Thursday, December 31

Book Review: Redshirts

Title: Redshirts

Author: John Scalzi

Pages: Ebook 217

Summary: Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship's Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn't be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship's captain, its chief science...

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out strong it was funny, a bit corney and campy but funny - while I did find it lost me a bit in the middle, it did end up being a good read.

I think the most redeeming part of the book was the last paragraph of chapter 23 and chapter 24. I won't say much to avoid spoilers, but that saved the entire book for me - it just made me laugh out loud and it was fitting with the entire theme of the book - especially with how the first half of the book went.

The parts I didn't like was that during the middle the flow of the book just didn't mesh as well as it did during the first half, and some of the plot was became to jumbled - it still worked for the story but there was something about it that just didn't feel the same.

Otherwise it was a fun read - and it helped me get out of my massive reading slump I've had.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, if you are looking for a quick, mindless funny read it's a good choice.

What to read next: More by the author

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: Daydreams of Angels

Title: Daydreams of Angels

Author: Heather O'Neill

Pages: Ebook 224

Summary: In Daydreams of Angels, O'Neill's first collection of short stories, she gives free reign to her imaginative gifts. In "The Ugly Ducklings," generations of Nureyev clones live out their lives in a grand Soviet experiment. In "Dear Piglet," a teenaged cult follower writes a letter to explain the motivation behind her crime. And in another tale, a grandmother reveals where babies come from: the beach, where young mothers-to-be hunt for infants in the surf. Each of these beguiling stories twists the beloved narratives of childhood--fairy tales, storybooks, Bible stories--to uncover the deepest truths of family life.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: There were some very interesting short stories in this collection and others that were familiar stories, with an interesting twist - some of which I found to be clever and enjoyable, while others I found didn't work out as well as it could have. The writing by the author is incredible - but I found that my biggest issue with the collection were that a lot of the short stories didn't keep my attention. While a few stood out, most lost me half way through the story.

Overall, a good collection by the author.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. The writing was strong the stories were good - if you're a fan of short stories than it's well worth reading.

What to read next: I'd try the other Giller finalists of 2015.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

Book Review: Fifteen Dogs

Title: Fifteen Dogs

Author: André Alexis

Pages: Ebook 135

 -- I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.

-- I'll wager a year's servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.

And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable...

My Rating: 9.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book has become one of my favourite reads of the year - I went in not knowing what to expect, but I became engrossed in this book - and it was one of those reads that was hard to put down.

The characters - although they were all dogs, was what made this book to be such an enjoyable read. You cheered some on, while others you hated with a passions - but pretty much all of the characters were incredibly well written and developed. By the end of the book, I was nearly in tears, when my favourite character died - but the author wrote his story so wonderfully, it was impossible not to get attached to him.

The writing was incredible, I've only read one other book by the author, but I do plan on reading more. The author's voice pulls you into the book and he has one of those writing styles that pull you into the book and makes you want to read it through in a sitting.

All in all it was a fantastic read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would it was well written story, a little different than what was out there, but it's a must read.

What to read next: More works by the author, I enjoyed Childhood a lot. The other Giller finalists.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

Book Review: The Love of a Good Woman

Title: The Love of a Good Woman

Author: Alice Munro

Pages: 286

Summary: Eight new stories about what people will do for love, and the unexpected routes their passion will force them to take. A prim, old landlady in Vancouver with a crime of passion lurking in her past. A young mother with a secret life who abandons her children to be with her lover. A country doctor in the 1960s discovered by his daughter to be helping desperate women, his "special patients."These and other fascinating characters weave their way through stories that track the changes that time brings to families, lovers and even to friends who share old, intimate secrets about the "prostration of love" in a collection that is clear-eyed about the clutter of our emotional lives.

The rich layering that gives Alice Munro's work such a strong sense of life is particularly apparent in the title story, in which the death of a local optometrist brings an entire community into focus - from the preadolescent boys who find his body to the man who probably killed him, to the woman who must decide what to do about what she might know.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This wasn't my favourite collection by the author but it was still an enjoyable read. I did find that a lot of the stories in this collection stood out more compared to her other collections - they almost seemed to be darker which was an aspect I enjoyed, but there was just something about this collection that didn't grip me as much as her others.

Overall it was a good collection by the author, but this one wouldn't be at the top of the books I'd recommend by her.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's not the best of Munro's short story collections, but it does have a different tone to the book, compared to her others and it, like all of her works, is wonderfully written.

