Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Hosted by: Crazy For Books.com

“In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?

I'm joining in on the hop this week, and my favorite banned book is 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

You can read my review HERE

Goodreads Description:

With his first foray into teen literature, acclaimed author Sherman Alexie packs a punch in this absorbing novel about a Native American boy searching for a brighter future. At once humorous and stirring, Alexie's novel follows Junior, a resident of the Spokane reservation who transfers out of the reservation's school -- and into a nearby rich, all-white farm school -- in order to nurture his desire to become a cartoonist. Junior encounters resistance there, a backlash at home, and numerous family problems -- all the while relaying his thoughts and feelings via amusing descriptions and drawings. Having already garnered a National Book Award for Young Adult Literature, this moving look at race and growing up is definitely one to pick up.

Review: Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom

Publisher: Hyperion 
Pages: 249 
Source: Personal Copy 

'Have a Little Faith' is a heart-warming read. Mitch Albom writes an incredible story of an aging Rabi, and an African American pastor who was addicted to drugs but managed to turn his life around. In the middle we have Mitch himself, learning, observing and growing. The book begins with one question 'Will you do my Eulogy?' Mitch is concerned, confused and a little turned off from that morbid question. He believes that he is not the right man for the job, and why would his Rabi decide to ask him? Mitch does not decide right away to plan his eulogy, he agrees to meet with his Rabi for a few weeks and get to know him on a personal level. A few weeks, turned into a few years. Does he write the eulogy? Yes. Does this book turn out to be more than just a eulogy? Yes. Mitch recounts his own struggles with religion. He profiles his Rabi, and a convict turned pastor. Each has their own story and their own inspirational tales. One thing is clear in this story, it does not matter which religion you come from, each should respect and love one another. One quote I loved was 'may your god, and my god bless you.' 

I think there is comfort in religion. Religions all have one thing in common: faith. Hope is what we need when our world is confusing. Faith supports and sustains many of us. While reading this book I was mesmerized. I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this one, especially for someone who is struggling with their beliefs. 

Here are some wonderful quotes from the book. 

' It is far more comforting to think God listened and said No, than to think that nobody's out there.' P. 82 

'When you lose someone you love, you can curse God. You can yell. You can blame him. You can demand to know why. But I don't believe in God. I'm a doctor! and I couldn't help my bother.' P 82. 

Part of the reason I drifted from my faith was that I didn't want to feel defensive about it. A pathetic reason, looking back, but true.' P. 157 

The Reb once did a sermon on how the same things in life can be good or evil depending on what, with free will, we do with them. Speech can bless or curse. Money can save or destroy. Science can heal or kill. Even nature can work for you or against you: fire can warm or burn, water can sustain life or flood it away.' P. 198

Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

These reviews were initially posted on my original blog. In an attempt to move all my posts, I thought it would be perfect to highlight these books during Banned Books week. I was surprised to find out that The Hunger Games was on the top 10 list of ALA's most challenged books. 

These reviews (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire) were written within my first few weeks of blogging, not the best reviews but I liked my initial reactions.

The Hunger Games Book 1

'The Hunger Games' is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel where the government hosts an annual game. The annual game is a random lottery where twelve boys and twelve girls, one from each district are selected to participate in a life and death battle. The 'Hunger Games' is a televised event used to remind the districts that the Capital exerts the control. 

Katniss Everdeen is the narrator of the story. She volunteers to participate in the game when her younger sister Prim is randomly drawn. The two members for District twelve are Katniss and Peeta. Peeta reveals on-air his love for Katiniss which ultimately grabs the attention of the audience. The audience members are permitted to sponsor a child and send gifts throughout the game. Katniss realizes they must uphold the role of star-crossed lovers to maintain their sponsors. She believes this is essential to her survival. When a rule is changed in the game, Peeta and Katniss' relationship becomes even more important. 

I thought the plot was unique and interesting. I do enjoy dystopian novels, and I had to begin reading the second book right away. I highly recommend the trilogy, and I understand what all the rave was about. Go, and buy your copy right away, you will not be disappointed!

Catching Fire Book 2 

This book was every bit as intriguing, engrossing and intense as 'The Hunger Games.' I will not include any spoilers, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. I think it was a great read, and I'm left with many questions, I can't wait for the third book to be released. It's tentatively scheduled for 2010. The problem with reading a series is having to wait for the next instalment to arrive.

