Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - January 26, 2011

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I can't wait to read Afterlife (Evernight #4) by Claudia Gray. This is such an amazing series & Hourglass left us with such a cliffhanger ending, I am dying to read this!!! Oh and don't forget, there is supposed to be a fifth, stand-alone book all about Balthazar :)

The fourth book in this electrifying vampire series has all the romance, suspense, and page-turning drama that have made Claudia Gray’s Evernight books runaway successes.

Having become what they feared most, Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They must return to Evernight Academy, Lucas as a vampire and Bianca as a wraith. But Lucas is haunted by demons, both personal and supernatural. Bianca must help him fight the evil inside him, combat the forces determined to drive them apart—and find the power to claim her destiny at last.

Readers have fallen in love with Bianca and Lucas, and they will be thrilled to read this exciting conclusion to their romantic adventure.
Hardcover, 368 pages

Expected publication: March 8th 2011 by HarperTeen

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook

Hardcover, 272 pages

Published January 4, 2011

Publisher: Simon Pulse

ISBN: 9781442413252

Hailey Kendrick always does exactly what's expected of her. She has the right friends, dates the perfect boy, gets good grades, and follows all the rules. But one night, Hailey risks everything by breaking a very big rule in a very public way...and with a very unexpected partner in crime. Hailey gets caught, but her accomplice does not, and Hailey takes the fall for both of them.
Suddenly, Hailey's perfect life--and her reputation--are blowing up in her face. Her friends are all avoiding her. Her teachers don't trust her. Her boyfriend won't even speak to her for long enough to tell her that she's been dumped.

They say honesty is the best policy--but some secrets are worth keeping, no matter the cost. Or are they?
My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:
I knew from the first sentence I was going to like this book. "There was a matter of life and death to deal with, instead we were wasting our time discussing Mandy Gallaway's crotch."

Hailey has tried to be the perfect daughter & student ever since her mother died in a tragic accident. For me, she was very relatable character: a rule follower, analytical and one who especially likes to stay in her comfort zone...that is until she kisses her boyfriends best bud, has a falling out with her boyfriend and meets Dean. Through some odd behavior & fun shenanigans, what she learns is that life is not always striving to be perfect. I wouldn't call this a realistic story (if only our mistakes were forgiven so easily) but it sure made me laugh out loud & snort a few times. The Education of Hailey Kendrick is a light, fluffy, fun read, the perfect pick me up book.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: The Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers

Paperback, 224 pages

Released: January 18, 2011

Publisher: Penguin Canada

ISBN: 9780143173380

Laure Beausejour has grown up in a dormitory in Paris surrounded by prostitutes, the insane, and other forgotten women. She dreams with her best friend, Madeleine, of using her needlework skills to become a seamstress and one day marry a nobleman. But in 1669, Laure is sent across the Atlantic to New France with Madeleine as filles du roi. The girls know little of the place they are being sent to, except for stories of ferocious winters and Indians who eat the hearts of French priests. To be banished to Canada is a punishment worse than death.

Bride of New France explores the challenges Laure faces coming into womanhood in a brutal time and place. From the moment she arrives in Ville-Marie (Montreal) she is expected to marry and produce children with a brutish French soldier who himself can barely survive the harsh conditions of his forest cabin. But through her clandestine relationship with Deskaheh, an allied Iroquois, Laure finds a sense of the possibilities in this New World.

What happens to a woman who attempts to make her own life choices in such authoritative times?

My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:

It has been a few years since I last read about Canadian history (make that Grade 9 history!). The last line of the blurb above is what caught my's amazing how the world has changed for women over the years. Suzanne's debut is stunning from page one, with an ending that blew me away.

A captivating read, The Bride of New France is the tale of one remarkably strong woman. The main character, Laure, has never had an easy life. She has lived on the streets with her parents, is torn from them and placed in an orphanage, is taken in by a rich lady only to return when she passes away...and this is just the beginning, see what I mean? She finds comfort in her one best friend, Madeleine, the polar opposite of herself as Laure is not exactly the most sympathetic person - yes, she has been jaded & that unfortunately, she carries with her. At times this causes Laure to make decisions that are selfish yet you can't help but feel hope that things will finally turn around for her. What I loved most was that as destitiate as Laure's life was, she still had hopes & dreams. Somehow, in all this, it was not a sad story. It wasn't until a huge event happened near the end that I realized just how powerful & wonderful a character Suzanne created in Laure...when you react so strongly to something that is so out of character for you, that is a true sign of a great writer!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - January 19, 2011

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I can't wait to read Shift (Shade #2) by Jeri Smith-Ready. I really loved Shade so I am eager to find out more about Aura's role in the Shift...and am curious if she picks Zach over Logan!

Hardcover, 384 pages

Expected publication: May 3rd 2011 by Simon Pulse

Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to.
Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift.

As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir

  • Hardcover, 434 pages

    Released: January 5, 2010 by Ballantine Books (available in TP - December 28, 2010)

    ISBN: 9780345453211

    From one of the world's foremost popular historians, a detailed and intricate portrait of the last days of one of the most influential and important figures in English history.

    The imprisonment and execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, was unprecedented in the annals of English history. It was sensational in its day, and has exerted endless fascination over the minds of historians, novelists, dramatists, poets, artists, and filmmakers ever since.

