Monday, November 30, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - Unhooked

The next 2016  Most Anticipated selection is one inspired by one of my favourite stories. It involves pirates, fairies and a boy who did not want to grow up.

This Goodreads synopsis makes it clear we're not dealing with Disney's Peter, or it's Neverland. This promises to be DARK, DARK, DARK!
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?
While Peter as the villain is all the rage right now, I am hoping this offers up a unique twist on the tale, and the character. It certainly grabbed my attention and I cannot wait to read it.

Lisa answered a few questions about the book, shared some inspiration behind it, and offers a peek at the first line of the story!

1 Twitter pitch Unhooked (140 characters or less).

A stolen girl, a pirate w/ nothing left to lose, & a fairytale hero w/ a dark twist. Sometimes, there's nothing more dangerous than a story.

2 If someone were to make a signature drink in honour of your book, what might be included?


3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

I chose my MC’s last name, Allister, because it’s Gaelic for “defender of man."

4 Unhooked takes inspiration from Peter Pan. What about the classic tale inspired you to write this story?

Captain Hook— I wanted to write a pirate book, but I didn’t want to write a historical. I was tossing around different ideas when I came across Peter Pan, and once I actually read J.M. Barrie’s original novel, I was struck with just how wrong all of our popular versions of the story are. It’s a really dark story, and while Neverland is definitely fantastical, it’s also a scary place. I wanted to go back to that original sense—the danger mixed with the fantastic nature of the island.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

1920s Paris. I want to hang out with Hem and the gang.

6 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

Definitely THE RAVEN KING. Though I know she’s probably going to kill Gansey and break my heart.

7. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of Unhooked.

Outside the rain-splattered window of the taxi, London looks like its dressed for a funeral

I agree. Neverland really does lend itself to a darker story! I cannot wait to see what Lisa does with all the characters and the setting. Here's hoping for a little romance as well.

Unhooked releases February 2, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Lisa on Twitter, visit her official website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book that made this year's list!

Do you love retelling of classic tales? What do you think makes them work? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

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).

This week I have a lovely package from my #otspsecretsister filled with wonderful goodies!

Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaria (goodreads)

A huge thank you to my #otspsecretsister 'Hermonie' for my November goodies! Love Letters To The Dead is one of my favourite books I've reviewed and I was so happy to finally have a copy (and it's hardcover!).

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Friday, November 27, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - 26 Kisses

This book's cute premise immediately caught my interest. A girl decides to get over a break up by kissing 26 guys... one for each letter of the alphabet. It sounds fun, cute, and the kind of book that you'll read while enjoying some ice cream in the summer sunshine.

The Goodreads synopsis below should win you over. This book sounds adorable, irresistible and filled with the stuff of rom-com movie magic. Think of all the adorable meet-cutes that could happen!
Breaking up with her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. And so she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.

From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the breakup doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Anna Michels’s debut is the story of one girl who realizes that moving on from the supposed love of your life means taking a chance—and having the courage to love again.
Sounds fun, right? Exactly the kind of book you would read when you just want a book filled with swoon worthy kissing scenes.

Anna kindly took some time to talk about her novel, how she found some of the guy's names, and what she would put in a 26 Kisses inspired ice cream.

1 Twitter pitch 26 Kisses (140 characters or less). 

When Veda is dumped at the beginning of the summer, she decides to move on--and up--by kissing 26 boys, one for each letter of the alphabet

2 If someone were to make a signature ice cream in honour of your book, what might be included?

I think it would have to be blue ice cream, in honor of Lake Michigan, which is such an important part of Veda's hometown. We'd need some cherries thrown in, also in homage to Michigan... and then gummi bears on top, because gummi bears are literally the most fun thing you can put in ice cream, and I had such a blast writing 26 Kisses (and I hope you have a blast reading it!)

3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit. 

I love the town and setting of 26 Kisses so much that I'd love to write more books in that world--so some of the minor characters in this book could end up being the stars of the next one! Pay close attention to see if you can guess who they might be ;)

4 Your novel revolves around a girl attempting to kiss a boy for every letter of the alphabet. Can you share your favourite name you used for one of the boys?

Picking the names was one of the best parts of writing the book. I spent a lot of time on baby names websites! I only named one after someone I knew--Walter, right near the end of the book, is my grandpa's name. 

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

I have actually come about as close to time-traveling as is possible at this point, by working in a pioneer-era living history village! For eight hours a day, I wore period clothes, cooked over a fire, churned butter, etc. It was a great job and I wouldn't mind going back to 1840s America. It was a hard life, but a satisfying one.

6 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

Gah, there are so many! I'm a contemporary YA girl all the way, so I'm really looking forward to Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, This Is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, and Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake.

7. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of 26 Kisses.

Seth loved me first.

That ice cream sounds kind of amazing, and I am really excited to see what names made the list for some of the letters.