What to read next: More Alice Munro

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, MTBR Challenge

Saturday, December 5

Book Review: Armada

Title: Armada

Author: Ernest Cline

Pages: Ebook 312

Summary: Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out okay. It was a little corny, but in a fun way, and I thought that it would carry forward and be a quick amusing read. But, eventually that initial appeal wore off and the book didn't exactly work out for me.

While I enjoyed the concept of the story, I didn't enjoy reading it. The constant quips of all the different science fiction references got tiring after a while. At first, they helped build the character, after it became repetitive and took away from moving the story forward.

Parts of the story were predictable, although parts were fun to read it was hard to push through to the end. Overall it was an okay read, but it wasn't impressive and I'm not sure if I'd read the author again.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm told the author's other book Ready Player one was well done, so perhaps I'd recommend that one, but I'm not sure I'd recommended this one.

What to read next: Ready Player One

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge

Sunday, October 18

Book Review:Sleep Donation

Title: Sleep Donation

Author: Karen Russell

Pages: Ebook 145

Summary: A crisis has swept America. Hundreds of thousands have lost the ability to sleep. Enter the Slumber Corps, an organization that urges healthy dreamers to donate sleep to an insomniac. Under the wealthy and enigmatic Storch brothers the Corps’ reach has grown, with outposts in every major US city. Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dori was one of the first victims of the lethal insomnia, has spent the past seven years recruiting for the Corps. But Trish’s faith in the organization and in her own motives begins to falter when she is confronted by “Baby A,” the first universal sleep donor, and the mysterious “Donor Y.”

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a quick, and eerie read. But overall, an enjoyable one. The idea behind it was rather creepy - sucking the sleep away from a baby to give to others. Disturbing, but well executed. It was different, but a good different.

Because it was a short read, there wasn't a lot of detail to the background and history of how society came to this point. Which was something I both liked and disliked about the book. I liked it because there was the mystery of the unknown, and it helped push the story on quickly. I disliked that aspect because there was that nagging part of me that wants to know a full detailed back story as to why things are the way they are. The characters were well written, but I wouldn't call the memorable. I don't have a favourite, or could say anyone of them pulled me into the book. The story was what made this book, not the characters, they weren't poorly written characters, by any stretch, they were just ones I didn't feel connected too.

Overall it was a great read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a quick read, creepy at times, but if you want a quick thriller to read, this one would be a good choice.

What to read next: The Positron E-Serial series by Margaret Atwood (or the Novel based off the eSeries)

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Ebook Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire

Title: The Girl Who Played with Fire

Author: Stieg Larsson

Pages: 724

Summary: Crusading publisher Mikael Blomkvist has decided to run an explosive exposé of a wide-ranging sex trafficking operation. Just before the piece is published, the two reporters responsible are murdered. The fingerprints on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled hacker genius Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Lisbeth herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, and is forced to face her dark past.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this one a lot, while it didn't move as fast as other thrillers, it worked for this book. I appreciated that the author took the time to explore the story, develop the characters which created a solid read - one that was hard to put down at times.

The plot had a few twists, although I was able to guess at a few of them, I think they were well played out and tied into the story as a whole nicely. There wasn't any issue of "where did that come from in the book - at least for me. There was a lot of pieces here and there and they all eventually came together in the end, setting the book up for the ending, and what I'm sure will be an incredible third book.

The characters are ones that stay with you, even after you've finished the book. Lisabeth us a well established character, and this book takes a good chunk of time to explore her and draw out her character. I'm not sure if I'd call her a likeable character, but she is one that you enjoy reading about .

The ending has me wanting to pick up the next book immediately, and I plan on reading it very soon. The cliff-hanger was a bit jaw dropping to say the least.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a great second edition to the series and if you enjoyed the first, you'd likely enjoy this one. I also found this one to be less graphic then the first.

