Friday, October 31, 2014

Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle



Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle
Release Date - October 21, 2014
Publisher Website - Poppy/Little Brown
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
"A must-read for anyone curious about life and love behind the scenes."--Bella Thorne, actor and author of Autumn Falls

When Paige Townsen gets plucked from high school obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling film set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie's famous love triangle, Paige's crazy new life begins to resemble her character's.

In this exciting tale of romance and drama, both on-and offscreen, Paige must adjust to a crazy new life without the daily support of her friends and family, while figuring out who she is--and who she wants--as the whole world watches.
Being plucked from obscurity and thrust into fame has been a daydream of many people growing up. Who wouldn't want to be the star of their favourite TV show, or movie, right? Rebecca Serle takes that daydream to creates something real, honest, and heartfelt. Perfect for those who love Hollywood gossip, CW TV shows, and endearing characters, Famous In Love looks at falling in love while under a spotlight.

The element that stands out the most while reading is how authentic this novel feels. You'll feel like you've been given behind the scenes access to the hottest set in Hollywood and all the secrets that come with it. Rebecca Serle's love of Hollywood shines through each page, and her attention to detail creates a vivid picture of life on a movie set. It's unsurprising that she did a lot of research to capture this intimate feeling.

There will be plenty of discussion about Team Jordan vs Team Rainer, but I predict many won't finish this novel without being Team Paige. She is immediately endearing and captivating. She's the Joey Potter of this story, and you will love her. Her story also tethers this novel into reality. It's not just a romance novel, but rather a story of Paige's experiences. We get to see the rocky road of fame, and how she adapts to it. Her family relationships, friendships, and romances all spiral and change because of her new life. It's deeper, and more heartfelt than one may assume at first, and readers will easily become attached to all the characters.

Paige's fears, and insecurities are recognizable and understandable. It's easy to relate to her feelings of not fitting in, and her desire to do her best. She's not immediately perfect, and getting swept up into this new lifestyle is not natural to her. She stumbles, and learns as she goes along. It allows the reader to follow her journey without feeling disconnected.

Love triangles may feel overused, and like a cheap way to delay the inevitable. The triangle in this novel, however, truly works. The reason it works so well is the relationship between Rainer and Jordan. It's complicated, and an element to the story in it's own right. Their relationship to each other is not defined by their relationship with Paige, and that makes it more interesting. There is more at stake here, and friendships to be taken into consideration. I find when triangles work it is usually because of the interactions and connections outside of the triangle, and Rebecca proves why this is the case.

This is also one of those triangles where neither guy is the wrong choice. They both seem to be valid choices for Paige, and ultimately, that makes it feel believable. Who Paige is, and what she needs will ultimately determine who she decides to be with. Each of the guys is so different, and offers Paige something different, so it's not a question of who the "best guy" is but rather who is right for Paige.

A story about a girl who is finding herself, and falling in love under the bright lights of Hollywood. Those looking for a well done love triangle, and a character driven story will love this look into what it would mean to be the newest 'it girl' in Hollywood.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kelly's Top Five Movie Love Triangles


Kelly from Kellyvision and I often talk books, TV and movies. We often discuss love triangles as well. She's Team Rainer, and I am firmly Team Jordan for Rebecca Serle's Famous In Love series. Our discussion about this book resulted in me asking her to take part in this week long event, and she graciously agreed.

Here is her guest post on her top five favourite movie love triangles...

When Kathy and I were talking about how much we loved Famous in Love, I said that one of my favorite parts is that---while there's a love triangle---there isn't a bad choice to be made.  Both guys are equally wonderful and the "right choice" is a matter of personal taste.  That isn't always true.

I am a huge fan of movies and one of my secret shames is that I love a good love story.  And one of the things it seems that you can't get away from is a love triangle.  (And unlike in Famous in Love, in these cases, there is a definitive right answer and a wrong one.)

Here are my top 5 favorite cinematic love triangles!  (There are spoilers...and potentially unpopular opinions.)

Pretty In Pink (Molly Ringwald-Andrew McCarthy-Jon Cryer).  (Fun fact: this is the only movie I picked where the first choice is also the final choice!)  I am starting to feel like the only person in the world who hated Duckie in this movie.  Is it the fact that I find Jon Cryer to be the world's most obnoxious person? Could be! It's highly possible that I would've hated the ending if they had cast the OTHER choice for Duckie, one Robert Downey Jr.  I think that he could have made it obvious that Duckie's grating personality hid a great deal of vulnerability and would have made him charming.  Instead, while Andrew McCarthy's Blane has plenty of flaws of his own, he's at least a person and not a cartoon character.  I pick Blane; she picked Blane.

Gone With the Wind (Vivien Leigh-Clark Gable-Leslie Howard).  Gone With the Wind is one of my favorite movies ever and I'm honestly not sure that this really counts as a love triangle just because Scarlett never really loves the two at the same time.  Instead, Ashley Wilkes is sort of her ideal, the person she wishes that she could be with, and Rhett Butler is the person she SHOULD be with, although she doesn't realize it until she's too late.  (Also, I'm pretty sure that Clark Gable is one of the most handsome people who ever lived.  I don't see the appeal of Leslie Howard AT ALL.)  I pick Rhett; she picked Rhett. (But too late.)

Sweet Home Alabama (Reese Witherspoon-Josh Lucas-Patrick Dempsey).  Here's probably another unpopular opinion of mine: If all things are equal and you have a choice between handsome, kind man who loves you and New York City and handsome, kind man who loves you and Alabama, YOU PICK THE ONE IN NEW YORK.  No offense to Josh Lucas, but Patrick Dempsey is also cuter.  Even so, this movie is a total guilty pleasure of mine and I do watch it every time I see it on TV.  (I pick McDreamy and New York; she picked Alabama.)

Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn-Humphrey Bogart-William Holden).  My friend Paul hates this movie because, he says, it's inherently flawed: who picks Humphrey Bogart when they could have William Holden? The answer: Sabrina, the chauffeur's daughter.  Like in Gone With the Wind, she spends the bulk of the movie pining after the wrong guy only to realize the right guy is RIGHT THERE.  And, you know, Rick from Casablanca.  I know everyone loves Roman Holiday or Breakfast at Tiffany's the best, but this is my favorite Audrey Hepburn movie.  No contest.  (She picked Bogart; I pick Bogart.)

Bull Durham (Susan Sarandon-Kevin Costner-Tim Robbins).  It's a personality quirk of mine that I hate sports but love sports movies.  This is my favorite baseball movie (Field of Dreams is a close second) and most of it has to do with the love story.  Susan Sarandon plays Annie, a woman in love with baseball and its players.  Each season she picks a player and they have a fling.  This year's contenders: Crash Davis (Costner) and Nuke LaLoosh (Robbins).  Initially, she goes with Tim Robbins, but ultimately ends up with Kevin Costner.  There are some great speeches in this one, too.  (We both pick Crash.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Locked by Parker Witter



Locked by Parker Witter
Release Date - August 19, 2014
Publisher Website - Poppy/Little Brown
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 96 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
"It had always been the three of us, and then it was the two of us-Ed and August. There was not, nor had there ever been a chance of a Noah and August. And that was fine. Because the truth was I had known Noah forever but I still had no idea who he really was. Especially not now. "
In this sizzling novella, one girl must choose between loyalty and love.
August had the two best guy friends a girl could ask for in Noah and Ed. Then Ed confessed he felt more for her - and their new relationship changed everything. She had hoped it would be Noah that she'd end up with someday, but it's clearer than ever that Noah's just not interested in being a one-girl guy.
When the small seaplane the three of them are on crashes, August finds herself injured and marooned on an island with ... Noah. Unsure of what's become of Ed, August and Noah do their best to not lose hope as they fight to survive on an island that is not as deserted as they first believed. But fighting the elements - and their attraction to each other - becomes a losing battle.
Soon, a secret from Noah's past that could bind them to the island forever is revealed, and August must choose between giving into her feelings for him, or struggling to make it back home. 
A cute guy/girl, and a secluded island would qualify as paradise for a lot of people. In Locked that sexy scenario is given a magical twist, and a young woman has to make a tough choice in the name of love.

A novel within a novel is always intriguing. As I was reading Famous In Love I found myself wanting to be able to read Locked, the hit novel that is being turned into a movie during the events of Famous In Love. I was thrilled when I found out that this was an actual possibility.

Locked is easy to get swept away in. The mythology of the 'magical elements' of the island was intriguing, but it's the romance that shines. The pull between Noah and August is undeniable. The back story, and how they were friends first, adds a realism to their feelings. It makes it seem natural, and unhurried. On the other hand, even though you don't see Ed for much of the novel, you still feel their connection. The history that bonds them. The feelings that are there. It creates a love triangle that works, and one that feels like it's only beginning.

The element of the love triangle that adds something extra to it is the relationship between the two boys. They are friends. Friends who actually care about each other. It's something that pulls at your heart because you know that none of these three individuals wants to cause the other pain. It's these types of love triangles that work for me. All parties involved have something to lose and gain, and everyone is connected to each other.

A surprising amount happens in this rather short novella. However, it feels like a tease. A taste. I wanted more. I already love Noah, and August, and I want to fall in love with Ed, too. I want more of these characters. My only complaint would be that I didn't get enough here. I want to know what happens next.

A novel that added a richer element to Rebecca Serle's Famous In Love. A blend of romance, magical realism, and the beginnings of a delicious love triangle. I can only hope that we get more with each subsequent installment of Famous In Love.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Famous In Love Event - Giveaway


To help kick off this event in style I am hosting a giveaway. One winner will get a copy of Famous In Love, and this amazing tote in the picture below....


The very talented Becca from Pivot Book Totes made this custom tote that someone will win. You can visit her Etsy shop if you want your own custom order (or browse what she currently has available).

The contest is US ONLY and the winner agrees that their address can be shared with the publisher (for the book) and Becca from Pivot Book Totes in order to have your prize shipped.

*Your information will not be kept on file, and is only accessible to myself and will not be shared with anyone other than those specified above. Must be of legal age to enter or have parental consent to do so* a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 27, 2014

Famous In Love Week Kick Off. Q and A with Rebecca Serle


You may have heard me talk about a book called Famous In Love on this blog already. I ended up reading it and totally loving it right after I got it at Book Expo America. So much in fact I wanted to do a whole week in order to celebrate it.

First up I am interviewing Rebecca about Famous In Love, and all things love triangles and Hollywood....

1 Describe Famous In Love in Twitter format (140 characters or less)

FiL is about a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature-film franchise based on a book #Lovetriangle #insidery

2 If someone created a drink in honour of your book, what type of drink, and what would they include?

Personally, I'm a purist when it comes to cocktails--vodka and lemon, please! But I think the Famous in Love cocktail would probably be a little sweeter than my tastes-- and have some pineapple in it, naturally! And because some of my readers are in the under 21 age bracket let's keep it teen-friendly. Pineapple, crushed ice, cranberry juice, lime, and seltzer! Yum!

3. Is there a song that reminds you of Famous In Love?

There are a lot of them. There's an official Famous in Love playlist on www.rebeccaserle.com if you're interested!

4 Classic Hollywood vs New Hollywood? Who trumps in terms of celebrity gossip?

New Hollywood, definitely. The press is so different than it was years ago. I'm not saying that's a good thing but gossip is definitely at anall-time high.

5 Famous In Love feels very authentic. What sort of research did you do for this novel to capture that behind the scenes of Hollywood feeling?