26 Kisses releases May 24, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Anna on Twitter, visit her official website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book that made this year's list!

A cute, summer-y read that will appeal to those who love contemporary reads. What's your favourite name for a love interest in a novel? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - American Girls

Today's book is one that caught my attention almost immediately. There was buzz about the voice in this one, and how amazing the main character is. I had also heard that the writing was incredible. Combine this a really attention grabbing hook and it was one I knew I needed to include on this list.

While Anna may be researching the Manson Girls, the Goodreads synopsis show that there is much more to this novel, and it's main character, than might appear at first glance.
She was looking for a place to land.
Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she's had it with her life at home. So Anna "borrows" her stepmom's credit card an runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn't quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.

As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn't the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

In Anna's singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn't, in a way not often seen in YA fiction 
This synopsis gives me hope that this will be a story of hope, finding yourself, and that it may leave you looking at those girls who are lost (in all sorts of ways) differently. It certainly seems to promise that and more within it's pages.

Alison kindly took some time to dish on her novel, whip up some ice cream, and surprise me with some details about the research she did.

1 Describe American Girls using only three words.

Dark, funny, hopeful

2 If someone were to make a signature ice cream in honour of your book, what might be included?

Definitely mint and chocolate with sprinkles -- frosty but fun.

3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

Hmmmm-- well, I would say that most of the characters have secrets -- Anna, my main character, is both a little more cruel and a little more vulnerable than she seems at first.

4 Was there anything surprising you discovered while researching your novel?

Since I was researching the Manson murders, there were plenty of surprises.  One of the biggest surprises for me was realizing that most of the Manson girls were genuinely sorry for what they'd done, given the passage of time.  Not that remorse is necessarily redemptive, but I think it's easy to be cynical about who these women were -- and many of them were what we'd think of as "regular" girls.  I was also surprised that Sharon Tate's baby was buried with her, that he had a name alongside hers on their gravestone.  That really broke my heart, and I gave that moment of sadness and surprise to Anna in the novel.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

1940s Hollywood would be hard to beat -- all those super-glamorous movies stars and crazy noirs being filmed -- I would have been happy to tuck myself into the corner of a set and just watch.

6 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

I recently read Meredith Russo's IF I WAS YOUR GIRL and I'm excited to see it move into the world -- about a very sweet transgender girl living in the rural South.  A really great read and so smart and heartfelt.

7. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of American Girls

First line of AMERICAN GIRLS:  "My first Manson girl was Leslie Van Houten, the homecoming princess with the movie-star smile."

That opening line already has me dying to read more, and the level of details gathered during the research phase of this book. I have a feeling this one is going to be both heart wrenching and heartfelt.

American Girls releases June 7, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Alison on Twitter, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book that made this year's list!

This novel has ties to real life events, and even has the main character researching the past. What do you think of novels that twist real events into the story? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - Suffer Love

The next pick for my 2016 Most Anticipated Event is one that I've already heard so much gushing about. The writing, the feelings that the story brings forth, and the journey the characters take have all been mentioned as standing out in this story, and I cannot wait to read all of this for myself.

This has been compared (a little) to Romeo and Juliet set in modern times and the Goodreads synopsis certainly has a similar feel to it, but hopefully these characters don't meet as tragic an ending.
Hadley St. Clair's life changed the day she came home to a front door covered in slips of paper, each of them revealing the ugly truth about her father. Now as her family falls apart in the wake of his year-long affair, Hadley wants everyone-her dad most of all-to leave her alone.

Then she meets Sam Bennett, a cute new boy who inexplicably "feels like home" to Hadley. Hadley and Sam's connection is undeniable, but Sam has a secret about his family that could ruin everything.

Funny and passionate, Suffer Love is a story about first love, family dysfunction, and the fickle hand of fate. 
This is one that should be on all YA contemporary fans radar going into 2016! I've heard you definitely won't be sorry!

Ashley was kind enough to answer a few questions for this event, and (if possible) it's made me even more excited to read her debut!

1 Describe Suffer Love using only three words.

Family, betrayal, forgiveness.

2 If someone were to make a signature drink in honour of your book, what might be included?

Haha, I actually have a good answer for this one. So, my brother is the co-creator of this awesome cocktail social app called BarNotes. A while back, I found a drink on there called “Secrets & Lies,” which is pretty apt for Suffer Love. It’s also pretty tasty. Er…wait till you’re 21, kids. (I’ve screenshot a pic of the drink and the recipe and attached it to this email, so you can add or not add that in the feature as you see fit. :D)

3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

Right and wrong isn’t always black and white and who to blame isn’t always who you think it is.

