Monday, June 30, 2014

Conversion by Katherine Howe

Conversion by Katherine Howe
Release Date - July 1, 2014
Publisher Website - Penguin/Razorbill
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 432 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible.

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?
Hysteria? Mob mentality? Boredom? The events surrounding the infamous Salem witch trails are certainly well known. It may seem inconceivable that an event like this could ever happen in today's society. Conversion offers up a modern scenario of such an event. An all too easily imagined look at how something could snowball into an uncontrollable frenzy under the right circumstances. The author of Conversion however, tantalizing asks the question of what if, and has created something truly magical as a result.

Tension seeps through this entire story and it does so almost immediately. Katherine Howe allows things to spiral and reveal themselves at just the right moment. She keeps the tension building which in turn creates a fast paced, page turner. The murkier, and unclear things get the more this novel shines. It is in it's element when the lines are blurred between the possibility of witchcraft and potential reality.

This novel is essentially two stories in one. We have Colleen's present day narration, and the story of what happened in Salem long ago. They parallel each each, but I found it distracting to jump back and forth. Each story was equally compelling but it was jarring to be tossed from one to the other. I would find myself just getting lost in one story, only to be ripped out of it, and taken back into the other one. It didn't flow together so that it felt like one continuous story. It, instead, felt like two different stories that just happened to have links between them. Both are needed to flesh out the message of the novel, but I felt it broke me out of the novel's spell.

The teen voice in this rang very true, and I could easily picture Colleen and her group of friends. The dialogue, particularly with her family, felt authentic. At times it felt like she perfectly captured this character and brought her to life within these pages. Equal attention was paid to the voice of Ann for the historical sections of the novel. Research was evidently done to ensure accuracy. The language and other details show the care that went into creating both character voices and settings.

In keeping with the realistic feel of the novel, the romances are no exception. They are background material that existed within the story, rather than something that propelled the story. The attachments made felt very true to life, and unhurried. Much like the rest of the novel's elements, it fit into the story instead of controlling it.

In the end, Conversion is a well written, thought provoking read that I would recommend. Those who love The Crucible especially will delight in this books many charms. Filled with striking attention to detail, and excellently crafted characters it'll have you reading late into the night.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

My mailbox is packed with Harper goodness this week!

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran (goodreads)
Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (goodreads)
Darling, You Can't Do Both by Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk (goodreads)

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White (goodreads)

A huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada and Edelweiss for the review copies. Excited to start reading all of them.

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Here are my obsessions this week.


Fairest by Marissa Meyer (goodreads)

I don't know how I forgot to include this last week, considering I freaked out when it was announced. A 5th book has been added to the Lunar Chronicles series! A prequel of sorts that showcases how Levana because the villainess we know and love to hate. The only downside to this is that the release of Winter was pushed back, but it also means two Marissa Meyer books in one year, so we totally win.


Penny Dreadful

The season finale of Penny Dreadful is tomorrow night. The most compelling storyline, for me, is Ethan's (Josh Hartnett) because there is so much about his character to unravel. I have theories and cannot wait to see if I am right. Eva Green is mesmerizing as Vanessa Ives, and I predict she'll be nominated for quite a few awards next season.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Summer Reading List

I saw a little while back that people were listing their summer reading lists. Now that summer is officially here I thought I would share my own list.

I tend to plan well in advance and have review books schedule in a calendar. It doesn't mean I don't sneak a few books in when I can though.

Here are the books I am most anticipating reading this summer -

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

This will be a re-read for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Bookclub discussion. I am pretty much forcing this on people at this point and am looking forward to reading it and falling in love all over again.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The lovely Harper Canada girls (Suman and Kaiti) have been gushing about this one, and once Emma Watson signed on for the movie, I was sold. I am really excited as I get to start this one VERY soon.

Veronica Mars : The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Now that I have watched the entire series, and the movie I am ready to dive into this one. I am seriously missing Neptune, Veronica, and the rest of the gang. I'll be insanely happy if Deputy Leo makes a cameo. Oh, and Logan and Veronica should make out. 

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Counting down the days until I have this book in my hands. It's going to be reading material for the train ride back from my Toronto trip. I loved Stephanie Perkins' previous novels, and feel safe saying that I will adore this one too. It's possibly my most anticipated of the summer.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

A Taylor Swift-ish character, a swoon worthy boy and a whole lot of buzz has made this a must read for me. I'll be devouring it soon, preferably with ice cream while at a park.

I also have a few fall releases that I am hoping to sneak in this summer!

