Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

A smaller obsessions post this week! Here are my obsessions this week:

BOOK

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

My flailing about this one is because of Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish. She has made me NEED to read this one. Katie at Bookishly Yours brought it to my attention and after reading Jamie's Goodreads review I am obsessed. Have I mentioned that 2014 is going to be the year of awesome books? Because it totally is.

MOVIE/TV

Catching Fire

I was late to the party but I FINALLY got to see Catching Fire. AMAZING, right? I totally adore Finnick. Sam Claflin impressed me. I was nervous about how Finnick would be portrayed, but he did a fantastic job. Jennifer Lawrence is, as always, perfection. Josh Hutcherson is perfect as Peeta. I don't know how you couldn't be a little in love with Peeta after this movie. The message and tone of the book came through perfectly. Some of the marketing of the movie hurts my heart, because it totally goes against the message of the entire series, but the movie showed exactly what made me fall in love with this series. Oh, and I would totally tell Finnick all my secrets.

Reign

Still totally loving this show. It's surprised me, and I am fully hooked. Doesn't hurt that Francis is pretty swoon worthy (most of the time). A strong Queen, a dashing Prince, and some fun twists make this deliciously fun TV! Check it out if you're not already hooked.

OTHER

Lindor Chocolate Calendar


Tomorrow is December 1st! That means I get to start my countdown to Christmas with my yearly chocolate calendar. Every year I get one, and Lindor is my FAVOURITE chocolate so this calendar is basically perfect for me.

So what are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, November 29, 2013

2014 Most Anticipated -- Prisoner of Night and Fog



The next pick on my 2014 Most Anticipated list is a historical novel that immediately piqued my interest because the main character's Uncle.... Adolf Hitler.


Not only does it have that impressive pulling point, but the Goodreads synopsis sounds stellar as well
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.
You're probably wanting some more details (just like me) and Anne was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

1 Describe Prisoner of Night and Fog in 3 words.

Romantic historical thriller.

2 I love the premise that Adolf Hitler is the main character's uncle. What sparked this idea?

I've been fascinated by World War Two since I read Anne Frank's diary when I was twelve. A few years ago, I stumbled across a book about Geli Raubal, Hitler's real-life half-niece. She shared his luxurious Munich apartment when he was still an emerging politician. From most accounts, he was genuinely fond of her. I couldn't stop thinking about what her life must have been like. How had Hitler treated her? What did she think of his politics? What her position been in the elite Nazis' hyper-masculine world? The idea of writing about a girl close to Hitler was irresistible. But I knew I needed the freedom of having a fictional main character, so Gretchen Muller slowly took shape in my mind. She's a seventeen-year-old student: sensitive, smart, and tough. Although she calls Hitler "Uncle Dolf," he's actually a beloved family friend she's known for years. How, I wondered could I make Gretchen realize what her cherished idol really stands for? How could she break free from the hold he has on her? Once I had my answers, I started writing.

3 What sort of research did you need to do for this novel?

A lot! Historical fiction doesn't need to be true, but it has to be right. I felt a tremendous responsibility to portray Hitler as accurately as possible, not only because he was a real person but out of respect for his millions of victims. I read biographies, Nazis' memoirs, social histories, psychological profiles, you name it. I studied Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf and his early speeches. Primary sources were helpful, too. Old maps and photographs can give you a great sense of time and place. I watched old news reels and Nazi propaganda films like "Triumph of the Will." Seeing Hitler on screen gave me additional insight--how did he walk? What did his voice sound like? Those are the small details that can make a story catch fire.

4 Are you able to share a secret about one of the characters, the world, something that inspired something about the world/characters?

I have to be careful how I answer this! PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG has lots of twists, and I don't want to give anything away. But I can give you a clue that, right now, only my editor, agent, and critique partners know: Pay attention to everything Hitler says to Gretchen in PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG. His advice becomes VERY important in the forthcoming sequel (which will come out in April 2015).

5 What 2014 release are you most excited for?

I can only pick one? This is a cruel question! :) There are so many great books I'm looking forward to reading in 2014. One in particular is SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch, about a chakram-wielding warrior fighting to protect her people and her destiny. I adore fantasies and gutsy heroines, so this book went right to my TBR list.

A huge thank you to Anne for taking the time to answering these questions. I'll be sure to keep her hint in mind while reading Prisoner of Night and Fog (also had no clue this was not a stand alone).

If you want to learn more, check out the author's website, or the publisher's website for more information.

Prisoner of Night and Fog will be in stores April 22, 2014. Pre-orders for this title are already up, and you can get your copy at the following retailers

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Let me know in the comments what you think of the cover, the synopsis, or if the Hitler connection intrigues you as well. Also, check back soon for a contest where you could win one of my featured titles (be sure to pay attention to these Question and Answers as they'll help).

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Follow Friday


Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is:

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day food? If you’re not American or Canadian, what is your favorite holiday food?

My favourite Thanksgiving Day food is mashed potatoes with gravy. Love them! I also really enjoy stuffing.

Happy Weekend, and Happy Thanksgiving for those of you in the USA!

2014 Most Anticipated - The Lonesome Young



The next pick on my 2014 Most Anticipated list is being called Romeo and Juliet meets Justified. Pretty much sold IMMEDIATELY from that description.


The Goodreads synopsis also sounds amazing!
Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.

WHAT HAPPENS when the teenage heirs of two bitterly FEUDING FAMILIES can’t stay away from each other?

The Rhodales and the Whitfields have been sworn enemies for close on a hundred years, with a whole slew of adulterous affairs, financial backstabbing, and blackmailing that’s escalated the rivalry to its current state of tense ceasefire.

IT’S TIME TO LIGHT THE FUSE . . .

And now a meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County is set to reignite the feud more viciously than ever before. Especially when the toxic fire that results throws together two unlikely spectators—proper good girl Victoria Whitfield, exiled from boarding school after her father’s real estate business melts down in disgrace, and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale, too late as always to thwart his older brothers’ dangerous drug deals.

Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

. . . ON A POWDER KEG FULL OF PENT-UP DESIRE, risk-taking daredevilry, and the desperate actions that erupt when a generation of teens inherits nothing but hate.
Lucy was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself, and The Lonesome Young.

1 Describe The Lonesome Young in 3 words

Steamy. Suspenseful. Riveting.

2 Your book seems to deal with a Romeo and Juliet style love story. Why do you think these types of romances are so popular?

The forbidden nature of some love stories heightens the intensity, I think.  It’s a question of how high the stakes are--what are you willing to risk for the right person?  How far will you go for that one special world-bending love?

