Saturday, December 31

Book Review: Betrayals

Title: Betrayals

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 416

Summary: When Olivia's life exploded--after she found out she was not the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers--she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she discovered the truth about her parents' crimes in an investigation that also revealed the darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. As if that wasn't enough, she also found out that she, Gabriel and her biker boyfriend Ricky were not caught in an ordinary sort of love triangle, but were hereditary actors in an ancient drama in which the elders of Cainsville and the mysterious Huntsmen who opposed them had a huge stake.

Now someone is killing street kids in the city, and the police have tied Ricky to the crimes. Setting out with Gabriel's help to clear Ricky's name, Olivia once again finds her own life at risk. Soon the three are tangled in a web of betrayals that threatens their uneasy equilibrium and is pushing them toward a hard choice: either they fulfill their destinies by trusting each other and staying true to their real bonds, or they succumb to the extraordinary forces trying to win an eternal war by tearing them apart

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out strong, I liked the mystery aspects of it and for the most part, how it played out, but the final conclusion of it seemed rushed. There was however, a lot of good development for the characters throughout the book. While some characters seemed a bit off from how they’ve been portrayed in the previous novels, mainly Gabriel, it’s hard to tell if the characters felt because they’re growing, or is the mystical force that brings them together affecting them, or if something was just off about them in general. Either way, it did make for a good read – despite the conclusion feeling rushed it was an enjoyable book from the series.

I’m happy a lot of the past and mythology side of things are finally coming together into something more cohesive. It’s been bits and pieces from each book, and I’ve found that in the past few books you ended up with more questions than answers, but things finally seem to be falling into place – although there’s still a lot to be explained about how all this mythology side of the story works, which I’m sure will be played out in the next book – It’s still been interesting to read about.

The ending from the final pages was very surprising. I’m interested into seeing  how that will play out in the next book. I’m unsure how I feel about it, and I definitely don’t like having to wait to find out what the result in that department will be. The love triangle as it’s called, isn’t my favourite aspect, and I haven’t been able to pick a team, but I’m still interested in what twists the author has in stored.  But, I’ve never really one to pick teams – can I be team TC? He seems cute.

Overall, it was a good book to the series, not my favourite but it does have me waiting for more.

Would I recommend it to read:  I would, it’s not my favourite in the series but was still a good read and there’s some interesting set up to the next book in the series.

What to read next: The next and final book in the series.

Wednesday, December 28

Book Review: Dublin 4

Title: Dublin 4

Author: Maeve Binchy

Pages: EBook 135

Summary: A society hostess invites her husband’s mistress to dinner. A country girl savours the delights of city life. A student faces the dilemma of unmarried pregnancy. A drink-ridden photographer tries to relaunch a shattered career.

Dinner in Donneybrook
Flat in Ringsend
Decision in Belfield
Murmurs in Montrose

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The collection was okay, but it was definitely not my favourite by the author.  The writing quality was consistent and what you’d expect from the author, but the stories and the characters in them is what seemed off for me.

The first story in the collection was interesting and somewhat amusing, although I though some of the characters in it to be a bit ridiculous and extreme, the story as a whole was well done – I wish there was more to it, as I wanted more by the end of it.

The other three, didn’t do it for me and the characters were a bit dense and unbelievable in the other stories, while some had some good topics in them, the characters fell through, their lack of growth affected the story and how I felt about them in the end, and to be blunt, I found them to be very dimwitted, how the viewed the situations the way the reacted to them – didn’t work for me. The characters in this collection didn’t work for me.

Overall, not my favourite by the author and it was not what I’ve learned to expect from her either, while it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t a great read either.

Would I recommend it to read: I’m not sure I’d recommend this particular book, it just didn’t have that same appeal to it as her other works.

What to read next: I’d read more Binchy, this particular book wasn’t the best but she has loads of others well worth reading. Marian Keyes is another one worth reading.

Book Reviews: A Clash Kings

Title: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 2)

Author: George R. R. Martin

Pages: EBook 860

Summary: Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders--Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky--a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard's son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King's Landing. Robert's two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first book in the series, it’s still a very interesting and gripping story at times – even if I know the outcome of how things are to  play out.

I did find myself to be bored with this book, while there are some interesting plot reveals and important plot devices, there’s also a lot of nothing, or parts I find to be boring. Perhaps because I’ve watched the show and have a vague idea about what’s happening in the story, it’s affecting how I read it, although book two is where there are some more noticeable differences in the story from the show, (which I don’t understand why they changed certain things, but I’ll leave that out). Mostly for this book, I felt it dragged in a lot of parts, and felt it was somewhat repetitive.

I still don’t like Bran and Daenerys, and I find they are two characters that are forced on us, I know Daenerys is one of the most important characters in the series – but I can’t stand her. She’s well written, but I find her whiny and repetitive, and while she grew more confident since when we first met her, I find her growth hasn’t changed much. She still has the heir she knows best because she thinks she’s the heir to the throne. I really like Arya and I want more of her, she’s such a fun character, her growth and development come naturally and I don’t feel she’s pushed onto us.
Overall, a good book but the first in the series was better, I am looking forward to the rest of the series, and seeing how it all turns out.