Suzanne Collins creates a sordid, heart-breaking and desperate world. 'Catching Fire' picks up right after 'The Hunger Games' ends. Katniss still struggles between her feelings for Peeta and Gale. Katniss and Peeta have begun to settle into their new lives as victors and they are about to serve as mentors in the upcoming Hunger Game. However, suddenly the rules are changed and Katniss and Peeta must deal with new obstacles. There is growing unrest in the District. President Snow, their malicious leader pays Katniss a visit. He does not believe Katniss' feelings towards Peeta are mutual, and blames Katniss for creating the unrest. He sees her as a rebel and a threat.

I highly recommend these novels. I really enjoyed them, and I can't wait for the third novel to be released.

Mockingjay Book 3

(Contains Spoilers)

I would first like to say, Mockingjay was amazing. I closed the book, and felt emotionally drained. The pace of the story was fast, intense and mesmerizing. Collins has amazing talent and she led me on an emotional roller coaster! Mockingjay begins almost where Catching Fire ends. There is very little gap, and within the first few pages we learn about District 13. District 12 has been destroyed by the capital and very few survived. Katniss has tremendous guilt, and assumes she is responsible for the destruction and terror. Katniss believes District 13 is the lesser of two evils and she is reluctant to follow suit. She is happy that her mother, sister and Gale are safe, but she is tortured by thoughts of Peeta being captured and held prisoner by the Capitol. When she sees him on a Capital broadcast, my heart sank for Katniss. I was ecstatic that he was still alive, but I worried that his character would be killed off. I was surprised Katniss waited so long to have him rescued and I thought the loss of his memory was agonizing. I didn't know how I should feel about Peeta. I wanted them to be together, but I didn't want Katniss to be endangered. Collins really had me on the edge of my seat. I thought for sure she would end up with Gale. Yes, I am team Peeta...

The trilogy ends in an all-out-war. I knew it had to come, I knew many deaths would ensue. I really thought Peeta or Gale would be killed and I'm happy to know they weren't. I'm sad that Gale is no longer on speaking terms with Katniss. It makes me sad, that she blames him for Prim's death. Prim's death was heartbreaking. The whole trilogy begins with Katniss trying to protect her younger sister, and in the end she was unable to achieve her goal. When the cat came back, I tried so hard not to cry! The many deaths throughout the war was difficult, it reminded me of Harry Potter. War brings destruction and demise. Death is inevitable. Now that I think about it, I'm happy Katniss wasn't killed off. I really enjoyed the fact that all characters seem to mature immensely in this novel. I guess, war does that...

All in all, I loved the trilogy and I thought the ending was just as great as the others. I know in every series when it comes to an end they're those who are happy and those who are sad. When you write a series and you have love triangles, when fans have the ability to choose sides, you can never please everyone. I guess, I'm happy that I'm one of those pleased fans.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

*In Honor of banned books week*

Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Pages: 230
Source: Personal Copy

Melinda Sordino is a typical high school teenager. She's entered the 9th grade and she harbors a huge secret, one that is tearing her apart. Her first summer high school party ended with Melinda calling the police and she is labelled as an outcast. She can't speak to her friends, they're not talking to her, they consider her a snitch and tease her every chance she gets. She can't speak to her parents, they're never home and Melinda is left alone, money left on the table to order food. She has no one to turn to, she trusts no one. Melinda said nothing when students threw food at her, she said nothing when her best friend turned on her and told her she 'hated' her, she said nothing when she was abandoned by all. While everyone else seems to go on with their lives, Melinda is stuck. She's stuck with her secret, she is stuck in her life. Melinda said nothing...

I first heard about this book during 'Banned Books' week in 2010. I thought I really should read this one for myself, and then form an opinion on it. Honestly, this is a must read. High School for many teenagers is a bully's playground. In this novel we really understand that Melinda is facing depression, anxiety, angst, and fear. While she wants to say something, she feels that she has no one to say it to. She is alone is a world that is out to get her. I loved how the novel really gets into Melinda's mind. The reader really sees the complex emotions she is dealing with. Written in the first-person view point, readers will feel Melinda's isolation and immerse themselves into her world. Speak is a realistic and relatable book. This is a very unique coming-of-age story. One that I'm sure will help teenagers in similar situations. Speak tackles a very difficult subject that should not be ignored. When I hear about young teenagers and pre-teens committing suicide because of bullying, it breaks my heart. Bullying is on a much wider scale, teenagers are more easily accessible and parents are not around as much as before. I highly recommend this one. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

*In honor of banned books week*

Publisher: Ballentine Books
Pages: 208
Source: Personal Copy

"Four-hundred and fifty degrees - the combustion point of paper."