3 What three things do you need while revising?

An open mind, so that I can imagine circumstances and ideas that go in wildly different directions from where I started.  Multi-colored gel pens, because I circle and draw arrows and write in notes on the paper copy of my manuscript, totally old-school.  And the ability to hear the dialogue in my mind, in order to catch any clunky conversation.  (I’d been a writer for a few years before I first discovered that most people don’t hear voices in their heads! LOL.)

4 Are you able to share a secret about one of the characters, the world, something that inspired something about the world/characters?

I have a MAJOR secret I’m DYING to reveal about the Rhodale/Whitfield family connection, but I can’t, yet, argh!!  Book Two, Carry Me Home, will tell that one.

Here’s a secret about me, though--or at least, something I’ve never in my life really talked about very much. My family was very poor after my dad abandoned us when I was in high school.  We were only able to eat some weeks because of food stamps, and I had to get part-time jobs to be able to afford school clothes.  I was the first person on my dad’s side of the family to ever go to college.  That’s a big part of why I wanted to tell this story, set in a rural part of the country where people struggle to get by--we’re not all rich kids living in mansions when we’re growing up.  The decisions most teens today face are usually a heck of a lot harder than which fancy designer dress to wear to the prom.  So, I guess my secret is that I lived in that world, too.

5 What 2014 release are you most excited for?

Ooh! I have far too many favorite authors to ever pick one book!!  Some of my very favorites are Simone Elkeles, Katie McGarry, Eileen Cook, Mari Mancusi, Kassy Tayler, Jennifer Echols, Heather Davis, and Melissa Walker.  Of course, Sarah Dessen, Alyson Noel, Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, too.  Wow.  I could keep going for days…

A huge thank you to Lucy for taking the time to answering these questions. It's especially sweet that she provided personal, touching answers. It makes me think the romance, and character aspect of the story will be amazing because it means something to her.

If you want to learn more, check out the author's website, or the publisher's website for more information.

The Lonesome Young will be in stores April 8, 2014. Pre-orders for this title are already up, and you can get your copy at the following retailers

Chapters
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Let me know in the comments what you think of the cover, the synopsis, or what you think of Romeo and Juliet style romances. Also, check back soon for a contest where you could win one of my featured titles (these interviews may just help you win!).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday.... The Vanishing Season


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.
Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tigerlily is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. It's easily one of my favourite YA novels ever. The second I heard she was coming out with a new book I knew that I would desperately want to read it. The fact that it includes a ghost narrator just adds a layer to the desire to devour this one!

Expected release date - July 1, 2014

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bitter Sweet Love Sneak Peek!


Are you eagerly anticipating the release of Jennifer L Armentrout's White Hot Kiss? If so, you'll want to check out the e-novella prequel Bitter Sweet Love when it releases on December 1!

There is a sneak peek available for those of you who just can't wait (and is that not ALL of us?!). Click on the sneak peek image below to be taken to the teaser sampler of Bitter Sweet Love!

http://www.jenniferarmentrout.com/bitter-sweet-love-excerpt/

After you've devoured that you can pre-order Bitter Sweet Love from Kobo, or Amazon.

There is also a Goodreads contest to win an advance reader copy of White Hot Kiss, so be sure to enter.

Are you dying to get your hands on Jennifer's new series? What did you think of the sneak peek? Let me know in the comments!

Pawn by Aimee Carter



Pawn by Aimee Carter
Release Date – November 26, 2013
Publisher Website – Harlequin Teen
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 296 pages
My Rating- 4.5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
YOU CAN BE A VII IF YOU GIVE EVERYTHING.

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked - surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.
Imagine a world where one test determined your future. One afternoon could seal your fate. Kitty Doe lives in such a society where a test determines your standing in society. Score high and reap the rewards, but score low and sentenced to a bleak future...if you have one at all.

I predict that there will be a general theme used when discussing Aimee Carter's Pawn. The idea that even if you're turned off of dystopians that Pawn is worthy of a look. This certainly proves true. Pawn was both refreshingly unique and addictive.

The premise, one where identities can be swapped surgically, immediately caught my interest. The scientific elements are not as fleshed out as the emotional ones. It's the impact on not only the person who is Masked, but the family of the deceased person as well. It's the emotional aspects that resonate, and draw you into the story. Kitty, Lila's family, friends, and those Kitty leaves behind. Each of them are left with the consequences of the choices that are made.

This dystopian world is not just playing at being dangerous. I relished in Aimee's deliberate choice to create a world that was brimming with danger, and where consequences mattered. There is no last minute reprieve. Punishment is harsh and swift, and the truth is often more sinister than you could image. I shuddered a few times, and the twists and turns left me awestruck. The chess theme of the marketing compliments this aspect of the novel perfectly. You have different players all with their own agenda. Kitty is thrust into this 'game' and has to play the part of a pawn while keeping her eyes on those around her. One wrong move could be deadly. It's this tension that plays so well, and creates an atmosphere where this world can thrive. The tension is laced in the littlest details, and you never know what each infraction will cost you.

Kitty is easily one of my favourite characters. She's brave, but not reckless. She's intelligent, but doesn't know everything. She has flaws, and yet she still tries. She works with what skills she does have and embraces what she can do rather than lament what she cannot. She takes the opportunities given to her and uses them to her advantage. She is self sacrificing, and yet at times selfish. She came across as incredibly human, and therefore came to life through Aimee's words.

The Hart family is not unlike most rich and influential families. They have secrets they want to bury. They are a classic example of power becoming addictive. They also show that family doesn't always mean loyalty. This family is flawed, and it's members are broken. The numb Greyson , ruthless Daxton, cunning Celia, and the rebellious Lila all paint a picture of fractured, and deadly family.

Knox and Benjy are the two men in Kitty's life. As Lila she inherits a fiance in Knox. Benjy is her beloved from before she was Masked. Each relationship is interesting, and I find myself enjoying this 'triangle' of sorts. It's one where I am torn. I can't pick whom I think would be better for Kitty because I see the potential in both. Benjy is the solid guy whose unwavering support and love is utterly refreshing. It's easy to see why Kitty loves him. Knox is the wild card whose motivations are uncertain. He's all seduction and allure. Yet he's also incredibly kind, and a voice of reason among the crazy. He's tempting and I wouldn't blame Kitty for giving into his charms. This seems like it may not be your typical love triangle, as I think it's obvious where Kitty's heart lies, but as Kitty changes, her desires may also. My favourite triangles are ones that come out of the character growing and changing, and this is what I can already see happening to Kitty. Her world is changing, and with it her convictions.

