Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Such A Rush

A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers. 

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever. 

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business--until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers--and the consequences could be deadly.

My Thoughts:
Notice how I put the first sentence of the synopsis in  bold? I'm not going to lie...that was the first thing that caught my attention about this book. Stuck between the love of two hot pilots? Yes please! I've only ever read one other novel by Jennifer Echols, which was really cute and enjoyable, so I'm doubly looking forward to Such A Rush. Hopefully it will be as "sexy and poignant" as the synopsis claims it is! The only thing I'm not in love with is the cover. Considering the story deals with pilots and planes I think they could have chosen a much better cover to represent the story. Anyone disagree with me? Such A Rush won't be hitting store shelves until July, but it will definitely be at the top of my summer to-read list when it does! 

Monday, 27 February 2012

Book Review: Touch of Power

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.
Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...
As a teen, fantasy was by far my favourite genre of choice. Once I started university, however, the amount of fantasy I consumed was significantly diminished in order to make way for authors like Austen and Tennyson. My love of fantasy was re-sparked this past week though when I decided to indulge myself with Maria V. Snyder's latest YA novel Touch of Power. I LOVED it! Within two days I had read Touch of Power from front to back and was hitting up Goodreads in order to find out what other books Snyder has written. Here is what I loved so much about this novel:
The Setting Was Magical:
I instantly fell in love with the Fifteen Realms where the story takes place. Although the idea of a world where some citizens are blessed with magical gifts isn't a new concept, it still felt imaginative and entertaining. After finishing the book I wanted to visit the world of Avery and Kerrick so that I could be a wind, death, or forest mage too! 
The Plot Was Fast-Paced:
This is definitely a plot driven novel, and while I typically enjoy stories that focus more on the characters, the action and adventure was so gripping it was impossible not to love! There were so many skirmishes, kidnappings, and escape attempts that I was dying to find out what would happen to Avery and her companions next!

The Characters Were Lovable:

Although the characters in
Touch of Power weren't overly developed, you couldn't help but like them. Kerrick's crew consisting of Flea, Belen, Quain, and Vinn were entertaining and loveable. Belen's eventual role as a big brother type figure was especially endearing! The only real complaint I have about the characters was the fact that the focus on the plot of the story kind of caused the romance in the novel to fall to the wayside. The romance between Avery and Kerrick could have been fantastic if their characters had been a little more developed.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Tamora Pierce, or readers who are simply looking for an enjoyable fantasy novel to devour. I'm already looking forward to the sequel to
Touch of Power, although I'll have to wait until 2013 to get my hands on a copy! Until then I'll definitely be checking out Maria V. Snyder's other series, including Poison Study and Storm Glass! 

Rating: 4 Stars

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Book Review: 1Q84

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. 

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

I did it! I finally finished reading 1Q84! I first started reading Haruki Murakami's masterpiece back in December when I received it as a gift from my boyfriend for Christmas. "Now you can read a big girl book" he said jokingly when I opened it up. After reading countless glowing reviews about 1Q84 I was happy to discover that I was not to be disappointed! While it was a bit of a challenging read at times, Murakami's writing was so beautiful and haunting that I was mesmerized by each and every chapter. 

One of the things I loved most about 1Q84 was that the novel focused mainly  on character development rather than the plot. While this made the story move slowly at times, I was so intrigued by the characters that all I wanted to do was learn more about them anyways. Both Tengo and Aomame's narration of their memories growing up and their present situations were so engaging that I  was hooked immediately. Despite the fact that the plot itself progressed slowly, the strange world that Tengo and Aomame become apart of was so mysterious that I was also really curious to find out how everything would come together in the end. While I was left with a lot of unanswered questions after I finished the last page, it was nevertheless a very satisfying conclusion. 

