Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard

Paperback, 352 pages

Released: October 11, 2011

Publisher: Harper Paperback

Places to find the book:
How do you choose between your family and your history?

Emotional and compelling storytelling from Sara Shepard, author of All the Things We Didn't Say.

A late-night phone call on a Sunday evening rarely brings good news. So when Sylvie, a recently-widowed mother of two, receives a call from the head teacher of the school she's on the board of, she knows it won't be something she wants to hear. The school was founded by her grandfather, and she's inherited everything he strived to build up - a reputation, a heritage, the school and the grand old family house. And with this inheritance comes responsibility.So when her son Scott is whispered to be involved in a scandal that led to the death of one of the boys he coaches at the school, it throws the family into chaos: Sylvie has to decide between her loyalty to the school that has been part of her family legacy for years and her son who she feels wants nothing to do with her. She starts spying on the dead boy's father, making an unlikely connection.Sara Shepard's compelling new novel tells how hard it can be to really, truly connect to people, how making quick, easy judgments can come back to haunt you, and how the life you always planned for - and always dreamed of - often doesn't always turn out the way you imagined at all...
My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:
Yes, this is a book written by THE Sara Shepard, but no it's nothing like Pretty Little Liars. It is an adult book and one where life experiences come in handy.

Mrs. Bates-McAllister comes from old money but we soon learn that when you dig deeper under the surface, money does not mean pure bliss. She recently lost her husband, and quite suddenly. Her two, grown sons have their own issues as well. Charles is married and Scott is the wild one, but both are dealing with issues of belonging. Charles and his father never clicked and he never understood why. Scott, the adopted son, always felt out of place and that people never expected anything from him. It was a phone call that sparks a new beginning for everyone and sets the tone of the book.

While I didn't necessarily feel a connection to any one particular character, I found the arc of the story and what the characters learn, enjoyable. I think everyone can relate to parts of each character here: doing things for ones family instead of what you want, believing the grass is always greener on the other side, feeling trapped, to name a few. Part of growing up is listening to what you're told, but there comes a time when one has to take control of their life, it just takes some time and bumps along the way to figure that out.

A story of assumptions, expectations, and regrets, it moves slow but with purpose. This is a realistic look at life and living. Life is short so the earlier you lose that layer of resentment or weight that bogs you down and is doing you no good, the better your chance of finding happiness. Sometimes life puts you in a funk, but as Sara shows us, there is hope after all.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox - October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

This is actually two weeks worth as I've been super busy with life and neglected my poor blog :(  I'm also posting the reviews in my backlog so be prepared for daily goodies coming up! Sorry guys, but hope you enjoy.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton - I heart all things fae and after seeing this around with lots of great reviews, I knew I  HAD to read it!
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez - A book about music, I'm so there (I actually reviewed music prior to book blogging!)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - Huge fan so a must read for me :D

Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles #3) by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl - Can't wait for this next installment!
The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan - As a mom of boys, I am a mega fan of all things Rick Riordan :-P

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

What goodies did you get?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox - October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti - this line of the synopsis sold me "With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s". I love secrets and stories centered around mystery...and books about books!

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman - an adult book that caught my eye, more secrets! "Hoffman delivers her most masterful work yet—one that draws on her passion for mythology, magic, and archaeology and her inimitable understanding of women. " What a combo, I can't wait to get started!

What goodies did you get this week?

In case you missed it, last Thursday was the 125th anniversary of The Night Circus! To celebrate I interviewed the author, Erin Morgenstern and have a copy to giveaway. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Celebrating The 125th Anniversary of THE NIGHT CIRCUS

**waves to red scarf wearing reveur** In honor of today's 125th anniversary of the Night Circus, I am excited to share an interview with Erin Morgernstern...and a chance to win a copy of her fabulous, magical debut THE NIGHT CIRCUS! For those that have not read this masterpiece, if there is one book you MUST read and experience this year, I suggest this one!

Mel: What inspired you to write a story centered around a circus?