Pawn's world is one where things are not what they seem, people may not be who they say they are, and family doesn't automatically equal loyalty. A fast paced, jaw dropping read that took me by surprised, and rejuvenated a genre where I thought I had seen everything. This is Aimee's best work to date, and a very promising start to a new series.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce



Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce
Release Date – November 5, 2013
Publisher Website –  Little Brown/Hachette
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages - 323 pages
My Rating- 3/5
**received from publisher for review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.

But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.

If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?

Jackson Pearce, author of the acclaimed SISTERS RED and FATHOMLESS, has returned with a unique vision of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” one about power and redemption, failure and hope, and the true meaning of strength.
Jackson Pearce's fairytale retellings are always unique and provide some twist on the classic tale. Cold Spell is no exception. She takes the Snow Queen legend, and shapes it to compliment the previous novels in this series, and allows the reader to feel each and every icy blast along the way.

When I heard that this would be tied into the other novels in this series, I was skeptical. The mythology, however, is woven in beautifully. The allusions to the previous novels, and how this particular novel's lore fits into the over all arc of the series is this series strong point. It's this over all arc that has me invested in these books. Each ties into the next and yet allows Jackson Pearce to focus on completely different characters. 

The relationship between Kai and Ginny is built on the fact that they share a history. We're told the emotions are there, and we get to see it from time to time, but I wanted more from it. I would have liked just a little more development considering it's the catalyst for Ginny's journey and the entire story. It was refreshing to see a romance that was built on a different foundation than is typically written about. This was a friendship that switched with ease to something more. The friendship is never doubted, neither is the fact that they care for one another. I just had a harder time buying into the 'epicness' of their romantic love.

Ginny's transformation from someone who doesn't know who she is without Kai, to someone who can stand on their own was both agonizing, and needed. It was maddening to see Ginny reduce herself to nothing beyond Kai. As character after character called her on it I was able to see where the story was eventually heading, but the message pushed me away at first. Ginny needed to learn who she was. She needed the chance to reflect on herself. He mission to save Kai allowed an introspective look that she hadn't allowed herself before.

Mora, and her motivations are directly tied to the mythology of this particular novel. I don't want to give away the secrets, so I will only say that I was pleasantly surprised by her backstory. Her character was detailed enough to be both a villain, and someone you understood. The way she ties into the previous mythology was also well plotted.

A tale of love, and forgiveness that compliments a cold winter's day. Jackson's Pearce's trilogy when put together is greater than each individual novel when looked at individually, and Cold Spell adds another layer to it's deep mythology.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New To My Book Closet


It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

Another week of awesome books! My mailbox was packed on filled with awesome books!


Unforgotten by Jessica Brody (goodreads)
Perfect Lies by Kiersten White (goodreads)
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkosi (goodreads)
Starling by Fiona Paul (goodreads)

Huge thank you to Raincoast Books and Harper Collins Canada for the lovely books I received this week. I was beyond thrilled to see The Winner's Curse in my package. The ARC of The Winner's Curse is beautiful. I can only image how pretty the hardcover is going to be.

Huge thank you Jessica for lending me Starling! I can not wait to see how this series ends.


Cress by Marissa Meyer (goodreads) forgot to include this one before! Thanks Katherine!
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (goodreads
Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker (goodreads)
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige *CHAPTER SAMPLER* (goodreads)

Huge thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for Four Seconds To Lose! Excited to start reading it!

Cress is amazing! It's everything I wanted it to be, and I can't wait to post my review! A big thank you to Katherine for lending me her copy. The Dorothy Must Die chapter sampler was something I read almost right away and I am curious as to where this story is going to go. I like what I've read so far!

Before I Fall is signed! Lauren Oliver came to Ottawa and she is super lovely in person. I hadn't read this one yet so I purchased a copy to have her sign. It'll get read/reviewed sometime in January (hopefully).

Hope you had a fantastic book haul this week too!

Happy Reading, and Happy Weekend!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

A smaller obsessions post this week! Here are my obsessions this week:

BOOK

Bonnie by Christina Schwarz

This book doesn't come out until 2015 and I already WANT it more than anything. Bonnie and Clyde has always fascinated me, and this book sounds amazing. Here are the details from the announcement.
The book is a fictionalized take on Bonnie Parker and the path that led her to become Clyde Barrow’s partner. In Bonnie, Atria said, Schwarz “animates the few known facts” about Parker to create “a plaintive and fast-paced account of a woman destroyed by the lethal combination of boredom and love.”
I kind of like that it's a fictionalized account of Bonnie's story. It's one I am eager to hear more about leading up to it's release date.

Lock and Mori by Heather Petty

The deal announced on Publisher's Weekly's website states that this book
is told from the perspective of 16-year-old Miss James "Mori" Moriarty, who, in looking for an escape from her recent past and spiraling home life, takes classmate Sherlock up on his challenge to solve a murder mystery in Regent's Park.
Immediately intriguing. Is it wrong that I want Mori and Sherlock to fall in love? Because I do! Also, I hope Watson is Sherlock's best friend (it's got to happen). Based on the rest of the information in the press announcement it seems the publisher is expecting big things for this series. Let's hope it gets a fantastic cover. It's already up on Goodreads, if you want to add it.

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

It's no secret that I love Gayle Forman's books. Loved everything she's written so far. Her next one was also announced by Publisher's Weekly, and it's description says that the novel
follows Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend Meg's suicide, as she delves into Meg's secret life in search of answers. 
So I am predicting that this will make me cry. It's a 2015 release, so it'll be a bit before we get our hands on this, but you can already add it on Goodreads. SO EXCITED!

TV/MOVIE

Bonnie and Clyde (TV event)



Keeping with the Bonnie and Clyde theme...

There is going to be a 2 night event 'mini series' airing in December and it looks pretty awesome. Check out the trailer. As mentioned, I've always been fascinated by Bonnie and Clyde's story so I will for sure be checking this out.


So what are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, November 22, 2013

2014 Most Anticipated - Brazen and Manor of Secrets




The next book I've selected for the 2014 Most Anticipated Event is actually two books for the price of one. This author has TWO amazing sounding novels coming out in 2014 and I couldn't pick just one. Katherine Longshore's Brazen and Manor of Secrets.


Here is the Goodreads synopsis for Brazen
Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?
Here is the Goodreads synopsis for Manor of Secrets
The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems . . .

Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.

Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage -- or the means -- to break free and follow her passions.

Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever.
One is being compared to Downton Abbey and the other is historical Tudor goodness. I can not wait to get my hands on either of them. Katherine was kind enough to answer a few questions about BOTH novels for me. Here is our Q and A

1. Describe Manor of Secrets in three words.

The tagline on the front cover pretty much sums it up:

Upstairs.  Downstairs.  Drama.

2. Can you give us a little tease about the third Royal Circle book (which we now know is called Brazen)?

BRAZEN takes place in the time period between TARNISH and GILT and follows the story of Mary Howard (daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, who we also see in GILT).  There are weddings and funerals, secrets, betrayals, friendship, ruination, love and hope.  It was also the most difficult book I've ever written, possibly because I was being more brave with my writing and the emotion often struck close to home.  My editor says it’s my best work yet.

3. Both novels are historical, but sound quite different. How did the research differ for each book?

Because I have already done so much reading and research on the Tudor era, my research for BRAZEN was very specific to time, place and character.  Unfortunately, there’s not much written about Mary, so I had to do quite a lot of digging!  Many, many hours in front of the computer trolling through the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII.

Researching MANOR OF SECRETS was completely different.  I wasn't’t writing about real people, so I didn’t have to research hair color or personality quirks or who was where, when.  But I did have to catch up on my history.  Before I started writing, all of my early 20th century knowledge came from E.M. Forster novels, my costume design classes, and Downton Abbey. I had an absolutely wonderful time reading about how a Manor house was run, what daily life would have been like (dressing for dinner every night?) and what events shaped the summer of 1911.  My favorite part of that research was reading the biographies of women in service—kitchen maids and cooks, especially.  Even now that MANOR is finished, I read these books for fun!

4. How would the main character in Manor of Secrets describe the main character in the third Tudor book and vice versa?

Charlotte (the duke’s daughter in MANOR) would probably think that Mary’s life is romantic and adventurous—the royalty, the opulence of the court, falling in love.  Janie (the kitchen maid) would possibly think Mary was spoiled—she never had to work a day in her life.  But Janie would also see the difficulty and tragedy beneath the romantic veneer of the Tudor world.

Mary would recognize a kindred spirit in Charlotte—leading a life that on the surface is perfect, but in reality is full of demands and disappointment.  And Mary might almost be jealous of Janie—a girl who can earn her own wage and therefore has control of her own life.

But when they really got to know each other, I have a feeling that all three girls would be friends.

5 What 2014 release are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to so many!  INTO THE STILL BLUE by Veronica Rossi, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY by Sharon Biggs Waller, MAID OF DECEPTION by Jennifer McGowan, ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO by Stasia Ward Kehoe, WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE by Huntley Fitzpatrick…I could go on—so many wonderful books coming out next year!

A huge thank you to Katherine for taking the time to answer these. Brazen will be in stores June 12, 2014. Manor of Secrets will be in stores January 28, 2014.

If you want to learn more you can visit the author's website, or the Scholastic/Penguin websites.

You can pre-order Brazen at the following retailers

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

You can pre-order Manor of Secrets at the following retailers

Chapters
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

You'll have a chance to win one of these titles soon, as I will be hosting a giveaway that these interviews may help you win!

Be sure to let me know what you think of either of these titles, Katherine's Q and A, or anything else in the comments!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Follow Friday


Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is:

You Are It! We are playing #FF tag this week. Comment on as many blogs as you can, even if they aren’t participating in #FF. Just say Happy #FF! At the end of your comment. Keep a running total if you want and update your post with it. The bigger the number the more impressed we will be!

Since there is no question, I thought I would ask one (so you can comment!). Tell me what book you're currently reading.

Happy Weekend!

2014 Most Anticipated - Dear Killer




The next book I've selected for the 2014 Most Anticipated Event is one that has a point of view that always entices me - a serial killer. Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell not only introduces a young talent, but is already gaining praise.


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.
Amazing right? It's made all the more amazing when you factor in the age of the author. She's 18. She also took the time to answer few questions for me.

1 Describe Dear Killer in 3 words

Macabre, wintery, sinister

2 Was there any specific research you did while writing Dear Killer?

I had to do a bunch of research about the geography of London, and also about how to fight with one's bare hands. I didn't really know anything about either beforehand, and now I know a whole lot about both...

3 As a debut novelist, what has been the most surprising aspect of publishing a novel?

That people actually like my writing enough to publish it!

4 Are you able to share a secret about one of the characters, the world, something that inspired something about the world/characters?

I was really inspired by the weather of London. I don't get much of that kind of weather in California, so the general grey-ness of London played a big part in the mood-setting of the book.

5 What 2014 release are you most excited for?

I'm really excited for "Side Effects May Vary" by Julie Murphy!

A huge thank you to Katherine for taking the time to answer these. Dear Killer will be in stores April 1, 2014

If you want to learn more you can visit the author's website, or the publishers website.

You can pre-order at the following retailers

Chapters
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

You'll have a chance to win one of these titles soon, as I will be hosting a giveaway that these interviews may help you win!

Be sure to let me know what you think of Dear Killer, Katherine's Q and A, or anything else in the comments!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Once Upon A Time - Think Lovely Thoughts


Rumple backstory! This episode offers a piece of the puzzle that has long been needed. It also sheds some interesting light on the previous Neverland episodes!

Enchanted Forest - Flashback

We begin with young Rumple watching his father cheat people out of money with a card game. A+ casting with young Rumple. Little Rumple is perfect. Kind of get the impression Rumple's father is a bit of a scoundrel and a drunk.  It's also obvious that Rumple loves his father.

The fact that Rumple loves his father makes what happens next all the more heartbreaking. HE DROPS HIS KID OFF WITH SOME RANDOM WOMEN!? WHAT?! Bad parenting. He claims it's for Rumple's own good, and that he needs to go find a job so they can be together. I barely know this character and already I know that is a big fat lie. Rumple does not want to stay with these women (they are spinsters! Bonus for tying in how Rumple will eventually learn to spin gold) and it's awful of his father to make him. He gives Rumple a doll and tells him to name it, and that he'll be back before Rumple even misses him.

Neverland - present

Peter Pan is putting more pressure on Henry to save magic (and therefore Wendy). He once again asks Henry if he wants to save magic, and tells him that he has to 'truly believe'. Henry says he does. Pan takes him to the Lost Boys and announces that Henry is going to save them (and magic) and that tonight the heart of the truest believer is going to fulfill it's destiny.

