Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Spin by Catherine Mckenzie



Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 448
Source: Personal Copy
Rating 4/5
Kate Standford has been posing as a graduate student but she is really a 30 year old who crashes school events and enjoys the free food. When she lands an interview for her dream job, as a writer for the “The Line,” a music magazine, she think her life is headed in the right direction. She’s wanted this for so long, and can’t believe she got an interview. Her friends take her out to celebrate, and the party lasts longer than Kate expected. She shows up to the interview late and obviously still drunk. It’s no surprise that she doesn’t get the job. Kate goes home, sulking and full of self-pity, not expecting a second chance. Fortunately for her, the magazine is looking for an undercover reporter to check into rehab for their gossip tabloid. All Kate has to do is get insider information on Amber Shepard the newest “front-cover” actress on every tabloid who has checked into rehab. If she does what is expected, they will reconsider her for the position at “The Line.” 
Spin is a great debut novel, that deals with heavy issues but the overall tone light. Kate must remain undercover, and complete a 30 day treatment. She must keep her reason for attending rehab a secret from everyone, including friends and family. Kate considers herself a “social drinker” and intends to lie to keep herself in rehab, shockingly she doesn’t have to lie too much. When her friends and family discover where she is, they don’t seemed shocked that she is there. Kate finds herself in some sticky situations, and begins to evaluate herself. It hurts that everyone thinks she should be in rehab. Kate questions if she is an alcoholic in denial.
Amber gives Kate some great stories to report back, and Kate thinks this is going to be easy howeverAmber turns out to be much different than Kate expected, and they soon become friends. Kate is torn and doesn’t know what to do. How far will she go to land her dream job? Is Amber really her friend, or is she her only option at the moment? What would she think to find out that Kate has been undercover? Kate must figure out what is more important, she must decide if she is willing to give up this new friendship for her future at “The Line.” Kate really begins to examine herself, and she doesn’t really like what she finds. 
Catherine Mckenzie has written a humorous and absorbing novel. Readers will find themselves captivated by damaged, unique and lovable characters. A great balance between heavy issues and laugh-out-loud situations. I was surprised that I enjoyed this book so much. As I began to really get to know the characters, I kept thinking “Wow, this is really good.” Spin is about Kate finding herself, and putting her life into perspective. I’m really looking forward to reading more from Catherine McKenzie. I don’t read many “Chick-lit” books but Spin has just the right amount of everything to keep me interested. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox/ It's Monday. What Are you Reading?

I had a quite book week, and didn't receive any review books. I'm trying to be more selective on review books, and accept much less. I don't like feeling overwhelmed, and I still buy a lot books. This week I purchased one ebook, I've heard so many good things about this book.












It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? This is a weekly event to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It is hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books so stop by and join in!


January has been a great reading month for me. I've been reading more adult fiction, and a little less Young Adult books. I love Young Adult, but sometimes I feel I need more variety. Young Adult has a lot of fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian and I don't want to feel like i'm reading repetitive themes. I feel like the balance of adult fiction, and young adult has been really refreshing for me. 


This week I reviewed:



Books Read:


Books I plan to read:




Friday, January 27, 2012

Debut Spotlight: The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen






More than two decades after moving to Saudi Arabia and marrying powerful Abdullah Baylani, American-born Rosalie learns that her husband has taken a second wife. That discovery plunges their family into chaos as Rosalie grapples with leaving Saudi Arabia, her life, and her family behind. Meanwhile, Abdullah and Rosalie’s consuming personal entanglements blind them to the crisis approaching their sixteen-year-old son, Faisal, whose deepening resentment toward their lifestyle has led to his involvement with a controversial sheikh. When Faisal makes a choice that could destroy everything his embattled family holds dear, all must confront difficult truths as they fight to preserve what remains of their world.
The Ruins of Us is a timely story about intolerance, family, and the injustices we endure for love that heralds the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in contemporary fiction.

Author Bio

Saudi-born author Keija Parssinen’s stunning debut offers the intricate, emotionally resonant story of an American expatriate who discovers that her husband, a Saudi billionaire, has taken a second bride—an emotionally turbulent revelation that blinds them both to their teenaged son’s ominous first steps down the road of radicalization. Readers of The Septembers of Shiraz will be captivated by Parssinen’s story of love and betrayal, fundamentalism, family and country in the Middle East. Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead, hails Parssinen’s characters as “richly conceived, and her evocative petrol universe of wealth, privilege, and intrigue is unforgettable,” characterizing The Ruins of Us as having “powerful storytelling that is refreshing and entertaining.”


