Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

In the Shadow of the Banyan
by Vaddey Ratner
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5770-8
Release Date:  July 31, 2012
Buy from Indigo

Description: Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this searing first novelbased on the authors personal storyhas been hailed by Little Bee author Chris Cleave as a masterpieceutterly heartbreaking and impossibly beautiful.

For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodias capital. Soon the familys world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. 

Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhoodthe mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. Displaying the authors extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendent power of narrative and a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience

The Good Stuff
  • Heartbreaking - this story will haunt you long after you have read it
  • The prose is so exquisite and beautifully written, such talent for first time author
  • It is hard for me to express how spectacular this book is, everything I want to say sounds trite when compared to the beauty of the authors words and the horror she lived through
  • Raami is such a strong girl, one to be admired for her strength of character and her ability to transcend the horrific tragedy she lived through and to still find beauty in her world. 
  • As the author says in her own words she wants the world to see how beautiful Cambodia was before the genocide & which while reading you come to understand what was lost during the "killing fields"
  • Shows the will that we have to live no matter the circumstance
  • The writing really comes across of that of a young girl, so authentic and haunting
  • Such joy love and hope in such a tragic situation gives a balance to the acts of brutal violence by the Khymer Rouge - shows that the world is full of both good and evil
  • Author mentions on quite a few occasions the power of stories to escape and to give hope (Wonderfully explained on Pg 134 of the ARC)
The Not So Good Stuff
  • It is a tough read for someone as sensitive as myself.  Reading of the brutality and  inhumanity of  man sickens me and I cannot even comprehend how or why someone could commit such horrific crimes against their fellow man, especially to innocent children
  • Pages 125 - 127 (ARC) were brutal for me to read, being a mother
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"But, looking at the murals, I had the feeling the tales had followed us here, moving along with us on our journey, manifesting themselves in all sorts of ways.
Knowing comes from learning, finding from seeking.
It was clear what the message meant. If I looked hard enough, if I sought, I would find what I was looking for."

"I'm certain, though, he remained resolute in his belief that even without him you would live through this nightmare, that life, with all its cruelty and horror, was still worth living.  A gift he would've wanted his daughter to embrace."

"Bury me and I'll thrive as countless insects
I bend neither to your weapon nor will
Even as you trample upon my bones
I cower not under your soulless tread
Or fear your shadow casting upon my grave."

"I told you stories to give you wings, Raami, so that you would never be trapped by anything - your name, your title, the limits of your body, this world's suffering."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • This is one I would suggest for everyone to read with a warning for those who are sensitve
  • This will be an award winner, so get it now people
4.75 Dewey's

I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review - thanks for once again forcing me out of my comfortable reading zone

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: brief review

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
by Marissa Meyer
Feiwal and Friends (Macmillan)
ISBN: 978-0-312-64189-4
Suggested Ages: 12+
Buy From Indigo

Description: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earths fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. Shes a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsisters illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kais, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her worlds future.

The Good Stuff
  • Unusual and fun take on the Cinderella story
  • well crafted and creative world, reminded me at times of the landscape of Blade Runner
  • good uses of humourous dialogue
  • liked the love story wasn't overly angsty
  • broke my heart at times (can't go further than that or would be too spoilerish)
  • Love the relationship between Kai and Dr. Erland
  • Strong willed feisty heroine who isn't afraid to do what is right
  • Enjoyed the android sidekick - she got some of the biggest laughs
The Not So Good Stuff
  • A tad predictable at times
  • drags a wee bit about a quarter way through
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Iko rolled to her side, clasping her metal grippers over her chest. "Prince Kai! Check my fan, I think I'm overheating."

"I'm sure I'll feel much more grateful when i find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on."

"And yet, the memory  of his fingers against her skin refused to fade."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Would say it would appeal more to younger YA readers
  • For fans of YA fantasy (would describe it as bladerunner/cinderella hybrid for the ya set)
4 Dewey's

I purchased this at Indigo

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

The Next Best Thing
by Jennifer Weiner
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4516-1775-7
Buy from Indigo

Description: At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, shes hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthies going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmothers impending nuptials.

Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insiders ear and eye for writers rooms, bad behavior backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiners new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood roller-coaster and a heartfelt story about what its like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.