The only negative thing I can say about 1Q84 is its length. At 926 pages with small font, the book is roughly the size of a dictionary. As a person who can normally read a 300 page book within 2-3 days, I figured it would take me about 12-15 days to finish 1Q84. Boy was I wrong! The fact that I wasn't able to finish reading the book as quickly as I had hoped was a bit daunting and discouraging to me. Although I loved the story, I think the slow pace in turn caused me to read more slowly. Once I did get to the end, however, I had the greatest sense of accomplishment ever! As a result, despite how much I enjoyed this novel I would only recommend it to people who have the time and patience to get through the entire story...because in the end it is worth it!

Overall, it is really difficult for me to express in words what it was about this novel that I found so endearing...hence this terribly written review. It was just so different from any other book that I have ever read before! It was magical and enchanting with a dark underbelly that was both shocking and entertaining. 1Q84 truly is Murakami's masterpiece! 

Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Gilly Salt Sisters

Any small town surely has secrets that may eventually seep out from the cracks, but when they're buried under salt mines, they're bound to be sprinkled with mystery. Claire and Jo Gilly, sisters just about as different as can be, grew up at Salt Creek Farm in tiny Prospect, MA. The Gilly lot is a hard one, with very little money, a year-long commitment to mining the salt, and suffering at the hands of the townspeople who believe they may be witches. 

Proud Jo is devoted to the salt and to her best friend Whit Turner, while delicately beautiful Claire waits for a proposal from her high school boyfriend, Ethan. But when Ethan announces his plans for the priesthood, Claire sets the old salt barn aflame-- with Jo inside-- and everything changes for good. 

As the now permanently scarred Jo hangs on for her life, Claire leaves her and Salt Creek Farm behind for her own relationship with Whit, Prospect's wealthiest bachelor. Seizing your sister's old flame isn't the strongest foundation for marriage, though, and when Claire discovers Whit has been dallying with teenaged-- and now pregnant-- Dee Pitman, Claire is forced to rescue her rival for Whit's love and return to the very place she ran from years before. Through all of these ups and downs, Father Ethan Stone, Claire's former love, returns to combat troubles in the town's centuries-old church, St. Agnes-by-the-Sea. The fireworks that fly among Gillys, Turners, and the town will force strange alliances and the outing of salty secrets that threaten to doom the Gillys forever. 

My Thoughts:

I first heard about this book from my friend Chelsey at Chels and a Book when she decided to tweet about how excited she was to read it. Since we generally have the same taste in books I was curious and looked it up on Goodreads. Now I am as excited as she is! The Gilly Salt Sisters sounds like it will be a dramatic read that will keep me hanging on for more! I can't wait to find out what will happen to these sisters, and what these so called "salty secrets that threaten to doom the Gillys forever" is all about! Luckily I don't have much longer to wait, as The Gilly Salt Sisters will be hitting store shelves on March 14th!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What I'm Listening To....

Like most people who inhabit this planet I LOVE music. Since I moved to London for school, however, the amount of music I listen to daily has rabidly declined. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that the radio stations in London aren't the greatest. Growing up in Niagara I never realized how spoiled we were by having access to stations from Toronto, Buffalo, and most of the surrounding area. Now I'm lucky to find one station that works in my car... the rest is just a bunch of static! Now the only way I'm able to find awesome new songs is through youtube or random links people post on Facebook. Despite this, I've come across a bunch of awesome artists and songs lately that I wanted to share with you all! You'll notice that my music tastes are pretty broad, but hopefully you'll find something below that you can enjoy as well!

1. "We Are Young" by FUN

One of my friends from school posted a link on Twitter to FUN's homepage and I fell head over heels in love with them! I've already purchased their latest cd through iTunes! "We Are Young" is by far my favourite song by them, but you should definitely check out "Some Nights" and "Carry On" by them too if you enjoy the song above! If you think it sounds familiar its because their song was recently used in one of the car commercials featured during the superbowl! 

2. "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers

I first heard this song at the end of an episode for Hart of Dixie back in January. Kind of has a bit of a country/alternative sound to it. I loved it so much I did an intense Google search to find out what it was called so that I could download it. Unfortunately the song won't be available on iTunes until March, so for now I have to go to Youtube whenever I want to listen to it!