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany





Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Ebook
Rating: 5/5
After Cadence’s divorce her life took an unexpected turn. Working from home, and raising her son Charlie has been difficult. The money from her divorce settlement will soon run out, and her energetic son makes it difficult to work. The freelance market is difficult, and Cadence just can’t find the ideas or words. As a way to relax Cadence did what many of her friends suggested, she opened a bottle of wine. One glass of wine, turned into two glasses. At first she waiting until her son went to bed, limited herself to two glasses. Then she only had one glass in the day, sometimes two. Before she knew it her drinking began to spiral out of control. She needed two bottles of wine to get through the day, and did unexpected things to get it. When her ex-husband knocked on her door and took her son away, Cadence was devastated. How can she be an alcoholic, when she was never a drinker? How could she let this happen to herself? Why couldn’t she stop on her own? How much damage did she do to Charlie? 
Best Kept Secret is one of the most thought-provoking, emotional books I have read in a long time. It’s real, honest and heartbreaking. Amy Hatvany had me glued to the pages. As Cadence tries to recover, she always has her son in her thoughts. A custody battle ensues and Cadence must do everything possible to get her son back. She’s hurt that her ex-husband couldn’t settle this between them, now a stranger will determine her son's future. Her son means everything to her, and she can’t imagine loosing custody. Going through all the steps to get her son back is not enough, she must learn to admit that she is an alcoholic. Picking up her son from her ex-mother-in-law’s house is painful, having her ex-husband judge her is excruciating. Cadence learns to open up her world, and finds supporters in new friends. She learns that she is not alone. 

Alcoholism is a disease that effects more then just the alcoholic. In Best Kept Secret we see how Cadence’s alcoholism hurt everyone around her. When no one expected her alcoholism to begin with, and only noticed when it was out of control, it’s hard for others to begin to trust her. If they didn’t know before, how can they be sure that she won’t relapse? Her friends walk away without a second thought, and her mother has never been very emotional. Her sister wants to help her as much as possible, but she has her own life and twins to raise. Cadence must do this on her own, seek help, accept guidance and take it one day at a time. 

Amy Hatvany has created an amazing multidimensional, compelling read. Cadence can easily be your sister, your friend, or the mother next door. She’s realistic, likable, and good hearted. She never saw her addiction sneaking up on her, and she never wanted to hurt her son. She can be anyone in your life. The secondary characters are well portrayed, and real. This book is extremely well written, and highly recommended. I promise you will not want to put this book down, and you will be rooting for Cadence the whole way through.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain



Publisher: Ballantine
Pages: 336
Source: Personal Copy



Hadley Richardson was smitten with Ernest Hemmingway from the moment she met him, less than one year later she married him, ignoring the skeptics and following her heart. Hadley had almost given up on love but Ernest renewed her spirit and made her feel good about herself. She believed in Hemmingway wholeheartedly and wanted to sacrifice alongside of him to further his career, his career became her career. The Hemingway’s set sail for Paris and hoped that their dreams would come true. Living on a small inheritance, Ernest continued reporting for certain newspapers but wanted to devote the majority of his time to his own writing. Ernest and Hadley soon found themselves befriending and mingling with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald. When Hadley gave birth to their son, she was soon left out and became lonely. Having a child was not very fashionable, and the few friends Hadley did have, had been constantly scrutinized by Hemmingway. Hemingway reinvented himself, and unfortunately for Hadley she no longer fit his criteria. Hemingway lived and breathed writing, and his love for Hadley only lasted for 5 short years, she was soon replaced by her best friend.

The Paris Wife is an incredible fictionalized account of the relationship between Ernest and Hadley. As a reader, I felt like Hadley was sitting next to me pouring her heart out. Their love was so strong, so pure and it soured so fast. Readers really get a glimpse into the lost generation, and how close knit their literary circle was. McLain has done her research and stayed true to the facts. Hadley was warned to stay away from Hemingway but she was attracted to him immediately. He was exciting, romantic, and full of optimism. He was recovering from his time spent at war, and ready to throw caution aside and pursue his career. Hadley was able to nurture, encourage and stabilize Hemingway. At that time, they needed each other.

Hadley was trying to be a traditional wife, but the bohemian lifestyle of the roaring 20’s left little room for the traditional. She felt like she never belonged to the group, never the artist but always the supporter of Ernest. Hadley’s friends were typical flappers who would try to steer her into a different fashionable lifestyle, Hemmingway would not allow it. He was a proud man who never accepted any handouts. Hadley seemed to be trying to gain her own identity as a mother and friend and she ultimately was left behind.

Overall, this book is well researched, and well orchestrated. Paula McLain’s firsthand account of their marriage has an authentic feel. The voice of Hadley is so strong, and unforgettable. I was immediately drawn into their world and fascinated by their lifestyle and struggles. At the end of the story, I felt so emotional. Hemmingway lived a fast life, and did as he pleased, Hadley let him. She was the dutiful wife, until she finally had enough and he went too far. I highly recommend this one; I didn’t expect to connect with Hadley as much as I did and I was pleasantly surprised. A great read!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer




Pages: 400
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (MacMillian)
Source: Publisher (ARC)


Cinder is a second class citizen, a cyborg with a mysterious past, rescued as a child by her adoptive father, and always resented by her adoptive mother. After the death of her father, Cinder's life was left into the hands of her mother. As a world renowned mechanic, she is the sole supporter of her family but she reaps no benefits. When the Beijing Prince appears at her stand she is surprised and tries to remain professional, he has come with his broken Android, desperate to have it fixed. It's clear that his Android has secret information that must be retrieved and Cinder is his only hope. A plague is ravaging the population, and patients are immediately taken away, never to be seen again. When one of Cinder’s sisters is diagnosed and taken away, Cinder's mother places all the blame on her and retaliates. Cinder is sent away against her will to test for possible cures for the plague, experiments that have killed many cyborgs.