Would I recommend it to read:  I would, while I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first, overall as a series it’s an amazing series, well worth reading

What to read next: A Storm of Swords, book 3 in the series, 

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, December 10

Book Review: A Game of Thrones

Title: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1)

Author: George R. R. Martin

Pages: EBook 773

Summary: Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I’ve put off this series for some time, partially because the amount of time I’d have to invest in reading it and I was hoping to close off other series I’m reading before starting yet another. It’s been a good series so far, the first book was well done and I enjoyed it a lot.

Martin does a good job at creating a clear and different voice for each of his characters, with the focus moving from character to character, I’ve found it harder to differentiate in other novels that have done this, but it works well in this book (and so far the entire series.) While it is in third person, he still manages to create the right tone, thought process for each character, which helps pull you into the story (unless you don’t like the character, but nothing can really help with me with that).
I also enjoyed the detail surrounding his characters and their backstories, only a few things are revealed at a time, although because I’ve watched most of the show I do have some idea what’s coming, the author has done an amazing job at pacing his characters growth and secrets, they are well developed and naturally developing. I have my favourites, ones I hate because they are horrible people, and ones I hate because I find them annoying, but the cast of characters, no matter my feelings for them, is wonderfully done. I’m a Arya and Tyrion fan, they’re the two characters I enjoy the most. Not a big fan of John Snow and Daenerys, which I seem to be in the minority with, but John Snow seems to act very privileged and naive considering the circumstances he’s in, and my dislike for Daenerys has grown more now that I’m in the second book.  Although, I do have to remind myself that these are children in the books, so their ways of thinking that of teenage children.
I’m enjoying the overall story and I’m interested in what will come out of it in the end. I wish there was more detail about the old gods versus the new, although that too is slowly being revealed over the course of the books, I want more now. The first book moved fairly quickly, the pacing was right and I felt everything connected together.

Overall, an enjoyable book and looks like it will be an enjoyable series. I’m, looking forward to seeing the differences between the show and book in the rest of the series (I’ve read all the spoilers and have seen most of the TV series, so I know what’s to come who die, who lives and all that, but I want to see how much has changed).

Would I recommend it to read: The book is well written, engaging story, it is well worth reading. While it’s descriptive and detailed it isn’t overly detailed which is something I know some don’t like about epic fantasy (I love it), so I think a lot of people would like it.

What to read next: The second book in the series, Clash of Kings.

Monday, December 5

Book Review: Started Early, Took my Dog

Title: Started Early Took my Dog

Author: Kate Atkinson

Pages: EBook

Summary: A day like any other for security chief Tracy Waterhouse, until she makes a purchase she hadn't bargained for. One moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn.
Witnesses to Tracy's Faustian exchange in the Merrion Centre in Leeds are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie who has returned to his home county in search of someone else's roots. All three characters learn that the past is never history and that no good deed goes unpunished.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The fourth and final (boo), book in the series was, an enjoyable read, the I enjoyed this one a lot, although not nearly as much as the third novel. I enjoyed the plot and the mystery for this one and read through it quickly piecing out the mystery as I read  The plot of the book threw me a bit, some interesting twists from the past and a few decisions of the characters in the present and other twists actually threw me. There were a few things that I didn’t see coming, which  made for an interesting read because I wasn’t expecting what the characters were going to do.

Some of the other characters were not my favourite, I disliked a few of them, but all were incredibly well written and fleshed out, which I appreciated. I enjoyed Jackson Brodie in this one a lot, he’s such a character but one who you grow to enjoy a lot, It’s a shame that there isn’t more books, I will miss the character a lot, although I still have the TV series to finish it won’t be the same.

Overall a great wrap-up to what turned out to be an enjoyable series.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, the last two books in this series were very well done, I will miss reading about Jackson Brodie – the character alone make this book and the others well worth reading.

What to read next: More by the Author, Ian Rankin

Sunday, December 4

Book Review: Last Night in Montreal

Title: Last Night in Montreal

Author: Emily St. Mandell

Pages: 230

Summary: When Lilia Albert was a child, her father appeared on the doorstep of her mother's house and took her away. Now, haunted by an inability to remember much about her early childhood, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and eluding the private detective who has dedicated a career to following close behind.

Then comes Eli. When Lilia goes out for a paper and fails to return to their Brooklyn apartment, he follows her to Montreal, not knowing whether he wants to disappear, too, or help her find her way home. But what he discovers is a deeper mystery, one that will set past and present spinning toward collision

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The entire book has this atmosphere to it, and it keeps you invested in the book, I enjoyed the different view points and how everything eventually came together, although I was left with the feeling that there should have been more to the story at the end, overall it was an excellent book. 

I loved the revelation in the end, the twist – while I was able to guess at it while reading the book, it was still chilling revelation. The ending was also surprising and shocking, but I think it worked.

The entire cast of characters were incredibly well done and fleshed out, which made the book even more enjoyable to read, the characters had something about them that kept you reading the book. And their individual stories and how the crossed over worked out wonderfully.

A very enjoyable read, with a clear voices from the author – this one is well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, this book was a bit of a hidden gem and well worth reading.