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

I've been hearing nothing but amazing things about this one. Jamie (The Perpetual Page Turner/Broke and Bookish) raved about it, and the Harper Collins Canada ladies have also spoken highly of it. It may have to sneak it's way up the 'to be read' pile.

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Another one of those books that the buzz has made me stop and pay attention. I am hoping to sneak this one in because it not only sounds wonderful, but I hear the writing is utterly beautiful.

What books will you be reading this summer? Any of my selections also on your reading list?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cover Reveal for Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes

Paula Stokes asked me to help reveal the cover for her February 2015 release, LIARS, INC. Here’s more info about the book from Goodreads:
It all starts with one little lie.... 

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell lies to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts a business providing forged permission slips and cover stories for the students of Vista Palisades High. Liars, Inc. they call it. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative.

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.
And now the moment you’ve been waiting for—THE COVER!

Here’s a little more info from Paula:

OMG, I’ve been flailing about the awesomeness of this cover since April. I saw it and was basically like HOLY COVER LOTTERY!! :D 

I’ve talked about how LIARS, INC. is very different from THE ART OF LAINEY, and this cover really highlights that. LIARS has first-person narration, a bit of romance, and similar fast-paced dialogue to LAINEY, but that’s where the major similarities end. This book is a dark mystery for fans of I HUNT KILLERS, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (the TV show, because I’ve never read the books), or old-school Christopher Pike novels. I hope you love it, because if it does well I might get to write a companion novel, and I’m seriously not ready to let go of these characters. Max is a little aloof and slackerish so it might take you time to warm up to him, but his girlfriend Parvati is totally badass and fun, and both of them really grow and change over the course of the novel. (You know how I love me some character development!) And no worries, this is a total standalone book, plotted and written as a solo novel.

What do you think? Do you like this cover? Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a signed, personalized ARC of LIARS, INC.

The contest is open internationally! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

Dollhouse by Anya Allyn
Release Date - May 20, 2014
Publisher Website - Paper Lantern Lit - The Studio
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 205 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Dress-up turns deadly. . .

When Cassie’s best friend, Aisha, disappears during a school hike, Cassie sets off with Aisha’s boyfriend Ethan and their best friend Lacey, determined to find her. But the mist-enshrouded mountains hold many secrets, and what the three teens discover is far more disturbing than any of them imagined: beneath a rundown mansion in the woods lies an underground cavern full of life-size toys and kidnapped girls forced to dress as dolls.

Even as Cassie desperately tries to escape the Dollhouse, she finds herself torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, instinctive attraction to The Provider, a man Cassie swears she has known before…

Because Cassie’s capture wasn’t accidental, and the Dollhouse is more than just a prison where her deepest fears come true—it’s a portal for the powers of darkness. And Cassie may be the only one who can stop it.
Dollhouse is part mystery, part horror, and fear inducing. It's a page turning thriller whose strength is the author's ability to right shiver inducing descriptions, and it's promising plot.

The mystery of Dollhouse is what captivate me the most in the story. Being in the same position as the characters helped draw me into the story. Having it unravel at a perfect pace ensured that I would keep turning the pages long into the night. The pacing is one of the strongest elements of the story because it really grips you and forces you to keep reading. I was never sure what to expect, and that kept me on the edge while reading.

If you have a fear of dolls, you might be best to skip this one. The author has an incredible talent for taking something innocent from childhood and twisting it in a macabre, chilling way. It's done rather well, and this reads as a compelling horror novel. It has elements of suspense, and intrigue as well, but the horror aspects shone the brightest for me.

A lot of what happens is too plot depended to go into without spoilers, but the unraveling of what is actually happening, and the added elements left me with a feeling of promise. The story went in a different direction than I anticipated, and I love when a story can surprise me. I spent a lot of the novel wanting answers to questions, and for every answer I got, more questions surfaced. It was a little disorienting but it reflected the characters state of mind, so I, personally, felt it worked overall.

Sadly, the characters were the weakest link in this, for me. So much was done with the setting, the build up, and imagery that it left less focus on the characters themselves. I am hopeful that perhaps, as this seems to be a series, that with the ground work laid out, the sequels will add some development to the characters. 

A creepy, unsettling novel that is filled with striking imagery. The focus is on the setting, and background rather than the characters and that did cause a little disconnect. It ends on a rather abrupt cliffhanger that left me wanting to find out what happens next, so I am definitely curious enough to pick up the sequel.

If you need some visual chills to entice you to check out this creepy read just check out the book trailer below!

Waiting On Wednesday ...... The Retribution of Mara Dyer

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.

There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.

She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.