Fahrenheit 451 depicts a frightening world where books have been banned. The very men who sought to extinguish fires are now setting fires. Books are illegal and will be burned upon retrieval. Bradbury portrays a world consumed with television, a world where censorship prevails and original thoughts are confined.  Guy Montage is a book-burning fireman, a man whose life changes when he meets a young girl name Clarisse. Guy begins to want to see more than what’s in front of him. While Guy is wrapped up in his confusion and begins to ask questions his fire chief tells him "if you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question or worry him; give him one." Guy begins step out of the box, so many of his people have stopped thinking and asking questions, focusing only on material things. Guy’s wife Mildred is no acceptation to the rule; she will hear nothing of what Guy believes. When Guy begins hiding books in his home, he knows Mildred would report him if given the chance. She has been thoroughly brainwashed into submission. Mildred lives vicariously through television programs, her life is almost meaningless. Government policy believes “The home environment can undo a lot [they] try to do at school. That's why [they’ve] lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now [they’re] almost snatching them from the cradle." People are lacking the quality of information, the leisure to digest and the right to carry out actions based on what they learn.

First, I would like to say that Ray Bradbury’s writing is phenomenal. There are so many amazing quotes that can be taken from this book. While this book has been placed on many banned lists, this is a book that should be read. A powerful read that will surely remain with readers for a long time, a classic book that still resonates today. The reality is much closer to the truth than we would like it to be, many parallel’s can be drawn between our world and this fictional world. We have filled our world with technology, and some would argue that we are more removed from society than ever before. Of course, this would depend on how the technology is being used from person to person. There is no question that not everyone uses technology to be more informed, simply more entertained. Themes that are explored in this book are censorship, individuality, illiteracy and suicide, among many more. Society has no sense of reality. Bradbury will cause you to stop and contemplate. Where are we, and where are we going? If you treasure your books, you will want to read this one.  Simply, a must read.

Review: I Am J by Cris Beam

Little Brown and Company
Pages 352
Source: Publisher

“I Am J” is an emotional, poignant, well crafted coming-of-age read. High school struggles, life’s difficulties, and relationships are always tough when growing up. J is overwhelmed with life, on the cusp of graduating and dealing with self-acceptance. Having unsupportive parents makes everything even more complicated.  J was born Jennifer, a female, daddy’s little girl and her parents only child. All her life she struggled with wanting to be like the boys, wanting to be a boy. For as long as she can remember she was always more involved with the boys.  For years J has been trying to make his way in the world as a man. Hiding underneath oversized t-shirts, layers of clothing, and always afraid of the reactions of others. His Puerto Rican Mother and Jewish father are convinced that he will outgrow this, determined to ignore this behavior; his father blames his mother for coddling him too much. As a result his father is rarely home and his mother pressured him about school. His father would prefer if he would just live as a lesbian, that is something he could accept. J is seventeen and feels completely misunderstood -a kiss gone wrong with his best friend Melissa leaves him more alone than ever. His parents are focusing on his education, but J can’t go back to his old school. He can’t accept the stares, the torment and the isolation. Finally, he sets out to seek support and has decided to do this with or without his parents’ consent. He’ll soon be eighteen and able to receive testosterone injections.  Fed up of constantly hiding, he transfers to a new school for transgender and gay students and begins seeing a therapist, a mandatory measure in order to be approved to receive the injections.

I Am J is not a novel I would have chosen for myself, and I am so happy that I was given a copy for review. Once in awhile you are given a book that is outside your comfort zone but completely blows you away. Beam’s story offers great insight into the life of a transgender teen.  She puts the transgender teen into your family and gives realistic reactions from both sides. She doesn’t sugar coat a difficult subject. J is a very angry, very alone character, and trapped in a body he doesn’t believe should be his. Disgusted by what God gave him. His parents are unrelenting and won’t accept what’s right in front of them. What happened to the unconditional love a parent has for their child? Shouldn’t his parents accept the inevitable? As J struggled to do what is best for him, and continue to further his education many normal questions become stumbling blocks.  How do you fill out a college application, when you are not sure what gender to fill out? What name to put on the application? How do you choose which bathroom to go into when you are in public? What do you do when a pretty girl is attracted to you? Young Adult literature has really begun to tackle some very interesting topics. I was relieved when J began to have supporters in his world, when he began to grow confident and stop hiding. This one comes highly recommended, a great emotional read.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In My Mailbox

I had a really good mailbox week. I hope everyone did as well. Once again, I got a good variety of books. 

Here is what I got:

Reamde by Neal Stephenson (I've been reading it as "Read Me")

Upcoming Blog Tours


Elixir by Hilary Duff (LOVED IT! Review coming soon)

What did you get in your mailbox?

