Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Summerset Abbey by T J Brown



Publisher: Gallery Books
Released: 2013
Pages: 322
Source: Publisher/egalley
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Sir Philip Buxton was a man who believed in change and women’s rights. He was a man of reform, and didn’t care much for class distinctions. His wife died years ago, and he’s been the sole parent to his two daughters, who were always his pride and joy. Prudence Tate, the daughter of their governess has been like a third daughter to him. When their father suddenly dies, Rowena and Victoria are under the guardianship of their uncle until they turn twenty-five or marry. Their Uncle informs Rowena that he intends to sell their house, and have them move in with him. He believes that the girls were let go for too long, and he needs to teach them a thing or two about how things should be done when you’re a Buxton.  Also, Prudence is not to come along. Rowena convinces her Uncle to allow her to come along as their maid.

Review:

Summerset Abbey takes place in 1913 when many changes are on the horizon. Sir Philip is a product of that change, and his daughters as well. His death is devastating for them. Rowena feels like she’s the head of the family, her sister has asthmatic episodes and she tries to protect Victoria by not telling her everything.

Prudence must come to terms with becoming a servant, and not belonging. Sir Philip treated her like family and the servants feel as if she doesn’t belong with them. She’s teased and taunted but doesn’t know where to go or what to do. It’s clear that there’s more to Prudence story then she knows. There a mystery behind her parentage, and I was kept wondering throughout the novel. I thought I knew what the secret was, but there was twist that I didn’t see coming.

I really enjoyed Summerset Abbey. I thought it was very well written, I loved the three girls and their strength in their new environment. If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you will love this one. It has a very similar feel to Downton. I really enjoyed reading about the servant’s quarters as well as the family quarters. Brown delivered a fresh perspective on the distinctions between classes during this time. 

Also, I love the cover of this one.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Easy by Tammara Webber



Publisher: Berkley
Released: 2012
Pages: 318
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

Jacqueline chose to follow her boyfriend to college instead of applying to a top-notch music school. Everything was going good until he broke up with her, and caused her to rethink why she followed him in the first place. Trying to get over the breakup, Jacqueline goes to a Frat party and ends the night by almost getting raped by her ex-boyfriend’s friend. Things would have been much worse if a stranger named Lucas hadn’t stepping in to save Jacqueline. Now Jacqueline is faced with catching up with school and trying to stay away Buck who keeps stalking her. Jacqueline starts emailing her economics tutor back and forth and the conversation seems to be moving in a different directions. At the same time, Jacqueline can’t get Lucas out of her head.

Review:

Easy had raved reviews, and I did enjoy the book but I didn’t love it. I thought it was entertaining but mostly predictable. Jacqueline was a strong character but she didn’t always react how I would expect her to. Her relationship between Lucas and the tutor was obvious. I really liked that this book took place in a college setting. I love books about college, because I feel like their few and far between.

The topic of rape was interesting to read about. I wish Jacqueline would have handled it a bit differently. I did find her choices realistic, and she was easy to relate to. I liked her relationship with Lucas, and I rooted for them to be together.

Easy was a good read about relationships, complicated pasts, and hopeful futures. If you’re looking for a fast read, I recommend this one. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler



Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: 2012
Pages: 371
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Lily Azerov has fled Eastern Europe after the turmoil of the Second World War. When Lily arrives in Montreal to meet her betrothed, Sol Kramer she wants to escape her old life. Unfortunately, when Sol meets Lily he immediately decides that he won’t marry her. His brother, Nathan decides that he will marry her. Lily accepts, and their wedding is arranged. During their reception, a cousin of Lily’s decides that she is not who she says she is. This Lily stole her cousin’s identity, and she wants to know what happened to the real Lily. The woman claiming to be Lily doesn’t know what to do. She tries to make a life for herself, but she ends up abandoning her infant and leaving behind a journal and a rare diamond.

Review:

The Imposter Bride focuses on Lily’s daughter Ruth. Ruth is determined to find out what happened to her mother, what made her run off when she was only a few months old. If Lily isn’t who she says she is, Ruth wants to find out who her mother is and where can she find her. Apart from a few rocks that were mysteriously mailed, Ruth hasn’t had any contact with her mother. Her father has been great, and her aunt and uncle have really stepped in to help. When she begins asking questions, they don’t really know what to tell her.