3. "All About Us" by He is We

The same friend that showed me FUN also recommended this song from He is We to me one night when we were having a TLC marathon at my house. We were watching Say Yes to the Dress and I guess it reminded her of this song for some reason! Anyways...long story short, I love it! I think it's really sweet and light, and it makes me want to go for a walk outside in the sunshine (that is if it were spring right now...). 

4. "Shadows" by Lindsey Stirling

If you haven't seen Lindsey Sterling's youtube channel yet you are missing out BIG TIME! She shows that how kickass the violin can actually be and her dance moves are awesome! Whenever I listen to one of her songs I can't stop myself from tapping my foot! "Shadows" is just one of my many favourite songs by her! Also check out her rendition of Lord of the Rings and the music from Zelda! 

What do you guys think about these four songs I've shared with you? Do you have any recent favourites that you think I would love? If yes, please share them below! I'd love to check them out! 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Book Review: To Tame A Highland Warrior

He was born to a clan of warriors of supernatural strength, but Gavrael McIllioch abandoned his name and his Highland castle, determined to escape the dark fate of his ancestors. Hiding his identity from the relentless rival clan that hunted him, he called himself Grimm to protect the people he cared for, vowing never to acknowledge his love for ravishing Jillian St. Clair. Yet even from afar he watched over her, and when her father sent an urgent summons, "Come for Jillian," he raced to her side—into a competition to win her hand in marriage.

Why had he run from her so many years before? And why return now to see her offered as a prize in her father's manipulative game? Furious, Jillian vowed never to wed. But Grimm was the man she loved, the one who urged her to marry another. He tried to pretend indifference as she tempted him, but he could not deny the fierce desires that compelled him to abduct her from the altar. She was the only woman who could tame the beast that raged within him—even as deadly enemies plotted to destroy them both...

In honour of Valentines Day (and the fact that I'm supposed to read a book from every genre for my Genres of Fiction class this semester) I decided to pick up a romance novel last week. Having heard a lot of positive things about Karen Marie Moning, I figured picking up a book from one of her Highlander series would probably be my best bet. While I enjoy novels with romance plots, I haven't read a Harlequin type romance since back in high school. I knew I should expect flowery language and scenes that got  hot and heavy, but I couldn't help but feel like the entire novel was a little bit ridiculous!

Maybe it's because I did my undergrad in English Literature, but the entire time I was reading this novel I couldn't stop myself from cringing at the writing style and the absolute cheesiness of some of the lines that were thrown in. For example, "Her knees buckled. His voice brought her violently to life. Everything in the room receded and there was only Grimm, blue eyes blazing, his massive frame filling the doorway." Okay...that may not be the cheesiest of lines but it was the best example I could find online since I've already returned the book to the library... but you get my point. The absurdity of some of the dialogue and narration in the novel really made me want to start a meme called "Worst Romance Lines of All Time," or something like that. On the bright side, however, these cheesy lines were good for a couple of laughs and giggles.  

Although I may have found the writing amusing, the plot itself certainly had potential. While it was pretty obvious that there was bound to be a happy ending (kind of a requirement with romance novels), there was a slight twist at the end that I hadn't been expecting. I also enjoyed the fact that this story was set in a historical period, but also incorporated the paranormal. Grimm's supernatural strength certainly resulted in some interesting situations. Overall, I think this is probably a book that hardcore fans of romance novels will LOVE, but unfortunately I'm not one of those people. While I can understand why many readers devour romance novels, I have yet to be won over by their charm. Maybe one day! 

Rating: 2 Stars

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Book Review: The Space Between

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped - and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie's whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

When I picked up Brenna Yovanoff's latest book, The Space Between, I was in the mood for something to creep me out and keep me reading late into the night. I mean a story about the daughter of Lucifer and Lilith? Demonic powers? It certainly sounded promising! While there were a few parts in the story that did give me brief moments of horror, I was somewhat disappointed to discover that it wasn't as scary as I had anticipated it to be. Instead, The Space Between felt more like a paranormal romance then a creepy thriller.