Cinder is a futuristic retelling of Cinderella like no other. A young adult novel with an amazing mix of believable science fiction and dystopian elements. The creativity that shines through this story is fantastic. The classic fairy tale weaves underneath an original, and riveting tale. Readers will not be disappointed, and despite the retelling they will not find the story predictable. Cinder is the first book in the Lunar Chronicals  the series will consist of four books.

I really felt for Cinder from the very beginning, she is mocked, teased and a society outcast. Some fear her for being an android, and turn the other way when they see her. She has issues with herself, and detests her cyborg parts. Ashamed of the mechanical parts that have saved her life. When Prince Kai begins to show interest in her, she tries to keep her cyborg identity a secret. She knows despite his interests, he would change his mind the minute he uncovered her identity.

The secondary characters were very well incorporated, and each stood on their own. Iko, the family android and Cinder are friends. Their relationship is really gratifying. Cinder loves that Iko's personality chip is malfunctioning, but worries about her mother asking to have her fixed and neutralized. When Pearl is diagnosed with the plague, Cinder is truly heartbroken but relieved to be plague-free when tested. Her life is turned upside down when she is shipped off for experimentation. This is where her stepmother’s hatred really shines through. The uncovering of Cinder’s past was a little predictable for me but the story leaves lots of questions. This one is highly recommended, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming novels. If you like to root for the underdog, this one would be great for you.


For those of you who enjoy Audiobooks, here is an except:

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I've been wanting to reflect more on my reading, and I thought this would be a great meme. January has been a great reading month for me, and I'm really hoping to read more books than I did last year. As you can see, my reading tastes are diverse and I'm finding a great blend between Adult Fiction, and Young Adult fiction. I have a hard time choosing my next read, and I hope planning my week out would make that easier. I'm not a fast reader, so I might not get three books read a week, but I can strive for it.

Here are the books I reviewed last week:





Books Read Last Week:



Currently Reading:



Books to read this week:






It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? This is a weekly event to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It is hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books so stop by and join in!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In My Mailbox

Another mailbox post! I had a great mailbox week, and received some review books that I wasn't expecting. This is a week where I received three books that I just bought the ebooks for. That's okay, atleast I was able to support the author.

Here is what I got for review:






Friday, January 20, 2012

The Control on ebooks





It seems that ebooks have changed the way publishers control their books. I feel like publishers are taking this new technology and reevaluating their control. I’ve noticed a big change in restrictions from the time I began buying ebooks to now. Initially, coupons were available for all books and now fewer publishers are allowing coupons to be applied to books. Why is this not the case in physical bookstores? Personally, I’ve figured out which publishers allow coupons and I will more than likely buy books from those publishers over the others. Kobo releases coupons almost weekly, and I will seek out the books I want from the publishers that allow coupons. The publishers who don’t allow coupons are normally put on the backburner. I do purchase from those publishers, but I’m more likely to purchase an ebook that allows a coupon to be applied.


I’ve also noticed that not all ebooks are available on purchase date at all the online ebook retailers. Some are available on Kindle before Epub or Nook books are released, or vice versa. Why would publishers want to limit their books? I wonder what the logic is behind that. Do retailers bid for these new releases?

Ebooks are still a new technology, and I keep wondering how it will evolve. I would love to be able to lend ebooks to other users, I do not have this capability on my readers. I do believe Kindle users have this feature. I’m not sure how restricted it is. I would also love the ability to have an ebook copy when I purchase a hardcopy, similar to a digital copy when buying a movie. Often I buy both the ebook version and a physical copy. How do you feel about the restrictions on ebooks?



***Update***

ECW Press is providing free ebooks, for those who pruchase hardcopies.


Buy one of our Spring 2012 books, and get the eBook for free!

We have some pretty exciting news for those of you who, like us, love print books — the aesthetic, the weight in your hands, even the smell — but also enjoy the ease of eBooks.


We are pleased to announce that when you purchase any of the books on our Spring list, you can get the eBook version for free! We're also honouring the deal for new purchases of backlist titles going forward (as long as we have the eBook files and the rights to distribute).


ECW Press co-publisher, David Caron had this to say about the free eBook promotion:

“When readers pay top price for one of our books, we feel they should be able to read it in the way that fits best with their life: a printed book in a comfy chair, an eBook on their phone on the bus, whatever. We also wanted to find a way to include bookstores that don’t sell eBooks, so that both the store’s customers and the bookseller feel that they are getting good value from an ECW Press book.”