The Imposter Bride is an unforgettable story. The writing is detailed and compelling. Richler delivers a rich novel filled with great characters, secrets and the desire to uncover the truth. Ruth is a prime example of a confused child, trying to put the pieces together, needing to figure out where she came from. She doesn’t seem to blame her mother; she just wants to figure out why. What happened to cause her mother to run away and abandon her? 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mailbox Monday

I had a great mailbox week. The following books were received for review:

The Ruining by Anna Collomore

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Dancing to the Flute by Manisha Jolie Amin

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

Reason to Breath by Rebecca Donovan

 

 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Kobo Arc




The Kobo Arc is what I wanted the Kobo Vox to be. I was really disappointed with the Vox, but I’m quite impressed with the Arc. I no longer have a sluggish machine that has issues turning pages, and not freezing. I was on my third Vox when I finally gave up. The Arc is a completely new machine, new design and works great! I have the white 16g reader.

All in all, I’m really impressed with the Arc. Reading on it is simple, it’s fast. I have none of the issues that I had with the Vox. The battery is great! I do get a full ten hours. The screen is really bright and looks amazing. I can actually use other apps with ease, something I couldn't do with the Vox. I’ve actually been using it to watch Netflix.

Reading apps, I use Kindle, Blufire and Sony Reader. Switching between apps doesn't lag and I enjoy having all the options. I’m happy to get my Sony books back since I no longer have the eink reader. I have used Overdrive in the past, but I haven’t used it lately. It’s great for Adobe DRM epub books. I also like that I can use Instagram and Twitter without problems. It does have a camera, located in the front but I haven't used it.

Setting up the Arc was really simple. It had an initial download, which seems to be the norm with Kobo products. Once the machine was booted up, I just needed to sign into my accounts and all my books were downloaded from the cloud.

Kobo uses Tapestries, which is similar to Pinterest with the idea that you can pin and place into folders. I haven’t really explored this feature and deleted some of the folders. I don’t like clutter on devices and prefer just simple icons for the apps that I use mostly. I can see how people like this feature; I might look into it more later on.

Discovery is Kobo recommendations. Kobo does not offer good recommendations, and mostly they recommend self-published or book I already purchased through them. I actually turned this feature off. The bar still remains with no books. I would love to be able to delete this feature.

Kobo mentioned that the Android system should be updated within a few months. I’m excited to see what the update will bring.



I bought the Kobo Sleepcover in grey and I’m really happy with it. The Arc clips into the custom case, and turns on/off when you open or close the cover. I like that it clips in and doesn't use elastics. The case was a bit pricey at 49.99$ but I think it was worth it. The case is good quality.

Kobo will be selling optional snapbacks in different colors. I can’t wait to buy the purple. I’m hoping these come into stock soon. Hoping they’ll decide to sell a pink one, but it doesn't seem to be in the line up.

I’m really happy with my Arc, it’s my reader of choice right now. The Kobo Glo is also a great machine for eink lovers. I did get a free Kobo Mini when I purchased the Arc, and I’ll be reviewing that one as well. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese [Canada Reads 2013]



Publisher: Douglas & Mcintyre
Released: 2012
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Saul Indian Horse has been encouraged to share his story. He’s currently dying in a hospice and coming to terms with his life as a Northern Ojibway boy. He knows there’s too much to just orate, so he begins to write his story. He goes back to the beginning, when he was a boy who was abandoned by his parents and left with his grandmother. His grandmother did her best but died while clutching him in her arms, trying to get them to safely. He was a boy all alone, sent to a residential school, and found solace in playing hockey. A game he taught himself and a game that allowed him to escape his life. When the game became more about him being an Indian, it lost its spark and Saul felt like he didn't belong. He lost the ability to escape within hockey and he became bitter. Saul became a man who was happiest amongst nature, but needed to look for opportunities. He was always searching for a place to call home.

Review:

Indian Horse has been selected as a Canada Reads 2013 finalist. I picked it up and wasn't sure what to expect, but I soon found myself captivated by his story. Saul was such a strong character, and to see the bitterness begin, really broke my heart. It was common for Natives to understand that individuals never came home from residential schools the same. They were told to never speak their language anymore, and schooling was less about education but more about labor. Children who died, were buried and never thought of again. Children who spoke up to protect their siblings were beat, and taught to stay quiet. Natives were being assimilated, but didn't know where to go once they left the school. Saul’s escape was hockey, and his talent put a lot of focus on him, but he was shunned by many. He was always labeled “the Indian” and all he wanted to do was play hockey. Once hockey was taken away, he had nothing.