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren
Mailbox Monday is on tour and currently hosted by Amused by Books.

Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Publisher: Harper one
Source: Personal Copy (reread)
Pages: 208

Mini Review:

The Alchemist is a simple fable that alludes to the fact that all of us have a purpose and a dream in life. It is a simple book, but nonetheless inspiring. It is a story about a young boy named Santiago who has reoccurring dreams about a treasure, when he goes to see a gypsy about the meaning of his dream she tells him to follow his dream and not to pay her now for her services but to pay her one tenth of his treasure once he finds it. Santiago left home to become a shepherd to follow his dreams of travel. Santiago is a shepard, and he is hesitant to leave his flock, but begins to follow omens. Through his travels he overcomes many obstacles and meets many people who guide him in his journey. He meets the love of his life Fatima. Santiago tells her that he will need to continue on his journey but rest assured that he will come back to her. Throughout the story Santiago is led by many spiritual guides, and leaves the readers inspired. All of us have a purpose in life, and we need to listen to the omens around us. Our heart will lead us, where it will need to go.

I did really enjoy the novel. I reread this one quickly, and I do recommend the novel. It's a spiritual and inspiring book that I'm happy to have read. If you are looking for an easy, fast-paced read I recommend this one. It's not always a thrill-a-minute read, but it's a quick read.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Thoughts: Ereaders

I find it interesting that so many people think ereaders are the death of "real books." Am I the only one who loves both? Honestly, I buy many eBooks of books I already own. If I have an ARC, I tend to buy the eBook when it releases. I've mentioned this before, but I'm really picky about my books. I love for them to stay like-new. I cannot bend pages, highlighting is never allowed, and please don't break the spine! I don't lend many books... Ebooks allow me to have the best of both worlds. I can highlight, mark pages, and keep quotes saved. When writing my reviews if I'm looking something up, I find it easier to flip through a hard copy.

While I love "real books" I love the feel of the pages, the smell of a good book; ultimately I fall in love with the words. I see my "real books" as a collection. I don't see myself never buying hard copies.  If I've read a book and really enjoyed it, I will buy a hard copy to store on my shelves.

My dream is to have publishers offer a free eBook with the purchase of a hard copy. Similar to a digital copy when you buy a dvd or bluray. That would be great for me. It would also encourage people to buy hardcover books, in my opinion.

What are your thoughts? Do you buy eBooks of books you own? or hard copies of books you own?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini

Publisher: Riverhead
Pages 272
Source: Publisher

"All of us cook, I think, in part to feed our daily hunger, but just as important, and perhaps more so, we cook and eat to feed our spirits, keep us all in the same orbit of life.'" 

'Keeping The Feast' is a moving memoir about the healing effects of food, the onset of depression, and tragic circumstances in life. Paula and John were foreign correspondents reporting on the fall of communism in 1989. Days before their wedding, Paula is brutally beaten while on assignment. Shortly after, her husband John is shot while in Romania. One ordinary day, a bullet changed their lives forever. Paula chronicles her life and takes readers into her world. She's had one failed marriage, a depressed suicidal mother, and her new marriage is suddenly threatened when John becomes seriously ill. After recovering from the bullet wound, John suffers from Hepatitis and then is thrown into a downward spiral of depression. However, Paula refused to let his depression force her to leave. She patiently waited for the same man she fell in love with to come back to her, the man who stands before her is someone entirely different. Through all her ups and downs Paula tried to remain consistent and each day they ate their meals together, each meal was carefully chosen and prepared. Each meal brought them one step closer to healing. 

'Keeping the Feast' is a moving memoir. After reading the Epilogue, I looked at the title and truly understood what 'Keeping the Feast' meant. I highly recommend this memoir; it was inspirational to read Paula's emotions through hard times. She tried to be calm, collected and reasonable but at times anger was a real emotion she had to deal with. While trying to take care of her family, she also needed to take care of herself. This memoir really makes readers realized what can happen in the face of adversity. We want to hope that we would do what's best for everyone, but sudden emotions can make things difficult. Healing involves accepting. A beautiful memoir about the strength of family devotion. Life happens, and we endure.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Of All The Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz

Publisher: Egmont 
Pages: 258 
Source: Publisher 

I didn't know what to expect from "Of All The Stupid Things." Quickly, I began to enjoy the novel and enjoyed each character. Three friends Tara, Whitney Blair and Pinkie have been friends since Tara found Whitney Blaire stuck in a tree many years ago. They've known in each since their were little, and high school is threatening to tear their friendships apart. The story is told from alternating perspectives and we get to see each girls fears and hopes. The story is engrossing and believable. High school emotions are running wild as each girls faces her own issues. Whitney Blair has parents who are never home, a note left in the kitchen is few and far between and she really wants to help Tara as much as Tara doesn't want her help. Pinkie is the mother hen of the group. Her own mother died many years ago, but her mother's grave still haunts her. Afraid to do anything that would make her friends angry at her Pinkie is always over thinking her actions. Tara is the athlete. She is dating the jock of the school, but when rumours of him having an affair with a guy cheerleader emerges Tara can not cope with her mental images. When a new girl named Riley appears at school Tara is captivated by her. Tara doesn't know what to think about her emotions. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I did feel like there was a lot of story lines taking place. Some I could have done without, it was a little dramatic and unconvincing. Maybe if the book was longer and the characters were more developed it would have been more conceivable. However, the book was fast paced and the alternating perspectives enjoyable. When I started reading I was determined not to like Whitney Blaire, but I really began to like her character and I felt for her. I would recommend this book, a good Young Adult novel. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 544
Source: Publisher
Matilda has been summoned to come home to England after the death of her husband, the German Emperor. Their only heir died during childbirth, and now Matilda has no purpose in Germany. She is well aware that she is another pawn in her father’s political game, and worries about her future and duty. While at home in England and waiting for her father to drop the ball and tell her who she will marry next, she befriends her stepmother Adeliza. Adeliza is a few years younger than herself, and both find true companionship, forming a bond out of loyalty to the king. Matilda stands by Adeliza to comfort her as each month her hopes of providing an heir to the king is crushed. Unless Adeliza can provide an heir for the thorn, Matilda is the only living heir. Much to her displeasure she is soon married to Geoffrey of Anjoy, a man much younger than her with good political ties. Their marriage is tumultuous and Matilda wanted for nothing more than an annulment. When it becomes clear that once would not be granted, Matilda and Geoffrey seek to provide an heir for the English crown and fight for the dowry that Matilda was promised but Henry refuses to uphold. The noblemen who once swore allegiance to Matilda quickly defy Henry’s wishes and crown her cousin Stephen when the time comes. Matilda refuses to walk away quietly, she wants everything she was promised and a crown upon her son’s head. Adeliza’s true loyalty lies with Matilda while her new husband’s allegiance is to Stephen. 
Lady of the English is an excellent read, a novel that will appeal to both historical fiction fans and those who are looking for an entertaining read. Elizabeth Chadwick concentrates on the relationships and conflicts between characters as well as social conventions and the duty that comes from title and family. Both Matilda and Adeliza are central characters that I deeply rooted for. Matilda is a strong female character who is adamant that her father’s wishes be attained. Adeliza is caught between her loyalty to Matilda and the love and devotion she has for her new husband. Both are substantial characters. I quickly read through this one, not wanting to put it down. I really don't like when historical novels are mostly about romance, and Chadwick does not do this. She will remain one of my favourite historical fiction writers. Elizabeth Chadwick quickly draws her readers into her world, and captures their attention until the end.There is a reason why Elizabeth Chadwick is one of the most favored historical fiction authors of our day, her descriptive prose and extensive research shines through in each of her novels. Historical fiction that is readable and comprehensive, full of political intrigue and fascinating characters. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

Publisher: Random House (Spiegel & Grau)
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 304

“Next to Love” is a moving novel about war, love, friendships and society spanning from 1944 to 1964. At the heart of this novel are three friends in a small Massachusetts town. Gracie, Babe, and Millie have been friends since the first day of grade school. All grown up, and making their own life choices each girl struggles with love when it is clear that war is imminent. All the good men are signing up to “fight the good fight” and these women must standby waiting for their return. Gracie marries her beloved Charlie and dutifully lives under the roof of her powerful and wealthy father-in-law while Charlie is away. When the war breaks out she is a young wife and new mother. Millie marries Pete and before she knows it, he is gone off to war, but she is ecstatic to learn she is pregnant.  Babe is hoping that Claude would ask her to marry him, but he runs off to camp with the promise to marry her one day. His promise soon turns into a proposal, and Babe drops everything and travels to visit Claude at training camp to marry him before he is sent off to war. Babe is an independent, unconventional thinker. She joins in on the war effort, and begins working at Western Union to assist . As each message arrives, she is panicked that one would be word that Claude has not survived. Guilt sets in when she is relieved that Claude is not the latest victim, but she has to have bad news delivered to those around her on a daily basis. Each of these young women strives to find a place in their new surroundings.  When the war has ended not all the men return home, and those who do return home are not the same men that left their small towns.