4 Suffer Love has been called a modern Romeo and Juliet. How much did Shakespeare influence your d├ębut novel?

The play didn’t inspire the actual storyline all that much, to be honest, at least in the beginning. I simply wanted to write a story about two teens dealing with pieces of their life beyond their control and how parents’ actions affect teens in unforeseen ways. The R&J connection came later, after the book sold, even. I didn’t even see it until my editor called it a modern R&J! But, there’s also another play in the book, Much Ado About Nothing, which I used at the beginning to give Hadley something to rant about with Sam, something that hinted subtly to their connection. In the end, R&J ended up playing a bigger role, even for my character Sam, but all of that arose organically. 

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

I’d go to Bronte’s England. I’ve always been sort of an Anglophile and I’d love to go back to their time and watch those three sisters challenge the status quo for women in the arts. 

6 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

I’m dying for Kerry Kletter’s The First Time She Drowned and Emily Henry’s The Love That Split the World. The ARCs should be headed my way eventually and I’m so excited, having heard such amazing things. I’ve already read so many I’ve loved, including Maris Reichardt’s Underwater, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s Firsts, Brooks Benjamins’ My Seventh Grade Life in Tights, Parker Peevyhouse’s Where Future’s End, and Rebecca Podos’ The Mystery of Hollow Places. 2016 is going to be an amazing debut year!

7. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of Suffer Love.

“His hand is warm on my bare back."

Ashley has also graciously included the recipe for her drink selection mentioned above (make sure you're of legal drinking age before trying, everyone).

Suffer Love releases May 3, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Ashley on Twitter, visit her website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book that made this year's list!

This sounds like the sort of novel that will both crush your heart and heal it a little bit at the same time. What is your favourite part of novels that impact you like this? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Melissa From Raincoast's Most Anticipated of 2016

Today I have the lovely Melissa from Raincoast Books stopping by to dish on her list for Most Anticipated of 2016. There are some great sounding books on this list and a few that are own my own list for this year (looking at you, Heartless!!)
2016 Most Anticipated Titles
Hi Kathy! Thank you for inviting me back to share some of my most anticipated titles.  I have to say, 2016 is going to be an incredible year of books.  Since there’s so many wonderful books coming out (and I have trouble choosing titles at the best of times), I’ve selected 5 YA titles to keep an eye out for in 2016, as well as some highly anticipated sequels you won’t want to miss. So get ready to increase your to-read pile exponentially with these awesome 2016 reads.
YA Books to look for in 2016:
Heartless by Marissa Meyer: I know I’m not alone in anticipating this one. I will read anything that Marissa writes, and I can’t wait to see how she tackles the story of the Queen of Hearts. Knowing Marissa, she won’t disappoint!

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard:  The first book in a brand new fantasy series from the lovely Susan Dennard, this is definitely one to look for in 2016. Truthwitch has something for everyone—a wonderfully strong female friendship, tons of thrilling action and high stakes, and even a handsome love interest thrown in for good measure—you really can’t go wrong.

With Malice by Eileen Cook:  Eighteen-year-old Jill wakes up from a coma after an  accident. Or at least, that’s what she was told. Since her memory of the last few weeks is gone, she isn’t sure of exactly what happened. But what if it wasn’t an accident? Written by a fellow Vancouverite and with a super intriguing premise, I can’t wait to 
dive into With Malice in 2016.

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood: Let me just preface this by mentioning that the author wrote her Masters thesis on Dawson’s Creek. Need I say more? A debut novel by UK author Harriet Reuter Hapgood, The Square Root of Summer features romance, time travel, and beautiful writing. Don’t miss out on this one!

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan: There are only a couple things you need to know about this one to include it on your TBR list in 2016: it’s a reimagining of A Tale of Two Cities but with magic, and it’s written by Sarah Rees Brennan. Plus, have you seen that cover?! I can’t wait to find out what Sarah has in store for us.

Bonus: Much-anticipated sequels

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski: I don’t know what else to say about The Winner’s Kiss other than: if you haven’t started this series already, what are you waiting for? Marie Rutkoski’s gorgeous writing and intricately detailed plot makes this series a must-read. I am beyond excited to see how she will wrap up the trilogy.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: It will come as no surprise to anyone in the Raincoast office, or really anyone who knows me for that matter, that this is one of my most anticipated books of 2016. Crooked Kingdom is the follow-up to Six of Crows: a masterfully written and plotted heist story with a cast of characters who will easily capture your attention—and affection—from the very beginning. I am sure that Crooked Kingdom will be no different and exceed my already high expectations.

The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May: The Vanishing Throne is the much-anticipated second book in the Falconer trilogy. With more thrilling action and suspense, not to mention romance, this is definitely one to watch out for in 2016.

Thank you to Melissa for sharing her list and I cannot wait to read so many of these! What title makes your own list? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, November 23, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - Kill The Boy Band

As a teenage girl boy bands were my thing. It started with New Kids On The Block and continued when the Backstreet Boys rolled around. The second I heard of this next book I knew I had to read it! I mean, a group of fangirls kidnap their least favourite member of their favourite boy band?! Yes, please!