The Good Stuff
  • It was just a fun read that made me cry at times
  • Fabulous secondary characters
  • Ruth is just a funny likeable realistic women -- sort of a combination of Tina Fey/Mindy Kaling
  • Learned a lot about working on a sitcom
  • fun snappy dialogue and nice sweet conversations
  • Love the relationship between Ruth and her grandma - in fact I would love to read a whole book about Ruth
  • The two Dave's are awesome - I also have a literary crush on little Dave who has the same Han Solo/Carbonite ice cube tray as me (sorta reminds me of  another one of my crushes'&)
  • I will be lending this one out a lot as I just really enjoyed it, having a hard time telling you why, I just did. Just one of those perfect books to lose yourself in
  • Will say this one will definitely be made into a movie
  • Had me remembering and wanting to re-watch The Golden Girls
  • Got a kick of all the mentions about social media
  • The scenes between the writers meeting were tons of fun

The Not So Good Stuff
  • story doesn't flow neatly - it goes back and forth a little which made me feel a little disjointed at times
  • Ruth makes some stupid decisions that make me want to smack her -- it does work for the story though
  • Jake's friends think I'm weird since I had tears rolling down my face while I was reading (They are 10 - they think all old people are weird anyways)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I opened the notebook and wrote, I will never be beautiful. Then I shut my eyes, turned my face toward the wall, and pretended I'd fallen asleep. That was the only night I ever saw my grandmother cry. She picked up the notebook, read what I'd written, closed it slowly, and turned toward the window. I saw her reflection in the glass, saw her shoulders hitching up and down, saw tears shining on her cheeks as she whispered, fiercely, over and over, Not fair, not fair, not fair."

"Mazel tov," said Maya. Maya wasn't Jewish - at least, not as far as I knew-but in Hollywood almost everyone ended up what the Daves called Tribe by Osmosis, comfortable dropping the occasional phrase in Yiddish, and knowing better that to set lunch meetings on Yom Kippur or send a muffin basket during Passover."

"I remember," Dave continued, "one of my philosophy professors once said that "Why do we suffer? is the question that's driven every religion that's ever lasted,"
"So what's the answer?" I asked. "Why do we suffer? What does it mean? What is it for?"
Dave thought for a moment, his eyes on the ceiling, fingers drumming on the comforter. " I don't remember," he said. "I think I dropped the class." He shook his head at the memory of his college-age self. "I only signed up in the first place because I thought I was in live with this girl, and she was a philosophy major."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • If you have read Jennifer's other books, you obviously will enjoy this on
  • Fans of the so-called (and not always in a good way unfortunately) chick lit -- this is fabulous for you (and Chick Lit isn't bad so piss off all you haters)
 4.5 Dewey's

I won this on Twitter from YMCBookalicious - thanks Wanda it was just what I needed

13 by Kelley Armstrong

13 (Women of The Otherworld #13)
by Kelley Armstrong
Random House Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-35761-8
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Buy from Indigo

Description: Savannah Levine, a young witch of remarkable power and a dangerous pedigree, staggers away from a bomb blast in New Orleans, glad that she''s managed to rescue her half-brother Bryce from the supernatural revolutionaries who''d held him captive. But everyone and everything she holds dear is still at risk. The reveal movement has shaken the Otherworld to its core and the resulting chaos has thinned the boundaries between dimensions, allowing creatures of the deeper realms to break through and wreak havoc on supernaturals but also on innocent humans.

Although she''s been temporarily stripped her of her powers, Savannah knows she has a crucial part to play in this war of survival. In fact the fate of her loved ones--of Adam, the friend she hopes will become a lover; of Paige and Lucas, her guardians; of the werewolf Pack and Jaime Vegas; of a pregnant Hope; of her brothers Sean and Bryce--and of the human world rests on her shoulders. If she can find the way and the will to defend them. Only in the final battle will Savannah find out her true capacities, and what love will drive her to do.

The Good Stuff
  • I was worried when I started reading this as I would be lost as I haven't read all of this series -- but Kelley is such a gifted author she gives you enough to figure out what is going on without frustrating longtime reader of the series
  • Non stop action, you are constantly holding your breath and you so do not want to put the book down (This was very frustrating because I have so much to do right now -- I really needed to put it down -- ah well stayed up to 2am so I could finish)
  • Fabulous ending -- ties up a lot of stories but also leaves things open so if Kelley feels like writing more of the series she can -- wonderful!
  • So many of the characters are so lifelike and real, you feel like they are actually people
  • I have said it before Kelley is one of the most gifted storytellers alive - she always sucks you into a story, I have yet to be disappointed
  • Some nice light moments thrown in at just the right times
  • Shows all sorts of families, not just those that consist of a mom, dad and biological children
  • Female characters are strong and in most cases fabulous role models
  • Characters are not perfect, in other words real (Yes I know there are no such thing as vampires and werewolves, and thank god none of the demons she described in this book -- icky!)

The Not So Good Stuff
  • A lot of gory violence (not necessarily a bad thing -- just more a warning)
  • So hard to write a review for this one without any spoilers - so I will just say -- get thee to a bookstore and buy now, you will not be disappointed!
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"We worked quite well together," Cass said. "Or we did, after you two started speaking to each other again. Please don't ever send her to me when you're angry with her, Adam. It's dreadful.  All that moping and angst. It's like being partnered with one of those fictional vampires."