Visit ecwpress.com/ebook for more details.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar



Publisher: Harper

Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5





Armaiti, Laleh, Nishta and Kavita were best friends in University, inseparable and spirited students. They were different from the others; they were passionate about the political- not the personal. “Broken hearts, broken fingernails, broken promises-all the things that their classmates fretted over, they dismissed.” As fellow revolutionaries they challenged authority and protested for what they believed in. It has since been thirty years and the women have drifted apart, when Armaiti is diagnosed with a brain tumor, her dying wish is to see her friends one more time. Kavita and Laleh have remained close friends, and struggle with their feelings about Armaiti’s impending death. Their shared history and bond have never changed their feelings towards each other, and Kavita and Laleh want to fulfill her wish and travel to America. They must find Nishta. Nishta, the one they were so proud of, a Hindu who married a Muslim man. As a result of her love, she was disowned by her parents. Over the years Nishta has drifted away from everyone and disappeared. When the women find Nishta, they are surprised to find her living a life they never imagined. Her husband, once liberal socialist has become a devout Muslim after the riots changed him forever. Nishta has to obey his every word. He has become a skeptical, disillusioned, bitter man and she has to endure his temper. Nishta knows he will never allow her to go see Armaiti. She is living under lock and key, and drowning under his commands.

Readers will find themselves lost in the world of Armaiti, Laleh, Nishta and Kavita. The world they now find themselves in is very different from what they imagined. Armaiti is living in America, divorced and still depending on the ex-husband who had an affair. She had months to live, and must come to terms with what’s important and what she should let go. Laleh has married her university boyfriend, and together they have built a wealthy, comfortable life. Laleh would give up her materialist possessions in a heartbeat if it meant proving her point. Her husband at times is furious with her feisty temperament, but he has learned to accept the woman he loves. Kavita is a successful architect, living a secret. She has a secret girlfriend but doesn’t know how to tell anyone. It had been years, and she hasn’t even told Laleh. Nishta is living in a prison, her every step is accounted for and she gave up everything for a man who she now wants to leave.

The story is less about the reunion, and more about the journey to the reunion. I felt like I was taking the journey with these old friends. I was rooting for all the friends. Nishta really stole my heart, and we see her struggle. She loves the man she fell in love with but not the man he has become. Each character has a strong, unique voice. Occasionally, when there are many main characters I feel a stronger connection with one or two, in this case I felt connected to everyone. I felt like I had a real understanding of where everyone was coming from. Even Nishta’s husband Iqbal, held a place in my heart. His world has come crashing down around him, and he didn’t know how to cope. He honestly thought he was doing what was best for his family. Each character was easily to distinguish. This was my first Thrity Umrigar book, and it will not be my last. In case you’re not sure, I highly recommend this book. A perfect read for book club discussions.





Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Debut Spotlight: A Walk Across the Sun by Cordan Addison






Description:


When a tsunami rages through their coastal town in India, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister Sita are left orphaned and homeless. As they struggle to reach the safe haven of the convent where they attend school, they are abducted by human traffickers and thrust into a hidden world of sexual violence and illicit commerce, where the most valuable prize is the innocence of a child.




Halfway across the world, Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crises. Haunted by the tragic death of his infant daughter and estranged from his wife, he makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical in India with an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent’s human traffickers. In Mumbai, his conscience awakens as he sees firsthand the horrors of the trade in human flesh, and the corrupt judicial system that fosters it. Learning of the fate of Ahalya and Sita, Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue them, setting the stage for a deadly showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals.



Spanning three continents and two cultures, A Walk Across the Sun chronicles an unforgettable journey through the underworld of modern slavery and into the darkest, and most resilient, corners of the human heart.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen



Publisher: Crown
Pages: 304
Source: Personal Ebook
Rating: 2.5/5

Goodreads Description:


When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds' heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can't, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who've brought them. These spinster sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.

But back in the summer of 1947, Milly and Twiss knew nothing about trying to mend what had been accidentally broken. Milly was known as a great beauty with emerald eyes and Twiss was a brazen wild child who never wore a dress or did what she was told. That was the summer their golf pro father got into an accident that cost him both his swing and his charm, and their mother, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler, finally admitted their hardscrabble lives wouldn't change. It was the summer their priest, Father Rice, announced that God didn't exist and ran off to Mexico, and a boy named Asa finally caught Milly's eye. And, most unforgettably, it was the summer their cousin Bett came down from a town called Deadwater and changed the course of their lives forever.

Rebecca Rasmussen's masterfully written debut novel is full of hope and beauty, heartbreak and sacrifice, love and the power of sisterhood, and offers wonderful surprises at every turn.