Erin: The circus came as a surprise, I was working on a different manuscript and got bored with the story so I sent the characters to a circus and the circus was immediately more interesting. I thought it had a lot of potential to explore as far as where it came from and who its inhabitants were, it was an imaginary place I felt like spending a lot of time in, even though I’m not a big fan of traditional circuses. Mine is more like performance and installation art encased in tents.

M: Everywhere I turn, I see your beautiful, descriptive writing mentioned. What was the most enjoyable part of The Night Circus to write?

I think the whole thing was enjoyable in a way, but the actual descriptions of the circus itself were probably the most fun since they involved the most unadulterated creative freedom, deciding how each tent was arranged, how things looked or felt or what they smelled like.

M: What do you hope readers take away from reading The Night Circus?

E: I hope after finishing the book readers might take away a renewed sense of wonder, I think it’s a sense that needs renewing once in a while.

M: Your book started out as a Nanowrimo project, do you have any suggestions for those taking part in a few months?

I think the most important part is to have fun with it and not worry about every little sentence, just keep moving on to the next and the next and the next. Never delete anything, and I don’t recommend re-reading until afterward. Also, stock up on caffeine and snacks. I am fond of things that hit the salty/sweet snack cravings in one go, like chocolate-covered popcorn.

M: What role would you take on if you were to run away & join the circus?

I don’t really have any good circus skills so I’d probably end up selling tickets or something like that. If I could join my circus I think I’d like to be a living statue, but I’d need a lot of practice.

A big thank you to Random House Canada and Erin!

Guys,  there is a Night Circus game!! Click here to check it out

For your chance to win a copy of THE NIGHT CIRCUS, please fill in the form below:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In My Mailbox - October 11, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - I've always been fascinated by Jack the Ripper (Thanks so much Kate!)

A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah - A special thanks to Penguin Canada's street team for this one

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick - One word..Patch!

What goodies did you get this week?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Do You Think (8) - Augemented Reality: Are You Game?

Last week HarperCollinsCanada launched a unique and creative marketing campaign for Kenneth Oppel's latest book, This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship Of Victor Frankenstein. For those of you who live in Canada and are lucky enough to visit one of the larger flagship stores, you will find a setup with a large bookcase backdrop (as shown on the right, click to enlarge); all other stores will feature a poster format.  Using a free app on your (Android based) smartphone, you scan the bookcase. Suddenly books fly off the shelf and begin telling a story, playing on the The Dark Library, secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies which are discovered by the characters in the book. Don't fret if you don't live near a Chapters store or even in Canada, the experience is also available on the authors website or by clicking here. Sounds pretty cool, eh?! Remember how I suggested having book trailers playing on TVs instore? Well, I think this has just one-upped it.

 With the astronomical growth in ebooks, combined with the young age that kids are using technology these days, it is no wonder that books are using other platforms to generate buzz. 
Augmented Reality is taking new technology to help the old, "tricking kids into reading" as Kenneth Oppel puts it. Adding something not available from your average book,  the Augmented Reality layers on the sensory input, using 3D interactive tools.

For those lucky to have early access, the idea is similar to, the Harry Potter online game which is currently in beta mode. Both integrate reading with gaming elements, this campaign just does so on a smaller scale. Speaking of Harry Potter,  I noticed the other day that my Wii version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1 came with a code to access a special Augmented Reality feature! Who knows, maybe Augmented Reality can get the attention of those video gamers who may not read often. Still in it's infancy for book promotion, I can't wait to see how quickly this takes off and becomes the norm.

What do you think.... are you up for bookish fun and games? Would you play?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - October 5, 2011

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

Hardcover, 326 pages

Expected publication: February 7th 2012

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Add it to
Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.
The cover instantly grabbed my attention, then when I saw this "A Great and Terrible Beauty meets Cassandra Clare in this spellbinding fantasy" and my eyes popped out! Add in that I'm a total witch fanatic and I HAD to read this one.