This book was amazing! I loved it, and I started off my Canada Reads reading strong. I don’t know if I will enjoy any of the others as much as I liked this one. I love Canadian literature, and I love Native American literature, this book combined the too. Wagamese is a fascinating writer, and I can’t wait to read more of his books. Indian Horse is a powerful story, healing comes from shared experiences, and solidarity.

There were several themes throughout the novel. Saul finds salvation in hockey; he recognized that hockey was his form of escape, his form of suppressing the nightmares in his life. When he played hockey, he could focus on one thing. He threw himself wholeheartedly into the game. Another major theme of the book was family. Saul learns that family doesn't always have to be biological. Saul’s spiritual connection with his ancestors and nature surrounds him when he most needs the comfort. Rascism and abuse is another major theme. Wagamese never wants the reader to pity Saul, he wants readers to understand his struggles and see when he triumphed and when he was defeated.

It’s obvious that I think this book was wonderful, and I highly recommend it. Residential schools are a part of Canada’s blackest hours; generations of Native American’s who were left scarred, sent to a school to “take the Indian” out of them. Children were removed from their parents, deprived of their language and physically and sexually abused. Many people would be shocked to learn that the last school was closed in 1996. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis



Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 416
Released: 2011
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Amy and her parents are cryogenically frozen and placed onto a vast spaceship. They will be woken in 300 years, and begin to live on a new planet. Earth is doomed, and they are a part of a government mission to begin living in space, and eventually a new planet. For 300 years, a crew of two thousand, five hundred people will live and die on the spaceship. A new generation will be born, and work towards progressing the ship. Unfortunately, Amy is woken fifty years sooner than expected. Her parents are still frozen but she is determined to keep them safe and find out who is thawing out the people. Amy is shocked to find out she will be much older than her parents when they are awaken. Her life has completely been turned around and lost its purpose. The people on the ship have lost their freedom; they are monoethnic and submit to the eldest on the ship. Eldest decides everyone’s fate, and the role will soon be taken over my Elder. Elder is completely enamored by Amy. He loves that she’s different, and he recognizes that not everything he’s been told has been the truth. Eldest has hidden a lot from him. Elder wants to help Amy in any way possible, at the same time, he must figure out if Eldest is fulfilling his job has head of the ship.

Review:

I really enjoyed Across the Universe. I was able to suspend my belief and accept the story for what I was given. I thought the concept was interesting, and I loved the characters. The world building really worked, and I’m hoping it continues in the series. The pace of the novel worked out really well. It felt like a fast read, and I can’t wait to read A Million Suns. The third book; Shades of Earth has just been released.

I had a lot of trouble reading young adult books in 2012. Everything felt repetitive and wouldn't hold my interesting. I stayed away from dystopian, and sci-fi, paranormal young adult reads. This book really helped to get me out of my rut. Amy was a really interesting character, and her situation was unique. Revis writes with amazing details that evoked strong emotions from readers. The scene where Amy and her parents are initially frozen had me shocked and scared.

I recommend this one. I've heard great things about it, and it really lived up to the hype. I’ll be reading the second book in the series soon. I can’t wait to dive back into that world. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes



Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 384
Released: 2012
Source: Egalley
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Louisa has just lost her job and she really isn’t looking forward to the temporary job she has lined up. The position is for six months, and her duties including assisting a paralyzed man. Will was the man who went leaping out of planes and traveling the world; he closed multimillion- dollar deals and essentially had the whole world ahead of him. An accident left him paralyzed, with very limited movement of his fingers. He became very depressed, and signed up for assisted suicide. His parents have asked him for six more months. They are hoping to save their son, they have six months to prove that life is still worth living. Slowly, Louisa and Will form a friendship. He becomes less bossy, and moody. When Louisa finally learns why her position is temporary, she realizes that she must save Will.

Review:

Me Before You was amazing! Amazing! I didn't think I would become so emotionally invested but I did. I actually kept reading until 2:30 in the morning. I just needed to know what would happen. Louisa is a great character, and her development throughout the book really kept me interested. Her steady long-term boyfriend has no interest in her life; he’s too consumed with his own fitness. Will becomes the person to listen and encourage her. The relationship between Will and Louisa really pulls at readers heart strings.