She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story. Retribution has arrived.
It's no secret that I love this series immensely. I cannot wait to get my hands on the final chapter in Mara's story, but at the same time I am terrified. I see a few ways this could end, and most of them do not include a happily ever after (which is totally fitting).

I've pre-ordered this one and it is totally making me wish that summer was already over.
Expected release date - November 4, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett

The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett
Release Date - June 24, 2014
Publisher Website - Harlequin Teen
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 272 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett's stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.
What if Cinderella's stepsisters weren't so wicked? What if her stepmother wasn't either? Was the handsome prince all he really appeared to be? This well thought out, and smart twist on the classic Cinderella tale shows that perhaps you only think you know the story.

The writing had a classic fairytale feel to it. It brings to mind Once Upon A Times and Happily Ever Afters. It fit the tone of the novel perfectly,  but sadly, it kept me from connecting to the characters. Jane is the driving force behind the novel as so much of it is her experiences and emotions. It's a quieter story, one that is not filled with action, so it relies heavily on it's characters. A connection to Jane is, therefore, crucial and sadly something that never happened for me. Perhaps writing in first person, and having Jane tell her own story would have suited this novel better.  I wasn't invested in their outcome, and that impacted how I felt in the end.

The nods to the classic tale will delight Cinderella fans. All the big imagery from the original is there. Part of this story's charm is finding these nods. The magic, the glass slipper, and the pumpkin carriage are all there in some capacity (just to name a few). Many of these come with a twist that served to honour the source but also make the story something completely the author's own. The care, and feeling the author put into the story is evident, and her love of the Cinderella story shines through the pages.

In a twist from the original the focus is on the bonds of family. Family both blood related and not. The loyalty we all feel towards our family, and the complexities that make up these relationships. Having the romance take a smaller role allowed the story to be seen from a different perspective. This novel looks at what makes a family, and what family means, and the Cinderella tale is richer for it. This aspect is perhaps my favourite part of the novel because of the stark difference it made.

A mostly delightful twist on the classic Cinderella tale. One that focuses on family and friendships rather than the romance. While I may not have fallen completely in love with this fairytale, there is still plenty to be spellbound and captivated by. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Prototype by M.D. Waters

Prototype by M.D. Waters
Release Date - July 24, 2014
Publisher Website - Penguin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 372 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The stunning debut that began with Archetype— and has readers buzzing—concludes in Prototype, when a woman’s dual pasts lock onto a collision course, threatening her present and future.

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.
The second I closed Archetype I immediately wanted to dive into it's sequel, Prototype. If you loved Archetype as much as I did, you'll be happy to hear that Prototype is just as excellent. It filled with more action, lots of romance, and answers to those questions you surely had.

Archetype is shrouded in mystery and murkiness. It's more about unraveling the mystery of Emma and what the truth is than anything else. Prototype is a reaction to these truths. Emma, in this novel, is even more driven. This Emma has to come to terms with where and how she fits into this new world that has opened to her. She has had everything change. Her sense of identity and where she fits is the driving force behind this novel. Her journey throughout the two books is filled with character defining moments, and the author allows the reader to experience these right along with her.

There are authors that are excellent story tellers,and M.D. Waters is definitely a story teller. She has crafted together this engaging, page turning tale that while seeped in scientific elements, also feels very grounded. Emma is a woman who is defining herself, and more importantly deciding where she fits. She is confused. She isn't sure if her life fits the person she's become. It's reminiscent of people who realize as they grow up that they are not the same people they were years ago. It's this feeling that leads people to go back to school, find new passions, or move new places. Emma's story just happens to include betrayals, shoot outs, and many more secrets. It's heightened, but the heart is still there underneath. 

If Noah didn't win your heart in Archetype, he may just accomplish it this time. He's patient, understanding, and compassionate. His tender treatment of Emma and her feelings is more than enough to cement his book boyfriend status. He's protective without being controlling. He's understanding without being a pushover. It's a fine line and M.D. Waters makes his character walk it beautifully. 

There is plenty of humour and banter in this novel. Emma, especially, comes into her own surrounded by people who tease and love her. It was gratifying to see these lighter moments, even when contrasted with the darker ones, because Emma earned them. She's what makes this story work so wonderfully, because you want her to find her own version of happiness in the end. No matter what the entails. 

I was plagued with questions after finishing the first book. This installment of the duology weaves everything together, and possibly even answers questions you didn't know you had. Everything from Emma's back story, to the more scientific aspects of the story are explored fully. The ending felt right, and earned. It felt like the story had been building to this ending and inevitable. Without giving any spoilers, I don't think anyone will be disappointed in the ending, because it feels so authentic to the story; casualties and all. 