What to read next: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Chunkster Challenge, Finish That Series Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, September 19

Book Review Alligator

Title: Alligator

Author: Lisa Moore

Pages: EBook 265

Summary: The story moves with the swiftness of a gator in attack mode through the lives of a group of brilliantly rendered characters in contemporary St. John's, Newfoundland - a city whose spiritual location is somewhere in the heart of Flannery O'Connor country. Its denizens jostle each other in uneasy arabesques of desire, greed, lust, and ambition, juxtaposed with a yearning for purity, depth, and redemption. Meet Madeleine, the driven aging filmmaker whose mission is to complete a Bergmanesque magnum opus before she dies; Frank, a young man of innocence and determination whose life is a strange anthology of unpredictable dangers; Valentin, the sociopathic Russian refugee whose predatory tendencies threaten everyone he encounters; and Colleen, at seventeen a hard-edged female Holden Caulfield, drawn inexorably to the places where alligators thrive. In these pages humanity is a bizarre combination of the reptilian and the saintly. Listen to its heartbeat, and be moved - and delighted.

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed aspects of the book and while it was well written, in the end it wasn't exactly the book for me. I really enjoyed Frank as a character, and would have loved to have read more about him. He just had something about him that pulled me in. I became very emotionally drawn to him as well and he's the one character that has stuck with me from the book. I really wish there was more on just Frank, as I think it would have been a more enjoyable read. I found I didn't care for the other characters or their stories, some I just disliked completely - and I found most of them didn't have the pull Frank had. While most of their stories were well told in the end, I couldn't get into them.

The disjointed narrative threw me at first, but I did enjoy that aspect of the book, it did help get inside the character's heads and while I didn't like all the characters, it helped understand what they were thinking and helped expand on their story and helped the character develop. Overall, it wasn't a bad read but it wasn't a great read either. I did like aspects of it, but not enough to truly appreciate the book.

Would I recommend it to read: I think some readers would enjoy this book, but others wouldn't like the disjointed narrative. If you enjoy narratives like that, then it I'd recommend it. Although, I did find it wasn't the actual narrative that turned me off - but the author is worth reading, so I'd recommend her other books before this one.

What to read next: More by the author

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: MaddAddam

Title: MaddAddam

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 390

Summary: A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a fantastic read, and excellent conclusion to the trilogy, one of my favourites of the year, this book (the whole trilogy in fact), are well worth reading.

Reading this one after re-reading Year of the Flood, was a good idea, as it helped keep all the details fresh for me. The books have a lot of information in them, and a lot of sub-plot points and this one in particular had a lot of information that was pulled from bits and pieces from the other books in the series. There was a lot that was revealed which helped connect a lot of the little pieces of the story dropped throughout the series that helped answer a lot of questions.

Some of the revelations were surprising, others I began to guess at as things were revealed, and some events had me analyzing long after I finished the book. One little bit in particular has me wondering - mainly about Adam's true intentions with certain decisions he made. Which was why I enjoyed this book as much as I did, while I found it didn't have that same pull as the first book, there was so much revealed in it that had me eagerly reading for more.

Initially the Crakers bothered me, but I eventually enjoyed how the author wrote in their curiosity and Toby's view when she was interacting them, the author showed her frustration wonderfully - and there were many parts I found entertaining. The characters are what made this book, while some characters were less likeable and some I didn't like at all, there were a few who I didn't want to give up. Jimmy/Snowman was one of them. Toby was also a character who I wasn't ready to let go at the end of the story, and many of the characters are the type to stick with you, once you finished the book.

I enjoyed the ending, I know a lot of readers will likely be dissatisfied with the ending, but I think it was very fitting for the book and trilogy - it fit in the overall feel to the story.

Overall, fantastic read, well worth reading this one.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes I would. I think some readers will prefer the first two in the series, but this is an excellent conclusion and is well worth reading.

What to read next: Swarm by Lauren Carter, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, and her Positron ebook series

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Finish That Series Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Tuesday, August 25

Book Review: Once Every Never

Title: Once Every Never

Author: Lesley Livingston

Pages: 385

Summary: Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of a slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker … but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins. Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time— literally—maybe even get a date.

This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every … never.

My Rating: 5.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I liked the premise of the story and I liked some of the historical background to the book, but overall I couldn't get into the book.

I found it hard to connect to the character and I didn't like the narrative, which made for a slow read. I liked the idea behind the more supernatural elements of the book, but it was such a small piece to the novel as a whole, that it wasn't enough to keep me invested in the book. The pacing of the story was fine, although because I couldn't get into the book, I found it to be a slow read.

Overall, interesting premise, but not a book I enjoyed.

Would I recommend it to read: I think both Young Adults and those who enjoy young adult fiction would enjoy this.