What to read next: I’d read more by the author

Book Review: When Will There Be Good News?

Title: When Will There Be Good News?

Author: Kate Atkinson

Pages: EBook 319

Summary: On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever...

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound...

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency...

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was my favourite book of the series, from the story to the characters it me engrossed in the story from the beginning to the end.

When I started the series, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the characters or the story, but the more I read into the series, the more I appreciated the authors writing style and the characters in the series – and this book helped with that a lot.

Reggie is what really made this book, I felt for her throughout the story, and I wanted to keep reading just so I would be able to find out what happened next for her, find out if she’d be okay. She was well written and fleshed out, making her a very realistic character. I also love Jackson Brodie, he was iffy for me when I started the series, but now that I’m in the third book, I don’t want to have to say goodbye to the character – while he’s a mess, he’s enjoyable to read about and is just an interesting character to read about.

The overall plot and mystery of this book also drew you in, I enjoyed how everything worked out in the end and working out the pieces for myself as I read the book.

Excellent read overall – probably the best book in the series
Would I recommend it to read: Yes, this book and the entire series.

What to read next: Started Early, Took my Dog.

Book Review: City of the Lost

Title: City of the Lost

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 468

Summary: Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. Since then she’s become a talented police detective, tethered only to her job, her best friend, Diana, and the occasional evening with her sexy, no-strings-attached ex-con lover, Kurt. But then Diana's abusive ex finds her again, despite all Casey has done to help her disappear. And Casey’s own dark past begins to catch up with her. The two women need to run—and Diana’s heard of a place where they won’t be found, a town especially for people like them…

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was an enjoyable read, that has me looking forward to what the rest of the series will bring, it’s an interesting concept and I would like to know where the author is going next with the series and it’s eclectic cast of characters.

The concept is interesting and I think the author did an excellent job at creating this secret little town, how the town works and it’s history was very detailed thought out, which helped with the overall story, it’s almost its own character. I’m looking forward to find out more secrets and background stories for the characters, I have my favourites and I’m interested into seeing if that will change as I watch the characters grow, or if someone new jumps into the mix.

The mystery of the book had some interesting twists, pieces I was able to figure out, but there were other aspects that turned out differently than I expected.

Overall, great book.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, although to be fair I’d recommend anything and everything by Kelley. This one differs from most of her other books, as it isn’t speculative, so this might be good series to start if you want to try her.

What to read next: The next book in the series.

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, 10th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

Book Review: The Radiant City

Title: The Radiant City

Author: Lauren B. Davis

Pages: EBook 304

Summary: Scarred by his experiences as a war correspondent, Matthew flees to Paris to heal and forget—even as he must stir up the past to write the memoir he’s promised to his impatient literary agent. Resurrecting a friendship with Jack, a Vietnam vet and ex-mercenary, Matthew enters Jack’s alcohol-dimmed world of shadowy bars and calculating lovers. But there is also Saida—beautiful, damaged and proud—who fled Lebanon with her family and now runs a café. Matthew is drawn to her kindness, and to her fierce love for her teenage son, who is growing into manhood on the treacherous streets of the North African quarter.

This is Paris far from the glimmer of tourist lights. Here secrets are divulged, guilt and passion revealed, and Matthew is caught up in an inescapable final confrontation.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: From the cast of character, to the writing and the setting – this book was a fantastic read – it pulled me in from the start and had me captured to the last page.
The story is very character driven, and there’s so much to it, it’s hard to know where to start. There’s a lot this book covers with it’s characters, all who have a lot of emotional baggage and trauma in their lives and the author showed that to the reader beautifully. She created such a wonderful cast of characters that you could enjoy and care about. It was hard to put the book down, because of the characters alone.

I both loved and hated the ending, I was surprised by some of the events in the end, but I think it was fitting for the book. It has an atmosphere to it, that pulls you in as well, even if it’s a more dark gloomy atmosphere, it pulls you in – but it’s the characters and their stories that made this book.
Fantastic read – one I’d highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this book had so much to take from, lovely characters, excellent story, it’s up there with one of my favourite reads this year.

What to read next: More Lauren B. Davis

Book Review: Bodily Harm

Title: Bodily Harm

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 303

Summary: Bodily Harm is Margaret Atwood's powerfully gripping novel of intrigue and betrayal, set on a Caribbean island on the brink of revolution. Rennie Wilford is a freelance journalist who takes an assignment in the Caribbean in hopes of recuperating from her recently shattered life. On the tin island of St. Antoine, she tumbles into a corrupt world where no one is what they seem - and where her rules for survival no longer apply. By turns comic, satiric, relentless, and terrifying, Bodily Harm is ultimately an exploration of human defensiveness, the lost for power both sexual and political, and the need for compassion that goes beyond what we ordinarily mean by love.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall an enjoyable read, the writing as I always find with Atwood was superb, and while I didn’t exactly like the main character, I found her to be naïve and I couldn’t get into her head to appreciate her attempt to find herself, let alone like her enough to truly care about her.