    Mystery surrounds the circumstances leading up to Anne's arrest and imprisonment in May 1536. Was it Henry VIII who, estranged from Anne, instructed Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell to fabricate evidence to get rid of her so that he could marry Jane Seymour? Or did Cromwell, for reasons of his own, construct a case against Anne and her faction, and then present compelling evidence before the King?

    Following the coronation of her daughter Elizabeth I as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine. Over the centuries, she has inspired many artistic and cultural works and has remained ever-present in England's, and the world's, popular memory. Alison Weir draws on her unsurpassed expertise in the Tudor Period to chronicle the downfall and dramatic final days of this influential and fascinating woman.
    My Rating: 4 / 5

    My Thoughts:

    Alison Weir writes the first book solely devoted to Anne Boleyn, focusing on her life during the last three months. An extraordinary work, based on intense research, she does have to rely on biased accounts of various ambassadors, eyewitness accounts and other reports with second hand information. The Lady in the Tower provides all evidence and lets it speak for itself, never focusing on one account, but rather corroborating OR discrediting the many theories out there as best one can. This is not a book to put forth any new theories, rather expect a well researched look that touches on topics such as:
  • Did Henry really know all that was going down?
  • Was the fetus from the last miscarriage really deformed?
  • Was the swordsman hired prior to Anne being put on trial?
  • Who were the 5 accused men & could they really have done what they were found guilty of?
  • Who were the members who found both the men & Anne guilty - were they unbiased?
  • The documents showing the evidence against Anne was destroyed - to cover up the lack of evidence OR was there really something so atrocious that it had to be destroyed for the King's sake?

  • For those who know a bit about the Tudors, this book is easy to follow along and really is a one-stop shop. An interesting non-fiction read (that is a tad dry only in the middle), I highly recommend this for those who are curious about one of the most controversial woman in history. I wonder, as Alison points out, if Anne hadn't been beheaded & enjoyed a long full life, would we still be talking of her? She was after all hated by many & without sympathy for her innocence, I'm not sure how much I would have liked her as a Queen.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review & Giveaway: The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

Hardcover, 416 pages

Publisher: EgmontUSA

Released: December 28, 2010

ISBN: 9781606840580

The non-stop sequel to The Dark Divine delivers an even hotter romance and more thrilling action than Bree Despain's first novel. Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She gave her soul to the wolf to save him and lost her beloved mother. When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do. She must become a Hound of Heaven. Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot - a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero. But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel begins to crumble. Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace becomes prideful in her new abilities - not realizing that an old enemy has returned and deadly trap is about to be sprung. Readers, ravenous for more Grace and Daniel, will be itching to sink their teeth into The Lost Saint.
My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved The Dark Divine last year and couldn't wait for this sequel (see my glowing review here.) Grace was such a strong character & willing to give up everything for love, awwww. The Lost Saint is all about the aftermath of her decision.

With her brother missing & possibly trying to contact her, Grace can't just sit back & wait, she jumps into action. Her stubbornness, mixed with Daniels odd behavior & his hesitancy to train her are a bad combination that push Grace to look elsewhere. Talbot conveniently comes into the picture & offers Grace just what she wants...but is she strong enough to keep the wolf at bay? There were a few times Grace's innocence made me frustrated, but given the circumstances (and her strong will!) I had to forgive her :) With the focus on Grace & exploring her abilities, I did miss the Daniel/Grace connection that was present in book one. A few cliffhangers and non-stop action with a nail biting ending, The Lost Saint is a great follow-up.

I do highly recommend reading The Dark Divine first (don't fret, it was amazing!). Bree provides some background but there isn't much rehashed so no filler, but you need to understand where the characters are coming from to really 'get' what is happening in The Lost Saint.

Now for the fun stuff, here is a chance for you to win ONE of TWO copies of The Lost Saint, along with matching blue nail polish :)

To enter, please fill in the form below:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Hardcover, 444 pages

Publisher: by Ballantine Books

Released: August 24th 2010

ISBN 9780345516107
Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.

This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?

From Anne Fortier comes a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers.
My Rating: 4 /5

My Thoughts:

Julie Jacob's is a twin, who lives a nice life in America with her rich Aunt Rose, her parents having died in a car crash when she was little - or so she was told. Her true past begins to take shape when she travels to her hometown of Siena, armed only with a key to a safety deposit box. With clues left in the box & the help of some locals and distant relatives, Julie discovers a curse may be haunting her..and she may be able to put a stop to it.

In Juliet, we are introduced to the story of Giulietta Tolomei, a long standing family feud between the Tolomeis and Salimbenis and what is perhaps the basis for Shakespeare's famous Romeo and Juliet! Told in alternating chapters, Guilietta in 1340 and Julie in present day, the reader journeys with Julie as she unravels the lore, which according to her parents life work, traces her lineage back to Giulietta Tolomei and the family curse.

Plot twists, a treasure hunt and Shakespeare references makes for an intriguing mystery. The magic to me though lies in the setting, being brought back in time to 1340 Siena, when life was quite different and family honor meant everything! Anne brought Siena alive and I was so immersed in the story that I didn't want it to end.