit of romance, some strong friendships and a lot of hope.  Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. 

Stay tuned for an interview with Catherine McKenzie coming soon.  Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review: The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publishing Date: April 17th, 2012
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Pages: 275 pgs
ISBN: 9780547608426
Source: Received from Thomas Allen & Sons for an honest review

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Heartbroken over the tragic death of her fiancĂ©, seventeen-year-old Zora Stewart leaves Baltimore for the frontier town of West Glory, Oklahoma, to help her young widowed aunt keep her homestead going. There she discovers that she possesses the astonishing ability to sense water under the parched earth. When her aunt hires her out as a "springsweet” to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land. Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water. Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living.

My Review:  
I read The Vespertine, the companion novel to this book, when it first came out and the writing in that book is beautiful so I was excited to get a copy of The Springsweet for review.  For some reason it took me a long time to pick this book up.  As much as I liked The Vespertine, I found myself hesitant to read this book.  I think it has something to do with the fact that I have a ridiculous TBR pile and I kept wanting to read other ones.  Anyhow, all this to say that while I kept putting off reading this book, it was a really good book.  I love Mitchell's writing style and I also love how she infuses so much history into her stories.  I liked reading about Zora's point of view this time around.  Her story starts off and she is heartbroken over the death of her fiance.  She doesn't want to enter society again and begins to explore her option of moving west to marry a widower.  In the end, she does venture out west to live with her aunt.  It is here that she discovers that she can see different water systems which is helpful when trying to dig a well.
This book paints a vivid description of the "wild west" but it also adds a little twist with some supernatural-like abilities.  One thing that I found interesting is the relationship between the while settlers and the First-Nations people in this book.  There is never any direct contact but there is some talk of people knowingly or unknowingly settling on First-Nations land.  There is a lot of friction that went on between these two groups of people.  What I find especially interesting is that both Zora and her love interest discover that they have abilities that bring them right back to nature.  They are almost one with nature and this is a concept that is well-embraced among First-Nations people.  I will note that this is not the main focus of the novel but it is just something that I remarked when reading it.
Zora is a really likable character.  She has her moments but for the most part she is strong-willed, independent and loving.  I loved seeing her interact with her younger cousin and also develop a relationship with her aunt.
I quite enjoyed this book but the one thing that I would change is it's length.  While the description is beautiful and the writing is exquisite, I did find that it lagged in some parts.  I think that if the book was a bit longer there could have been a little more action added to the novel.  I also have to admit that when I read the last few lines of the book, I just wished that Mitchell had continued her story.  I suppose I will have to wait for the next book to come out to find out what happens.  Overall I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5 and I suggest that you give it a try.