I think one of the main things that prevented the book from being creepy was the fact that most of the demons, even Satan himself, seemed kind of nice. Rather, it was one of God's angels that ended up being the most demonic and horrifying! There was one scene between the angel of death and Daphne's brother that brought chills down my spine! I have to give Brenna Yovanoff credit, writing a story from the perspective of the supposed "bad" side was pretty creative. Having read so many stories about "good" characters fighting demonic powers, I had never really considered the fact that perhaps these demons weren't really as bad as the protagonists made them out to be. Maybe they had families and siblings at home that they were worried about too! Still, I can't help but wish that some of the demons in the story had been a little less "nice" then they were.

Despite my disappointment that the book wasn't quite as scary as I had hoped it would be, I still enjoyed my time spent reading it. It was certainly unique, and the twist in the end was definitely something that I did not see coming at all! Those who prefer standalone books will also be happy to know that this is not a series! Everything is wrapped up nice and neatly at the end so that readers aren't left waiting a year to find out what happens next. If you enjoy reading stories about angels and demons with a bit of romance intertwined throughout then The Space Between is definitely for you!

Rating: 3 Stars

Monday, 13 February 2012

Amazing Valentines for Book Lovers!

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day! Can you believe it!? It feels like Christmas was only a couple of weeks ago! One of the things I miss most about Valentine's Day as a kid was picking out the box of cards I wanted to give out to my friends each year. There were always so many amazing choices at Walmart that I would just stand in awe at the selection until my Mom told me to hurry up already. With all of this reminiscing going on in my head, I decided to procrastinate a bit from my schoolwork and search online for some unique and interesting Valentines! Whether you are pro or anti-Valentine's Day, I'm sure that there is at least one card on this list that book addicts such as myself will adore!

Novel Novice
I LOVE Novel Novice and their blog! The contributors always upload great reviews, news, and book related wallpapers, calendars, and ... Valentine's Day cards! Check out a couple of my favourites below. For more great YA Valentines take a look at their fabulous website!

I just happened to stumble across this blog by Chris Bishop, one of the illustrators and creative directors from PBS Kids! I LOVE the Game of Thrones inspired Valentines that he created, which you can download and print at home! My favourites are the ones of Tyrion and John Snow! (Click on the image to make it larger)

Although these Valentines aren't really book related, I couldn't help but share them! These Downton Abbey Valentine's Day cards designed by Chad Thomas are funny and spot on! Any fan of the show will definitely crack a smile when they see them! 

What do you guys think of these Valentines? Do you have any particular favourites? Have you seen any more bookish Valentines online? If yes, please share the link with me :) 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

In My Mailbox: February 12th, 2012

Hey everyone! Here is my IMM posting for this week! Hope you enjoy it! For those of you who don't already know... In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where bloggers share the books they have received during the past week! 

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Movie Review: The Vow...Definitely not the next Notebook

When my roommate and I decided to go to the theatre last night to watch The Vow, we had no idea what  a journey of epic proportions it would become! After going to two different movie theatres where it was completely sold out, we ended up buying tickets for the late show and killing a couple of hours eating appetizers at Milestones. In order to try and beat the rush, we then went back to the theatre an hour early, only to be left with seats in the front row. An hour early! We couldn't believe how crazy the theatre was! So before I begin my actual review of The Vow, here is a word of warning if you plan on going this your tickets ahead of time and get there ASAP if you want good seats! Moving on...

For those of you hoping that The Vow would be the next Notebook, you are bound to be severely disappointed. While the film was cute and enjoyable, the love story wasn't all that exceptional, and the ending left viewers longing for more. Sure there were tons of moments where Channing Tatum's character did something cute and romantic that left all the girls in the audience sighing and turning to their boyfriends to say "why don't you do something like that!" but overall the movie was missing some of the magic that ultimately made The Notebook so special to female audiences across the world.