A fun, action packed duology that seamlessly blends the character development with it's pulse pounding plot. M.D. Waters is certainly an author to watch for, particularly in the New Adult genre. Her story relies on plot, particularly in this second installment, rather than the sexytimes so I'd love to see her tackle something in that genre. Emma's story reaches a satisfying conclusion and made sure that I would eagerly anticipate M.D. Waters next book.

If you haven't read Archetype yet, it's soon to be out in paperback! 

The new cover will be upated on the paper, and it hits stores TOMORROW! Be sure to check it out if you have not already.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

My mailbox is filled with some awesome egalleys this week.

Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman (goodreads)
Eternal Night by Carina Adly MacKenzie (goodreads)

A big thank you to St Martin's Press and Paper Lantern Lit for these two review copies. Looking forward to reading them both!

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Here are my obsessions this week.


Cover of The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (goodreads)

I love the water colour vibe this has, and the colour scheme. The synopsis sounds amazing. It's one of my most reads of the Winter 2015 season.

Isla and the Happily Ever After pre-order campaign

These buttons! Look at these adorable buttons -

photo from Stephanie Perkin's blog. Copyright @Stephanie Perkins

Obviously I want these buttons. Stephanie recently announced that you can get these buttons as part of a pre-order campaign for Isla and the Happily Ever After. Luckily I will be venturing to Toronto around the time of Isla's release and was able to secure a pre-order from Mable's Fables. If you want more information about the pre-order campaign (such as all the goodies you get and where you can pre-order) all the information is available on Penguin Teen's tumblr. Did I also mention all the copies are signed?! Run and pre-order now.


Gotham Villain's promo 

This show is basically my MUST see of Fall 2014. This promo shines a light on Gotham's darkest villains, and basically makes me wish the summer was over already (crazy talk, I know).

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, June 20, 2014

#My3Wishes Contest

As you may already know I am part of The Blogger Caravan for Heather Demetrios' The Dark Caravan Cycle series. The first book in the series is called Exquisite Captive.

Heather is holding an amazing #my3wishes contest in which you could win the amazing cuff that Nalia is wearing on the cover above!

All you have to do is take a picture the looks like this and post it to Instagram. Be sure to also tag Heather and use the #my3wishes hash tag when submitting your entry!

The person who gets the most 'likes' on their photo will win the prize. It's open to residents of the USA and Canada only. Be sure to include all the information included in Heather's photo, but you're welcome to decorate it anyway you wish. One entry per person (no wishing for more entries!).

My cat, Aria, totally wanted to make some wishes of her own, so here are her three wishes

Aria's #my3wishes

1. An end to all animal cruelty
2. All the cat treats (especially Purnia Luvs as they are her favourite)
3. For Kathy (me!) to not go on vacation again (she hates when I leave)

I also made one for myself. Here are #my3wishes

1. An end to all animal cruelty
2. For my family and friends to have long healthy lives
3. An unending supply of airline tickets and hotel vouchers

What would you wish for? Let me know in the comments, and let me know if you enter Heather's contest (so I can 'like' and help you win!).

If you want to learn more about the contest, or the Blogger Caravan you can visit the official website.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Best Of 2014.... So Far

The halfway point of 2014 is quickly approaching and with it many best of (so far at least) lists. Since I typically do one, I figured now was as good a time as any.

Here are the ten books that I would consider my best of far. These are in no particular order and are not ranked in any way.

We Were Liars by E Lockheart

The less said about this one the better. Just read it. Become a liar. You'll thank me after you've recovered.

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Fans of Reign are being told to pick this one up. I completely agree. It's got scandalous Tudor drama, some rather adorable flirting, and some of my favourite friendships portrayed in a novel. Katherine also happens to be a fantastic writer, so the overall book is amazing.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Taking a beloved character and putting a deliciously sinful twist on her? Perfection. Danielle Paige's precision style writing, and attention to detail made this an intricate read. It left me dying for book two, and pretty sure I would never look at Dorothy the same way again.

Half Bad by Sally Green

A beautifully written book that puts a twist on the whole nature vs nurture question. A boy witch who has been ostracized his whole life for being 'half bad' offers heartbreaking moments, and a fascinating look at society in general.

Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaria

This will leave you weepy, and may inspire you to write your own love letter to the dead. An impact debut novel that uses a letter style format to tell it's heartbreaking yet hopeful story. I easily got swept away.