Thoughts:


I wanted to love this one, I really did. I think it was very different from what I was expecting, and it never really grabbed my attention. This one just wasn’t for me. I hate when I see rave reviews, and I’m left wondering if I missed something. Maybe this was a case of bad timing, and I should give the book another chance later on. I felt like nothing was really happening and I kept waiting. It did get better, but it seemed too late for me. I didn’t feel invested in the sisters. I felt very impatient. The book jumped back and forth which occasionally confused me. I wanted to keep reading because I’ve heard so many good things about this one, but I felt like I was forcing myself. The writing was beautiful, and I think Rebecca Rasmussen has a lot of potential. I really enjoyed the descriptive writing, but the plot and character development fell short for me. Unfortunately, not every book is for every reader. If you’re curious about this one, if the synopsis sounds interesting…give it a try.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: Dancergirl by Carol M Tanzman





Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 256
Source: Personal Ebook
Rating: 3.5/5
Ali Ruffinio lives and breathes dance, and dreams of attending Julliard when she graduates. When a film buff student takes some footages during a party, and posts it on Zune Ali is confused by the sudden attention and decides to just go with it. Her and Charlie begin to shoot more scenes for Zune, and create a backstory of Charlie being an innocent admirer watching Ali and wishing she would notice him. The Zune segments go viral, and Ali begins to have a creepy feeling that someone is watching her, this feeling doesn’t even go away when she is in her bedroom. When a video of Ali is posted to Zune, dancing in her underwear Ali tells Charlie that enough is enough. He can’t spy on her and post these videos without her permission. He can’t video her unknowingly in her bedroom. Charlie denies these accusations, and insists that it wasn’t him. Ali has a disturbing feeling that she has a stalker, she can’t go to the police because her mother can’t see those videos of her drinking and smoking pot. She doesn’t know what to do or where to go. Her best friend Jacy has been distant but he’s still willing to help her. 
Dancergirl is filled with paranoia, and mystery. Ali doesn’t deal well with the instant fame of Zune, and tries to keep her mother in the dark. Her mother works nights, and Ali is home alone most of the time. Ali initially enjoys the attention, but she once she becomes powerless she becomes paranoid. She begins to be skeptical of everyone, and she can’t even escape in her own home. The creepy factor of this book is huge, who can it be? Is Ali really in danger or is this some high school joke? 
I did clue in to who the stalker was, and I just waited to see if I was right. This book was not predictable, but I did clue in to some details. I think it was well written, and the plot was very original. The whole story was realistic, including Ali’s mother being a single mother who works as a nurse, as a result Ali is home alone most nights. The idea that she couldn’t feel safe in her own home, felt incredibly invading. The book was very well paced, and addresses a very complicating and real issue. I really enjoyed reading this one. A nice change from the usual Young Adult novels. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 544
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5


Emma Blaxton-Hunter is a world renowned prima ballerina, living a perfect life with the perfect boyfriend. First, the boyfriend decides that the relationship isn’t going in the direction that he wants, and second, Emma‘s knee is severely injured and she can feel her career being ripped away. Her mother insists that she move back to Australia and forget about London and Josh. Emma is so heartbroken over Josh and her career that she gives in and goes home. While in Australia a few days, her Uncle comes to visit and hints at a secret; apparently her grandmother Beattie has left her something in her will and the stipulation was that she returns to Australia before she could be told about the inheritance. Now, it makes sense why her mother was constantly asking her to come home. Emma’s Mother and Uncle didn’t see any of Beattie’s fortune; it was all given away to various charities and Emma is wondering what could be left. Her grandmother knew she wasn’t very materialistic and doesn’t think it would be money. Both her Mother and Uncle are very bitter about the way the estate was handled, and they pressure Emma to visit with the lawyer right away. Emma is given a house that she is advised to sell but the contents need to be emptied. While Emma begins to recover from her knee surgery, she moves to Tasmania and learns about her grandmother’s secret life before she was married.

Wildflower Hill is a captivating, absorbing read. The story is told from both Emma and Beattie’s perspectives. Both stories were equally engrossing and mesmerizing. Kimberly Freeman has amazing talent, and readers will be transported into her story. Emma is lost, her career is over and her boyfriend is gone. She begins to realize how much her life revolved around her career, everything came second and she always expected to dance. When Emma returns to the farm and begins to open boxes, she finds a mysterious picture of her grandmother standing with a man, and a little girl. Emma is baffled. Could her grandmother have had a secret family? Emma begins to uncover the secrets of Beattie’s past. A young and careless Beattie had an affair with a married man and ran away to Australia when they learn she is expecting. Beattie is desperate, her mother has thrown her out, and she is ecstatic that Henry wants to be with her. Beattie’s perfect romance is cut short when Henry becomes an alcoholic, abusive gambler. Henry barely provides food each week for his daughter, and has mounting debt. When a second letter appears from Henry’s ex-wife, Beattie is furious. Molly proposes that Henry return to her, and entices him with her new found wealth. Beattie is afraid that he will take Lucy and decides she must take her life into her own hands, She’s tired of being the victim, a friend once told her that there are two types of women in this world “those who do things and those who have things done to them.“