I've gotten to read this one already thanks to the advance copy I got at BEA and it is EVERYTHING the below synopsis promises and more!
From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.
It's darkly funny. It celebrates the power of fangirls, and if you (like me) LOVE Heathers you'll need this book in your life. There are so many lines that will make you laugh, but you'll also bask in the love Goldy is bestowing on fangirls, and how their power is unstoppable.

Goldy was kind enough to dish on all things boy bands (including her least favourite member of her favourite boy band).

1 Twitter pitch Kill The Boy Band (140 characters or less).

My original twitter pitch is quite spoilery so here’s an alternate: Four Fangirls kinda accidentally kidnap their least favorite member of their most favorite boy band. Shit gets dark fast.

2 If someone were to make a signature drink in honour of your book, what might be included?

It would probably be absinthe and a sugar cube with a base of fangirl tears. Instead of green or white it would be hot pink.

3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

The narrator’s father was a big motorcycle aficionado.

4 Kill The Boy Band is not only darkly funny, but a look at fan culture in general. What is your favourite part of being a part of a fandom?

A lot of people will say that fandom is the opposite of reality, and while that may be true, I think it has the remarkable ability to make your reality better. Everyday life is mundane. And then there are fandoms, which make us excited about the little things. It’s like candy. It’s a special treat. And I really like getting excited about the little things.

5 Will you share your least favourite member of your favourite boy band? 

Hmm, this one’s tough. But the answer has to be Justin Timberlake, NSYNC. :-)

6 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

Scotland 1743! (hehe a wee Outlander joke.) My answer to this is kinda lame since I technically lived it but I would go back to New York in the 90s. I was only kid then so I’d want to experience it as an adult. I’m obsessed with 90s music and I get a pang for 90s New York whenever I listen to it.

7 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

I can’t wait to read Cherry by Lindsey Rosin. It’s described as American Pie for girls. Like I said, it’s a 90s thing.

8 If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of Kill The Boy Band.

Sure! Here it is:

People have called me crazy.

Yes to getting excited about the little things. I think we all need more of that and this book is one of those things to get excited about!

Kill The Boy Band releases February 23, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Goldy on Twitter, visit her website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by to find out the next book that made this year's list!

Are you (or were you) a fan of boy bands?  What's your favourite boy band song? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

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).

A huge thank you to both Simon and Schuster USA and Simon and Schuster Canada for the books that arrived this week! Very excited to check out both of these titles.

Other Broken Things by C. Desir (goodreads)
Year Of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (goodreads)

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

American Horror Story: Hotel - Flicker

Two words sum up this episode of HOTEL for me -  RUDOLPH VALENTINO! And with that your usual warning that .... there will be spoilers. Now let's talk what happened in Flicker.

Will Drake is moving ahead with his ill advised hotel renovations. He's also having an extremely awkward conversation where he's trying to explain to his son why he suddenly wants to be with a woman. He son is obviously confused because he knows his dad is gay.

While doing renovations, the construction workers knock down some walls and find a previously sealed up section of the hotel. While exploring they are attacked by two really malnourished vamps who rip out their throats. Things just got real interesting. Has Mr March been sealing up vampires?!

John, in what is perhaps the best decision he's ever made, decides to check himself into a mental health facility. Seems that John knows he needs help and wants to get it. He is after all a murdering murderer, but that's not why he's there. John tells them that he knows his mental state is not in a healthy place and he wants to work on that. All lies, obviously. Turns out that John is still manipulating things because he wants to be committed into THIS particular hospital for a specific reason - an 'accomplice' of the Ten Commandments Killer is being held at this facility. John discovered this piece of information while attacking one of his old colleagues, so bad life decisions are still very much a thing for him.

Iris has found the bodies of the construction workers and immediately goes to get Countess. Seems that Countess is not sure who/what was in the sealed up section, but seems scared that whoever was in there is now walking around free. If the Countess is scared, it's bad news. Meanwhile, the two newly freed vamps are sating their hunger by eating hotel guests - including Marcy the realtor from Murder House.

A huge part of this episode is a flashback. The Countess' origin story to be exact. She was a young starlet in Hollywood (and very much human) in the 1920's. While working on a movie she catches the eye of the (currently married) leading man. This leading man is played by Finn Wittrock with brown contacts and a shorter hair cut, so it turns out my theory is probably correct. This explains who Tristan reminded her of! This actor is Italian, handsome (obviously), apparently divorcing his wife, and inviting her to his house for dinner. They flirt, he calls her 'a true American art form' and I pretty much become a swooning mess. He's entirely captivating as he explains to her that he is admiring her when she takes offence and thinks he's making fun of her. They dance, and flirt some more, until his wife strolls downstairs. Natacha is amazing. She refers to Countess as a 'mouse' and herself a 'cat' as she icily gives her the once over. This is where something fell into place for me. Countess starstruckedly calls her Natacha Rambova. Anyone obsessed with 1920s and Hollywood would know that name as the wife of Rudolph Valentino. So, Finn Wittrock is now playing Rudolph Valentino. It fits with the Italian movie star thing. It also makes the Margaret Gibson reference more plausible if Countess was part of the Hollywood scene in the 20's.