Moyes gives readers interesting, and convincing secondary characters. Louisa’s parents just want her to get it together. They also depend on her financially. They need her to get it together, since her father is at risk of losing his job. Her sister has a young son, the bigger room and she’s trying to become more independent. In reality, she wants everything her way. Her boyfriend is clearly wrong for her. Will’s parents are having marital problems, but that has to take a backseat because their son needs all of their attention. They need to figure out how to convince their son to change his plans. They decide everything for him, and Will is tired of people making all of his decisions.

I highly recommend this one! I loved every bit of it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mailbox Monday

I received one review book this week.

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate

 

I did buy a few Ebooks. This is the last 2 weeks of ebook purchases.

 

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Stony River by Tricia Dower

The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston

 

 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Crossing on the Paris by Dana Gunther



Publisher: Gallery Books
Released: 2012
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

In 1921, the SS Paris leaves on her maiden voyage. Despite the Titanic sinking, ocean liners are still looking to be bigger and grander. Three ladies, traveling in separated classes among the ship meet by chance. Vera Sinclair is traveling first class, and returning to Manhattan after being away for thirty years. She’s sick, and knows this voyage will be her last. Constance Stone’s husband didn't approve of her trip, and now she is returning home after a failed attempt to bring her sister home. France was too tempting for her sister, and it’s clear their ailing mother is not her concern. Julie Vernet is trying to make a life for herself. Her parents were distraught over the death of her brothers during the war, and Julie needed to break away and make a life for herself.

Review:

This story is not about the ship, but more about three women making life changing decisions. Vera is waiting to die, Constance is walking a fine line between fling and affair and Julie is learning that men are not always as they seem. The diversity between the women really works well. Vera may want for nothing, but she’s really a lonely woman. At this time in her life, her wealth doesn't give her comfort. Constance misses her daughters, but questions her marriage. Julie is young, naive and grieving for her brothers. Her world has been so consumed with grief that she needed to get away, and start her life.

I wasn't sure what to think of Crossing on the Paris. I was intrigued by the plot but wondered how the ship would come into play. It actually worked really well. In tight quarters the three women come together, and learn about each other. I enjoyed the three main characters equally. Normally, I tend to choose one character over another. Gunther did a great job with Crossing on the Paris. I felt like I was on the ship with three dynamic, scared, and brave women.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Favorite Historical Fiction Novels

Historical Fiction is probably me favorite genre. Today I will share some of my favorite historical fiction novels. I love reading about a past time and place, and really living it through the character's eyes. I studied
History and English in university, and I felt that History taught me the facts while English allowed me to live those lives and give me an in dept understanding of history.




I fell in love with the Tudors because of Philippa Gregory. After reading this one, I couldn't wait to continue the series. Mary and Anne were used by their parents. Daughters marriages were used to advance the family. In this case even an affair with the king is encouraged.


Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her familys ambitious plots as the kings interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands.



This books doesn't just have a pretty cover. The story within the pages was spellbinding.


East London, 1888 - a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger's son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.
But Fiona's life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan's tea trade. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future.

I loved this one, I felt like Hadley was a friend telling me her story.

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wifecaptures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
I couldn't put this one down. Civil war and slavery, a difficult time period but a fascinating read.
The year is 1862, and the Civil War rages through the South. On a Virginia tobacco plantation, another kind of battle soon begins. There, Cassius Howard, a skilled carpenter and slave, risks everything--punishment, sale to a cotton plantation, even his life--to learn the truth concerning the murder of Emoline, a freed black woman, a woman who secretly taught him to read and once saved his life. It is clear that no one cares about her death in the midst of a brutal and hellish war. No one but Cassius, who braves horrific dangers to escape the plantation and avenge her loss.
I love Irish history, and Falvey did a great job with The Yellow House.
THE YELLOW HOUSE delves into the passion and politics of Northern Ireland at the beginning of the 20th Century. Eileen O'Neill's family is torn apart by religious intolerance and secrets from the past. Determined to reclaim her ancestral home and reunite her family, Eileen begins working at the local mill, saving her money and holding fast to her dream. As war is declared on a local and global scale, Eileen cannot separate the politics from the very personal impact the conflict has had on her own life. She is soon torn between two men, each drawing her to one extreme. One is a charismatic and passionate political activist determined to win Irish independence from Great Britain at any cost, who appeals to her warrior's soul. The other is the wealthy and handsome black sheep of the pacifist family who owns the mill where she works, and whose persistent attention becomes impossible for her to ignore.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan



Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 368
Released: 2012
Source: Blog Tour
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

After the death of their father, and the downward spiral of their mother, the Van Goethem sisters are forced to take care of themselves. Most of the burden falls onto their older sister, Antoinette's shoulders. The family is on the cusp of being evicted, and food is scarce. Antoinette encourages her sisters to try out for the Paris opera, if they are selected, they will earn seventeen francs per week to train. Antoinette finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation, and meets Emile Abadie. Their young love pushes Antoinette away from her sisters. Marie tries to make additional money modeling which puts her in uncomfortable situations. Antoinette is tempted by the world of prostitution. Three young sisters try to find their place in the world. Survival is easier for some than others.

Review:

The Painted Girls is filled with meticulous research and well rounded characters. Paris during the 1880’s was difficult, and dangerous, Buchanan doesn't spare readers the details. Her style quickly draws readers in, and holds their attention. The sister’s relationship is strained with trying to take care of themselves and each other. Antoinette struggles with being the older sister, and trying to branch out on her own. Their mother drowns herself in absinthe, not caring about the well being of her daughters. Antoinette becomes the head of the house, a role she clearly doesn't feel comfortable with. Mary is determined and ballet becomes her escape, but modeling helps pays for the private lessons. Unfortunately, modeling is long hours and uncomfortable nude poses.

Reading about the girl’s situation was despairing. Their father held up the house, and with his death their relationships crumble. They are bitter towards their mother, and know that they can’t count on her for anything. They have each other, but siblings don’t always get along. They each want their space, and learn to find their way.

This was my first read by Cathy Marie Buchanan and I really want to read her first novel “The Day the Falls Stood Still.” The Painted Girls lives up to all the hype. The historical details and thought put into the novel was very well plotted. Highly recommended!

US Cover

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Sutton by J R Moehringer



Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 352
Released: 2012
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis:

Willie “the Actor” Sutton has been locked up for many years. When he walks out from prison, many journalists are interested in his story and he has quite the story to tell. He grew up poor in the Irish slums of Brooklyn, his father was a blacksmith, and his mother a housewife. His two older brothers beat him every chance they had, and being an Irish boy, he could never tell or they would retaliate worst. Willie fell in love with a wealthy girl, and her father banned her from seeing him. Willie became American’s most successful bank robber during an age when banks were out of control; unemployment was high, banks took too many risks and depression was nearing. The public rooting for Willie, because they thought the banks deserved to be robbed. He never hurt anyone, and the banks were his sole victims. Willie takes reports back to the places he’s been, while recounting his story.

Review:

Sutton was a great book. It reminded me a of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, the desperation and pain. I thought Willie exiting prison and telling his story to the reporters was an excellent way to write the book. It really gave the book an extra depth. Readers are able to understand where Willie is coming from, and where he wants to go. He’s escaped from prison many times; he’s trusted the wrong people and he doesn’t understand why there is so much fascination with him.

I haven’t tried Moehringer’s other books but I certainly will add them to my wish list. His writing is masculine, in a way that really draws readers in. The interchanging back and forth between times, really works well. Readers get a sense of who Willie was, and who he is now. Times have really changed, and Willie’s reactions are interesting.

I really enjoyed this one. I had my eye on it for a few months, but I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I’m really glad that I picked it up. It was worth the time and attention. I was invested in the characters, and found myself searching for more information on Willie Sutton and that’s always a sign that I enjoyed a historical fiction book. This is another book I recommend, especially if you loved Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mailbox Monday

I received some great books this week. Here are the books I received for review:

 

A Passionate Love Affair With A Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

Golden Boy by Abigale Tarttelis

The Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs

A Question of Identity by Susan Hill

The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

All We Know is Love by Nora Raleigh Baskin

 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Heiress by Susan May Warren



Publisher: Summerside Press
Released: 2011
Pages: 380
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5/5



Synopsis:

Jinx’s doesn't understand her sister Esme’s reluctance to marry and follow procedure. Since she is the second daughter, everything depends on Esme. Jinx would love to be in her shoes. Their father is a prominent newspaper publisher, and he won’t allow his daughters to settle. Jinx can’t wait for her sister to settle down. Once Esme is married, her parents will begin to focus on her. Unfortunately, Esme has no interest in marrying the man her father approves. She doesn't care about advancing her family’s position through marriage, she has every intention to follow in her father’s footsteps and work in publishing. She anonymously writes a column, and knows she has talent. Jinx is baffled that her sister has no appreciation for the life they live. She should have been born first. Both daughters set out to reach their dreams. Both daughters suffer big consequences.