"Gotta admit, as good as Clayton Danvers looks from the other side, he looks even better in person." She paused. "Just don't tell Elena I said that." Another pause. "Or your father."
I smiled. "Nothing wrong with window shopping when you aren't looking to buy."

"Is this the point where I explain my master plan? Um, no. Thanks, but I have more important things to do."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Obviously if you have read the rest of the series you will LOVE this
  • I would recommend reading the rest of the series before you read this, but if you have only read a couple of them, you will  still find them enjoyable
5 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Addicts Haul

For Review
Thanks HarperCollins
Won on Twitter from HCC
Won from Goodreads
Won from Bookalicious
Purchased at Chapters Woodbridge
Purchased at Calgary Indigo (As well as two sets of bookends not shown)
Purchased at Indigo Eaton Centre
DH asked Porter reps for it since I was leaving Ontario (Porter is my maiden name)
Borrowed from Library

From our first trip to get a Library Card for me and the boys
 Goodbye Presents

Lunch at Random House for The Age of Miracles Release
From Nikole at Scholastic (thanks guys Jake loved them)
From Vikki and Shannon at HarperCollins (Hope you enjoyed the cupcakes guys)

Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough

Devine Intervention 
by Martha Brockenbrough
ISBN: 978-0-545-38213-7
Suggested Ages: 12+
Buy from Indigo

Description: There is a great legend of the guardian angel who traveled across time and space for the human girl he loved, slaying those who would threaten her with a gleaming sword made of heavenly light.

This is not that story.

Jerome Hancock is Heidi Devine's guardian angel. Sort of. He's more of an angel trainee, in heaven's soul-rehabilitation program for wayward teens. And he's just about to get kicked out for having too many absences and for violating too many of the Ten Commandments for the Dead.

Heidi, meanwhile, is a high school junior who dreams of being an artist, but has been drafted onto her basketball team because she's taller than many a grown man. For as long as she can remember, she's heard a voice in her head - one that sings Lynyrd Skynyrd, offers up bad advice, and yet is company during those hours she feels most alone.

When the unthinkable happens, these two lost souls must figure out where they went wrong and whether they can make things right before Heidi's time is up and her soul is lost forever.

The Good Stuff
  • The perfect book for reading after something dark and depressing
  • The dialogue is laugh out loud funny
  • Unique premise on the angel genre
  • An Angel book that I enjoyed - seriously didn't think that could happen
  • Couldn't put it down I was having so much fun reading it
  • Fabulous beginning - knew I was going to like this from page one
  • The cover is delightful
  • Some beautiful and true observations on how to live life & about real courage
  • Parents weren't total losers (must always give extra dewey's when adult characters aren't useless jerks)
  • Perfect ending
  • Guys this is just a really sweet, snarky and fun book - go buy (or support your local library & if you are in Calgary tell them I am awesome and need a job)

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Cat is tortured (come on I didn't have to know the details - in author's defense it wasn't overly descriptive, but still sickened me) 
  • Jeremy was a little too dumb for me at times, just wanted to smack him (that being said he was quite a realistic character)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"But you're not here because you care about costs! Let us not mince words! You're here because:

1. You are dead;
2, You were a troublemaker in your earthly form: and
3. Your only alternative is an eternity spent in the nine layers of hell."

"The video cut to a part that showed how in the olden days, every angel watched over a human, but then the population got out of hand, and angels started demanding the right to enjoy their deaths without having to do stuff. Pretty soon, the rehab angels were the only guardians left, and there was only enough of us for one in ten people o so to have one."

"A Cam. Howard would have been rich if he'd stayed alive. That had to burn. Before we died, computer geniuses were the dorks who dreamed of inventing robot girlfriends because the real thing wouldn't go near them for a million years. Over the next few years, those guys became zillionaires with hot chicks in their basements. Live ones. Who didn't charge."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Not for those looking for something dark and angsty
  • Other than that enjoyable for both young and old YA readers
4.25 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grim by Anna Waggener

by Anna Waggener
ISBN: 978-0-545-38480-3
Suggested Ages: 14+ (Violence)
Buy From Indigo

Description: When Erika wakes up after a horrific car crash, she finds herself somewhere between earth and heaven, between life and death. She doesn't want to accept help from Jeremiah, who she's not sure she can trust, even as she finds herself drawn to him, following him into a grim city of souls. She's not sure who wants to help her and who wants to hurt her. And she's desperate to get back to her children.