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

A fun novel that has depth and layers. This one is perfect for the summer, and will leave you wanting to touch base with your own best friend...and maybe write them a list or two.

The Winner's Cure by Marie Rutkoski

Beautifully written, and some amazing world building mixed with incredible characters made Marie's novel a fantastic start to a new series. It's sneaks up on you and leaves you breathless as you feel it's full impact. Book two now, please!

Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle

Fun! Fun! Fun! If Hollywood love triangles, CW television shows, and novels that explore more than just the romance are your thing, YOU NEED TO PICK UP THIS BOOK. The characters, the setting, and the romance all won me over. My review will come closer to the date, but Rebecca had me hooked from the first paragraph. I basically need book two immediately.

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrois

Intricate world building, a driven and determined female lead character, and some scorchingly sexy scenes made this a favourite. The interweaving of the all too real issue of the slave trade made this one resonate a little deeper. Full review to come soon (along with some other fun things) but this one easily charmed me.

The Blonde by Anna Godbersen

Marilyn Monroe as a spy is the premise for this tightly woven novel. Surprisingly this works much better than perhaps thought at first glance, and the author makes it seem entirely all to plausible. The romance between Marilyn and John F Kennedy provided a romantic backdrop that raised the stakes. A fantastic beach thriller for this summer!

Each of these links to my review (where available) if you wish to check it out.

What books made your list? Did you read any that are on mine? If so, what did you think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday ....... The Fall

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.
It's no secret that I loved Bethany's previous novels. I loved her twist on Edgar Allan Poe's Masque of the Red Death, and cannot wait to see what she'll do with his The Fall of the House of Usher. This one sounds creepy, unsettling, and just a little bit twisty.

It's subject matter, and release date are going to make it a perfect Halloween read!

Expected release date - October 7, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Release Date - May 13, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.
Texas Forever. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose. If you get emotional reading those words chances are you've watched Friday Night Lights. If you are a fan of Friday Night Lights you'll definitely want to read All Lined Up. Cora Carmack creates a story that is much more than football, and offers up an incredibly fun, smile inducing read.

There are some novels you just have fun while reading. They're light, and leaving you giggling. They make you happy. All Lined Up does just that. It's the type of novel that you finish in one sitting because you get pulled into the character's journey. Dallas especially tugs at your heart as you root for her to find her own path. She's a complex, and fully realized character. It makes her recognizable, and as a reader, I connected with her easily.

Carson is a nice guy who is laser focused on his future. He doesn't have time for distractions. His easy going, teasing manner instantly gets under the skin of the more closed off, resistant Dallas. He brings out a spark in her that resulted in some amazing banter. Their early scenes together are laced with humour, and their chemistry leaps off the pages.

Stella, Dallas' best friend, interestingly brings out some of the same qualities in her that Carson does. She challenges Dallas, and they have an easy banter. Cora Carmack shows that the best relationships, friendship or romantic, challenge you. They each give her that push she needs, and I love that two of her most defining relationships are so similar in how they influence, and impact her.

Dallas' relationship with her father is central to the story. It charts her character growth and it's through this relationship that we see the results of her changes. The romance may be the catalyst that starts her down this path, but the most satisfying interactions are the ones between her and father.

New Adult novels are about that time after highschool where you're finally learning who you are. For many it's a time of new experiences, and often your first time away from home. It's a time when you're 'playing' at being an adult, even as you're not sure what that exactly means. Cora Carmack captures the fear, and rush that comes with having these freedoms.

All Lined Up made me immediately want to watch Friday Night Lights again because she so perfectly captured the crazy, unbelievable but it's real, lifestyle that is Texas football.  She infused her novel with the magical moments right along side the brutal truth of living this life. She is able to make the sports aspect something that is almost secondary, and yet have the novel completely revolve around it. This will widen it's appeal as even non football fans will enjoy Dallas' story.

Cora Carmack delights with a flirty, sexy read that has more plot than sexytimes. It's a must read for those of us who miss Friday Night Lights, and a welcome edition to your shelf if you're a Cora Carmack fan.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Release Date - June 10, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 398 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings
After reading the synopsis for The Murder Complex my first thought was that it seemed familiar. It does have plenty in common with the blockbuster dystopian novels that have popular these past few years, but Lindsay Cummings puts a unique twist on the story and creates something utterly her own.

Blood and action are this novel's currency. In a world where the death rate is exceptionally high the amount of bloodshed could easily paint the character's world red. The frequent action created a tightly paced, fast read when combined with it's shorter, alternating chapters. Those looking for quieter, character driven stories won't find that here as the action dictates that this is a more story driven novel.