Turns out the divorce thing is a rouse as the studio wants them to separate (true story, actually. Rudolph got arrested for marrying Natacha too quickly before his divorce to his previous wife was finalized). This entire episode is filled with amazing nods to the real history and it is entirely delightful. Natacha isn't too angry Countess is there though, and things quickly escalate into them being a blissfully happy threesome (in all senses of the word).

Things are going great for Countess. She's blissfully in love with two stunning people, and they are all happy together. Everything is great, until she goes a party by hosted Mr March (naturally things would go bad when he gets involved). While at the party she learns that Valentino has died. She becomes overcome with grief and decides to kill herself by jumping out a window. She's caught the eye of Mr March though, so he steps in and saves her. Countess marries Mr March and is attracted to his darkness, so much that she wanted it to consume her. They have rough sexytimes (including choking each other) and generally seem to feed the worst parts of each other. She is, to nobody's surprise, the wife who liked to watch. She even pushed James down his murderous path. She, however, never stops mourning her first love. We see that she visits his tomb
and places a rose on it on the anniversary of his death. This scene incorporates another true part of the Valentino myth - the mysterious lady in black who visited his grave yearly with a single rose. On one of Countess' visits it is revealed that Valentino is not dead. Turns out they put a (very dedicated) stunt double into his coffin to fake his death. It also turns out that Valentino has been infected. The person who infected him? F. W. Murnau, the director of Nosferatu, who contacted it while researching the movie (he got it at some kind of orgy). A fantastic nod to the first episode as that is the movie shown at the cemetery where Countess and Donovan pick up the other couple. After explaining about the blood virus, they invite Countess to go with them, to become like them, and be with them forever. She eagerly accepts but Mr March overhears everything. Seems if your wife disappears on the same day each year, you get curious enough to follow her.

John's plan to get access to the accomplice is under way. It's a relatively simple plan involving just two steps: 1) fake being sick and 2) beat the guard and steal his key. It's a smashing success and John uses the key to unlock the door where the accomplice is being held. Turns out it's one of Countess' vampire children. The girl looks an awful lot like Scarlet. Her name is Wren and she seems to be familiar with John. John questions her about the Ten Commandments Killer and her role in the whole thing. Turns out she was a willing accomplice and even killed the security guard to save 'him' from being caught. She tells John a story of her father who was basically waiting for her to grow up enough for him to rape. One day while locked in a hot car in the middle of summer she decides that perhaps she would be better off killing herself. She's saved by Countess (who, as we know, has intense maternal instincts) and that is how she was turned. John questions if her father is the killer, a notion that Wren basically laughs at. John demands she help him find the killer as he is just going to keep killing. She offers to take him to the killer's house (and politely doesn't ask John why he's speaking about himself in the third person because she's totally taking him to his own house, right?!).

The vamps currently feasting on Hotel Cortez guests are Valentino and Natacha! Mr March sealed them away in his jealous rage making the Countess believe that they had abandoned her so that she would stay with him. They argue over who is to blame for their current circumstances. Valentino wants to kill James, but Natacha blames Valentino. Most particularly his unwillingness to leave Countess. She is angry that he let it come to this. He agrees, and promises her that they will take back everything they lost and rebuild a life that is even more glorious than the one they had before. They spy a group of guest across the hall and use them to regain their health as their hunger is still not sated.

In present time we see that James and Countess have a monthly dinner date. It's nice when divorced people can be friends. James is still totally in love with Countess. She is there to tell him about her upcoming marriage to Will. James requests that when she murders Will for his money that she do it off the property so that he doesn't have to keep running into Will forever. They have a discussion about how many times Countess has been in love, and it's obvious that James isn't talking about anyone but Valentino. Countess realizes that Valentino and Natacha are who escaped and that James put them there. He taunts her with the fact that he put her 'god' in the palace he built for her. Worst husband ever, right? Countess is obviously upset by this news. As this dinner is happening, a  healthy, modernly dressed Valentino and Natacha leave the Cortez (looking smoking and fierce). Seriously, how hot does Finn Wittrock look here?!