The concept of this book was really interesting told from each woman’s perspective.  Letters home from the men gave a glimpse at life on the front lines. Rather than dealing with those who have gone off to war, the novel focuses more on those who have been left behind. While the book covers three women, Babe is certainly the heart of the story.  Despite the different perspectives I really only enjoyed Babe’s story.  Often I was skimming to focus more on Babe’s.  At times I felt like the other characters were choppy and the novel didn’t flow well. I was confused at the beginning and felt that the book was jumping around from character to character and I didn’t really know what was happening. I believe this novel would have been much better if it would have been longer. The characters needed more time to develop. Despite the flaws, I did enjoy the book. The novel really picked up when some men returned home. I think this book had a lot of potential but it lacked in character development and flow or it should have focused more on Babe or less on Millie and Gracie.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 496
Source: Publisher

Bess Gray is successful, attractive, and turning 35. Her life has not turned out the way she thought it would. She’s newly single, her ex-boyfriend parted ways when he felt that Bess would want to start settling down. As much as it hurts, it hurts more that he seems to be settling down just fine with his new, pregnant girlfriend. Bess feels alone, without her grandparents she would have no one. Her mother passed away years ago, and her father died when Bess was really young. Her grandparents were all she had and they’ve decided that they will be moving across the country. Bess is saddened but hopeful for them. A friend suggests that Bess throw a single’s party for her birthday, although reluctant at first, she decides to give it a try. Bess is feeling hopeless, the party seems like a complete waste of time, until Rory walks in. Bess is intrigued and takes him up on an offer to see him play fiddle at a local bar. Soon she finds herself dating Rory. Their relationship begins to blossom, and Bess wonders about his past. He never truly gives her a lot of details about his past relationships, she has a feeling he’s been married before but he doesn’t freely give details. Rory knows he owes her the truth, but he’s too afraid to loose her. Bess decides to not push it, but when Rory proposes to Bess, he provides some extra details. He’s been married eight times, some relationships lasted longer than others, some were for love, some for convenience. Rory knows that he has “made such a mess of the institution that he felt as if [he] had rendered it meaningless” but he still dreams of having a wife and family. He still believes in love, and thinks that marriage is possible. Bess immediately begins to distance herself, she doesn’t know what to feel. She decides to put the proposal on hold, and figure out what she needs to do. His proposal was not suppose to be like that. How can she be sure that this would last? How can Rory feel that this would last? Bess decides that she needs time, time to sort through her thoughts and time to meet these wives. She’s a researcher by nature and she needs to uncover a few details. Her grandparents are ready to move and her grandfather has revealed that he is afraid of flying. Bess decides to drive them cross-country. She wants to spend more time with her grandparents, and her plan to meet the wives becomes more clear.

The Ninth Wife was a great read. Part I leads up to the proposal, each chapter told from Rory and Bess’ perspective. Rory goes through each wife, and each marriage is so unlike the one before. I really began to feel for him. Part II is the aftermath of the proposal, while part I seems very humorous, the book took on a much more serious tone in Part II. Honestly, how is one suppose to react when the man who is proposing to you begins to tell you that you will be his ninth wife? Bess has never been married, never been engaged, and dreamt of having the perfect marriage. While Bess struggles with her feelings about marriage, her grandparents seem to be fighting more and more. They’ve been together for 65 years, and it still seems like they struggle. Her emotions are on a roller-coaster, and she’s looking for the right answer. While the trip has been eye-opening, her time away from Rory has raised some questions. I felt for both characters, but both characters had a legitimate reason for feeling the way they did. I couldn’t choose one character over the other. Both were realistic and flawed. “The Ninth Wife” is about love, life, friendship, and trust. It’s an exceptional tale -sure to transport readers on a wild ride. I highly recommend this one!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 448
Source: Publisher
Clara Gardner goes through her every day life living with a secret. She’s part angel, if you want to get technical, she’s one quarter Angel. Her mother is a half angel, a Dimidius. Angels are stronger, faster, and all-around superior in the human world. They must blend in, but develop amongst the humans. Clara struggles with specifics because her mother provides very little details about this identity, and Clara’s visions are coming fast and strong. Visions provide Angel’s with a purpose, a destiny that must be completed. Clara’s visions are murky and baffling. However, it quickly becomes clear that Clara’s mission is not to be completed in sunny California where she was born and raised. Before Clara has time to sort everything out, her mother uproots the family to Wyoming, where Clara is sure her mission will be played out. Clara has limited view in her visions, but she’s sure her mission consists of Wyoming, a white pick-up truck, and a very attractive teenage boy. Clara’s brother is resentful, but understanding- he knows his unknown purpose will be coming shortly. Now is not the time to strain his relationship with Clara. As Clara tries to settle into life in the mountains, she befriends a classmate who claims to be an Angel as well. An angel with much brighter feathers. Clara’s mother may not want to readily give details, but Angela is very amenable. Clara struggles to get close to her “purpose” and tries to befriend Christian. However, Christian’s girlfriend is not very cordial. Clara is not sure where she stands with him, and at the same time she’s not sure exactly what her purpose is. As Clara struggles to find her inner powers, the visions are becoming clearer, and she’s afraid she will not be ready in time. However, as clear as her visions become they never become lucid.