What to read next: Every Never After, the next book in the series

Challenges: 100+ Book Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: The Lathe of Heaven

Title: The Lathe of Heaven

Author: Ursula Le Guin

Pages: 184

Summary: In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George's dreams for his own purposes.

The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity's self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I inhaled this book start to finish. It's one of those cases where I can't believe I haven't read anything by this author before - but I'm glad I did as it was a fantastic read and there's a good chance the author will be added to my must read everything lists.

It's hard to know where to start. The writing was lovely, if you've heard/think Sci-Fi can't be literary (which is not true), than this is book is the one to read. The writing alone was what pulled me in and kept me reading until the end. On top of that, it was an interesting story. I wouldn't say I loved the characters - they weren't the type that would stay with me in the end, but I was rooting for George and it did have a solid cast of characters.

The plot line had so many layers to it, which I enjoyed, although despite this it wasn't hard to keep track of everything. The novel is constantly changing and switching things up, but it adds an interesting element to the book. There's also a lot to gain from the book, it does show what humans are capable of - mainly how greed and power destroy things. The ending was just as good as the rest of the book, I think some readers might be disappointed, but I found it to be a satisfying ending - save the fact I wanted more from the story, it worked out.

Overall, a fantastic book - I'd highly recommend this one - to readers of any genre.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, not only is it a quick and engaging read, but the story is well done and has a lot to make you think. It would be a great choice for a book club.

What to read next: I'd say more by the author

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, New Author Challenge

Monday, August 24

Book Review: Case Histories

Title: Case Histories

Author: Kate Atkinson

Pages: Ebook 284

Summary: Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night.

Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack.

Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .

My Rating: 5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The beginning of the book started out great, the introduction of the three cases pulled me in right away and I was looking forward to an interesting read, hoping to figure out how, if at all, the three cases were connected. Unfortunately, the book fell short of expectations, the rest of the book began to drag on and that initial intrigue and push I had at the beginning of the book, disappeared. One of the reasons my drive to finish the book fell and most of my interest was the characters. Amelia and Julia were major turnoffs for me, I felt the made the story come to a stop, their eccentric personalities did nothing for me and irritated me more than anything. I felt very little about their story helped move their part of the case forward.

Other characters were fine, but they didn't hook me in to the book like the first part of the story did. While their cases had some interesting aspects to it, I was already turned off by the book by that point. Jackson Brodie as a character is fine, although there wasn't anything special about him to make him stand out for me.

The end of the book does tie things up. But, I'm not sure how I feel how things worked out by the end.

Overall, a strong start, but a not so satisfying read in the end.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure about this particular book, maybe the author, but I'm not sure about this book.

What to read next: I'd try more of the author's book. While I didn't love this particular one, I've heard good things about the author.

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Ebook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: Deceptions

Title: Deceptions

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 458

Summary: Olivia’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she’s not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders, but also her stalker ex-fiancé.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating their triangle. Will darkness prevail or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book picks up close to where the one before it (Visions) leaves off, which is an aspect of the series I'm enjoying, there isn't big time gaps and it helps keep the flow and momentum of the book going. I was hoping for a little more with her ex-fiancé and his creepy stalking issues, but that was finished early on in the book and I felt that that part of the ex-fiancé issue was a slight let down, although his story line and how it was tied up was very well done. I really wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil things. I thought it was a good way to tie up his storyline.

I'm starting to like Olivia more, although she's also the one character that gets on my nerves the most. She can be very immature and naive at times, although she's growing and starting to understand the real world, there are times I just want to smack her. Ricky's character is rather interesting and Gabriel is a character that is so different than the others in the book, he really adds something interesting. But all of them, are incredibly well written, and I've become very attached to all of them. Both main and secondary characters.

I enjoyed the ending a lot. It tied things up enough to keep me mostly satisfied that and there wasn't any cliff-hanger (which is good if all the books are published). But, the ending also left a lot up in the air that has me anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. It will be very interesting to see how certain things play out. There were a few twists along the way, although I was guessing at one of them, there are some interesting pieces that will come out in the next book.

Overall a great book and a fantastic series. This is a series not to be missed!

Would I recommend it to read: Oh yes! Probably my favourite in the series so far, if you've read the others, then read this one.