The episode ends with John and Wren leaving the hospital and as they walk she tells him they have to go back to the Cortez for answers. John assures her that she's safe and that he will make sure the killer never touches her again. She inquires if John will kill him, and he tells her that he will if he has to. She sadly tells him that she likes him and she would hate to see 'it' end (all but screaming that he is the killer) and kills herself by running out in front a transport (ensuring John's mental state is not going to improve any time soon).

This season is all about sex, lust, jealousy and love. The things we do for love (both good and bad) and the ways it can drive you literally insane. This episode in particular explains a lot about the Countess and how she views things. She leaves before she is left because she thought Valentino abandoned her. Perhaps she killed Tristan instead of allowing him to be with Liz because he reminded her of Valentino. She couldn't handle 'him' leaving her again. I bet it also explains why all the guys on this show look the same. They are all meant to resemble her lost love (and Countess totally has a type).

I loved every single thing about this episode. Vampires, Hollywood, real life inspiration and the 1920's. It's like Ryan Murphy took everything I love and decided to combine it into a sexy, blood filled hour of television and he combined it with Finn Wittrock calling people 'Bellissima' in an Italian accent. It's like he gave me an early Christmas present. I demand that it be mandatory for Finn to play two characters each season going forward. Get on it, Ryan Murphy. Make it happen. I am so psyched that Finn is back and cannot wait to see what delicious havoc Valentino will cause now that he is free. Watch your back, James!

No new episode next week (thanks to Thanksgiving in the USA) but until we're back... do enjoy your stay!

Friday, November 20, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - Teen Frankenstein

It probably comes as no surprise that I am into Frankenstein. I also will immediately devour any retellings that catch my attention. My next 2016 Most Anticipated selection takes the Gothic Horror classic and sets it in a highschool... and has a female in the role of creator. SIGN ME UP, IMMEDIATELY.

A female 'Victor'!! So excited by this. I cannot wait to see how delightfully scary this read is. I've already heard good things, but check out this amazing Goodreads synopsis
High school meets classic horror in this groundbreaking new series.

It was a dark and stormy night when Tor Frankenstein accidentally hit someone with her car. And killed him. But all is not lost--Tor, being the scientific genius she is, brings him back to life...

Thus begins a twisty, turn-y take on a familiar tale, set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.
This is supposed to be the start of a series set in Hallow Pines, and filled with all the characters from classic Gothic Horror novels. I am impatiently waiting for her twist on Dracula!

Chandler kindly answered some questions about the book for me as part of the event.

1 Describe Teen Frankenstein using only three words.

I'll cheat and use a contraction: Who's the monster

2 If someone were to make a signature ice cream in honour of your book, what might be included? 

It'd have to start with a mint Blue Bell base because--hello, Texas and green--and add some gummy worms because of...death.

3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

Bert is the name of my main character's car, a forest green Grand Marquis, and it's based off of my best friend in high school's car, also named Bert--we had a lot of great times driving around in that car and I knew I had to pay it homage.

4 Your novel is inspired by Frankenstein. What about the classic tale inspired you to write this particular story? 

I knew I wanted to do a gender-flip. Maybe this is bad to say, but I really related to the ambition of Dr. Frankenstein in the original. It's my sense that we're more comfortable with men sacrificing for their art or career aspirations. It's okay for men to become rude, hermit, curmudgeons in the name of their art--I'd even argue it's a badge of honor (for better or worse). I related to the single-mindedness that I sometimes wish I could have over my writing. The main character, Tor, sees science as her art and pursues greatness in it unapologetically.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel? 

I'll go with the Midwest in the 1950s. It seems like a very cool time to be a teen--or maybe I'm just craving a soda shoppe milkshake.

6 What 2016 release are you most anticipating? 

After the Woods by Kim Savage!

7. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of Teen Frankenstein.

Yesterday I didn't win a Nobel Prize.

Same here, Tor. I did not win one either. My nieces would be ALL over that ice cream, and HECK YES to everything she said about being unapologetic about pursuing something.

Teen Frankenstein releases January 12, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Chandler on Twitter, visit her website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by to find out the next book that made this year's list!

Are you a fan of the classic Gothic Horror novels? Are you as excited for this new series as I am? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated Event - The Forbidden Wish

Kicking off this annual event is a choice that should surprise nobody that has read this blog before. It's not a secret that I adore fairytales, and Disney's adaptations of them in particular. This twist on the Aladdin tale was too intriguing to not catch my interest and make this year's list.

Just check out this Goodreads synopsis! A female genie who falls in love with Aladdin?! ALL OVER IT! I need this book in my life, immediately.
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury. 
If fairytales are your thing, and if you love them to have fun sounding twists, this is a book needs to be on your radar!

Jessica was kind enough to answer a few questions (including some inspiration behind this book).

1 Twitter pitch The Forbidden Wish (140 characters or less).

Twitter pitch: THE FORBIDDEN WISH follows Zahra, a jinni of the lamp who must choose between love and freedom after she meets a daring thief named Aladdin.