That is the highest compliment I could receive, thank you. First and foremost I am a fangirl. I have been all my life, so all of my life has been research to write this book. Magazine stories, youtube videos, you name it, I've consumed it. I've also lived in LA, and continue to spend a lot of time there, so that helps. Just sort of seeing the place, the industry, and the way it functions. And then I sold my first novel, When You Were Mine, to be adapted by Hollywood and I REALLY got a look into how all of this works. Also I've been on
the set of a major feature-film franchise based on a book-- but I can't tell you which one. I've been sworn to take that secret to my grave. :)

6 What is your favourite 'on screen' Hollywood love triangle?

Probably the original--- Joey/Pacey/Dawson. But currently I'd have to go with The Vampire Diaries. The similarities between both of those shows (besides that they were created by the genius known as Kevin Williamson) is that the relationship between the boys is a strong, important part of the triangle. The complicated relationship Rainer and Jordan share is one of my favorite parts of Famous in Love.

7 If your main character were real, and you could give her one piece of advice, what would you tell her?

That she is talented. Paige is very concerned with getting August "right" and being "good enough." She was chosen! She's supposed to be playing her.

8 How do you plan to celebrate the release of Famous In Love?

I'm having a launch party at Books of Wonder on October 23rd from 6-8! If you live in or plan to visit NYC-- please come! There is also going to be some festivities post with family and friends. I worked hard on this book and it has been a long time coming-- I'm excited to celebrate!

Thank you for stopping by, Rebecca. Be sure to visit each day this week for another Famous In Love post. Up tomorrow is a special giveaway including a custom made tote bag!


Rebecca Serle is the author of When You Were Mine and The Edge of Falling and is an obssesive lover of all things teen entertainment - a trait  she tracks straight back to the WB and Pacey Witter. She grew up in Maui, and Los Angeles, and now lives in Manhattan. She writes about The Vampire Diaries for New York Magazine's Vulture, and she can be found on Twitter @RebeccaASerle

The Beast of Seabourne Blog Tour Stop


Today I get to share a little bit about a book from Spencer Hill Press/Spence City as part of their blog tour. An anticipated sequel to the award winning Obsidian Pebble.


Here is a little about the novel
"Oz Chambers has a wonderful secret; the obsidian pebble, gifted to him by his dead father, is an artefact of astonishing power.  The sort of power that makes the year eight science project a hands-down walkover thanks to the the pebble's genius avatar, Soph. But, there are sinister forces abroad who will do just about anything to get their hands on the pebble, and when fellow pupils start being attacked,  Oz finds himself in very hot water.  Soon Oz and his friends, Ruff and Ellie, are caught up in a centuries old mystery involving a missing ring, lava toothpaste and a murderous monster known as the Beast of Seabourne."
Intriguing right? It sounds like a great follow up to the first novel in the series. You can add it to your Goodreads account and find out more information.

If you're interested in getting a copy, it's available TOMORROW (October 28th) so you don't have long to wait (and you can get the first novel immediately). It can be purchased at the following retailers....


For more details you can visit Rhys A Jones online via his website or Twitter. You can also find more details on the Spence City website.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

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).

Amazing package of awesome from Scholastic Canada made my week. So excited to read all of these books. A huge thank you to Scholastic Canada for this amazing package.


Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater (goodreads)
Vendetta by Catherine Doyle (goodreads)
All Fall Down by Ally Carter (goodreads)
The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury (goodreads)

A friend of mine sent me a package as well. I love the letter K that she made me. My favourite colour pattern too (back and red). I am excited to see About Time as I haven't yet.


What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

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.

I have a VERY small Weekly Obsessions this week. Just one cover that caught my eye.

BOOK

Cover of The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (goodreads)



I've been hearing nothing but amazing things about this novel. It's certainly been compared to a few brilliantly written novels so I am excited to check this one out. I am a sucker for romance stories and this one seems to have more than a dash of romance with much more happening behind the scenes.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

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: 

SPOILERS FOR THE HUNGER GAMES SERIES!

Question of the Week: Characters, sometimes our favorites, die during books. If you'd get to choose, who would you bring back?

Wow. I guess I would bring back Finnick from the Hunger Games (I would have picked Lupin, but I would want Tonks back with him). I think Finnick deserved a much longer life.

Happy Weekend!

Compulsion by Martina Boone



Compulsion by Martina Boone
Release Date - October 28, 2014
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 448 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
There is something about a southern setting that makes magic just a little more believable. There is something about the history, and landscape that compliments this type of story and makes you believe in curses. Compulsion uses that to it's fullest advantage to create a delightfully enthralling debut that has all the elements of a delicious southern gothic.

Martina Boone has taken the landscape of South Carolina and made it a character. The island that Barrie will call home is as integral to the plot as any of the characters. The history of the island, the curse that these families are stricken with, and the isolated feel only add to the atmosphere and mood.

Barrie is realistic. That means she's flawed, and makes mistakes. She has a temper. She's quick to judge. She changes her mind on a whim, and is determined when she sets her mind to something. These qualities make her a character that is both angering, and enjoyable to read. Every choice she makes is one you can understand. The reader gets to know who she is, and therefore her actions and thoughts make sense. Having your characters actually behave within character allows the reader to accept their mistakes and flaws and Martina Boone knows and takes advantage of this.

The secondary characters are all just as fascinating. Mark, Barrie's godfather, steals every page he appears on. Barrie's Aunt Pru is as kind and caring as you could want her to be. Her cousin, Cassie, is an enigma with plenty of secrets still to unravel. Her desperation to leave Watson Island is a palpable thing that screams from her whenever she appears. These characters are all flawed, tragic, and  fit within this world. The world and the characters compliment each other effortlessly.

Eight and Barrie's romance gets off to a rocky start. Eight's gift (or is it curse?) is to know what everyone wants, and grant them their desire. Predictably (and wisely), Barrie equates this into distrust. She cannot trust Eight, or her feelings. How much is him using his gift, and how much are actual feelings? Wading through this provides plenty of angst, and some great tension. It's a barrier to the romance without a love triangle coming into play.

This novel blends magic and curses with realism. Some of the most honest moments are the real life situations these characters are dealing with. Barrie's grieving her mother. She's discovering things are not what she thought they were. She's finding out family secrets. These all ground the story and add a realism to even the most fantastical elements.