The book took a turn, a twisted turn I wasn’t exactly expecting and following that turn, I was surprised about the events and how the story moved forwards. It was well done and fit into the book, but the outcomes and journey the character went on wasn’t exactly what I expected – but it was also the parts of the novel I found to be the best part of the book, as it had me the most engaged.

Overall, it was a good book – but it’s by far not the best book by the author.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it’s not my favourite book by the author, but the journey the characters go on are well worth a read.

What to read next: Besides more Margaret Atwood? I’m not too sure, perhaps some David Adams Richards.

Book Review: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Title: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Author: Kate Wilhelm

Pages: EBook 216

Summary: Now one of her most famous novels returns to print, the spellbinding story of an isolated post-holocaust community determined to preserve itself, through a perilous experiment in cloning. Sweeping, dramatic, rich with humanity, and rigorous in its science, Where Later the Sweet Birds Sang is widely regarded as a high point of both humanistic and "hard" SF, and won SF's Hugo Award and Locus Award on its first publication. It is as compelling today as it was then.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book drew me in right away in the beginning, and kept my attention throughout – it was a very enjoyable read. The overall idea of the story was interesting, especially for when it was written – especially now when something like this book is more than just a far fetched dream.

I found parts of the story moved to quickly, there were pieces that I found needed more explanation, more details that passed on in time far to quickly – I know there are people out there who would disagree, but I wanted more detail on what was happening.

I also found it hard to connect to the characters – perhaps it was because who and how they were created, they were all suppose to be the same, but there was never the case where I found that one character I enjoyed
Overall, it was a very enjoyable story, excellent example of a classic science fiction novel.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. Don’t be put off because it’s Science Fiction, it’s so much more than that and well worth reading.

What to read next: I’d say more classic Science Fiction novels, MaddAddam series by Margaret Atwood

Book Review: The Dream Woman: A Mystery in Four Narratives

Title: The Dream Woman: A Mystery in Four Narratives

Author: Wilkie Collins

Pages: 105

Summary: When Francis Raven is roused from his sleep on the eve of his birthday and confronted by the sight of a woman trying to stab him, he is unsure whether she is real or an apparition. Years later, against the wishes of his mother, he marries Alicia, a woman with a strange resemblance to the mysterious visitor, who ends up attacking him on his birthday, before vanishing from his life. Is Francis’s wife a ghost, a demon or a living human being? And will the prophecy of the night-time visitation be fulfilled one day?

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the story, while predictable the writing and lead up to the end made it an excellent reading atmosphere. Collins writing, as always is beautiful and draws you into the story, even one that’s predictable and you know the ending.

I did find the main character to be a little, thick-headed, but he was well written and flawed, so despite his decisions he was realistic.

Overall, it was a good read, while not my favourite by the author, well worth giving this one a try.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, while it’s not a you must read this book now, it’s still worth reading.

What to read next: More Wilkie Collins.

Sunday, April 24

Book Review: Birdie

Title: Birdie

Author: Tracey Lindberg

Pages: 256

Summary: Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel about the universal experience of recovering from wounds of the past, informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions. Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman, leaves her home in Northern Alberta following tragedy and travels to Gibsons, BC. She is on something of a vision quest, seeking to understand the messages from The Frugal Gourmet (one of the only television shows available on CBC North) that come to her in her dreams. She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat Johns, who played Jesse on The Beachcombers, because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Bernice heads for Molly’s Reach to find answers but they are not the ones she expected.

With the arrival in Gibsons of her Auntie Val and her cousin Skinny Freda, Bernice finds the strength to face the past and draw the lessons from her dreams that she was never fully taught in life. Part road trip, dream quest and travelogue, the novel touches on the universality of women's experience, regardless of culture or race.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a very enjoyable read, with beautiful writing and a wonderful story. It was powerful at times and the author did a fantastic job at creating the character Birdie, who was well fleshed out and developed.

The story has so many elements, it's hard to figure out where to start. It bounced around in time a lot, but it helped the reader understand who Birdie is in the present and how she got where she is. Her journey is horrific at times, and the author did a wonderful job at showing the reader how it affected her life and the other characters around her.

The writing was lovely and lyrical -and pulled me in from the start. The writing style helped highlight all the other elements nicely and I think it worked in bringing the reader into the book on an emotional level. The overall story was well done and raw, but it was incredibly well written and it's a book well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a wonderful book, beautifully written - some will likely be turned off by the writing style, but it's a book worth reading.

What to read next: Monkey Beach, The Diviners, The other 2016 Canada Reads finalists

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Book Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: Exit Strategy

Title: Exit Strategy

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 450

Summary: Nadia comes from a long line of police officers, and was one herself until the wrong case sent her over the edge. Now she's a contract killer for a small Mafia family. But her days of solo missions come to an end when one of her contacts recruits her in the hunt for a ruthlessly efficient serial killer who is cutting a swath of terror across the country. This assassin is far to skilled to be an amateur, and the precision of the police investigation threatens to unmask Nadia and others. So she has no choice but to band together with a small group of hitmen, and once the killer realizes who's on his trail, his simple plan twists into a complex game as he and Nadia struggle to prove which is the predator . . . and who is the prey.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the overall story, and following the clues to find out who the killer was. While I was expecting the killer to be someone different - someone closer to home for the characters - I did enjoy how the author connected everything and how the story fell into place.