2 If someone were to make a signature ice cream in honour of your book, what might be included?

As an ice cream flavor, The Forbidden Wish would probably include some delicious Middle Eastern flavors like apricot, fig, and cinnamon. OMG. That sounds amazing. *googles recipes*

3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

Careful, spoilers!! Okay, here's a non-spoiler secret: in the book, Aladdin lives on Pearl Lane. The street was named after another Pearl Lane--this one found in my favorite MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV, where my avatar spends a ton of time working on her sewing skills. XD

4 Your novel is inspired by the Aladdin tale. Is there a particular element of the story that inspired you the most? 

Definitely the most inspirational element of the Aladdin story was the jinni, and the question: What if the jinni were a girl? The moment I asked that question, I knew the entire story. One little twist changes everything!

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

Oh WOW I can only choose one? Think, think, think... Okay. I'd pick Elizabethan England, and the first-ever performance of Shakespeare's Othello (my favorite of his plays). How cool would that be??

6 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

There are so many great books coming out next year!! I really, really adored Renee Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn, so I'd have to pick The Rose and the Dagger, the sequel. I'm also really looking forward to Alwyn Hamilton's Rebel of the Sands--that book looks SO COOL.

7. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of The Forbidden Wish.

 "I sense the boy the moment he sets foot in the cave."

That first line definitely has me intrigued and that ice cream sounds pretty delicious! The fact that she's created this potential love triangle has me VERY interested in what she does what this set up.

The Forbidden Wish releases February 23, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

If you pre-order there is a fantastic pre-order campaign going on right now. Jessica is offering up some swag and a map she has drawn of the world this book is set in! Be sure to visit her website for all the details.

You can also follow Jessica on Twitter, visit her website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by to find out the next book that made this year's list!

Are you a fan of fairytale retellings? What do you think of this twist on the Aladdin tale? Let me know in the comments. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Recap Of My Interview With Susan Dennard

I was recently granted an AMAZING opportunity to interview the lovely Susan Dennard over Skype thanks to Raincoast Books here in Canada.

You probably already know but Susan's newest book Truthwitch will be out this January and there is already A LOT of excitement about this title.

Interviewing an author is a little surreal. It's exciting, and nerve-racking, and you want to pinch yourself because you cannot believe you get to do it. Susan was incredibly lovely and put me at ease immediately.

This is going to mostly be a recap of our conversation rather than a full transcript because everything happened REALLY fast and was a delightful blur.

1 Describe Truthwitch in 3 words

The words Susan picked are - epic, sweeping, friendship. Perfect, right? It made me want to sneak this book into my reading schedule even sooner!

2 Do you listen to music while writing/ if so is there a song you had on repeat while writing Truthwitch?

Yes, she definitely listens to music while writing. She says that she is unable to not listen to music while writing. It is the starting point for all her ideas, and such a part of creating each scene. She says that scenes play out like a movie she needs music to capture that feeling. She likes big, epic music and soundtracks (both movie and video) to help set the scene she wants to write.

She listened to the band Two Steps From Hell a lot while writing Truthwitch (all the albums on repeat). They were a driving force behind these books.

Before moving on to the next question we talked about  the sequel a little bit. She is currently writing the sequel. It has taken her longer than anticipated. She wants to challenge herself while writing and she feels like she has done that with this series.

3 Favourite snack while revising/writing

Coffee (way too much coffee) and she just started a bag of gummy bears that her husband brought back from Germany. She tries to eat healthier when her husband is not bringing gummy bears into the house (they also happen to be her favourite candy).

4 Is there a book that you wish everyone would read?

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke or The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle. She feels not everyone has heard of The Last Unicorn, or that they know it from the cartoon. I've read The Last Unicorn and it is certainly magical.

5 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

She is really excited about Veronica Rossi’s Riders (four Horseman of the Apocalypse). She feels like it's like nothing else out there.

6 You and Sarah have a friendship that is basically the definition of friendship goals. What do you think a great friendship needs?

She and Sarah are so vocal about their friendship, she feels that perhaps her other friends just aren't given the same attention. Understanding each other is key, and don’t expect them to change. Love them the way they are. Everyone is flawed, and wishing to change them is never going to work. Embrace them for who they are and respect it. Sarah and her have the same sense of humour so they make it each other laugh all the time. Seriously, her and Sarah are 100% the stuff of friendship goals.

7 What Myers Briggs personality type are you?

She has taken the test and the answer is INFP

8 If someone were to make an ice cream flavour for Truthwitch what might be included?

She says it would be a mash up of all different flavours like ginger cookie dough, with caramel weirdness mixed in with vanilla. Just a whole lot of different flavours that go well together.