I loved this book! I loved every page, every detailed paragraph and felt sad when I closed the book and left the characters behind. Readers are always on the hunt for the book you completely fall in love with, and can’t stop thinking about- Wildflower Hill was that type of novel. I loved Emma and Beattie’s stories equally. The story was paced very well, and transitioned perfectly. I was thoroughly moved by this book. Do yourself a favor and read this one, this will not be sorry. This book has made it to my top 5 favorite books read this year.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Return of Blogger Comments to Mrs Q Book Addict




If I would have waited a little longer, I would have caused myself a lot less work...but I really wanted to be able to reply to comments and installed Intense Debate. Blogger has finally upgraded to threaded comments, and I switched back right away. I prefer blogger comments because people tend to link to their blogs more, and I love to visit those who visit me. So, I uninstalled Intense Debate and made the switch back. All of my Intense Debate comments are gone, but I'm manually putting them back in. I'm thankful that it hasn't been too long since I switched.

Happy commenting!

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin




Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 464
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5/5
Mara Dyer wakes up in a hospital bed after being unconscious for three days and life as she knows it will never be the same. She learns that she was the only survivor when an abandoned building collapsed and her friends have been laid to rest. She cannot remember anything and she begins to show signs of post traumatic stress disorder. Her mother is pushing her to begin a series of therapy and medications, but Mara is not sure that is what is needed at this time. The hallucinations are terrifying and almost constant but she needs to keep them hidden to avoid her mother. In an attempt to better the situation Mara’s family have decided to move to Florida and start over. Mara is thankful and appreciative, especially of her brothers who have agreed to the move. Starting a new school is not easy for Mara, she seems to have immediate enemies and the school “player” has taken an interest in Mara. She’s loves to hate him, but there is something about him that draws her to him. Flashbacks of the accident are coming more intense and frequent and Mara must figure out what happened.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is an incredibly well written book. Michelle Hodkin keeps her readers in the dark, and readers are brought along on Mara’s journey. As the first book in a series, there will be more to come and readers will enjoys the twists and turns. Mara’s situation is unique and creepy. The romance between Mara and Noah is very well done, and although Noah has a reputation you will really root for him. I began to trust and feel his sincerity. While Mara lives with her flashbacks, I became more and more worried and confused about her. What is happening to her? What happened to her? Readers will realize that Mara can not be trusted, you can’t take her seriously because she is constantly confused about the situation. As Noah and her become closer and he tries to help her out, we learn that he has a backstory himself. This will peak readers interest and glued to the pages. 
Overall, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is dark, twisted and a great psychological thriller. This felt very unique in the Young Adult genre. Throughout the entire book, I was questioning the accident, and Mara. I felt completely left int he dark, and scrambling for answers. As Mara desperately wants a normal life, you feel incredibly sad that she has to live through this. As Mara begins to question if she is just crazy, you can’t help but wonder if she is. Michelle Hodkin is a fantastic writer, and while some questions are answered by the end, readers will still have plenty of thoughts lingering in their mind when the story is over. This series has a lot of potential, and I’m jumping on the Michelle Hodkin wagon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Debut Spotlight: American Dervish



Book Description:

Hayat Shah is a young American in love for the first time. His normal life of school, baseball, and video games had previously been distinguished only by his Pakistani heritage and by the frequent chill between his parents, who fight over things he is too young to understand. Then Mina arrives, and everything changes.


Mina is Hayat's mother's oldest friend from Pakistan. She is independent, beautiful and intelligent, and arrives on the Shah's doorstep when her disastrous marriage in Pakistan disintegrates. Even Hayat's skeptical father can't deny the liveliness and happiness that accompanies Mina into their home. Her deep spirituality brings the family's Muslim faith to life in a way that resonates with Hayat as nothing has before. Studying the Quran by Mina's side and basking in the glow of her attention, he feels an entirely new purpose mingled with a growing infatuation for his teacher.

When Mina meets and begins dating a man, Hayat is confused by his feelings of betrayal. His growing passions, both spiritual and romantic, force him to question all that he has come to believe is true. Just as Mina finds happiness, Hayat is compelled to act—with devastating consequences for all those he loves most.

American Dervish is a brilliantly written, nuanced, and emotionally forceful look inside the interplay of religion and modern life. Ayad Akhtar was raised in the Midwest himself, and through Hayat Shah he shows readers vividly the powerful forces at work on young men and women growing up Muslim in America. This is an intimate, personal first novel that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.


— Publisher’s Summary


"Engaging and accessible, thoughtful without being daunting: This may be the novel that brings Muslim-American fiction into the commercial mainstream."

— Kirkus Reviews (Starred)


"The young teen's personal story about growing up in Muslim America is both particular and universal, with intense connections of faith, sorrow, tenderness, anger, betrayal, questioning, and love."