There were a lot of moments where I didn't want to put the book down, because I had to know what happened next. The book did slow down in the middle, where it felt like the story wasn't moving forward but overall I enjoyed the pace of the book, it was well balanced and had the right amount of filler, suspense and background information.

I'm not sure I have a favourite character, they all have something fun and different they bring into the book - it will be interesting to see what they bring into the next two books, hopefully more information will be revealed about some of them. All of the characters were written well, they had some development, and a good amount of background to them to help drive them through the plot.

Overall an enjoyable read - I plan on reading the rest of the series soon, as I really want to know what happens next.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this was a very enjoyable read, different from her other works. If you want to read Kelley Armstrong but don't like fantasy, this would be a good choice.

What to read next: Made to be Broken

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Sunday, April 10

Book Review: The Copper Beech

Title: The Copper Beech

Author: Maeve Binchy

Pages: EBook 265

Summary: An old copper beech overlooks a school, and witnesses all the hopes and loves, dreams and ambitions of the children who grew up there... By the school house at Shancarrig stands a copper beech, its bark scarred with the names and dreams of the pupils who have grown up under its branches.

Under Junior Assistant Mistress Maddy Ross's careful gaze the children play, but out of school Maddy's gaze lingers where it shouldn't. Maura Brennan, a bundle of fun from the rough end of town, plays with her pals: leap year baby Eddie Barton, the apple of his mother's eye, and Nessa Ryan, who little realises as she carves his name at the roots of the copper beech on the very last day of school that she'll get a lot more from one of her schoolmates than her first shy kiss.

The copper beech is the gateway to Maeve Binchy's marvelous portrait of a small Irish town whose untroubled surface conceals the passions, rivalries, friendships, ambitions and jealousies beneath.

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I liked a few of the characters stories and the end was well done, the book overall wasn't the best of Binchy's books. The characters were dry and the story didn't feel like it was moving anywhere. Usually her books with the multiple characters narratives come together better. This just didn't connect together as well as books I've read by the author in the past. It felt more like multiple unfinished short stories with a common theme.

The book still had Binchy's usual warm writing style and heart to the story, and I'm sure Binchy fans would enjoy the book, but overall it didn't keep my attention and it didn't make me want to pick up another one of her books. It had its moments, but overall somewhat disappointing.

Would I recommend it to read: I would always recommend the author, but this particular book wouldn't be high on the list.

What to read next: I'd say more by the author, this one didn't showcase what the author is capable of.

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge,  EBook Challenge, MTB Challenge

Book Review: Ties of Power

Title: Ties of Power

Author: Julie Czerneda

Pages: 484

Summary: Self- Exile became Sira's only choice when she discovered how deeply she'd been betrayed by the leaders o her people. Rather than allow them to continue to use her for their own ruthless purposes, Sira, the most powerful being eve born to the alien race known as the Clan, fled with the human telepath, Jason Morgan.

Now, living on a distant world in an environment over which she has control, Sira is striving to carve out a new life for herself. But there are those determined to take from her what she will not willingly give, and when she and Jason fall victim to an unforeseen attack, it sets in motion a series of events which will see Jason searching for the starways on a mission of vengeance, and Sira leagued with the Drapsk, a little understood race which is extremely adept at trading. For the Drapsk see in Sira a power which could regain for them something which has long been lost. And they will do anything to protect this woman who is their greatest hope for their future.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I loved this book, I was captivated by it, most of the time I didn't want to put it down, and I was certainly not ready for it to end. I know there's another book in this trilogy and another trilogy with these wonderful characters waiting for me (well at least part of the trilogy has been published), but I don't want it to end.

The characters are vibrant, well developed and overall, fun to read about. I've become very attached to them - part of me wants to inhale the entire series in a sitting, the other wants me to savour it, because I won't be ready to let them go. All of them have so much to offer, they have a lot of layers, so you don't always know what to expect from them, this is a book where it's hard not to fall in love with its characters.

I'm also fascinated where this story is heading - because the reader is kept on their toes. I have some ideas where the book is going, some theories of what may come - but I still don't know for sure and sometimes there's a little hint or something there that makes me rethink it all. The story of the Clan and its history and future has been fascinating I need to know what happens next - but I'm also loving the journey that leads there.

Overall, a fantastic read - from a fantastic series. Looking forward to what the third book has in store for me!

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this has been a fantastic series and it keeps getting better! You won't be disappointed especially if you love Sci-Fi.

What to read next: To Trade the Stars

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, April 2

Book Review: The Hero's Walk

Title: The Hero's Walk

Author: Anita Rau Badami

Pages: Ebook 310

Summary: Set in the dusty seaside town of Toturpuram on the Bay of Bengal, The Hero's Walk traces the terrain of family and forgiveness through the lives of an exuberant cast of characters bewildered by the rapid pace of change in today's India. Each member of the Rao family pits his or her chance at personal fulfillment against the conventions of a crumbling caste and class system.

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book looked promising and the overall story was a good one, but I didn't connect to this one and I found that I couldn't get into the story or its characters.