9 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

Hardest question for her because of the sheer number of choices it brings forth. The old monasteries of 500 years ago appeal to her. She'd honestly just like to see something so different from what she knows that she can’t even imagine it.  She’d like to see everything. She is curious about Imperial Russia, and visiting a 1920's speakeasy as well.

10 What was your favourite scene to write in Truthwitch 

You can read one of them right now! It is a dance scene that she didn't expect to write. It exploded out of her and is part of the exclusive excerpt on the Truthwitch series website. Be sure to check it out.

The other is around the 40% mark of the book, and is between two of the characters. It is scene set in a lighthouse where lots of stuff goes down. It is where the Netgalley preview ends (if you've read it) and it another scene that just poured out of her when she wrote it.

With that our time had FLOWN by. We did chat about her time in Canada and that she had been to Ottawa before. We discussed poutine (a national treasure, honestly) and lots of other fun Canadian things like Tim Horton's.

It was a honour to get to interview her and was so much fun!

There is plenty of exciting things coming up regarding the release of Truthwitch, most importantly an amazing book tour and pre-order campaign.

First up, Susan Dennard will be touring with Alexandra Bracken! This is going to be an amazing tour and I wish I could attend so everyone who can should take the opportunity and go!

There will also be some news about more tour dates for Susan to come, so there will be plenty of chances for you to see Susan on this tour.

There is also a pre-order campaign for Truthwitch going on right now. There is a signed book plate and a poster up for grabs! Be sure to visit the official Truthwitch website for all the details (and submit your receipt to claim your pre-order goodies).

Also, be sure to follow Susan on Twitter, check out her website, and add Truthwitch to your Goodreads!

A huge thank you to both Susan and Raincoast Books for this amazing opportunity! Be sure to check out Truthwitch in 2016!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Young Widow's Club by Alexandra Coutts

Young Widow's Club by Alexandra Coutts
Release Date - November 10, 2015
Publisher Website - Raincoast/Macmillan
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

**mild spoilers**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
First came love, then came marriage, and then...

For seventeen-year-old Tam, running off to marry her musician boyfriend is the ideal escape from her claustrophobic high-school life on the island, and the ultimate rebellion against her father and stepmother. But when Tam becomes a widow just weeks later, the shell-shocked teen is forced to find her way forward by going back to the life she thought she’d moved beyond—even as her struggle to deal with her grief is forcing her to reinvent herself and reach out to others in ways she never imagined.
This unique sounding premise immediately caught my eye. It made it so I was intrigued enough to try this second novel from Alexandra Coutts. This ended up being a wonderfully developed look at grief, but one that left me feeling disconnected from the characters, and the story itself.

There were some wonderful parts to this story. The depiction of grief is incredibly nuanced and raw. The hardest part of grief, I feel, is that the world doesn't stop. It doesn't mourn with you. This novel captures that aspect perfectly. The idea that you ever fully heal is also one that feels inauthentic. This novel embraces that it never goes away. It lessens but never truly leaves you. It's honest in it's depiction that some days are good, and others that are crippling. If grief were like water the symbolism this novel offers is that some days it pulls you under, and others you manage to tread. Each day continues this way until the ones where you are treading outnumber the ones where you're drowning. This novel embraces all those usual emotions that people say you experience with grief - anger, guilt, sadness, and contrasts them with those moments where happiness, and joy sneak in. It looks at the entire notion of moving on and how complicated those feelings can be.

Sadly, as good as this depiction of learning to live with grief was the connection to the story never really resonated for me. I never felt the love story between Tam and Noah. Perhaps more flashbacks to their relationship would have helped. There is another loss Tam is struggling with, that of her mother years prior, that kind of takes over the story. You see that she never fully dealt with that loss, and that Noah's death brings it all back to the surface. You see that she harbours anger that her father has remarried, and resents her step-mother. This element seemed to overpower what was supposed to be the central focus of the story, but neither were fleshed out enough for it to resonate deeply. It felt like I knew to be sad about what Tam had experienced because I was told to, not because I reached those emotions on my own.

The other element that I didn't connect with was the new romance Tam find herself in. The guy in question is quite a bit older, and their dynamic felt unbalanced. The illusion was that Tam had grown up quickly due to her experiences with getting married so young, and losing Noah shortly after. However, this guy is someone who also lost a spouse, and feels like an adult, whereas Tam still came across as the child she is. This may have worked better with an early 20's main character. A college girl who lost her highschool sweetheart turned college husband. The messy, conflicted aspect of falling for someone else is handled well, and the relationship is not an easy one, but even those positives could not pull me into their story.

While I enjoyed this more than Tumble and Fall, it still wasn't the book for me. I am sure plenty will enjoy this story, and there are elements that stand out beautifully, the novel just never came together for me the way I had hoped. This is a story of grief, and while that aspect was done well, I never really felt the loss that the character (or the reader) were grieving for.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...