Shawn's never thought about having to shoulder the responsibility of caring for his young sister Megan and his reckless older sister. And he never imagined that the three of them would find themselves in a haunted wood, sometimes chased, sometimes assisted, never sure where they're headed.

With Grim, the terrifically talented Anna Waggener delves into the place where myth becomes reality, where family can distort you as easily as it cares for you, where death and eternity meet.

The Good Stuff
  • Truly unique storyline 
  • Incredible world building -- in awe of author's creativity - actually kept me reading even though not my cup of tea
  • Some beautiful descriptive passages
  • I think this book will be one that either people will rave about and others will just strongly dislike
  • Relationship between siblings is very realistic and honest
  • Fast paced
  • Fantastic cover
The Not So Good Stuff
  • This kind of review is always hard for me to write.  I didn't enjoy the book but it has nothing to do with the author's talents, its just not my cup of tea. Please do not be offended Miss Waggener if you read my review, its just based on my enjoyment of the book, not your ability (yes I have guilt issues, I'm a Canadian Mom -- its part of my genetic makeup)
  • I'm not the biggest fan of books that deal with angels -- didn't have much religious training growing up so I am often confused by the references.  Also I have a huge problem when it comes to Angels being bad - not a big fan of the angry/vengeful god/angels idea - I'm more a believer of the benevolent caring god/angel image (Yes I am a dreamer - sue me) 
  • Dark, depressing and not very hopeful
  •  Mother is a selfish useless women
  • Jeremy is a selfish jerk
  • Meghan has no real personality so I have hard time understanding why her mother loves her best
  • Children die -- yes I know - it happens, but I don't like reading about it

Favorite Quotes/Passages

 "Don't lie to a cop, Shawn"

"You're wrong again." Jeremiah said gently. "He did love you, Erika. He loved you very much. He just loved himself more."

"Rebecca gave him a weak smile and fought down the ache in her stomach. " If I hadn't just lost my eyes to a moving statute," she said "I'd kick your ass for that."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Would definitely say for the more mature intelligent YA reader
2.5 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review (Sorry guys wish I liked it better)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Let Love Find You by Johanna Lindsey

Let Love Find You (Reid Family #4)
by Johanna Lindsey
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4516-8959-4
Buy From Indigo

Description: Lady Amanda Locke has struck out miserably in her two Seasons on the marriage mart. Beautiful, titled, and charming even if she does talk a bit too much, Amanda doesnt understand why love eludes her. Even her father, the Duke of Norford, is so perplexed he is prepared to take drastic measures to ensure his daughters happiness. Now, as Amanda begins her third Season, she gets a little help from Cupid, a darkly handsome horse breeder whose knowledge of basic animal attraction has guided him in arranging more than a few successful matches between the young ladies and gentlemen of the ton. Hired by Amandas family, Devin Baldwin produces results for Amanda and soon she is happy to be courted by one of his clients, the dashing Viscount Altone. In order to secure Amandas match to a nobleman obsessed with horse racing, Devin must teach Amanda how to overcome her fear of horses. But as Devin shows her the joys of riding, hunting, and racing, will their own hearts run astray as Amanda finds herself falling in love with Cupid himself?

The Good Stuff
  • Got sick of historical romances a little while ago, so I was at first hesitant at picking this one up. However, I am glad I did, this one was quite sweet
  • Not at all shmaltzy or mushy
  • Amanda actually behaves like someone of her time and station would (with a little extra fire of course)
  •  Devin sounds totally delicious and I might have had a few little fantasies about him -- hey I've been married for 19 years, a girl has to have a little fun you know
  • Quite a bit of humour for a historical romance, which was a nice surprise
  • I actually really liked the character of Amanda, she would be someone I would have liked to hang out with during this time period
  • Good chemistry between Devin and Amanda -- lots of steamy looks and fiery dialogue
  • Also really enjoyed the relationship between Amanda and her father."
  • Perfect beach read
  • Must read the book about Rafe and Ophelia -- it sounds like it was a hell of a story

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Things tied up a little too quickly - felt a little rushed at the end
  • Storyline drags a little bit at the beginning
  • Love scenes were very brief and not a lot of them

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Devin shrugged. "Can't deny it's amusing, but it's not something I set out to do. It just fell in my lap. But there's no luck about it, it's simple animal magnetism that makes for a great match. A man and a women have got to want to rut, but after the rutting, they've got to have something in common or their happily ever after falls apart."

"Devin laughed. "You're his baby sister. He's not going to discuss desire with you."

"He swore to himself that night that he'd never cry again ... or love anyone again. It hurt too much."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Fans of Lindsey's previous works will obviously enjoy 
  • Perfect for anyone wanting to escape with some romance while at the beach
  • Also it you like historical romance, this is obviously perfect for you
4 Dewey's

I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review