The writing was well done, I will go back to the author, but this particular story didn't capture me. While it had some strong and important moments on the caste system in India and the importance of family and forgiveness, this book didn't capture me at all. I think it was mostly due to the characters, I found them to be a bit dry and lack depth. While they developed through the story - it felt forced to me and very rushed near the end. The overall message of the story also felt rushed and forced at times, especially near the end. In the beginning, the book had promise but something felt off as it progressed on.

Overall, it wasn't a bad read, but just didn't connect with me.

Would I recommend it to read: This one is hard to say, I do think a lot of readers would enjoy this one, but I'm not sure if it's a book I'd recommended. The author perhaps, but not the book.

What to read next: More by the author, The Illegal, Birdie, Minister Without Portfolio, Bone and Bread (the other 2016 Canada Read contenders)

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge,  9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: The Shipping News

Title: The Shipping News

Author: Annie Proulx

Pages: 364

Summary: When Quolye's two-timing wife meets her just deserts, he retreats with his two daughters to his ancestral home on the starkly beautiful Newfoundland coast, where a rich cast of local characters and family members all play a part in Quoyle's struggle to reclaim his life. As Quoyle confronts his private demons - and the unpredictable forces of nature and society - he begins to see the possibility of love without pain or misery.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was one of those books that sat on the shelf for a long time, but was such a fantastic read - you wonder why it sat there for so long. It was an incredible book, with lovely almost poetic writing and excellent, well developed characters.

There was so much to this book I enjoyed, it's hard to know where to start. The writing was wonderful, I am looking forward to getting my hands on another book by the author. It was poetic, lyrical at times and it really captured the atmosphere and life in Newfoundland and the mood of the characters. It was a book that was hard to put down, because the writing drew you into the story.

As for the characters, while I don't have that one favourite character I could say I fell in love with, I did enjoy Quoyle. He was a bit of a wreck at times, a bit lost on how to live his life, but his journey and development was fleshed out and realistic. The story of Quoyle was slow but a good and engaging slow. I liked that the author took her time to explore his and the other characters stories and development - it made for a wonderful read.

There were a few minor things here and there I didn't like but overall I enjoyed the book a lot - it's a book that is well worth reading - and one well worth reading right away - especially over a weekend, instead of leaving it on the shelf for years. Excellent book overall.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. This was an excellent book - I do think some readers would be turned away by the style of writing, but the characters and story are so well written, it is definitely worth checking this book out.

What to read next: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, more by the author

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge

Saturday, March 12

Book Review: The Lifted Veil

Title: The Lifted Veil

Author: George Eliot

Pages: 117

Summary: 'Why did she stand before me with the candle in her hand, with her cruel contemptuous eyes fixed on me, and the glittering serpent, like a familiar demon, on her breast?'

In this dark novella of Victorian horror, George Eliot explores clairvoyance, fate and the possibility of life after death.

The Lifted Veil
Silly Novels by Lady Novelists (Essay)

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The Lifted Veil, was a quick read, engrossing at times mainly because of the writing style - it just pulls you in and you don't want to leave the book. The story itself was interesting, although I did find it tapered off a bit in the middle and while the ending was well done, it just didn't have the same feel to it as the beginning of the book. It was still an interesting story - especially from the time period it was written and who wrote it. Compared to some of the other books I've read by the author, this one stands out - far more memorable.

The essay, Silly Novels by Lady Novelists was something I wasn't expecting but was very well written. Eliot did not think to highly about some of the women novelists in her time, she was very opinionated on the matter, which I enjoyed and found refreshing. She was definitely a head of the curve during her time. The essay is witty at times, but she is also clear with her opinions. It was a different reading experience for me. . In the end I was surprised on much I enjoyed the essay, as I'm not usually a non-fiction reader - but this one was well done and well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a quick read - different than some of her previous books and the essay was well worth reading.

What to read next: More by the author, particularly her essays. Also, as this is part of Penguins Little Black Classics set, I'd check out those books as well.

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge

Book Review: Dark Places

Title: Dark Places

Author: Gillian Flynn

Pages: EBook 341

Summary: "I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ."

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed this one, I found it didn't live up to the previous book I read by the author, Gone Girl. It still had its intense moments and was well written, but the plot and its characters didn't grab me like I expected. In the beginning, I was interested, especially by Libby, who is a train wreck and pretty messed up. But I found that, the interest wore off fairly quickly and she eventually began to be tiresome. She was the most interesting of the characters - but I just didn't connect to her or enjoy reading about her.

The plot itself was well done, the set up definitely had a good vibe to it but, it didn't pull me in as much as I thought it did. There were a few parts I found to be weak aspects of the story - the Satanic rituals and the Kill Club for example, both showed to be promising, but I found they didn't have the push I thought they would have in the story.

I did not see the twist in the ending coming and I wasn't expecting that either. That made the entire book worth reading for me. It was shocking and one of those, "wait... what?" moments. I can't go into too much more details, but the reveal at the end was surprising. Well, part of the end. One part I figured out, the other part was the shocker.

Overall it was a good ending and overall an fairly good book, it just didn't have the same punch and must read it now feel that Gone Girl had.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, while it didn't have that same pull as Gone Girl, it has some excellent writing and was still a good story - if you're a fan of dark and twisted this is a good choice.