Elsewhere on the island Regina is bemoaning that the rest of the gang took off to find Neal as she thinks it's a trick. Rumple tells her it's not a trick and that Neal is alive. She seems confused as to why they would have parted ways if that is the case, and demands to know what Rumple is hiding. Rumple says that the next time he sees Neal it'll be when he's putting Henry in Neal's arms (and father and son are reunited). Regina is, rightly, skeptical and knows Rumple is hiding something.

Meanwhile, Emma asks Snow about the fight with Charming. Emma wants to know if Snow is really going to stay there with Charming. Snow says yes, and admits that the thought of leaving Emma hurts her but there is no other way. Emma basically says that she doesn't believe that. She says it might just be Snow rubbing off on her, but there has to be another way. Emma also says that family means being together (sigh...her, Neal and Henry eventually...I hope). I love that Emma isn't giving up hope. Hope is so important to Emma right now. Regina and Rumple stumble into the rest of the group and show them Pandora's box.

Neal is quick to tell everyone that Rumple is to get nowhere near Henry because of the prophecy. Neal flat out says Rumple didn't come to save Henry, but rather to kill him. Regina realizes that is what Rumple was hiding and calls him on it. The rest of the group, obviously, doesn't take this news well. Emma basically says that Rumple won't get near Henry unless he kills the rest of them. At this rate I am surprised the group gets anything done. So far they've fought, kissed, and basically done NOTHING that resulted in anything getting done. Although, Neal accomplished more since he's been on the island in a day or two than the group did in a week.

Rumple tries to declare his innocence. He wanted to HELP Henry. He tells them he wishes he could hand over his dagger but he currently can not. Neal tells him to hand over Pandora's Box instead, saying he doesn't have to trust Rumple, just be able to stop him. Rumple hands it over, and Neal tells him that if he even lifts a finger to do magic he'll make Rumple spend an eternity inside the box. I get why they don't trust him, because I wouldn't either, but Rumple looks so sad though. He tells Neal that they have no clue who they are up against and that Peter Pan destroyed his father.

Enchanted Forest - Flashback

Rumple is picking up the art of spinning quickly. He's a natural. The spinsters tell him that he could make money for himself with his skills. They tell him that nobody will take him seriously because of his father. Everyone knows his father is a liar, cheat, etc. They offer Rumple a way to start over...a magic bean. They tell him to go to another land where nobody knows who he is and begin again. How very similar to what Baelfire is offered by the blue fairy. My immediately thought...are these spinsters fairies in disguise?  The spinsters also tell Rumple that his father is not looking for a job but is at the pub getting drunk. Poor young Rumple.

Rumple decides to go to the pub to see if his father is there. Rumple's father has a laugh that is eerily similar to the one that we've heard Rumple have as the Dark One. Also. HE CALLED RUMPLE LADDIE. Who else has called Rumple laddie before? PAN! I have a suspicion that Pan = Rumple's father. Rumple is obviously pissed that his father is not finding a job and tells him as much. Rumple, who has a kind heart, offers to bring his father to another world. Somewhere they can be a family and start over. Rumple's father at first wants to sell the bean, but comes around and tells Rumple that they should use it to go to Neverland (where he used to visit in his dream and think lovely thoughts). Little Rumple agrees and they jump into the portal.

Neverland - Present

Emma asks Hook about David and how he can leave the island. Hook basically tells her that it is not going to happen, and more to the point he doesn't want to talk about his brother. He's a little snippy to her at first during this exchange (is he sulking still about her choosing Henry? I love you, Hook, but get over it). Emma brings up the water. She wants David to take some with him. Hook says that the water will eventually run out and that would mean David would die. Rumple reminds them he was poisoned by Hook with the same stuff. He says he made discoveries about the poison and he believes he can create an antidote when they get back to Storybrooke. Rumple wants to make a deal for the cure though. Neal is quick to shut that down. Tells Rumple he'll do it because it's the right thing to do. Emma seems quite shocked when Rumple agrees to do it (and I hope a little in awe that Neal got Rumple to agree without making any deals). I love that Neal wants Rumple to save Charming because it is the right thing to do, and doesn't have any ulterior motives (like wanting a kiss...just saying).

Tinkerbell tells them that they are at Pan's camp, and it's time. Rumple wants to use magic on the Lost Boys. Neal says no, so Regina does instead, and puts them all to sleep. They quickly realize Henry is not there, but hear someone calling for help. Emma runs and sees Wendy held in a cage. Neal follows and is stunned to find Wendy and tells her who he is. She is, of course, happy to see him again. Neal frees her from the cage, and she tells him that she came back to Neverland to save him. She couldn't bare to think about Bae without a family since his father and mother were dead. Rumple isn't thrilled to hear that Neal was telling people he had died. Neal shoots back that it was easier than telling the truth; that his father abandoned him. Rumple is sad to hear this. Seriously, this family is all kinds of messed up going back to Rumple's father. GAH! If my theory is right, there are 3 generations of them on this island and each has some serious issues.

Neal questions Wendy about Henry. He wants to know if she's seen him. Emma asks if Pan has mentioned anyone with the heart of the truest believer. Wendy lies and says that no, she hasn't seen Henry and Pan hasn't mentioned anything. Rumple calls her out on her lies, because he's told plenty of them himself and knows what it looks like. I loved that when Rumple went to go towards Wendy both Charming and Neal held him back. Wendy tearfully admits that she's helping Pan because it's the only way that he will keep John and Michael alive. They tell Wendy that they'll help save her brothers, they know where they are (they tell her about Belle and Storybrooke) and Neal even promises that he'll save John and Michael. Wendy seems relieved that her brothers are okay and agrees to help. She tells them that Pan lied to Henry. She says that Pan really wants Henry's heart because he is dying. He wants Henry's heart to absorb all the magic in Neverland so that he can become immortal. The obviously question is what happens to Henry in all of this. Wendy tells them that Henry dies.

The group discusses who is going to do what. They need someone to stay behind and watch the Lost Boys. Tink and Hook are staying behind to take care of that. At first Snow and Charming offer, but Emma tells them to go collect water from the magical spring because Rumple can cure him when they get back. Snow hugs Emma and it's perfect, and  she also thanks Rumple. The look of hope on Charming's face...Gah! Josh Dallas did that perfectly. They agree to meet at the Jolly Rodger when all is said and done. Rumple, Emma, Neal and Regina are heading to Skull Rock to get Henry.