What to read next: Betrayals - book four in the series, which isn't published yet.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Chunkster Challenge

Sunday, August 23

Book Review: Going Down Swinging

Title: Going Down Swinging

Author: Billie Livingston

Pages: Ebook 268

Summary: A remarkable debut novel and bittersweet tale of the unflinching love and devotion between a mother and daughter. Razor sharp and darkly funny Going Down Swinging chronicles two years in the life of the Hoffmans. Eilleen Hoffman has just told Danny, her con-artist lover and father of her youngest daughter Grace, to get out — for good. Once a teacher, Eilleen lived a middle-class life, but her taste in men coupled with a predilection for pills and booze has brought her down.

Desperate to prevent her family from sinking deeper into poverty, Eilleen reluctantly goes on welfare. Eventually she turns to the only friends she has left, hustlers and hookers, to learn how a woman makes fast money, no investment necessary. With Eilleen on welfare and her older daughter Charlotte a teenaged runaway, child welfare authorities descend on the Hoffmans. As Eilleen trails through several attempts at drying out, the well-intentioned Children's Protection Society finally intervenes to apprehend Grace. With the threat of prolonged separation now a stark reality, Eilleen and Grace must rally to confront their demons with grit, determination and humour.

Unblinkingly observed and brilliantly written, Going Down Swinging is about the powerful bond between mother and child. And with her skilful narrative interplay, Billie Livingston illustrates poignantly how the truth of our stories lies not so much in the black and white, as it does in the grey.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out questionable for me, I was unsure if I would enjoy it, but in the end, I found it be an great read.

It deals with a lot of dark topics, but the author did a fantastic job at showing the characters' stories and how their lives were affected by an assortment of life trials including drug abuse and foster care. The characters are a mess, I became very invested in their lives, wanting to shake them into reality. Which makes the book, such a good read, if it makes you become invested in the characters well being.

The narrative was very different than I've read before, as one of the character's narrative was in second person, which I think it may have been the first time (or at least the first time in a very long time), I've read a book with second person narrative. At first I was unsure if I would like it, but it worked out . I don't think it helped me get into that character's head more, or understand her more, but it did create a very unique perspective on that character's life, and helped create a different reading experience.

I enjoyed the ending a lot. I think it was a great way to end the book, I do think some readers might be unsatisfied with the ending, but I thought it was very fitting.

Despite my uncertainties in the beginning, it ended up being a great read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, overall I thought the book was a good read and one well worth reading.

What to read next: More by the author

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Ebook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Enduring Love

Title: Enduring Love

Author: Ian McEwan

Pages: Ebook 276

Summary: In one of the most striking opening scenes ever written, a bizarre ballooning accident and a chance meeting give birth to an obsession so powerful that an ordinary man is driven to the brink of madness and murder by another's delusions. Ian McEwan brings us an unforgettable story—dark, gripping, and brilliantly crafted—of how life can change in an instant.

My Rating: 3.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The beginning of the book, the opening chapter showed promise. In fact I was pulled in right away and was looking forward to the rest of the book. It had a lot going for it, lovely writing and interesting premise. The it fell apart, and the book became a chore to finish. The characters in the book just didn't do it for me, the main protagonist bothered be to the point I nearly gave up on the book, multiple times. His tangents and observations took away from the story and I found it to be very disruptive to the rest of the plot. I also found the ending to be rather anti-climatic.

In the end, the book just didn't work out for me.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure I would, the beginning of the book showed promise, but I found it to be disappointing overall, so it's not one high on my list of books to recommend.

What to read next: Not sure about this one, I'd say the author, but I keep trying to read his books and most always fall short of my expectations - but a lot of readers enjoy the author.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Ebook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Visions

Title: Visions

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 476

Summary: Omens, the first instalment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago—the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I found the pace to be slower in the first half of the book, it was worth it, as there's a lot of information given out, there's a lot to process and piece together, but it does help build up to the ending and towards the entire series. While it doesn't end with a cliff hanger, it does have you wanting to immediately start the next book.

I'm loving the folklore that has been interwoven into the book, I find it very interesting and it's refreshing to read this element of the speculative genre, compared to what else is out there. I think the author has done an amazing job at entwining it into the story. I can't say much more about that, to avoid spoilers, but it is interesting. I also find the omens side of things to be a different element to the series, it's a small portion, but it does add some different to the story compared to other mystery/thrillers.

A lot happens in the book, some great character development, although I did find the conflict between Gabriel and Olivia to be a bit tedious at times. I also enjoyed the insight on some of the other Cainsville characters. Again, I can't say much more about them, because of spoilers, but some interesting pieces come together in the book.