Review:

Heiress was a great read and I enjoyed it much more than I expected. The “gilded age” really worked well within the story. The sister dynamic was intriguing and kept me interested. Essentially, they both get what they wanted but it doesn't lead to their happy ending. They both suffer greatly and wonder if they made the right decision. I didn't expect them both to struggle with their decisions. I thought Esme would be the only one to struggle. Her father was stern and she felt backed into a corner. Jinx was given everything she ever wanted, but she stole her sister’s life.

This is the first book in the series, and I can’t wait to continue the series. The second book “Baroness” focuses on Esme and Jinx’s daughters. Susan May Warren is a great writer, and I’ll be adding her other books to my wish list. I thought her writing was strong, her story line was captivating and I really connected with the characters.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: An Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King



Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Released: 2012
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5



Goodreads Description:

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope -- a sometimes inconvenient, but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future



Review:

I have a hard time writing synopsis’s for non-fiction books, so I included the Goodreads description. Thomas King provides an account of colonialism in North America and how it has shaped contemporary relations between First Nations and Non Natives. King sets the record straight and explains many misconceptions about Natives. I thoroughly enjoyed his explanation between “Legal Indian” and a “Non-legal Indian.” There were many parts of the book that I highlighted and noted for future reference. I found the book utterly fascinating. I’ve done a lot of research on my history, and thought this book was one of the best I’ve read in a long time. King doesn’t provide a dissertation or footnotes; he conveys what’s on his mind. He’s truly a master storyteller.

King’s idea that Indians are “inconvenient” to governments, really struck a chord with me. I thought it was truthful and really pertinent to today, especially with recent protests and media coverage. I struggled with writing my review, because I wasn’t sure I could give this book justice.

As a Native American, I wholeheartedly encourage curious readers to read this book. Thomas King is readable, relatable and he doesn’t sugarcoat the issues. It’s hard to find good historical books that are readable, but Thomas King succeeds. He adds humor to engage the reader, and point out the obvious that is not always so obvious. I found myself laughing, and thinking “this is so true.” He lays it all out, and gives readers a lot of think about. I highly recommend this one.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review: Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich



Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5/5



Synopsis:

Stephanie Plum is struggling to pay her bills, as usual. When Geoffrey Cubin goes missing after an emergency appendectomy, Stephanie must track him down and get paid. Geoffrey is facing trail for embezzling millions from an elderly assisted-living home. It seems like everyone is looking for him but no one understands how he could have walked out of the hospital. Apparently, he’s not the only one to have escaped after having major surgery. Stephanie does her best to track him down, but Granda Mazur goes undercover at the assisted-living residence and tries to find out some information for Stephanie. If Stephanie wants a paycheck, she has no choice but to find him. Unfortunately, Geoffrey’s wife is livid that he would steal millions, and not give her anything. Stephanie is not able to get any information from her, and she doesn’t have many clues to go on.



Review:

When I open a Stephanie Plum book, I know exactly what to expect. It’s entertaining, and that’s it. Stephanie doesn’t grow as a character, the secondary characters remain the same and I’ve come to accept it. I would love for Stephanie to grow as a character, settle down, or at least choose between Ranger and Morelli but it’s not going to happen. At this point, I know I can skip a few books and pick them up out of order and know I’m not really missing anything.

If you enjoyed the previous books, you’ll continue to enjoy the series. If you’re expecting more from Stephanie, you’ll feel disappointed. I liked the book, but waiting a year between books is getting easier and easier. The books aren’t as entertaining anymore.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell



Publisher: Harper
Published: 2013
Source: Blog Tour (Publisher)
Rating: 5/5



Synopsis:

Marnie and her little sister have a big secret that they must keep hidden, their parents are buried in the back yard. Fifteen year-old Marnie vows to not go back into foster care. Marnie will be considered an adult in one year, all they have to do is keep it together until then. The girls tell everyone that they irresponsible parents are on a trip, and they aren’t sure when they will be back. In the meantime, their next door neighbor Lennie helps them out. The girls begin to worry when Lennie’s dog begins digging around the backyard and finds a few bones. It doesn’t take long before authorities begin asking questions. A man claiming to be their grandfather is also making their lives difficult.