Most of the time throughout the movie I found myself feeling sorry for Channing's character and wanting to hit Rachel McAdams across the head! While I can't even begin to understand how confusing it must be for someone to have lost their memories, her frustration and unwillingness to open up to her (hot) husband baffled me. As The Vow progressed though I had my fingers crossed that something exciting and epic would happen to bring them back together...but I was wrong. The ending was cute, and probably the most realistic, but as a romance movie I was hoping for something a little more dramatic that would have made me leave the theatre crying my eyes out.

While my review may seem entirely negative, that isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the movie! It was cute, romantic, and left me smiling, but I think I went in with expectations that were much too high. I wasn't the only one apparently, as I heard countless girls repeating the same thing as we walked out of the theatre, "It was good but not as good as I had wanted it to be." Overall my favourite part of the entire movie? Seeing a preview for Zac Efron's new movie The Lucky Ones. I was drooling after that trailer!

Rating: 4/5
(bet you weren't expecting that after I tore the poor movie apart)

Ps. A word to the wise... Don't sit in the front row when you go to see The Vow! It really made my ro0mmate and I notice all the little imperfections in poor Channing Tatum. From now on I can't think of him without picturing how horrible his teeth look up close! 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Tag! Your It!

So, Jenny from Alternate Readality (an awesome blog! Go check it out!) tagged me in a blog posting where the idea is to get to know more! I haven't done one of these before so here goes nothing! Hope you guys remotely enjoy it!

Questions from Jenny:

1. What is something you dread?
Abduction by aliens. No...seriously...Ever since I saw the movie E.T. as a child I've been absolutely terrified of aliens. Not the somewhat cute Yoda-like aliens in Star Wars... but the creepy, wrinkly, weird shaped head and big eyes kind of aliens. My friends made me watch the movie Signs with them one Halloween and I almost had a heart attack. So thank you Steven Spielberg for scarring my childhood! 

2.  What is your favorite food?

Hmm... tough question! This changes pretty much every week for me. My current favourite staple as a starving Grad student though is Nutella covered bananas haha! Mmmm Nutella!

3. What kind of car was your first car?

My first car was a 1998 Volkswagon blue beetle. It was already 10 years old when I got it and although I loved how cute it was, the thing was a piece of garbage. Literally. In the course of the two years that I had the car it went to the garage a total of 10 times, and had to be towed twice because of stupid mechanical breakdowns which had nothing whatsoever to do with me or my driving (at least that I know of!) I'm now in a solid relationship with a Toyota Yaris who has yet to give me any trouble (*knock on wood*).

4. Picture taker or camera hog?

Definitely taker! My friends always know they can depend on me to bring my camera with me every time we go out on some adventure together! You should just see the amount of albums I have on Facebook! 

5. Do you have any pets?

No :( I wish!!! I'm dying for a pet of my own! Heck, even a fish would make me happy! Unfortunately, however, my brother and dad are both allergic to animals. Once I get a house of my own though you can guarantee that I will be getting a cat within the first month! Until then I get all the pet loving I need from my boyfriend's house, which is home to two cats, a dog, and a lizard. 

6. What would you do if you got to meet your movie star crush?

Hmm... to be honest? Probably nothing! I'm much too shy to go up to anyone famous to ask for a picture or an autograph. My dad has met a bunch of famous people through his old job including Don Cheadle, Guy Pierce, and Mark Walberg and even got to each lunch with some of them on the set of their movies. He's a much more outgoing and social guy them me haha! 

7. What would you do if you met your literary crush?

Probably admit myself to a psych ward considering Jane Austen has been dead for a long, long time! If I went back in some kind of time machine though and got to meet her that way I'd hope to just spend the day drinking tea, walking around the gardens and gossiping with her! 

8. Socks on or off when you sleep?

Hahaha! Interesting question! Until recently I always slept with my socks on, but in the house I'm currently renting my room is so warm that I have to take them off!

9. What book(s) have you been mad enough to throw across the room?

Hmmm... The ending of Mockingjay made me want to throw it across the room for a couple of months. I'm finally over my frustration now though after thinking about the author's motivations for doing what she did. I still wish she had made the relationship between Peeta and Katniss in the third book a little bit better though (see my review of Mockingjay for further details). 