Meadow will be the element from this book that everyone talks about. She's tough, driven, focused. If she has cracks in her steely armour she doesn't let them be known. As a reader we get to see the softness that is barely a whisper in rare moments. Her connection with her sister is a glimpse at who she might have been if things were different. It's a 'what if' that is tantalizing and serves to hammer in how unjust Meadow's world is. It's a nice contrast, and one that gave Meadow some much needed layers.

Family, and those relationships, are important to the story. Meadow's family is a presence that is felt during her journey, and is one that shapes it. For better or worse they are never far from her mind when decisions are being made. I found myself wanting more glimpses into her training sessions with her father. I wanted her relationship with her brother explored more. Her and her sister's bond is such a huge part of who Meadow is that I feel it was a beautifully developed part of her character.

Zephyr's easy nature makes him Meadow's opposite, but there is something that pulls them together. The romance feels quick, but it has a potentially mystical element to it. While it's not fully explained in the first novel, the teases we did get offer a potential reason for this magnetic pull. Zephyr has more secrets than it appears at first glance, and unraveling his story is part of what made parts of this novel so compelling. His story is only beginning and it's progression is what I am most looking forward to in the subsequent novels. The weaving together of his story with Meadow's own is what fascinated me. They each have their own part to play in a much larger story. This aspect may end up saving the romance, and allow the characters to develop independently and together. Glimpses of this potential are shown throughout the novel, but how well it works depends on the following novels, and if this is built upon.

The world Lindsay Cummings has created is well developed. She knows exactly what the story needs from it's setting and surroundings to make it work. It's obvious that thought went into creating the landscape,  it's government, and back story. The characters seem to have been created after the world, in order to inhabit it, but they don't quite mesh as cohesively as I wanted.  This means I didn't fall into the story the way I hoped, and therefore didn't connect with the novel the way I wanted to. It's something I cannot quite put my finger on. The narration reads current, but the use of created slang felt a little jarring. I couldn't quite get a sense of when this was taking place, and it felt a little disjointed. The use of created words is tricky, and either works really well, or creates a barrier. The made up swear words, unfortunately, took me out of the story. They didn't mesh with the tone, or vibe the writing and world created.

Fans of strong characters, gripping action scenes, and thought out world building will find plenty to enjoy in The Murder Complex's pages. I may not have connected with it the way I wanted to, but I was intrigued enough to eagerly anticipate the next chapter of Meadow's story.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

My mailbox is SUPER short this week (which is totally happy making after my BEA week) and I only borrowed one book from a fellow blogger.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (goodreads)

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Here are my obsessions this week.


Cover of Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas (goodreads)

 Dangerous Girls is a dark and twisty read. It sucker punches you and totally messes with your head. As soon as I heard Abigail Haas was writing a companion novel, Dangerous Boys, I knew I would want to read it. I am curious to see what twists she has in store and I've been hearing good things already.

The cover was released, and I pretty much love it. I am unsure if this will be the North American cover, but I kind of hope it is.

*side note - can Dangerous Girls become a movie?! Please? It would be amazing.

Anne and Henry by Dawn Ius (goodreads)

It's no secret that I am a big fan of Tudor history. I was immediately intrigued when I saw this in Publishers Weekly recently
A contemporary retelling of the romance between King Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn, in which Henry is a wealthy, popular teen destined for political greatness, and Anne is the manic pixie dream girl who ensnares him and threatens to destroy the life he's worked so hard to build. 
A contemporary twist on the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry. I am cautiously intrigued because this synopsis. Not thrilled about the whole 'manic pixie dream girl' thing, or the 'ensnares and threatens to destroy his life' bits, but I hope it's a misleading synopsis. I see that Henry might feel this way, so perhaps it's from his point of view. Either way I am intrigued enough to check it out.  


Movie options Love Letters To The Dead, and We Were Liars

With the success of The Fault In Our Stars it seems more of the contemporary novels are going to be destined to hit the big screen. Two of my recent favourites have recently been optioned. We Were Liars already has a screenplay in place.It was written by E. Lockhart (as per Deadline). I believe that I heard Ava Dellaira is writing the screenplay for her novel as well. I approve of this trend of author's adapting their own novels. I feel it helps keep the tone of the work intact, and the author knows this material better than anyone. 

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Follow Friday

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is:

Question of the Week: Armchair Travel! Tell us about your favorite book in a setting you’d like to visit (a real place for this question).

Anna and the French Kiss. It's set in Paris and makes it seem like the most romantic place on earth.