There is a compelling mystery woven throughout these pages. I am not going to say much, as it would be a spoiler, but it's a deeper mystery than what first appears. Family secrets are buried deep, and unearthing them is one of this novel's most engrossing elements. Things may appear that they are not adding up as you're reading, but once things begin to unravel, it all pieces together.

With plenty of secrets left to uncover, it's a perfect set up for this to be a series. Those who dislike cliffhangers will be happy to hear that this novel works on it's own. The majority of plot points are satisfactorily wrapped up with just enough to tease more. I am confident, however, that readers will breathlessly await more after finishing this novel.

A southern gothic tale filled with romance, family secrets, and plenty of magic. Fans of the Beautiful Creatures series will especially like this strong start to a new series.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday ...... Kissing In America


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 Kissing In America by Margo Rabb


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well. Your heart wouldn't be broken. I loved that security, that guaranteed love.

In real life, you never knew the ending. I hated that.

Sixteen-year-old Eva has never been in love. But when she meets Will, everything changes. With him, her grief over her father's death fades, and she can escape from her difficult relationship with her mother. Then, without any warning, Will picks up and moves to California. So Eva—with the help of her best friend, Annie—concocts a plan to travel across the country to see him again. As they leave New York City for the first time and road-trip across America, they encounter cowboys, kudzu, and tiny towns without stoplights. Along the way, Eva and Annie learn the truth about love and all its complexities.
So, it's a long wait for this one as it doesn't come out until May of next year, but I am intrigued. The cover immediately caught my eye but it's the synopsis that made me add it to my 'to be read' list. I am sucker for road trip books, and this one sounds like a perfect blend of fun and some more serious stuff too. Plus based on that title you know there has to be some kissing!

Expected release date - May 26, 2015

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sublime by Christina Lauren


Sublime by Christina Lauren
Release Date - October 14, 2014
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating - 2/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
True love may mean certain death in a ghostly affair of risk and passion from New York Times bestselling duo Christina Lauren, authors of Beautiful Bastard. Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author of Shatter Me calls Sublime “a beautiful, haunting read".

When Lucy walks out of a frozen forest, wearing only a silk dress and sandals, she isn’t sure how she got there. But when she sees Colin, she knows for sure that she’s here for him.

Colin has never been captivated by a girl the way he is by Lucy. With each passing day their lives intertwine, and even as Lucy begins to remember more of her life—and her death—neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it is. And when Colin finds a way to physically be with Lucy, taking himself to the brink of death where his reality and Lucy’s overlap, the joy of being together for those brief stolen moments drowns out everything in the outside world. But some lines weren’t meant to be crossed…
Take a ghost, add  increasing stakes, and more than a dash of romance and you'd have Sublime. A novel that seemed to have a lot of promising elements. Sadly, this ended up not quite being the book for me.

The novel's writing was suitable for this genre. I believe that these two authors have written romance novels before, and it shows. If you are a fan of romance novels in general, you'll certainly find plenty of it within these pages. The paranormal element does, somewhat, suffer as a result however. There is less time spent on building this element and more focus on the romance. Sadly, I wanted more of one and less of the other.

The romance is meant to be transcendent. From the moment Lucy declares to Colin that she's there 'for him' the reader is supposed to want them to work. However, I never understood the why. I didn't understand why Colin would become as desperate as he does. Why Lucy would be as determined as she is. What is pulling them together? The novel has hints that it is something bigger at work than Lucy and Colin themselves, and that it might not just be their feelings urging them on. These hints however are, at least to me, never fully explained and expanded upon.

Much is made during the novel of whether Lucy is there for Colin's safety or if she'll be his destruction. The ending answers this question, but a little unsatisfactorily.  Without giving spoilers, the ending is pretty clear on what the outcome is, but again is lacking the why. We still don't know the why behind any of what happened. I can take a few guesses, and while I don't mind having to fill in things as a reader, it felt like an important part of the mythology was missing. In paranormal novels that can be a huge part of the story, particularly in this one. So much time is spent theorizing on the why of Lucy; why is she back, what is her purpose. Frustratingly we do not get answers.

A story that, unfortunately, despite some intriguing parts fell felt for me. I wanted to be swept away into this impossible, forbidden romance, and instead I was left with more questions than answers. I do urge you to check out some more positive reviews before deciding if this is a book you would enjoy. Sadly, it wasn't a book for me.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis



Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Release Date - October 14, 2014
Publisher Website - Disney - Hyperion
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back-but that's assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid.

In her enthralling debut, R.C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets . . . and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy's future-and her own-in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.
Fairytale retellings are some of my favourite books to read. I especially like anything that takes a fairytale and twists it into something completely new and different. With Stitching Snow, RC Lewis has offered up a quirky, fun take on the classic tale. It's a story that, sadly, didn't garner a strong reaction either way for me while reading. I didn't feel myself fully pulled into the story, but it was a pleasant, quick read.

Essie is not your typical Snow White. She cage fights, tinkers with machines, and is able to create computer code with little effort. She, for all appearances, has a tough exterior that sends a clear message for other to not mess with her. Underneath is a different story. She's still that scared girl who ran away from the palace. Seeing Essie change, and evolve throughout the novel should have been the main focus. She does, arguably, have the most development of the three characters, but I am hesitant a to whether it's all earned.

There is a unique twist to the seven dwarfs that was, by far, my favourite part to the novel. They felt organic to the world that has been created, and tied the main character to the world at the same time. You come to care about these drones, and their personalities really pop off the pages.

The later half of the novel is not as strong as the first half. The ending felt rushed, and the romance felt like it did not have time to develop properly. It worked up until that point, but did not quite come together in the end. The Snow White parallels ended up feeling like a checklist towards the end, rather than a natural, integral part to the story.

The 'evil' Queen and the poisoned apple was another delightful nod. It was done in a clever, and realistic way that, again, felt like it belonged within this world. I wished we had gotten some more characterization of the Queen and Essie's father, but they remained pretty surface level characters.