What are you waiting one?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Hardcover, 273 pages

Released: September 5, 2011

Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy

Other places to find the book:

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.
Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.
Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.
My Rating: 3.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

If you've followed my blog you will know that I absolutely LOVED Kody's debut, The DUFF! I have been eagerly awaiting Shut Out since I heard it was coming out, but guys I didn't feel this one :(

The DUFF for me was so unexpected, it took the topic of sex in YA to a whole different level, pushing the boundries, and I loved that about it. Now you are probably saying "but this book is about sex too" and yes, it is but it didn't work for me this time. I know that sex in high school happens, yet I think the story would have worked better in a college setting. I would hope that young high school couples aren't so focused on sex that they think holding it back could create change. Even the plot driver that leads Lissa to start this club was weak for me - she's sick of being interrupted when making out? Not all players were very sexually active as you soon find out, but for a while it is assumed so. I loved this addition to the storyline, I think it's important to know that it's OK to do what you want to do and not let peer pressure lead you astray. Both Shut Out and The DUFF carry the message of being yourself and loving who you are, something we all need a reminder of now and then.

I normally love stories that are character driven. Unfortunately, the main character, Lissa, was not very relateable for me. She was a control freak to the max and there wasn't much to make you care or feel support for her cause. I did find her best friend Chloe a hoot though. (Bianca from The DUFF totally won me over, she was full of spunk.)  Cash is the boy who every girl likes but is unattainable and while I did really like the guy, I wish there was more background into WHY he was that way. Being elusive and hot was not enough for me to fall for him. (Now Wesley from The DUFF, *fans self*)

A tight ending wraps the story up nicely, I just wish there was more of a character connection for me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl Of Fire And ThornsHardcover, 432 pages

Released: September 20, 2011

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Other places to find the book:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.
My Rating:  4.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

I've noticed myself enjoying more and more fantasy this year where you are pretty much guaranteed strong characters, secrets and battles over power. The Girl of Fire and Thorns was fantastic!

From the first line I was drawn into the world Rae Carson created, you would never guess this is a debut. Her strong prose thoughout the story stand outs as impressive, I was captivated, eager to know what the Godstone meant and Elisa's chosen role. As pieces of her past are woven into the story, Elisa discovers more about who she is and the sheltered life she had lead.

On her sixteenth birthday. Elisa is married off to King Alejandro of Orovalle, unsure why it's not her beautiful sister that he chose.When they arrive at her new home though, there is no announcement, in fact it is a secret. Soon enough, she  realizes there is more to this marriage then meets the eye. Kidnapped while asleep in the castle, this is where her true journey begins. This wasn't just another 'chosen one' story,  it is about self-discovery as well. Elisa's journey changes her, making her a powerful force to be reckoned with. I enjoyed her more when she was with her captors (they were not out to harm her) and this is when we learn the Godstone's history. It is also where we meet Humberto ;) I have to say I was surprised at the lack of action on the part of some characters, but then again this is told from Elisa's perspective, limiting us to what we know. There was only one thing that bothered me a little during the story, which I should have known considering she is the carrier of a Godstone. Although I believe in a higher power, I am not religious so I found the repetitive use of 'God's will' a little tiring.

Knowing this was book one of a trilogy when I started, I anticipated being left with a cliffhanger. I am happy to report that, although the journey has just begun, the ending was satisfying, leaving you curious to know what comes next for Elisa. One of the strongest debuts I've read, if you love a story rich with lore, I think you'll love Girl of Fire and Thorns too.

Buy the book:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox - October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

This week I squeed a few times :D

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - I've seen numerous people rave about this one, plus I enjoyed her previous book Lips Touch: Three Times, so I HAD to get this!

Clockwork Prince by Cassie Clare - Cassie is one of my all time favorite writers, I love her world building.

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan - This is one series I have yet to start and know I will love. When I was at Word on the Street Toronto, I saw this one the Simon & Schuster table...and it was only $6!!! Now that I own the complete trilogy, I really should have a reading marathon...that is the one benefit to starting it late :D

What goodies did you get this week?