My second choice would be The Secret Diamond Sisters and Las Vegas. Michelle Madow makes Vegas seem sexy and fun!

Happy Weekend!

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Brazen by Katherine Longshore 
Release Date - June 12, 2014
Publisher Website - Penguin/Razorbill
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 528 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?
Words have weight. Words matter. Words,when used in a certain way, can be a weapon that cuts as deep as any knife. Words can also heal. In Brazen, Katherine Longshore shows that three little words can break your heart. As a result, it's Katherine Longshore's words that truly shine in the finale to the Tudor Court trilogy of companion novels.

Words fascinate Mary Howard. To her they have a taste. Words, and finding the right ones, consume her. This aspect of her personality endeared her to me, and provided some rather poetic lines of writing that were breathtaking. Marys longs, like Anne before her, to be her own person. She wants to do things for herself, and not because she's ordered to. I fell in love with her character effortlessly. Her journey to coming into her own, and finding her own unique voice mirrors those teenage years where you're discovering yourself. The stakes are just raised for Mary because, for her, the wrong move could mean death.

Mary's declaration that she does not need anyone to give her an identity because she has her own was possibly one of my favourite moments in not just this novel, but any novel. The message of finding your own self worth, and embracing it is such a huge part of Mary's journey, but it's a lesson everyone should learn. 

Forbidden romances are plentiful in Brazen. Mary and Fitz are the primary focus. Forbidden from acting on their desire to be together, even though they are married, presented a sort of delicious torture. Each almost kiss, each stolen moment, every whispered promise cemented their star crossed love story. I couldn't imagine being prevented from consummating my marriage just so that it might be annulled if 'something better' came along. Held at the King's mercy Mary and Fitz fall in love against the odds, and it is this choice that gives them strength. Being together is something they chose themselves. They may have been forced together, but they chose to fall in love. In a world without many choices, this would feel incredible. It made all the feelings more deep, and everything tinged with a sense or urgency because it could be ripped away at any moment.

While the romance is certainly swoon worthy, it was the friendships that impacted me the most. Each interaction between Mary, Madge and Margaret shows the bonds they've formed. Their friendship is integral to the plot, and defines each of the women more than their romances ever could. They protect, console, and listen to each other. Refreshing, and often times missing from novels, Brazen allowed the friendship to take the focus, even as the romance was woven within. 

Regrets are a vital theme of this novel. It sometimes aches from the characters in waves, other times it's a wistful whisper glimpsed only briefly. Allowing fear to prevent us from acting and seizing something we want can haunt us. That fear can also be crippling. Katherine masterfully shows the courage it takes to live so you don't have those regrets, and the sadness of living with them. 

The second half of the novel doesn't hold back. The build up and execution is brilliantly done. I was left emotionally drained as everything came crashing down, and unraveled. Novels that offer a satisfying culmination, even if torturous, after an intelligently planned build up are incredibly rewarding, and Brazen pulls this off immensely. 

Any historical novel that can surprise you has done what it set out to do. We know the ending of the story before we begin. It's the journey you take to get there, the connections you make with the characters, and the feelings it compels out of you that make the difference. Katherine brings these characters to life in a way that feels deeply authentic and she uses every single page to show us why historical novels are still relevant. 

Each of Katherine's novels seem to get richer and more stunning than the last. Brazen is filled with sharp writing, courtly intrigue, and a main character that broke my heart, mended it, and left me wanting to live my life with no regrets. Fans of historical novels will adore this one, but non historical readers will fall just as deeply under it's spell.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Q and A with Katherine Longshore

Tomorrow is the release day for Katherine Longshore's BRAZEN! I could not be more excited that this amazing novel will soon be available for everyone to read. To kick off the celebration I have Katherine stopping by for a Q and A today, and tomorrow I will be posting my review.

If you don't already know, here is a little bit about BRAZEN

Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

I got Katherine to spill on Tudor gossip, her next project, and writing those heartbreaking scenes that are plentiful in this series.

1 This book closes out the 'trilogy'. Did you do anything special to celebrate finishing a full series? 

While I was working on BRAZEN, my youngest somehow got the idea into his head that we needed to celebrate with pink champagne cake. So when I finished my final draft, that’s exactly what we did. More personally, I’m celebrating the publication by savoring every moment. The debut publication is rife with uncertainties and angst and the desire to do ALL THE THINGS, which makes it a little more nerve-wracking. This time around, I’m having a lot more fun, and making the moments count.

2 The previous two books featured women who were Henry's wives. What about Mary Howard made you want to break from that mold?