This novel worked best when going outside fairytale tropes. Sadly, it also utilized them frequently. The romance was quick and easy like in most fairytales. The villains are caricatures with little to no development. It could be overlooked as a nod to the original, but I wanted more. I wanted this novel to break some of those usual ideas. It did this very well in the beginning, and I desperately wanted it to continue.

A fun, if predictable, retelling of the Snow White tale. Overall, it's an enjoyable read that perhaps feels a little too reminiscent of other retellings. Those who are hardcore Snow White fans will delight in the nods and that makes it worth the read.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

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, and more books made their way into my mailbox. 

First up is a purchased finished copy of a book I adored, and the second is a surprise book!


Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle (goodreads)
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (goodreads)

I loved Famous In Love. So much so that I have a week dedicated to all things Famous In Love and Hollywood coming up VERY soon.

The other book is actually a graphic novel that was a total surprise. It looks cute though, and I am definitely curious about it.

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

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.

BOOK

Cover for Kissing In America by Margo Rabb (goodreads)



This is such a fun cover. It brings to mind a road trip across the USA. It's also a trend with at least two other novels have a similar theme. This one has a great synopsis to go along with this cover, and I am excited to read it.

Cover for Proof Of Forever by Lexa Hillyer (goodreads)


I was immediately drawn to the infinity symbol on the cover. The use of photos to create it is also a fun touch. It's very summer-y which seems to fit the synopsis perfectly. Another book I am very excited about reading next year.

Cover for Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhoinelle Clayton (goodreads)


This cover captures the ballerina elements of the story as well as the dark elements as well. Based on what is currently known it sounds like it could be another Pretty Little Liars and that makes me very excited. I am  hoping for lots of twists and turns.

TV/MOVIE

The Affair 

This ended up being my favourite TV debut of this season. It has a really unique way of unraveling the story by showing the (sometimes glaring) differences in two sides of the same story. We're told two different versions of the same events through the eyes of people who remember them quite different. Is anyone lying, or is this just how they remember it? The show will hopefully answer that as it spins it's mystery. The cast is superb and I urge everyone to check it out.

How To Get Away With Murder

This weeks episode was the best episode of the entire season. This is a splashy, buzz worthy show filled with some incredible twists and reveals. However, the quiet moment this episode featured was just as stunning. Viola Davis is doing incredible work, and Jack Falahee is quickly becoming my favourite on the show. His performance this week was a stand out.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

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: 

Share the song you can't stop listening to

Right now it's all about Out Of The Woods by Taylor Swift. It's on permanent reply here right now.

Happy Weekend!

My True Love Gave To Me by Various



My True Love Gave To Me by Various
Release Date - October 14, 2014
Publisher Website - St. Martin's Press/Raincoast
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.
Christmas is my favourite time of year. The months of October through to December are my favourite. The anticipation of the holidays. Getting to see family and friends. The hustle and bustle. There always something a little magical about the first snowfall, too. It makes it seem like anything is possible. This feeling is capture in the form of 12 short stories to create a delectable holiday treat.

Like most collection of short stories, this one is a bit of a mixed bag. There were some I love to pieces, some that weren't for me, and others that I liked well enough. What this collection does really well is offer up variety. It's diverse, and as a result, there will be something for everyone.

I am not going to review each story individually, but I want to talk about a few that really stood out to me.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell

A story that revolves around see a friendship throughout the years on midnight on New Years Eve. The tension of the 'will they, won't they' friendship combined with the heartbreak as each midnight passes by only makes this story stand out more. The characterization is amazing for short story, and Rainbow Rowell's ability to make you feel something for them in such a short amount of time is staggering. I could easily read an entire novel of Noel and Mags and their adorableness. This one floored me and was a strong way to start out the collection.

Polaris Is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han

Super cute and unique. Elves can be sexy, who knew?! I was enjoy things and starting to totally fall for Natalie and Flynn's connection when THE STORY JUST ENDS. This is one that I think could be a full length novel because it felt like a sample. It read like a teaser that gets released to create buzz for a book. It didn't have a definitive ending but it was fun while it lasted.

It's A Christmas Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins

The Charlie Brown Christmas special is my second favourite Christmas cartoon (after Rudolph) and this incredibly sweet story takes quite a bit of inspiration from that heartwarming tale. It's a story that shows there can be beauty in the most unexpected places, and that a little TLC can go along way. The romance was cute without being too much and was filled with those little moments Stephanie Perkins is known for.

What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman has a talent for creating stories where it seems like the characters are fated to meet. From the moment a Ned Flanders references causes Russell and Sophie's paths to cross, it feels meant to be. They have an ease and connection that is immediate. A story of perception, it shows that judging someone by what you see may not be giving you the whole picture, and that sometimes finding someone you can be yourself with is the best part of the holidays.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White

Here is where I admit that this one took me by surprise. It light and fluffy and filled with yummy sounding food. It's exactly what you want out of a feel good holiday special complete with sigh inducing romance. It was a fun, all around happy making read that left me with a craving for cookies.

There is a mixture of holidays included so it's a perfect read for anything you might be celebrating. It's a strong batch of short stories that I think will go nicely with the upcoming holiday season.

A novel that is cozy warm blankets, perfect hot chocolate, and softly falling snow all wrapped up in a delightfully diverse package. If you're the type that curls up to watch holiday specials you will not want to miss this collection. It truly does have something for everyone, and will put you in the holiday spirit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday....... The Start of Me and You


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 Start Of Me and You by Emery Lord


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.
I really enjoyed Emery's first novel, Open Road Summer, and have high hopes for this one. It sounds just as cute, moving, and amazing as her first one.

Expected release date - March 31, 2015

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot



Even In Paradise b Chelsey Philpot
Release Date - October 14, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  368 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now
The cover of Even In Paradise reminds me of summer. A summer that you never want to end. Just like those summers Charlotte's time with the Buchanan's feels dizzying, exciting, and, sadly, like all summers, must come to an end. A novel that brings to mind both The Great Gatsby, and The Kennedys there was something magical about both the Buchanan's and the novel itself.