— Booklist






"American Dervish" Video Statement from Ayad Akhtar on Vimeo.




Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Legend by Marie Lu



Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages 336
Source: Personal Ebook


Agent June Iparis is the only person to have scored a perfect 1500 on the trials. The Republic believes that they must use her intelligent mind to further their cause. June is observant, calculating and rebellious. The Republic strives to keep her in check. When Day, the most wanted criminal escapes once again, the Republic graduates June early and assigns her on the case. June's brother and only family member has just been killed, apparently at the hands of Day and now the two 15 year olds are pitted against one another. June knows that Day has never killed before, usually stealing from the rich and giving to the poor but this time her brother is dead and June vows to give Day what he deserves. She will do anything and everything to bring him in.

 Day is the notorious Republic criminal, displayed on every jumbotron, but never presented correctly. The Republic has no idea who Day really is, the only person not to have fingerprints listed in the system and the only person to escape the Republic's scrupulous system . Day comes from the destitute, plague-ridden sector, his home has recently been marked with a red "x" demonstrating that someone in the household has been diagnosed with the plague. Day is living on the streets, his mother believes he's dead but Day keeps a close eye on his family. It's now or never, Day must find a way to cure whoever is sick. Agent June Iparis may be the mastermind of the Republic but deep down she is a girl missing her deceased parents and brother. She grew up in the wealthy sector, but wealth will never bring back her family. She's lonely, and beginning to question her world.

 Legend has received a lot of buzz, and it deserves all the praise it has received. Marie Lu created a captivating, original, and fascinating read. Readers who are looking for a page turner, need to look no further. Legend has all the makings of a great story, addicting characters, creative world building, perfect pacing and non-stop action. Two main characters, equally likable and working against each other force readers not to choose one over the other. I quickly began to enjoy the story, and had no clue which direction Lu was going to take her characters. I couldn't choose between Day or June, both had realistic mindsets, and I had to sit back and enjoy the ride. I was at the mercy of Lu, hoping that both characters would have favorable outcomes. Legend is not just another Young Adult Dystopian novel, Legend is authentic and compelling. Legend is the first book in the trilogy and I will eagerly wait for book two to be released in the fall of 2012. This one comes highly recommended.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Max




Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 432
Source: Personal Ebook
Rating: 5/5
Vivian knows what a good “Southern” woman should do in certain circumstances, but now she’s living in New York and does as she pleases. Vivian works as a journalist and will go above and beyond to get the story she wants, her boyfriend may be across the world but he’s a foreign correspondent and she supports him in his career. When her own career takes an unexpected turn, Vivian finds herself with an embarrassing wound, caught on camera and uploaded to Youtube. Vivian’s life begins to unravel rather quickly. She’s horrified to find that someone has been hired to assist her at work, and Vivian is well aware that she is being pushed out for a younger, “fresher” perspective. Instead of waiting for be fired and training her replacement, she quits and walks out the door. When new job opportunities don’t seem to come as easily as she expects, Vivian takes on a pseudonym and writes about life in suburbia. She relocates to the small town where she grew up in Georgia, and decides to stay with her sister, niece and nephew. As the column begins to become popular in Georgia, Vivian is hoping that she doesn’t become uncovered, but a childhood nemesis is digging into her background. Vivian also has one more secret, she’s pregnant at fourty-one and doesn’t know how to tell anyone, including her boyfriend. 
Magnolia Wednesdays was a heartwarming, comfort read that I desperately wanted to find. A great cozy novel, does a reader good. Wendy Wax created an incredible well rounded novel. The plot, characters, and uncertainty was perfect. As Vivi tries to come to terms with her pregnancy, the clock is ticking and everyone will soon find out whether she wants them to or not, her boyfriend is in war-torn Afghanistan and their lack of communication makes it easier for her to keep the secret, but how long will she wait? When her brother-in-law died two years ago from a hunting accident, Vivian couldn’t stick around to help her sister and she fled the first chance she had. Her niece and nephew are skeptical as to why she is sticking around this time. Her sister is wondering the same thing, but she doesn’t come out and ask her. Vivian is realizing that there is more to small town life then she imagined, she might have shunned this life long ago, but now she is becoming increasingly comfortable. 
The heart of this novel is secrets, how some secrets shouldn’t be kept secret, and how sometimes unraveling secrets can do more harm, and cause more hurt than wanted. It’s a tough line to cross, and Vivian begins to learn this lesson. Sometimes digging around into family business should not be done. Vivian and her sister are becoming closer and bonding, but secrets are about to test the relationship. Can their relationship survive dishonesty? I read Magnolia Wednesdays at the perfect time, and I never wanted to put the book down. I felt invested in the characters and I was rooting for everyone. The secondary characters are as likable and enjoyable as the main characters. Vivian is hilarious, judgmental and incredibly frustrating.  At times you just want to yell at her. I throughly enjoyed Magnolia Wednesdays and this is a great book for those who enjoy a good Southern read.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

In My Mailbox (Books, Books and a Kobo Vox!)