The ending was fantastic and it sets up for what will be a great third book in the series. Fantastic read all around.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes. If you enjoy mysteries and/or thrillers, with a small, paranormal twist, this is the book for you.

What to read next: Deceptions - next book in the series!

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge,

Saturday, August 8

Book Review: Heat Rises

Title: Heat Rises

Author: Richard Castle

Pages: EBook 274

Summary: Fast-paced and full of intrigue, Heat Rises pairs the tough and sexy NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat with hotshot reporter Jameson Rook in New York Times bestselling author Richard Castle's most thrilling mystery yet.

The bizarre murder of a parish priest at a New York bondage club opens Nikki Heat’s most thrilling and dangerous case so far, pitting her against New York’s most vicious drug lord, an arrogant CIA contractor, and a shadowy death squad out to gun her down. And that is just the tip of an iceberg that leads to a dark conspiracy reaching all the way to the highest level of the NYPD.

But when she gets too close to the truth, Nikki finds herself disgraced, stripped of her badge, and out on her own as a target for killers, with nobody she can trust. Except maybe the one man in her life who’s not a cop: reporter Jameson Rook.

In the midst of New York’s coldest winter in a hundred years, there’s one thing Nikki is determined to prove: Heat Rises

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book became a very gripping, in-depth read, which I wasn't expecting from this series. While the books have had some hairy, suspenseful moments, I mainly pick up these books for more of a mindless read. Not this one. It had a lot in it, a lot pieces from all over the place to complete the story, pieces pulling the plot in every direction and a lot of trying to figure out the truth and lies. Which of course made for a great read - it was very hard to put down in the end, and I wasn't disappointed for a more complex read.

"Richard Castle" did a great job here, there are some similarities to plot lines that happens in the show (Castle), but it was still a great read - and the series itself is well worth reading, fast pace and complex. The characters are well done, and while they do have the quirks and corny moments, it makes for a fun read - and this of course was no exception - great read!

Would I recommend it to read: I would, although it's a bit over the top at times, this one had a lot of depth to the back story, and it ended up being a page turner. It' overshadows the show, but has a little more back story to it - so if you enjoy the show, you should enjoy the books. And if you enjoy thrillers, but a little less dark thrillers, than this is also a good choice.

What to read next: Frozen Heat

Challenges: 100+ Book Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Swarm

Title: Swarm

Author: Lauren Carter

Pages: EBook 264

Summary: In a not-so-far-off future of diminished energy reserves and collapsing economies, thirty-seven-year-old Sandy Burch-Bailey lives a difficult existence. She survives by fishing, farming, and beekeeping in a small island community with her partner, Marvin, and their elderly and ill friend, Thompson. As they wait for an overdue supply ship to arrive with medicine for Thompson, vegetables go missing from their garden. A footprint in the soil leads Sandy to believe the thief is a homeless youngster. Childless and aching to be a mother, Sandy narrates her story to the child, reliving her life in a city plagued by power outages, unemployment, and violent protests. When the girl’s life is threatened, Sandy and Marvin must come together to protect both the child and their fragile community.

Told in two storylines divided by geography and time, Swarm is a suspenseful and powerful debut novel about survival and coming to terms with life’s regrettable choices.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed this book, it had a slower pace compared to other post-apocalyptic books, but that is what made the book as good as it was. The author took careful time to examine her characters and how they developed throughout the story, as well as taking the time to create her post-apocalyptic work, which was incredibly well done, and very realistic.

The story and many of its characters, was dark, depressing, but the book was very engrossing and hard to put down at times. I really enjoyed the writing style and would definitely read the author again. This book in particular is one I'd highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was an enjoyable post-apocalyptic read. Dark, but good.

What to read next: The MaddAddam Trilogy

Challenges: 100+ Books, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Reading Challenge,

Saturday, June 20

Book Review: Rift in the Sky

Title: Rift in the Sky

Author: Julie Czerneda


Summary: The Stratification trilogy -- of which Rift in the Sky is the final volume -- returns to an earlier point in the Clan's history, before they left Cersi. Known as the Om'ray, they are divided into widely scattered tribal Clans, constrained from advancing beyond a certain point by two powerful races -- the Oud and the Tikitik.