Neverland - Flashback

Rumple's father is ecstatic to arrive in Neverland. Tells Rumple that anything he wants he just has to think it. Rumple is quick to think up a piece of cake (good life choices, Rumple). Rumple's father tells him the best part is that they can fly, and goes to show Rumple. He crows!! (Okay, he's totally Peter Pan) and tries to fly, but falls on his face. He doesn't understand why because he could always fly when he was there (in his dreams) as a young boy. Rumple points out that his father is not a little boy anymore, and maybe that's why it's not working. His father seems to think it's because of pixie dust. He needed it to fly before. As they go off to get pixie dust, we see the shadow following them.

Rumple and his father find the trees where pixie dust grows (it apparently grows in flowers on the tree because of the starlight). Rumple is hesitant to climb the trees. His father tells him that if he wants to fly he can't be afraid of heights. Rumple yells that he doesn't want to fly, his father does. After seeing how scared Rumple actually is they agree that Rumple will wait while his father goes to collect some dust. While up in the tree the shadow comes. The pixie dust doesn't work and Rumple's father asks the shadow why it won't work. The shadow tells him it's because he doesn't believe, and doesn't belong in Neverland (my guess, because he is not a kid).

Rumple is crying because he has been waiting a long time. His father finally comes back and tells Rumple that the pixie dust did not work. That Neverland is not where he belongs. Adults do not belong there. Rumple says that it doesn't matter where they are, as long as they are together and suggests going somewhere else. Rumple says he'll always go back to his old ways and will never be the father Rumple needs. He says he has figured out a way that Neverland can be everything he wants it to be. He just needs to let go of what is holding him back - Rumple. The shadow grabs Rumple and he begs his father to not let it take him (holding on to his father with all his might). The shadow will become part of Rumple's father once he allows it to take Rumple. In order to stay in Neverland he needs to believe he's young again, and he can't do that with Rumple there as a reminder because children can't be fathers. He tells Rumple that he was never meant to be a father and lets him go. We see him begin to morph and change and is revealed to be Peter Pan. The whole scene is similar to when Bae was over a portal, and Rumple was holding him. Bae was begging for Rumple to not let go, to come with him and Rumple let go. This scene is the opposite, but the result is the same. A boy without a father. Seriously, this family has major issues. It also casts a different light on the Peter/Rumple interactions we've seen in present day during previous episodes. Rumple has known all along who this is, and it makes Pan's taunts more heartbreaking. Bad father of year award totally goes to Rumple's father. *side note - the look on Robbie Kay's face right after the transformation. The brief moment of regret that he allows himself was perfectly done*

Rumple goes back to the spinsters having nowhere else to go. He tells them that he dropped his doll in Neverland and that Peter Pan is gone forever *sniff* The fact that he named his doll Peter Pan and  that's what his father used...*sniff*

We see a newly young Pan flying around. He flies to Skull Rock, and he finds the hourglass. He is joined by the shadow. He wants to know what it is and asks how it came to be. The shadow tells him that it's something Pan created when he decided to stay. He technically broke the rules by staying, and his time is not infinite. He will die when the hourglass runs out. Pan says that any rule can be broken, and he'll find a way to prevent himself from dying.

Neverland - Present

Pan and Henry come ashore at Skull Rock and go into a inner chambers. Almost right after this our heroes arrive, and realize Pan has put a protection spell on the entrance way. Rumple can walk through it because he doesn't have a shadow. It blocks anyone who has a shadow from going in. Rumple says it's because Pan knows he cut off his shadow and Pan figures that he won't pass up a chance to finish what he started (I am guessing the whole prophecy/Henry thing). Neal realizes that Rumple wasn't lying and that he really did come to save Henry. Rumple asks Neal to give him back Pandora's Box. Neal goes to but Regina grabs it. She tells Rumple that he better come through, or she'll make what Pan has planned look like child's play. I love Neverland Regina. She seems much more willing to work with people, and seems to respect that other people love and want a relationship with Henry. More importantly though, she realizes that those relationships don't detract from HER relationship with Henry. There might be hope for them all after all (if they can get along for more than 5 minutes).

Regina wants to do something. Neal mentions using the spell that Rumple used to remove his shadow. Regina says she doesn't know how that works. Emma mentions that it's the moon that is casting the shadows and if they can block it, they won't  have them anymore. Regina asks Emma to help because that kind of spell requires a lot of magic. They perform the spell and it works. Shadows gone! I love that Neal immediately stands behind Emma, like he's got her back.

Pan tells Henry that this is where he is going to save magic. The room holds a hourglass that is slowly draining. He tells Henry it's a countdown to when magic runs out. He tells Henry that he has to do something before they get started and has him wait in another area.

Rumple enters the room takes out the creepy doll (which is the same one Rumple's father gave him earlier). This interaction is going to feel different now that we know everything. Rumple asks where Henry is. Pan snarks back "oh, you mean my great grandson" and wants to know why Rumple hasn't told the others who exactly he is. Rumple says it's because he's a coward. Peter says if that was true Rumple would have used the box already. Pan offers him a chance to let go of the anger, and stay. Start over. Rumple says he could never forgive him after Pan abandoned him. Pan is quick to point out that Rumple traded Baelfire for power, and he traded Rumple for youth. He tells them that neither one of them was cut out to be a father. Rumple says he never forgot about Bae, and spent his life trying to get him back. Pan says he never forgot about Rumple either, and points out that it's why he calls himself Peter Pan. Rumple says it's not because Pan cares for him. Pan says that he does. Tells Rumple to put down the box and they can make a fresh start like they planned. Rumple turns him down and goes to open Pandora's Box. It doesn't work and Pan reveals that he took it. All he has to do is think of something and it's his. He opens the box and Rumple is captured inside!!

Pan goes to grab Henry, and tells him it is time. Pan tells Henry that he has to hand over his heart. Henry wants to know what the price of this is. He knows that magic always comes with a price. Pan tells him that the price is having to stay in Neverland forever. Henry accepts this, having been taught that heroes sometimes need to make sacrifices, and rips out his heart! It's gold, and it's interesting that HENRY had to remove it. I am guessing Pan can't. I wonder if Henry's heart is like Emma's heart. If so, does that make Henry the product of true love? I NEED TO KNOW! Neal, Emma and Regina come in and tell Henry to stop. Henry has a brief moment of realizing that his father is alive. They tell him that Pan is lying. Henry says that he has to give his heart because it'll save all of them. They try to convince him that Pan is lying, and Pan is trying to convince him of the opposite. Henry is pretty much confused, and just wants to be a hero like his Grandpa Charming. Pan tells him that time is running out and Henry must decide. Emma, Neal and Regina make one last plea telling Henry

Neal- We believe in you, Henry
Emma - because we love you
Regain - more than anything

I love this. Henry's three parents working together to tell Henry how much they love him. It's wonderful, and I think what Henry's happily ever after will look like. It gives me hope that eventually they can all peacefully be part of Henry's life. Sadly, Henry doesn't listen and shoves his heart into Pan's chest. The resulting shockwave is felt throughout Neverland. Henry falls to the ground, and a delighted Pan is once again able to fly. Eeeep, Henry! WHY DID YOU NOT LISTEN?!