A fresh, dazzling YA novel. Cynthia Hand produced a wonderful, exhilarating read. A fantastic, unassuming romantic triangle, and honest, quintessential characters. Clara is not your typical heroin, while she is a typical teenager in certain aspects, she must always be worried about her destiny. I really like that this book wasn’t preachy, but the idea of God was addressed. I know there is more than just what is told in the first novel, this will be a trilogy. The development, plot, and pacing was fantastic. Loose ends were carefully left in cessation, leaving the reader wondering about items left unaddressed. I see this trilogy becoming more entwined, and complicated. A great debut novel, and a series to be added to my wish list. If you’re looking for a crisp, and impressive read, I’d pick this one up. On a final note: the cover is beautiful! No picture does it justice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Postcards From A Dead Girl by Kirk Farber

Publisher: Harper Perennial 
Pages: 256 
Source: Publisher 

Postcards from a Dead Girl is a short, quirky novel. Sid Higgins is a telemarketer for a travel agency, he's a dog owner, and a brother. Occasionally, his dead mother decides to speak to him. He believes he may have a brain tumour. He's also the receiver of several postcards, all sent from his dead ex-girlfriend. Sid Higgins is a hypochondriac.Throughout the novel Sid is trying to track down how these postcards were sent to him. Considering his ex-girlfriend has been dead for over a year, Sid's confusion is justified. Sid is afraid and alone but trying to hide his fears and concerns. He's trapped in an unfulfilling job. He has creditors constantly calling him, he manages to avoid them by telling them Sid is never home. He also has a neighbour who likes to ask him a lot of questions. Sid is perplexed about these postcards. He decides he must follow the trail. He's received about a dozen year old postcards, all with generic 'wish you were here' messages, and he's determined to find out how they were sent to him. Sid decides he must travel to the places they were sent from in order to solve the mysterious postcards. 

The story resembled a darker version of 'P.S I love You.' I began to question Sid's mental state, and I wondered if Zoe was really dead. I though about his possible brain tumour, and thought maybe that had something to do with all of this. I sensed that maybe he wanted to have a brain tumour, he wanted to find a reason to explain all his issues. I was sympathetic to Sid but I really wanted to know what was going on. I didn't feel like he was a reliable witness. I felt confused at times, and became frustrated with Sid. I did enjoy the story, I thought it was very well written. However, it didn't really appeal to me. I have read many positive reviews and I think they all have merit. However, this just wasn't my type of novel. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
"The Iron daughter" picks up almost immediately after " The Iron King." Julie Kagawa has released an in-between novel called "Winter's Passage" that covers what's missing. Meghan Chase voluntarily agrees to follow Prince Ash back to Winter Kingdom when he  holds his end of the bargain and assists with getting her brother back from the Iron King.  Meghan is now in Queen Mab's court, held prisoner and Ash warns her to be strong, show no emotion and be smart. Meghan becomes more worried when a lengthily time passes, and nothing much has seemed to happen. Why is Queen Mab stalling? Meghan is at the mercy of the Unseelie court, it becomes clear that her powers have dissipated and Ash is nowhere to be found. Ash quickly becomes cold, distant and malicious, leaving Meghan to wonder where they stand- was she under the influence of his glamour? Changing of the seasons brings about changing of the sceptre and King Oberon has vowed to bring his daughter back to her rightful place-summer court after the ceremony. When King Oberon realizes that Meghan has volunteered to come to Winter Court, he is furious with her actions. At this point, there is nothing he can do to help. Meghan Chase must figure this out by herself. Suddenly, the sceptre is stolen and Prince Ash's brother lays dying while Meghan tries to convince everyone that the Iron Knights are at fault. Winter court and Summer court are quick to blame one another and war is requisitioned. 
"The Iron Daughter" did not disappointed, I honestly think it was better than the "Iron King." Where book one was more about building the fairy world, book two was all about storytelling and plot development. Meghan is a great heroine, while she is highly flawed she is relatable. I feel like she has grown a lot from book one, and has begun to distance herself from her past. While she still loves and wishes her family the best, she knows where she belongs. At times she does become whiny, but she has to deal with some heavy circumstances. Ash becomes questionable when he unilaterally decides what is best for their doomed relationship. You really will want to knock some sense into him but when the subject of his lost loves comes about, you really will have your heart break. Puck remains the best friend but clearly his heart wants more. If your "Team Puck" you will enjoy this one. New characters are introduced which adds to the Faery world and builds a solid setting. Julie Kagawa takes her readers on another wild ride and I can't wait to read "The Iron Queen."  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Pages. 333 
Source: Publisher (Advanced Reading Copy) 