Rift in the Sky opens at a critical moment for the world of Cersi and the Om'ray Clans. As more Om'ray master the Talent of moving through space via the M'hir dimension, their newfound freedom threatens the delicate balance between Cersi's three races. At the same time, it causes a perilous division within the Clans themselves between those who do and don't have this Talent.

The crisis escalates when outsiders from Trade Pact space discover archaeological treasures left by the legendary Hoveny civilization. As Cersi becomes the target of interstellar raiders, the Om'ray realize that any hope for survival lies in using the forbidden power of the M'hir to find a haven where their enemies will never look for them....

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was an amazing finale to the trilogy, wow! There was a lot to this book, more so than the other two in the series, a lot happens, a lot is explained, more isn't explained and leaves you wanting and waiting for more, but it does an excellent job at setting the story up for the next part of the series.

I love how the author creates the characters voices and how different the three types of species and races are from each other. All are distinct, well shaped and developed. I also enjoy how they all have this grey area, I don't necessarily think the Oud or the Tikitik are evil. As I always had trouble balancing which was the greater enemy towards the Om'ray.

The last one hundred pages or so, were fantastic, and set the series up for the next trilogy of books. I was completely immersed in those last pages, even more than I was reading the first part of the book. I have read the next book in the Clan Chronicles Saga, A Thousand Words for Stranger, but that was a few years ago, and I only remember aspects of it - but what I do remember, this book gives a lot of little hints of what's to come. This also has me even more excited for the book coming in November.

Would I recommend it to read: Oh yes, I would. Read the entire series (Stratification) then read the next series in the Clan Chronicles (Trade Pact) and then you'll be ready for the next book, coming in November 2015!

What to read next: A Thousand Words for Stranger

Challenges: 100+ Books Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Category Challenge, Finish That Series Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Reading Challenge

Sunday, May 31

Book Review: Four the Traitor

Title: Four: The Traitor

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: EBook 45

Summary: "The Traitor" takes place two years after "The Son" and runs parallel with the early events in Divergent. In this robust story, readers follow Tobias as he uncovers the details of an Erudite plan that could threaten the faction system, and makes plans of his own to keep Abnegation safe. At the same time, Tobias is getting to know a new transfer initiate: Tris Prior.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This had me itching to re-read the entire series. The book runs parallel to Divergent and it was interesting to read about the other side of the story of the two characters and his insights. This had some of the strongest development I saw from Four, and like some of the earlier short stories, it helps answer a lot of important questions and missing pieces from the plot in the novels.

I'm glad I read the four short stories, as it added something extra to the story and series as a whole, and a few pieces that never felt right, fell into place. Well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, you should read Divergent before this one, as the stories are parallel, Divergent explains events in this one better.

What to read next: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Four: The Son

Title: Four: The Son

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: 65

Summary: In "The Son," Tobias struggles to find a place in the hierarchy of the Dauntless. He also begins to suspect that a foul plan may be brewing within the Dauntless leadership and discovers a truth about his past that could greatly affect his future.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was one of the more slower of the short stories, but wow did it have a lot of information in it. Some of it I predicted, although I'm not sure if it's because I remembered it from the novels or if I figured it out on my own - it's been a long time since I read the books. Either way, this short story has a lot of vital information in it that is threaded throughout the rest of the series, and it's sets the tone for Four's development into who he is when we first meet him in the novels and the rest of the series.

Would I recommend it to read: Like with the rest of the short stories, I would.

What to read next: Four: The Traitor

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Monday, May 18

Book Review: Four: The Initiate

Title: Four: The Initiate

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: EBook 40

Summary: "The Initiate" provides readers with a glimpse into Tobias's Dauntless initiation experience, including an epic game of late-night Dare; his first tattoo; the beginning of his passion for training new initiates; and his nascent understanding of the danger of being Divergent.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: There were some nice parallels between Four's days of fitting into Dauntless and Tris, which I liked and thought was rather clever - and I think that helps me understand their relationship later on in the series and why they connected the way they do. I think that's the best part of the these short stories is that there are a lot of little pieces, some very subtle, that help pull out plot pieces, both major and minor from the series. Some of which I never really appreciated and others I always felt, were slightly awkward in how they fitted in the book. Now they are less so because of the short stories.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes

What to read next: Four: The Son

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, May 16

Book Review: The Transfer - A Divergent Story

Title: The Transfer - A Divergent Story

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: EBook 55

Summary: In "The Transfer," readers witness Tobias's aptitude test, Choosing Day, and the moment he is given the infamous nickname "Four."