The Buchanan family shines the brightest in this novel. I wish I could say the same of Charlotte, but she is eclipsed by this larger than life family. It's easy to see how she'd be drawn to all of them. How easy it would be to fall into their orbit and never want to leave. They are the sun and their pull is just as strong. However, as everyone knows, the sun can burn you if you stay in it's presence too long.

Nostalgia fills this book. It reads like a fond memory that is tinged with bittersweetness. It's message is one of seizing the moments when they are there, even if you know that they are fleeting. Charlotte's journey, while life changing for her, is a quieter one. One tinged with growing up, and stumbling along the way.

This novel, of course, will be compared to The Great Gatsby. It's influence is certainly felt. Charlotte is an 'every girl' who finds herself swept up into a world of excess, extravagance and parties. Like in Gatsby, you'll find yourself wishing for a happy ending instead of the inevitability to an unhappy one. One cannot help but also be reminded of The Kennedys when reading of the Buchanans. This family has a similar, untouchable feel to them. A little cursed, a little blessed, a little dazzling, a little broken, and, above all else, alluring.

The friendship between Charlotte and Julia is the prominent relationship in the novel. It is more important than the romance. A strong female friendship that lacks any elements of competition, and backstabbing was a refreshing change. Charlotte and Julia are there for each other, as much as they can be.

The twists and turns of the story were unexpected. I thought I knew what was going to happen, and how it would end. I was delighted to find out that it ended up not being what I expected at all. It was heartbreaking, yes, but in an unexpected way. I think the ending was stronger for the fact that it wasn't quite what I anticipated and welcomed the element of surprise.

Filled with wistfulness, longing, and a lot of heartache, Even In Paradise chases off the bitter chill of fall, and makes you long to cling to those last moments of summer warmth. It makes you nostalgic for beginnings where everything and anything is possible, but also reminds of the brutal, aching sadness of endings.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Even In Paradise Blog Tour Kick Off



Today is the start of the Canadian blog tour for Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot. To kick it off, I have an interview with Chelsey.

Here is a little about the book in case haven't heard of it already
When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now
I got Chelsey to answer questions about her book, her writing process, and share which book she most associates with summer. 

1. Twitter pitch Even In Paradise (140 characters or fewer)

Et in Arcadia ego. In light, dark. In greatness, tragedy. Fall in love w/ a girl, a boy, a family. #eveninparadise Oct. 2014

2. How would Charlotte describe Julia and Sebastian at the beginning of the novel?

Charlie sees the world with the perspective of an artist. She notices surface details—thumb-size holes in Julia’s sweater, a small scar through Sebastian’s eyebrow—but also understands the complex interiors beneath them. She would describe Julia and Sebastian as beautiful and fragile, golden and mysterious, vibrant and haunted. 

3. Did you do anything specific for research purposes while writing Even In Paradise?

I undertake a lot of strange and wonderful things in the name of research for my articles and novels. For EIP, I read, traveled, and did all the other things you would expect an author to do while working on a book. But the most useful research I conducted was on myself.

While writing EIP, I went through boxes of dust-coated memories at my parents’ farm in New Hampshire. I worked my way through old yearbooks and stacks of high school papers, tests, and notes to make sure I was depicting boarding school life accurately. I read my old journals (a painful/embarrassing/illuminating experience) to help me remember the joys and depths of experiencing things for the first time. 

EIP is not autobiography—I am not Charlie, Julia, Sebastian, or any other character—but it is informed by my memories.   

4. What three things do you need while revising?

Coffee! 
This hideous, too big, holey, old cashmere sweater I like to wear when I write. My college friends still threaten to burn it. 
Early mornings and a window. 

I know that’s four things, but sunrises and windows cannot be separated. 

5. Your cover reminds me of summer. What book evokes the feeling of summer for you?

Stephen King’s The Stand. I’m not kidding. 

The Stand was the first “huge,” “scary,” “adult” book I tackled on my own in junior high. I reread it at the beginning of every summer well into college. My copy is so water-stained and scarred from thunderstorms, backpacking trips, iced coffee spills, and unusual bookmarks that some pages are barely legible. 

I don’t care. I’ll never get rid of it. For me, the shadow-filled, ominous, red cover of The Stand will always evoke memories of campfires, hammocks, hot days that lasted forever, and all the other joys of summer. 

A big thanks to Chelsey for taking the time to answer these questions.

Here are the rest of the tour stops, so you can follow along. Plenty more interviews, guest posts, and reviews during the next two weeks. Be sure to check out my review tomorrow as well. I think it's the perfect cure for those end of summer blues.

October 13th: Kathy - A Glass Of Wine - Interview
October 14th: Siobhan - Conversations Of A Reading Addict - Review
October 15th: Emilie - Emilie’s Book World - Guest Post
October 16th: Ambur - Burning Impossibly Bright - Review
October 17th: Lily -  Lily’s Book Blog - Interview/Character Interview
October 20th: Shilpa - SukasaReads - Review
October 21st: Sabrina - Hiver et CafĂ© - Top 5 or 10
October 22nd: Ciara - Lost At Midnight Reviews -  Review
October 23rd: Meaghan -  Feeling A Little Bookish - Interview/Character Interview
October 24th: Jess - Read My Breath Away - Review

If you want to order signed copies of Even In Paradise, Chelsey is working with a local bookstore to make that happen. Order from River Run Bookstore.

Order links - Harper Collins Canada // Chapters //  Amazon // Kaleidoscope Books
Chelsey Philpot grew up on a farm in New Hampshire and now works as an editor and journalist. She's written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Slate, and numerous other publications.

Like her main character, Charlotte, Chelsey attended boarding school in New England. You can visit her online at www.chelseyphilpot.com or on Twitter @ChelseyPhilpot

Sunday, October 12, 2014

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).

Only one new book to share this week... you may have seen it in my Weekly Obsessions as well :)


Yup, that's a signed copy of Gone Girl signed by Gillian Flynn and the cast of the movie. No big deal.