It's been a few weeks since I've done an In My Mailbox post. These are review copies that I've received in the last couple weeks. I'm really excited about reading them. 



Review Books:


I also got this for Christmas:


It's a pink Kobo Vox! I really like the Kobo app, and I use it on my Ipad all the time, but I don't like bringing my Ipad on the metro while travelling to work. So, this is perfect for me. It's smaller, and I can use all the same reading apps, I use on the Ipad. I'll be reviewing it on the blog soon.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: I Am Half-Sick Of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce Novel by Alan Bradley




Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages:320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5



It’s Christmas time, and Colonel de Luce has decided to allow a movie crew to use the house as a film set. In an attempt to avoid bankruptcy for a little longer, the film crew begins to take over the house. Flavia is confronted by her sisters and told that Father Christmas does not exist. She devises a plan to capture Father Christmas and solve this mystery herself, she’s whipping up a super-sticky concoction that she’ll coat the chimney with and prove to her sisters that he does exist. Christmas-eve will be the day St Nick comes down the chimney, and he’ll get stuck- Flavia will be able to prove to her sister that they are wrong. The family must accommodate the film crew and not have a Christmas tree this year, eleven- year-old Flavia is a little upset with having no tree but her new visitors bring entertainment to her. The famous Phyllis Wyvern is bathing in her home, and she plans to observe these people as much as possible. During the filming of the production, one of the stars is murdered and Flavia discovers the body. She decides to use her skills to catch the killer. Flavia is courageous, curious, and imaginative.


The book was the fourth installment, and I was able to read it as a standalone novel. This was my first Alan Bradley novel, and I really want to start from the beginning and get to know Flavia a little better. She’s an amazing character, armed with her chemistry set and holding a grudge against her sisters. While she is brilliant and intriguing, she maintains her childhood innocence. The writing is very good, and Alan Bradley has me waiting to read the first three books. I’ve heard a lot of good things about his books. According to reviews that I have read, Bradley’s previous books are more traditional mysteries. I loved Flavia’s character. Her mind is very curious, and readers will fall in love with her scheming and her propensity for poisons. This book will appeal to the mystery lover, and is more than just a holiday read.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Quality of ebooks



I can't help but wonder if ebooks go through the same type of quality inspection as print copies. The majority of books that I read are in ebook format, and I can't help but notice all the formatting issues in ebooks lately. Even with a print book, I expect to see some errors occasionally but I've actually bought a few ebooks that I couldn't read because the quality was so poor. I've noticed sentences being split half way through and placed as another paragraph, font sizes defaulting to a large unreadable size and overall many different quality issues including spacing in the middle of a word.

I was wondering if anyone else has noticed this? I've actually noticed so many issues in one ebook, that I couldn't help but bring it to the publishers attention, and they mentioned that they would have to send a new file to the retailer. These ebooks that I'm talking about are not advanced copies, they are released ebooks that are purchased. 98% of my ebooks are purchased through Kobo.com,  and I don't know if this is a retailer issue or publisher issue.

I'd love to hear what others experiences are with ebooks.

Here is an example of a size small font, that I just couldn't read on my Sony Reader. It was too large, and uncomfortable to read. I would be flipping pages constantly. I read it on my Ipad, through the Kobo App it seemed normal. This may have been an Adobe DRM file issue.

I've also seen fonts default to such a small almost unreadable font, and when expanding- it was too large.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wow: Dying to Know You & The Ruins of Us

Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers

Synopsis

In Dying to Know You, award-winning author Aidan Chambers has created an indelible portrait of a young man discovering his own voice in the world, and has constructed a love story that is as much about the mind as it is the heart.


In this contemporary love story, a teenage boy named Karl enlists a famous writer to help him impress his girlfriend, Fiorella. She has asked him to write her a letter in which he reveals his true self. But Karl isn’t convinced he’s good enough with words, so he tracks down Fiorella’s favorite author and begs him to take up the task. The writer reluctantly assents, on the condition that Karl agree to a series of interviews, so that the letter will be based on an authentic portrait of Karl. The letter, though effective, has unexpected consequences for Karl, Fiorella, and the writer.





The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen (2012 Debut Author Publishes: January)

More than two decades after moving to Saudi Arabia and marrying powerful Abdullah Baylani, American-born Rosalie learns that her husband has taken a second wife. That discovery plunges their family into chaos as Rosalie grapples with leaving Saudi Arabia, her life, and her family behind. Meanwhile, Abdullah and Rosalie’s consuming personal entanglements blind them to the crisis approaching their sixteen-year-old son, Faisal, whose deepening resentment toward their lifestyle has led to his involvement with a controversial sheikh. When Faisal makes a choice that could destroy everything his embattled family holds dear, all must confront difficult truths as they fight to preserve what remains of their world.


The Ruins of Us is a timely story about intolerance, family, and the injustices we endure for love that heralds the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in contemporary fiction.