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: It was a well done short story through Four/Tobias eyes, and it added to his character and helped me appreciate him more. I liked the insight to the background of his character as well as other details throughout the series as a whole. While I think this may have been my least favourite of the short stories staring Four, I do think this was one of the more important ones, and it helped set up the entire series and has some interesting hidden jems for the rest of the series, that I never thought about before

Would I recommend it to read: I would - it helps add to the character's development as well as the story as a whole, and I think any fan of the series would love these little shorts

What to read next: Four: The Initiate

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: The Book of Negroes

Title: The Book of Negroes

Author: Lawrence Hill

Pages: Ebook 367

Summary: Readers will follow the story of Aminata, an unforgettable heroine who cut a swath through an 18th-century world hostile to her colour and her sex. Abducted as an eleven-year-old child from her village in West Africa and put to work on an indigo plantation on the sea islands of South Carolina, Aminata survives by using midwifery skills learned at her mother’s side, and by drawing on a strength of character inherited from both parents. Eventually, she has the chance to register her name in the “Book of Negroes,” a historic British military ledger allowing 3,000 Black Loyalists passage on ships sailing from Manhattan to Nova Scotia.

This remarkable novel transports the reader from an African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from a soured refuge in Nova Scotia to the coast of Sierra Leone, in a back-to-Africa odyssey of 1,200 former slaves. Bringing vividly to life one of the strongest female characters in recent fiction, Lawrence Hill’s remarkable novel has become a Canadian classic

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: It's hard to know where to start with the book. It was intense, graphic, horrifying at times. But it was also such a powerful story, it was hard to put down.

The writing was superb, the author create Aminata's voice wonderfully. Her character felt very real and I couldn't help but fall into the book and become lost in it. While the alternating time jumps took a while getting used to, it did help break up the story, especially considering some of the scenes in the book. Which was my least favourite part of it. There's no way the book would be the book it is without everything that's in it, but there are some horrifying moments in the book.

Words are hard to come by to fully explain the book, it's one of those books you need to read and experience for yourself. The writing was lovely, the characters stick with you, the story is one t hat should be read by all. What an incredible read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, although it is rather intense and graphic at times, it's also a very lovely and powerful read, and one I'd highly recommend.

What to read next: The Help,

Challenges: 100+ Book Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 8th Annual Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge, Ultimate Canadian Book Challenge

Book Review: Girl on the Trian

Title: Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Pages: 318

Summary: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and evening, rattling over the same junctions, flashing past the same townhouses. The train stops at the same signal every day, and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess, as she calls them, seem so happy. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden. Soon after, Rachel sees the woman she calls Jess on the news. Jess has disappeared. Through the ensuing police investigation, Rachel is drawn deeper into the lives of the couple she learns are really Megan and Scott Hipwell. As she befriends Scott, Rachel pieces together what really happened the day Megan disappeared. But when Megan's body is found, Rachel finds the chief suspect in the case. Plunged into a world of betrayals, secrets and deceptions, Rachel must confront the facts about her own past and her own failed marriage.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started off slow for me, and while it did pick up and ended up being an okay read for me, it wasn't what I was expecting.

The first half of the book was something I felt I had to slog through. Not a lot happened, and while it was a good time to set up the characters and story, I felt it the author took too long to do this, and it caused me to dislike all three of the narrators. Rachel especially was a character that was hard to like and read about. She was a mess throughout the book, and I never could understand her or some of her actions. While there were some issues she had, I found it hard to be sympathetic towards her with her drinking problems. There was some good development with her by the end, but even by then she wasn't a likeable character for me. I think she was well written as an unreliable character - actually it's safe to say all the women (and narrators) in the book were not the most likeable but were incredibly well written as unreliable characters. It made for a fun read because of the three character and never knowing who to trust.

I did like the ending, although it was somewhat predictable, I think the author did a good job with it. While the book wasn't the read non-stop start to finish, it was still a good book, it just wasn't the type of thriller I was expecting.

Would I recommend it to read: I think I would. It wasn't what I expected, slower than other thrillers out there, but a fairly good book over all, if you enjoy the genre, you'd likely enjoy the book - but it didn't live up to the hype.

What to read next: Gone Girl

Challenges: 100+ Book Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, Cloak and Dagger ChallengeNew Book Challenge