I wrote GILT as a stand-alone novel, never expecting to get a three-book deal, so all of my decisions on which characters to write about came from a very gut level. Catherine Howard was Henry’s only teenaged wife and I felt that scenario came with built-in conflict. I never intended to write about Anne Boleyn, but she hit me upside the head out of left field. I loved the idea of exploring the girl who became the queen. And through my research, I discovered the Devonshire Manuscript—a little book in which several different people wrote poetry and notes and possibly even coded messages. That book belonged to Mary Howard, and I loved that she belonged to this kind of literary brat pack who shared words in such a unique way. Her marriage at the age of fourteen seemed the perfect starting point. And, the Howard family is absolutely drowning in tales of intrigue, ambition and deception.

3 Part of writing historically based novels is the inflexibility the path these characters take. There are two heartbreaking moments in BRAZEN that are aching and tragic. Did you ever wish you could re-write these character's endings?

All the time! The scenes you mention were the most difficult to write. In fact, they weren’t in the first draft at all, because I couldn’t face writing them. And there was one point in every revision that I had to stop, close the document, and walk away. Every single time. Because I couldn’t believe I was going through with it.

4 The Anne Boleyn we meet in this novel is quite a bit different from the hopeful, driven woman we meet in Tarnish. This Anne is desperate, and at times frantic. The contrast is striking but the character we meet in Tarnish is still very evident. Did you have to get back into that character in order to show her natural progression?

One of the hardest things about writing the first draft of BRAZEN was that I couldn’t get the voice of Anne Boleyn out of my head. She kept trying to take over. Eventually, I had to cut all of her scenes, and put them in a separate reserve document. Only then could I focus on Mary’s voice. When I finally got Mary’s story straight, I brought Anne back in. She had changed a little—just like people do over time. I’m glad to know it worked!

5 With Reign burning up the television charts, historically based entertainment looks to be set to make a splash right now. What do you think draws people to these stories all these years later? 

I think it has something to do with the fact that it reads and looks like fantasy or dystopian, but was written down as truths long before we got here. Sometimes, I read historical accounts and think, “you can’t make this stuff up.” Something like Reign—that adds fictional elements to enhance the story—or even Game of Thrones—which was inspired by the Wars of the Roses—only proves the point. The reality was so Machiavellian, so brutal, so emotionally spellbinding that no matter which way it’s framed—reality-based or fantasy-based or even science fiction-based—it can’t help but be compelling.

6 A big theme of this novel is regrets. Mary has to choose to act before she regrets not doing so. Anne shows signs of wistful regrets at choices she could have made. Was this theme something that shaped the novel (considering it's set during Anne's downfall) or was it something that happened as the novel came together?

I think it was a little bit of both. Because I began the novel directly after finishing TARNISH, the Anne in my mind had regrets. She was never the type of person to let them consume her–she was always looking forward rather than looking back. But in our bleakest moments our regrets catch up with us. So Anne expressed regrets early on. Mary’s interpretation of it grew from that as I went through revisions. It’s a balancing act we all have to practice—is the action worth the regret?

7 During your research for this novel did you find out anything surprising? 

I did a lot of research on Anne’s execution. It was never the thing about her story that interested me most, and it was painful to imagine the demise of a beloved character. But as I read, I discovered that I could distance myself, and look at the various accounts with a more dispassionate eye. I had never known there were so many different transcripts of her final speech. Nor had I known that her women–the ones who accompanied her–were the ones to clean the body and carry her to the chapel. I found that fact so compelling and so tragic, and yet so appropriate that I had to include it in my book.

8 Can you tease anything about anything that might be next for you?

I’ll have a short story in the PISTOLS & PETTICOATS anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood (publication date tentatively set for Spring 2016). I’m relishing the chance to explore some American history for that one!

And I’m currently working on a contemporary novel. It’s fun to work with the same kinds of themes—love, friendship, self-reliance—in a setting that at first glance isn’t so restrictive. In modern-day America, women are not considered chattel. Children are not required to marry a much older man for the betterment of their family fortunes. But my characters still face great limitations imposed upon them by a society that doesn’t always see past the nose on its face. So where there’s freedom and dynamism, there is also seemingly insurmountable odds to growth and the life they crave. But there’s still intrigue and secrets. And kissing.

A huge thank you to Katherine for taking the time to answer my questions! 

You can add Brazen to your Goodreads shelf, and the previous novels Gilt and Tarnish are also available to add while you're there!

You find Katherine on Twitter, her website, and more information is available on Penguin's website as well.

You can purchase BRAZEN from Barnes and Noble // Chapters 

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