Review:

The Death of Bees was much darker than I expected, but I loved the book and couldn’t put it down. It’s impossible not to care about Marnie and Nelly when you close the book. These girls have gone through a lot; their parents were not the best and never put them first. This makes it very easy for acquaintances to believe their initial story. They don’t really miss them, just the idea of who they were and what they represented. Marnie is rebellious and doesn’t always make the best decisions but it’s undeniable that she does love her sister.

O’Donnell’s character development was phenomenal. At times I thought the language was a little harsh, but it didn’t really bother me too much. The relationship between Marnie and Nelly was very much a regular sister relationship, but their secret is always on their mind. It’s incredible that they were so trusting of one another. When Lennie begins to be more involved, and it becomes clear that he is not their happily-ever-after, I was really worried about girls and had no idea how they would stay together.

I highly recommend this one. I thought the writing was incredible and the story line was unique and original. Marnie and Nelly struggle with food, shelter, and school. Various people are looking for their parents, and they must stall them. I’m really glad I read this one. It was a great start to 2013 advanced reading.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In My Mailbox

Here are a few review books I received before the holidays. Also received a Kobo Arc and Kobo Mini for Xmas. Apparently, Santa is an enabler...
For review:
Perdita by Hilary Scharper
An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer
The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Easy by Tammara Weber
Ebooks:
Above All Things by Tania Rideout
Across the Universe by Beth Revision
Stony River by Tricia Dower
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan


Friday, January 4, 2013

Holiday Reading- Mini reviews.

Christmas Reads Mini Reviews

I planned to review each of these books before the holidays, but I was so busy I didn't have a chance.



A Christmas for Katie by Shelley Shepard Gray

I thought this one was really cute. It was a fast read and it really helped to get me in the Christmas spirit.

When pieces for the nativity go missing, Katie is worried that Christmas will be ruined. The librarian doesn't seem to be worried, and Katie is sure that Miss Donovan needs a boyfriend. She's not Christian and her family doesn't think she should be worried about the nativity. Katie doesn't she needs to get involved.



The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson

Lucy would love to have a pony for Christmas but her mother makes it clear that won't happen. she is barely able to put food on the table. When Lucy goes to town to run errands for her mother, she meets a woman who's car broke down and won't be fixed for a few weeks. Lucy thinks she looks glamourous, and kindly advises her that her mother has a boardinghouse that has room. This might be a Christmas miracle. Will Lucy's other wish come true?

I love Melody Carlson's Christmas books! They never disappoint.



Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot

Celia is a widow with an infant daughter. She misses her husband but their marriage wasn't filled with love and affection. Celia wants to depend on herseld, and she's reluctant to marry again. She has offers, a widowed man thinks she would be a great mother to his son. Celia wants to find someone who wants her, not because she'll be a great mother or a great cook, she wants to find someone who will love her for who she is.

This was my favorite Christmas read this year. I loved the story.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Blogging in 2013



Holidays are wrapping up, and I'm ready for them to be over. They were great, but exhausting. I've hardly had any time to read. If I don't read, I get stressed. Reading is how I relax. I've been thinking about my blogging goals for 2013. Last year,  I set a goal to read 80 books and I finished the year with 105. I want to maintain my goal and read 100 books this year. The goal is set on Goodreads, and I'm trying to stick to it. It's certainly not about the amount of books that I read in a year, but I like having a goal.

Next week, my reviews will start up again. I'm also committing to some blog tours this year. I'm hoping to be more organized and get these reviews written ahead of time. I struggle with finding my next read, because I have a huge selection. I'm not complaining that I have so many books, it just makes it more difficult to choose my next read. I might make a list of 3-5 books that I must read each month. These would be books that I keep putting off.

Towards the middle of 2012, I stopped reading young adult books. I needed a break but I'm ready to start reading some of them again. I prefer adult fiction, but I do enjoy the occasional young adult book. I'll be open to recommendations.

I'm not signing up for any specific challenges this year. I'm not good at sticking to challenges.

I've been moving more towards egalleys and I will continue to do this. Physical copies are great, I love receiving books but I read 90% of my books on my ereaders. If I receive a physical books, I usually buy the ebook when I'm ready to read it.

I still plan on reading all of the Canada Reads 2013 finalists. I'm looking forward to starting those soon.

Wishing everyone a great 2013!