What to read next: Gone Girl, Sharpe Objects

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Otherworld Nights

Title: Otherworld Nights

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 366

Summary: In this new collection, Armstrong brings together some of her favourite love matches, taking us on honeymoon with her werewolves, Elena and Clay; showing us how her vampires, Cassandra and Aaron, express their unique bond; revealing how Karl proposed to Hope; and how the young Australian werewolf, Reese, learned the dangers of love, among other stories. And by popular demand, included here is the fan-favourite novella, Hidden.

As an exciting conclusion, Armstrong has written a brand-new novella that takes us beyond the end of 13 to show us what happens after Savannah and Adam save the Otherworld--and realize they really do love each other. The trouble is whether they know what love really means - coupled with the little wrinkle of having to figure that out while they battle daemons. The kind from hell.

My Rating: 8/10

Lucifer's Daughter
From Russia, With Love
Vanishing Act

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this collection a lot, it was nice jumping back in to the Woman of the Otherworld universe and having a glimpse at their lives since the final book.

As with most short story collections I liked some more than others - but I did like all of them to a certain extent, but some I enjoyed more than others. Vanishing Act was probably my least favourite of the collection. I just have never been a Savannah fan - and I found the story itself to lack the same punch the others had. I also wasn't a big fan of Lucifer's Daughter. While it had some interesting bits and followed some characters we don't see as much, it also didn't grab my attention.

Twilight was good - I enjoyed finally have more insight to the vampire Cassandra, who character wasn't someone we saw a lot of in the series. Her story was interesting and I hope we see more short stories about her in the future. I don't necessarily like the character enough to want a novel of her, but a short piece here and there is fine for me.

Chivalrous was a good story in the collection and probably one of my favourites. And I did like how it linked up with some of the other stories. Also up there with my favourites was Hidden, which stars our lovely werewolf couple. In fact I think all my favourites surrounded the Werewolf pack in some way - but those were just written so well, the stories were more fleshed out and they just kept my interest more than the others. Overall, a great addition to the Otherworld universe and well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's best to read this one after you've read the novels from the series, but this was a well done collection any fan of the series and author will be pleased.

What to read next: Otherworld Secrets - another Otherworld Short story collection

Challenges: 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, 2016 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, March 5

Book Review: The Selection

Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Pages: 327

Summary: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I bought the series for my step-daughter, and since I wanted something to read and it was the first book in the room I saw, I gave it try. While I didn't love the book, I did get into the whole selection event. It's like the bachelor, with slightly less "drama".

It was a fun read, and I really liked the whole caste system, it was really interesting and I hope that's explored more in the other books - the author did a good job there. The characters were done well, although I didn't connect with any of them nor do I have a favourite character - or one I could say I particularly like more than the others - I still enjoyed the book.

While it's predictable - and clear who will win in the end - it was a fun read, I think the young adult crowd would enjoy it far more than me. Overall, it wasn't a bad read - I will probably finish the series at some point, but won't be rushing to it any time soon.

Would I recommend it to read: I would to young adults, while I enjoyed it, it would be high on my list for adult readers.

What to read next: The Elite, the next book in the series

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, New Author Challenge

Wednesday, March 2

Book Review: The Rescue

Title: The Rescue

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Pages: 420

Summary: When confronted by raging fires or deadly accidents, volunteer fireman Taylor McAden feels compelled to take terrifying risks to save lives. But there is one leap of faith Taylor can't bring himself to make: he can't fall in love. For all his adult years, Taylor has sought out women who need to be rescued, women he leaves as soon as their crisis is over and the relationship starts to become truly intimate. When a raging storm hits his small Southern town, single mother Denise Holton’s car skids off the road. The young mom is with her four-year-old son Kyle, a boy with severe learning disabilities and for whom she has sacrificed everything. Taylor McAden finds her unconscious and bleeding, but does not find Kyle. When Denise wakes, the chilling truth becomes clear to both of them: Kyle is gone. During the search for Kyle, the connection between Taylor and Denise takes root. Taylor doesn't know that this rescue will be different from all the others, demanding far more than raw physical courage. It will lead him to the possibility of his own rescue from a life lived without love and will require him to open doors to his past that were slammed shut by pain. This rescue will dare him to live life to the fullest by daring to love.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was another book that I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I did - in fact I pretty much read this book straight through the weekend to finish it. While it's not a book that will make my top reads - it was still a sweet, enjoyable read.

I can't say that there was any one character that stood out for me. They were all pretty much on the same page, but they were fairly well written and they came together well enough, their development was fine as well and that part was well written, but there was nothing extraordinary about any character that stood out for me. The story itself was what hooked me. And while, yes the story is a little bit cliché, I still enjoyed how Taylor and Denise came together and fell in love, the little pieces here and there just made for a good read.

Overall, it was a good read - well worth reading. Something that is a little different than what I usually read but I'm glad I did.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's a sweet story - good for a quick read.

What to read next: If you like it more books by the author.