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

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.

BOOK

First chapter of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (goodreads)

I've been obsessed with Red Queen since I first heard about it. It's subsequent cover reveal only increased my excitement. The first chapter was recently release and it is basically everything I hoped it would be. It sets up the characters, and their world perfectly. There is plenty of action, and lots to make you want to keep reading. I need the rest of this book, immediately. MTV.com has the cover available if you wish to check it out.

OTHER

Gone Girl signed copy (goodreads)


So I won a contest. A pretty amazing one actually. That squeal inducing image above is a signed copy of one of my favourite books. It's signed by the author, and the cast of the movie (which I LOVED). Still pinching myself that I won it. Needless to say, this one won't be read or lent out to anyone.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick



Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
Release Date - October 7, 2014
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 2/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

BLACK ICE is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…
My feelings for Black Ice can be traced back to one quote. This may seem extreme but it was the beginning of what I consider it's downfall, and what lead to my rating.
“I tapped my cup to his, grateful to have found Shaun, because for a minute there, I'd thought I was going to have to save myself. Instead, I'd wandered into the protective care of a sexy older man.” 
Everything that there is to know about Black Ice can be linked back to this quote that happens quite early in the novel. Black Ice was, sadly, not the book for me and it largely had to do with it's main character.

Britt spends a large majority of her time waiting to be rescued by men whether it be her father, her ex, or even her kidnapper. She also spends a lot of time thinking badly of her supposed best friend. These elements combined immediately made me uncomfortable. The quote above is a perfect example of Britt's personality. Sadly, even when Britt think she's changing and becoming 'stronger' it's really just a segue to another scene where she relies on the guys in the novel, or bashes her best friend. She never really grows as a character, and even offhandedly mentions that a girl was drunk when she was murdered, as if that minimizes what happens to her.

The aspect I found the hardest to get past was having Britt and her friend ignore what was obviously creepy and scary behaviour from guys because they are good looking. I don't think it sets a good example for young girls who will read this, and it enraged me because looks should not excuse acting like a jerk (or illegal behaviour).

Mason (or Ace has he is called) is meant to be the kinder, gentler kidnapper. The one who gives Britt all kinds of Stockholm Syndrome like feelings. There is an excuse for every behaviour, but sadly they are not quite good enough. I spent a lot of this novel comparing it to the stunning Stolen by Lucy Christopher, as they both deal with similar elements. Where Lucy Christopher was able to make you feel something for Ty, and never excuses what he does to Gemma, Becca Fitzpatrick does the opposite. You're not suppose to question what Mason has done because he's sweet to her (and this a stretch). She tries to excuse it, instead of owning how wrong his actions are. It creates a dynamic that doesn't feel right, and leaves a icky aftertaste to the romance.

While the characters, even those aside from Britt, were not engaging, luckily the other elements were. The mystery of who the murder was kept me engaged even when I desperately wanted to shake Britt. The killer's reasons for his crimes were, sadly, easily imagined. The murderer was some what surprising which allowed for some twists and turns to the story that were greatly needed. Becca created tension, doubt, and intrigue by offering up viable suspects, and plenty of red herrings.

Where the story does shine is in the survival elements. The portions where Britt is trekking through the wilderness and how she and her captors survive the cold weather were actually interesting. If this had been a story of survival and these men not have kidnapped her this might have been a different story and one I actually enjoyed. Becca obviously did her research when it came to this aspect, and it paid off. The story is some what saved by the fact that this part of it was incredibly readable.

A novel that made me, at times, uncomfortable with the way it portrayed women, and especially in  how they related to men. Sadly, this was one that was not for me regardless of how much I enjoyed the other elements of the story.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios



Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Release Date - October 7, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  480 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.
Jinni (or genie) inspired novels have always been something that fascinated me. They are typically hit or miss for me in terms of enjoyment. Exquisite Captive has a fantastic balance of everything I wanted, and has the added bonus of Heather Demetrios' engaging writing style. In other words, this was a definite hit for me.

The element that will grab you right from the beginning is the world building. It's obviously something that Heather took her time with and plotted out. Everything from the backstory of the main character, to the political elements, to the underground culture the jinni of the dark caravan enjoy. It meshed our world with this magical world that Nalia and the rest of the jinni inhabit effortlessly. It pops off the pages in a way that really worked, and allowed me to envision this world Heather created.

Nalia is neither strong nor weak. She's neither passive or aggressive. She's a survivor. She strives, and stumbles, but tries again. She uses things to her advantage where she can. She has a vicious side, and isn't afraid to lash out when an opportunity arises. She knows when to fight and when to concede. Freedom, and it's cost plague Nalia's thoughts and actions. Her longing for freedom is completely consuming. It is an ache that you can feel through the pages. She is desperate for it as if it were air. She's a character I grew to really like, and felt I could understand her motivations and actions.

Heather's jinni are powerful. They are capable of granting your deepest wish, or your greatest nightmare. To have this immense power and be shackled is a theme that ties into every aspect of the novel. The characters never forget it and neither do the readers. It's easy to see the toll slavery would take on someone, and what it would do to their spirit. This not so hidden inspiration is threaded throughout the novel, and is one of it's most thought provoking aspects. You can see the influence the all too real slave trade had on creating the Dark Caravan. Heather skillfully, and wisely, lets the novel speak for itself. This is not a novel that is trying to preach it's message at you, but rather one that wants the reader to think after the final page has been turned. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and that is what this novel hopes to accomplish in igniting the desire to search out more knowledge about the real slave trade.

This novel sports a rather polarizing love triangle. I anticipate many will have strong feelings when it comes to it, and their preference of suitor.  This one one of those cases where I didn't mind the love triangle in the slightest. Malek, a guy who shouldn't even be a contender, and Raif whose intentions towards Nalia are not always clear both offer something different for Nalia. I, personally, think it's rather obvious where Nalia's heart is leading her. Part of what I liked was that the romance felt secondary, even though the novel is filled with some pretty seductively sexy moments. They seemed to be an extension of the larger storyline, rather than the storyline itself.