So this leads me to think that we're winding down with Neverland and Pan's story. Obviously,  Henry will be saved, and I think that means Pan has to be defeated. I will be sad to lose Robbie Kay, but after knowing his history...Pan needs to go. He was a horrible father, and is selfish. His entire motivation is to stay young and alive. It's fitting with the story of Peter Pan, and a unique twist to the tale. This two week wait is going to be torture!

Until next time... Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

*No Once recap next week as they are on a week break, but I'll be posting a Waiting on Wednesday instead!*



Monday, November 18, 2013

How To Love by Katie Cotugno


How To Love by Katie Cotugno
Release Date – October 1, 2013
Publisher Website – Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader
Pages - 389 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**received from publisher for review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.
How To Love is a story of love, redemption, second chances, sacrifice, and taking leaps of faith. It's also brilliantly written, and has a main character that is easy to love and root for. The love story of Sawyer and Reena didn't resonate as deeply with me, but everything else about this novel was easy to love.

The writing in this novel is engaging, captivating and brings to life the character of Reena. Katie captures Reena perfectly, and allows her writing to show us her character. The first half of the novel is much stronger than the second, and there is a lot of potential for Katie Cotugno to be a force in the contemporary market.

Reena was everything I could want from a main character. She was mature (mostly) and handled becoming a teenage mother with nothing but strength. She wanted to be a good mother, the best mother she could be. Her life focus immediately made that switch. She sacrificed, and made the decisions she needed to. She may make some wrong decisions, but her flaws made her character feel all the more real.

Sawyer never really grew on me. His teenage self was immature, self focused, and a mess. The older version is more put together, and in a much better place. However, the change he needed to make in order for this story work failed to resonate with me. The 'older' Sawyer is supposed to be in a better place, but this never came across for me. It didn't show me the ways he had changed (other than the glaringly obvious) but instead TOLD me he had changed. I wanted his actions to back up his words, and there just wasn't enough character development for 'older' Sawyer to win me over. The little things he does do are a step in the right direction, and perhaps that is the point. He's trying, and attempting to make things right. I just wish I had seen why he deserves a second chance and redemption.

The approach this novel takes to teen pregnancy is one of the most realistic portrayals I have read. It felt honest. The balance between trying to be a teen, and being a mother came across, and the hard truths that came along with it were put under a harsh light. The incredible moments that would come with being a parent were also included and shone a bright light in the murkiness that is Reena's life.

The message of hope, and healing is so prevalent throughout the novel. It's ultimately an uplifting read that shows that life may take some unexpected turns, but perhaps those turns are what make it worth living. Dreams may change, and sometimes turn into something you never expected. The fact that Reena took what came and did her best with it was a refreshing, and affirming character trait that made me love her all the more. It also made me love the novel's message.

Katie Cotugno is a talented writer, and I look forward to whatever she might come out with next. I certainly adored Reena, but wished I had gotten a little more from Sawyer. All that aside, How To Love is a touching, realistic novel filled with the message of promise and hope.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New To My Book Closet


It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

Mailbox of awesome this week! It was a packed on filled with awesome books!


The Rule of Three by Eric Walters (goodreads)
The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow (goodreads)
Half Bad by Sally Green (goodreads)
Bitter Sweet Love by Jennifer L Armentrout (sampler) (goodreads)

I was thrilled to get Half Bad and Rule of Three from Penguin Canada. Huge thank you to them. I've been hearing insane buzz about Half Bad and can not wait to devour this one.

Harlequin Teen sent me my first package as part of the promotion of White Hot Kiss. First up is a teaser sampler of the e-novella Bitter Sweet Love. Trust me, I want to read the rest and immediately start on White Hot Kiss!  They also sent me a book I've been excited about The Secret Diamond Sisters. It's set in Las Vegas. I read that and was immediately sold. Huge thank you to Harlequin Teen.


Killer Instinct by S.E. Green (goodreads)
Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler (goodreads)

Simon and Schuster (and Edelweiss) approve me for two titles. Killer Instinct which has been compared to Dexter (HECK YES!) and Afterparty which sounds awesome and has an amazing cover. Huge thank you to Simon and Schuster


No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige (goodreads)

Lastly I purchased the e-novella that is kicking of the hugely buzzed Wizard of Oz re-imaging by Danielle Paige. After devouring this, I am DYING to get my hands on Dorothy Must Die. Expect my review of this as part of my 2014 Most Anticipated Event. 

Hope you had a fantastic book haul this week too!

Happy Reading, and Happy Weekend!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

A smaller obsessions post this week! Here are my obsessions this week:

BOOK
Cover and synopsis of Sublime by Christina Lauren



This one totally took me by surprise. I hadn't heard anything about it, and the big announcement created a lot of buzz. After reading the awesome synopsis I immediately ran to add it to my Goodreads account. Seriously, read this amazing sounding synopsis
Sublime is the story of two teens, Lucy and Colin, who fall in love, but the the problem is … Lucy's a ghost.

Slowly, she begins to remember more about her life and death as daredevil Colin take himself to the edge of death where their realities overlap so he can be physically closer to Lucy.

Lucy starts to wonder if she's Colin's salvation or the means of his demise.
A different take on the ghost falling for a living person thing. I am curious about how Colin is a daredevil and what he does in order to be closer to Lucy. Either way, I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on this. Oh, and that cover? I like it... A LOT!

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

The Penguin Summer catalog came out. Naturally I looked at all the upcoming titles to see which ones would grab my interest. I immediately had this amazing synopsis catch my eye
Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?
So, obviously, The Merciless is high up on my 2014 wishlist at this point. I am sure there are other books that handle this topic, but this sounds so fresh from what is currently out there. I basically NEED this NOW! The part about the shockingly twisted ending? YES! YES! YES!

Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto

I know next to nothing about this novel. All I needed to hear was Gothic Romance and I was in. I can't wait to find out more though because that title...I LOVE ghost stories.

OTHER

Lauren Oliver coming to Ottawa

Lauren Oliver will be at one of the public libraries here in Ottawa on Monday. I am beyond excited that Ottawa is FINALLY getting some events and I am looking forward to going to listen to Lauren talk about her books.