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Sunday, February 21

Book Review: One Good Turn

Title: One Good Turn

Author: Kate Atkinson

Pages: EBook

Summary: Two years after the events of Case Histories left him a retired millionaire, Jackson Brodie has followed Julia, his occasional girlfriend and former client, to Edinburgh for its famous summer arts festival. But when he witnesses a man being brutally attacked in a traffic jam - the apparent victim of an extreme case of road rage - a chain of events is set in motion that will pull the wife of an unscrupulous real estate tycoon, a timid but successful crime novelist, and a hardheaded female police detective into Jackson's orbit. Suddenly out of retirement, Jackson is once again in the midst of several mysteries that intersect in one giant and sinister scheme.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While the book started off fairly slow, the first quarter seemed to drag, the book picked up and ended up being a pretty good and engrossing read. There were so many little pieces here and there that all came together in the end and I think the author did a fantastic job at bring everything together.

The overall case, or cases all had their own interesting piece here and there. I enjoyed how they all worked into one scheme in the end, some parts I was figuring out along the way, others through me a bit but all connected together well. The characters and their story arcs all came together naturally rather than feeling forced which I've found in similar books to this one - but the author did a fantastic job at bring it all together.

The characters were also well developed and well done throughout the book. They were a fairly miserable group of characters and I can't say I have a favourite character in this book, although some I liked more than others and some I wanted to just smack upside the head - which does show that the author has written some believable characters for me. Jackson Broadie is an interesting character, I like him the best, but I wouldn't exactly say he's a likeable character, although sometimes his inner thoughts did make me laugh and he grabbed my attention the most - I don't think he'd be a character I'd say he's likeable. He's definitely intriguing enough for me to want to read more about him, but still not exactly likeable.

In the end a good book, that has me looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

Would I recommend it to read: I would this one was well done and enjoyable to read, slow at first but well worth reading through to the end.

What to read next: When Will There be Good News? (Book Three in the Jackson Brodie Series), Inspector Rebus would also be a good choice

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, February 20

Book Review: Fair Game

Title: Fair Game

Author: Patricia Briggs

Pages: 280

Summary: It is said that opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son—and enforcer—of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant Alpha. While Anna, an Omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind. When the FBI requests the pack’s help on a local serial-killer case, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston to join the investigation. It soon becomes clear that someone is targeting the preternatural. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer’s sights…

My Rating: 7.75 /10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I enjoyed the book - especially the aspect of a murder mystery - which gave it something a little different compared to the first two books in the series. The author did a great job at creating all the elements for the mystery and connecting it together slowly. I figured out who was behind it early on, but she did do a good job at building everything up to the end and resolution the mystery.

While the build up to the end was well done and at times, suspenseful, I found that the actual ending and reveal was underwhelming. There was so much careful time and plotting to get there and then it was a bland way to do a final showdown compared to the rest of the book. I also found Charles' brooding started to become frustrating - he's already not the top of my favourite characters list, but I found him to be even more bothersome in this book.

Anna on the other hand has become a fantastic character over the series and this book really showed how much she's grown. I'm really enjoying her and I can't wait to see what the author does with her in the rest of the series - Anna has really come into her own and this book shows it. In the end it was a good read - I'm looking forward to what the rest of the series has to offer as well as starting on the author's other series.

Would I recommend it to read: I would it was a good book, great built up to the end. It has something for both Mystery/Thriller fans and urban fantasy/paranormal romance fans

What to read next: Dead Heat, the next book in the series. Also the Mercy Thompson series might be worth checking out

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, 2016 Mount TBR Challenge

Sunday, February 14

Book Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Title: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Author: Alan Dean Foster

Pages: 260

Summary: Set years after Return of the Jedi, this stunning action-packed adventure rockets us back into the world of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2,and Luke Skywalker, while introducing a host of exciting new characters. Darth Vader may have been redeemed and the Emperor vanquished, but peace can be fleeting, and evil does not easily relent. Yet the simple belief in good can still empower ordinary individuals to rise and meet the greatest challenges.

So return to that galaxy far, far away, and prepare yourself for what happens when the Force awakens. . .

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book was basically a carbon copy of the movie, but there was a little more depth to in, because the author was able to get into the characters inner thoughts and show the reader more of an emotional depth for each character. Also, there was a few extra scenes in the book that weren't in the movie that really added something to the story - one of which will make the most hardcore Star Wars fans very happy, as that scene was absent from the movie.

For the most part, I enjoyed it - I liked that some of the missing bits of the movie connected things together and made the story come together a lot better. Some aspects that were different from the movie - even the most minor differences I understood why that was changed but there were more times than not that the book just connected everything together.

I wasn't a fan of the overall writing style of the book. It was fine but I found it to be repetitive, the word instrumentation was over used far too much and it began to get frustrating when reading the book. Otherwise it was a good companion read to the movie and overall fun book to read in general.

Would I recommend it to read: If you're a Star Wars fan I would for sure. If you watched the movie and enjoyed it and want a few more details and background information on certain pieces from the plot it's a good choice. But as a standalone or a fun new Science Fiction it doesn't stand out on its own.

What to read next: The other books in the series (A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi)

Challenges: 2016 Category Challenge, New Author Challenge