Richard II was a king like no other, he never intended or desired to become king. The sudden and unexpected passing of both his father and grandfather left him with a crown upon his head and political unrest in his country. Richard, a mere eleven years old began to rule under the control of regency council. 'Within the Hollow Crown' is a story of a young boy, at the mercy of his scheming, deceitful uncles who grows into a man and ruler. A man who steps out from the shadows, and proved himself to be a man of the people. The story comes alive once Anne of Bohemia becomes the newest Queen. A bittersweet love story, the essence of true love. Anne a political pawn in the politics of Europe falls in love with her husband and becomes his biggest supporter. Richard, a lonesome king, no longer felt alone. He wholeheartedly supported his wife, and together they would rule England. Anne disliked Richard's uncles intensely, and Richard himself had years of repressed emotions. For many years his uncles chose not to listen to him. Richard a boy who lacked confident, felt grossly ignored in a room full of people. This is simply a coming of age story about a young, oblivious boy who became a king. 

Margaret Campbell Barnes is an amazing historical fiction writer. Her characterization is impeccable. She has a remarkable ability to bring the royal court alive. The story of Richard II was new to me. I had little background knowledge prior to reading this story. I have seen some reviews mention that her research is outdated. However, the story was a great read. I will certainly be doing more research myself. The story began slowly for me, once Anne stepped in I was hooked and wanted to keep reading. I highly recommend this one, and I will be reading more from her. I'm very happy that this has been reprinted. This is not a story as scandalous, and absorbing as Henry VIII but it is great nonetheless.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 464
Source: Publisher

Forbidden is an emotionally gripping, gut-wrenching, disturbing, controversial read. A book you will stare at, think about and want to discuss with others. Lochan and Maya are the oldest sibling in a household of five, their mother is mostly absent and their father has completely abandoned them. Their well-educated father divorced his unbearable, alcoholic wife and moved to a different country with promises to see his children. He now has a new family, and has disappeared. Lochan and Maya, have had to mature quickly, and become the parents the household lacked. Thirteen-year-old Kit is one of the biggest challenges for Lochan and Maya, he refuses to be told what to do while Tiffen and Willa are looking for parental figures, and easily accept their new parents. While Lochan and Maya deal with their family life, they remain in school and excel. Lochan is a brilliant student, but completely socially awkward. He does not have the ability to speak in front of his peers; while he attracts the girls- he cannot befriend them. A simple “Hi” is almost impossible. Kit seems to be more effected by Lochan’s issues, embarrassed to have a brother that is teased. Lochan and Maya count on each other, they understand each other, and their feelings towards one another become something more than a brother-sister relationship. They understand that these feelings should not be but they don’t know what to do. As they try to fight the impulses they realize that they are truly in love with each other. They are no longer brother and sister, but best friends and soul mates.

First, I was completely uncomfortable with this novel but it took me by surprise by how much I appreciated Suzuma’s work. This was the first time I felt such emotion for a book that I couldn’t relate to. At times it felt like too much, and I had to put it aside. While my mind kept saying “no, no no” I kept reading. Forbidden draws readers in and tugs at your heart, it leaves readers emotionally depleted. I ached for Lochan and Maya, while I was disgusted by their new found relationship- so were they. I felt that their reactions and thoughts were completely real and raw. I could never get over the fact that they were brother and sister. I couldn’t accept their love for each other. My mind was left reeling. I thought Lochan and Maya deserved more. I felt like they were victims of their love, a love they couldn’t stop. They never asked for these feelings, but they had to figure out what to do with them. Their life went from bad to worse, and it seemed like a downward spiral. This has been my most difficult review to write. I loved the book, but I hated the relationship. It took me a few weeks to write the review. I had to no think about it for awhile, and come back. If you are looking for a challenging read, a read that will take you out of your comfort zone- try this one. Tabitha Suzuma has created an amazing read, that will not be forgotten. A powerful read that shakes you to the core.