So what are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, November 15, 2013

2014 Most Anticipated - Of Metal and Wishes



The next pick on my 2014 Most Anticipated list sold me with a few simple words - Phantom of the Opera in a slaughterhouse.  How amazing does that sound?


Luckily, the full Goodreads synopsis sounds equally amazing.
There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.
Sarah graciously took the time to answer a few questions about the book, and herself. Her answers have made me want to read this even more!

1 Describe Of Metal and Wishes in three words

Strange. Romantic. Haunting.

2  Are you able to share a secret about one of the characters, the world, something that inspired something about the world/characters?

I was inspired to write Of Metal and Wishes after watching hidden camera footage of undocumented workers in a poultry factory. It was horrifying and oppressive and stuck with me for a long time afterward.

3 What three things do you need while revising? 

Time to process the feedback and integrate it with my vision of the book. My playlist. Comfortable socks.

4 What about the Phantom of the Opera inspired you to write this particular story?

I wanted to take the incredible power, mystery, myth, and romance of Phantom and move it to a setting more macabre than beautiful, more brutal than whimsical. The meat factory in Of Metal and Wishes is a place that crushes people, and there, the Ghost has thrived as a sort of deity and hero ... but he's also known for punishing those who displease him.

5 What 2014 release are you most looking forward to?

I can't wait for the fourth book in Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental series, SECRET (comes out 1/28/14). I loved the first three. This one is about Nick, the brother who controls air, and in this story he learns to understand and embrace who he is while dealing with fear of what others will think of him ... and a few deadly enemies, of course (Confession: I've read it already. AND IT IS SO GOOD--romantic, heart-wrenching, tense, and action-packed--I can't wait to see it reach the hands of readers)

A huge thank you to Sarah for taking the time to answering these questions. I love stories that twist classics and Phantom of the Opera is one that isn't adapted often.

If you want to learn more, check out the author's website, or the publisher's website for more information.

Of Metal and Wishes will be in stores August 5, 2014. Pre-orders for this title are already up, and you can get your copy at the following retailers

Chapters
Amazon

Let me know in the comments what you think of the cover, the synopsis, or what you think of retellings in general in the comments. Also, check back soon for a contest where you could win one of my featured titles (these interviews may just help you win!).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Follow Friday


Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is:

Are there any book to movie adaptations where you think the movie is better than the book?

I can not think of any. There are adaptations that I think are brilliant though. Perks of Being A Wallflower, the entire Harry Potter movies, for example. I don't know if any surpassed the movie for me though.

Happy Weekend!

2014 Most Anticipated.... The Winner's Curse




The next book I've selected for the 2014 Most Anticipated Event is one that has been building buzz for awhile. I first heard about it at Book Expo America and knew it was going to be one I pined for. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski.


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In the tradition of Kristin Cashore and Cassandra Clare comes this brilliant, unputdownable, star-crossed romance about the curse of winning.

Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: join the military or get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel’s real passion is music.Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave with a talent for singing, at auction. It’s not long before she finds herself falling in love with Arin, and he seems to feel the same for her. But Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for Arin is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart
It sounds amazing, and that cover is one of the prettiest I've seen for the 2014 line up! Marie was kind enough to answer a few questions about The Winner's Curse and I think you'll want to read it as much as I do after you've checked out her answers.

1 Describe The Winner's Curse in three words

Manipulative. Brave. Vulnerable.

2 It sounds like your book's world might be a dangerous one to live in. How long do you think you would last if transported into your book's setting?

I think that answer would depend on what kind of social status I'd have in the world and at which point in time I'd be dropped into it. The Winner's Curse is a world of masters and slaves, tea parties and war, ball gowns and dueling daggers. If I were part of the ruling class (the Valorians), I'd be able to navigate the dangers within that class-- gossip, gambling, romantic liaisons, the occasional duel (so long as it's for honor's sake only, and not to the death). A lot of that part of The Winner's Curse reminds me of Jane Austen-- except with weapons-- because, I suppose, in an Austen novel someone's fate can hinge upon a few choice words, and the characters' lives revolve around dances, dinners, tea, and excursions to town for shopping or flirting with soldiers. I can do all of that very well, and I love to wear a pretty dress.

This is all assuming that I wouldn't be a soldier, since a great deal of Valorians are in the military and always at war. I wouldn't survive long on the battlefield.

The Valorians conquered the territory of Herran ten years ago and enslaved its people. If I were transported into this world as a slave (i.e., one of the Herrani), I think I would also be able to survive, if only because I can keep my head down, plot, and bide my time (necessary skills for a writer).

But-- without giving too much away-- this world is about to be thrown into chaos, and I'm not sure how long I'd last then, as either a Valorian or Herrani, since so much of survival will mean keeping your wits in very scary situations. I've never been in a life-or-death situation, so I can't say whether I'd be able to think through my fear. My guess is that I wouldn't be able to do that very well.

3 What three things do you need while revising?

Good friends willing to read the manuscript. Trustworthy babysitters (I have two small children and a job as an English professor, so finding time to write and revise is key). A room with a door that shuts (Stephen King said that this was crucial for any writer. He wrote Carrie in the laundry room of his doublewide trailer-- and he could shut himself inside. The space itself doesn't matter-- just the privacy).

4 Are you able to share a secret about one of the characters, the world, something that inspired something about the world/characters?

 The book begins when Kestrel (a Valorian) buys Arin (a Herrani). A friend of mine from a long time ago, in another country, was named Arin-- pronounced like Aaron but spelled as an anagram of the word "rain," because it was raining when he was born. I've always loved this name and also its story, and although I didn't think about it too much when I was writing the book, I now feel that the quality and nature of rain influenced how I developed Arin's character. Rain can come in such different forms-- violent and driving, warm and soft, gray or backlit with sun-- and all of them could suit Arin at different points in the novel.

5 What 2014 release are you most looking forward to?

Very tough question! I'm not actually sure of what all is coming out in 2014...from what I do know, I'm most looking forward to Laini Taylor's Dreams of Gods and Monsters and Leigh Bardugo's Ruin and Rising.

A huge thank you to Marie for taking the time to answer these. The Winner's Curse will be in stores March 4, 2014. If you haven't read the excerpt DO IT IMMEDIATELY and you'll be pining right along with me.

If you want to learn more you can visit the author's website, or the publishers website.

You can pre-order at the following retailers

Chapters
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

You'll have a chance to win one of these titles soon, as I will be hosting a giveaway that these interviews may help you win!

Be sure to let me know what you think of The Winner Curse's cover, the synopsis, or anything else in the comments!

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