Malek, Nalia's master is an infuriatingly complex character. The relationship he has with Nalia is complicated. You want to hate him, but there are moments when you see who he could be. Heather balances the cruel reality that he is, in essence, keeping her captive, with the hint of potential for something to develop between them. It flirts right along the edge of Stockholm Syndrome, and I found her pull towards him believable. I was apprehensive how he could be part of the 'triangle' but the way Heather weaves it together works. Nalia never forgets who Malek is, and that he's cost her freedom, regardless of what else might be going on.

Raif is a bit of a mystery. We slowly get to know him, and our perception is molded by how Nalia perceives him. His motivation for doing things are not always apparent. As the leader of the revolution, Nalia struggles with trusting him, and knowing if his intentions are motivated by wanting her to help or simply wanting her. They have a spark, and an immediate pull that is undeniable. This dynamic creates some deliciously sexy moments between them that sizzle.

Exquisite Captive has it all - romance, action, stunning world building, a tightly spun plot, and the potential for much more to come. It also packs a pretty powerful message within it's pages. Those looking for the next series to obsess over will want to check this one out, and join me in the agonizing wait for the sequel.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Human Trafficking: The Real Dark Caravan


In honour of the release of Exquisite Captive today, I have Heather Demetrios stopping by with a touching, thought provoking guest post on a topic that is important to both of us. A topic that inspired so much of what is within the pages of Exquisite Captive.

Here, Heather Demetrois talks about human trafficking and how it inspired her jinni, and the series itself.


Human Trafficking: The Real Dark Caravan

One of the things that fascinates me about jinn mythology is that whether it’s a lighthearted story like I Dream of Jeannie, or something more serious like 1,001 Nights, we always see them as slaves. Here are these incredibly powerful creatures who can manifest your dreams out of thin air, and yet they are shackled to human masters who treat them like wish ATMs and are stored in tiny spaces, like bottles or lamps. Remember that part in Disney’s Aladdin when Genie talks about how he has huge powers and a “teeny tiny living space”? Yeah, that.

When I first started working on EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, my early beta readers were surprised that I’d decided to have my protagonist be a jinni and not a human that encounters a jinni. I guess, for me, I was always most interested in the magical creature whose very nature seemed to involve enslavement. What would it be like to be so powerful, yet seemingly exist only to serve people less powerful than you? The very first image I had of my jinni was her trapped in a bottle. It’s pitch black, she can’t use her magic, and she doesn’t know what’s going on. She wonders if she will die. I realized what a terrifying thing that must be, to only be free if your master wills it. When we think of jinn, it’s usually in terms of what we can get out of them. It’s been an interesting journey writing this book because it’s made me see how little we truly know these creatures and how quick we are to rattle off our hypothetical wishes when talking about them. In many ways, they are invisible. They are a means to an end, something to serve us and please us.

It wasn’t until I’d written quite a bit of the first book in the series that the word “trafficked” came to me. It was an “aha!” moment—of course that’s what happened to my jinni. That is the word we use when a child is kidnapped, drugged, and sold to an adult “master.” The only difference between what was happening to my jinni and the thousands of children, women, and men who are trafficked all over the world is that my jinni has magical powers and the hope that once her master makes his third wish, she’ll be free. As I delved deeper into the dark caravan—the jinn slave trade—I found myself beginning to draw on more obvious parallels between my novel and real life. I realized that my human masters were raised in a culture like ours where jinn are nothing more than magical servants who we believe exist for our pleasure. As such, it wasn’t likely they would treat their jinn with dignity. Just like in real life, my trafficked slaves are bought, sold, drugged, beaten, and raped. They’re taken from their homes and their families and given no hope of escape.

It wasn’t until the book was finished that I made the conscious decision to see it as a way to talk about the human slave trade with my teen readers. Hopefully some of them have read Patricia McCormick’s Sold, which chronicles the experiences of a young girl sold into slavery, but more likely than not, most of my readers might not even know that kids their age are being bought and sold every day. This is a tough topic—dark and brutal. I realized that my series had the potential to shed light on the plight of modern day slaves while engaging readers and giving them all the other stuff that makes a fantasy novel satisfying: romance, adventure, intrigue, and a whole new imaginative world (Ha! Get it? Ten points for an Aladdin reference on accident).

At the back of the novel, I’ve included the section on my website that provides more information on human trafficking, as well as ways to learn more and get involved in the fight. I’m also partnering with Nomi Network, a wonderful organization that started in Cambodia, helping survivors and women at risk of the slave trade. In fact, Cambodia is where I first heard about the problem of human trafficking. I was traveling there several years ago and it was something that was being talked about a lot. I think one of the gifts of fiction is that it allows us to see the world in a new way and can give us a chance to increase our empathy and galvanize us toward action. In the best situations, the fiction we read works inside us to make the world a better place.

I hope that you take a moment to check out the trafficking resources on my website or buy one of Nomi’s fantastic Buy Her Bag, Not Her Body bags (I have one, and purchased one for my editor and my agent). My husband even rocked a Buy Her Shirt, Not Her Body shirt at BEA because he’s cool like that. I often update the Dark Caravan Tumblr with information about trafficking, as well. It’s heartbreaking to know that, in this case, art imitates real life. Right now, there is a girl just like my jinni, Nalia, who is far from home, scared, and hurt. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever see the people she loves again. She’s terrified for her life, terrified at all the ways her body has been—and will be—used.

Maybe if we all collectively wish an end to the human slave trade—and act against such horrifying practices in some way—this reality will be relegated to fiction. 

Thank you Heather for stopping by, and spreading awareness of this very important cause. Please visit the links included for more information about human trafficking, and Heather's book.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for my review of Exquisite Captive (spoiler alert, I LOVED it) and grab your copy, it's in stores today! 

Exquisite Captive links - Goodreads // Harper Collins Canada // Chapters // Amazon // Barnes and Noble

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