10. What book(s) have you hugged to your chest in love?

Oh so many! Most recently though The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, A Million Suns, and Born Wicked. 

11. What was the name of a childhood stuffed animal?

I never really had a favourite stuffed animal as a child. I do have two stuffed animals that I got when I was older though (like 15) that still sit in my room back at home. One is a frog named Kermit (duh!) and the other is a bear named Tangerine because he is the brightest and most violent shade of orange ever! 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Illuminate

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

I'm not going to lie...The first thing that drew me to this book was its gorgeous cover. I love the lettering and the fact that it looks like it's actually illuminated. The shadow of wings against the wall is also a bit of a hint at what I think we can perhaps expect from the rest of this series (some kind of angel plot worked in!). While the synopsis of the story has me curious about where exactly this story will go, I think it could be one of those books where it is either really good or just average. Some of the plot seems pretty obvious to me right now...I mean her love interest's name is Lucian! Maybe it's just me but the name Lucian reminds me a lot of Lucifer! And the fact that her friend's name is Dante? As in Dante's Inferno? But then again the author could throw me through a complete loop and I could be totally wrong (which makes me even more curious to read the actual book). What do you guys think? Does Illuminate sound good to you? Guess we'll have to wait and find out what happens when it hits store shelves March 6th!

Monday, 6 February 2012

My New Obsession With Downton Abbey

As much as I love books, I have to admit that I'm a bit of a TV junkie. I love the anticipation that builds up each week as you wait for the next episode of your favourite show! It's almost like TV episodes are individual chapters of a book that keep you hanging on. Unlike a book, which I will tear through in a day if I'm given the chance, TV forces me to pace myself and enjoy the drama a bit longer. While I'll shamefully admit that I'm currently addicted to such shows as The Bachelor, Vampire Diaries, and New Girl...a new series snuck up on me a couple of weeks ago and has since taken over my daily hour of TV time that I set aside for myself. That's right folks...I started watching Downton Abbey!

For those of you still blissfully unaware of Downton Abbey and its pure awesomeness, here is a brief rundown of what it is about... The series focuses on the Earl and Countess of Grantham, their three daughters, and the numerous servants who keep their home running (aka Downton Abbey). The first season centers on the family's struggle to find an heir for Downton Abbey, as none of their daughters are able to inherit their wealth or money. When the heir is finally located, a distant cousin named Matthew who practices law, the family has high hopes that he will marry their eldest daughter Mary. Mary, however, is a bit of a free spirit, and does everything she can to resist the match hoped for by her parents.  Throughout the show, the threat of World War 1 looms in the background, affecting both the family and their servants alike. It's almost like the show is a soap opera set in the late Victorian Era!

So what is it about Downton Abbey that has me so obsessed? For one thing, it is a brilliant piece of storytelling! Every episode has its own source of excitement, and the lives of the various characters and the trouble they get up to will keep viewers hanging on at the end of each show! Whenever I turn on an episode of Downton Abbey before I go to bed I have to force myself not to finish the entire series in one night! It is just that addicting! One girl in my class actually watched the first two seasons over the course of a weekend because of all the cliffhangers!

Another thing that makes Downton Abbey so fabulous is the actors themselves. Although I've never heard of half of the people in the show, their acting is so amazing that they really do make the characters come to life! Between the villainous footman Will and the loyal butler Mr. Carson, I really feel like they are actual people whose lives we just happen to be catching a glimpse of. And of course, there is also the fact that Maggie Smith (Prof. Mcgonagall from Harry Potter) plays the role of the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey. She completely embraces the stuffy and stuck up nature of her character, a role which earned her an Emmy last year for best supporting Actress!

So would I suggest watching Downton Abbey? YES! If you are a fan of BBC, Austen, soap operas, or any other kind of romantic drama, you will soon become a Downton Abbey addict like myself. While I haven't finished Season 2 yet (halfway there but trying to make the anticipation last as long as possible), I'm already dreading the time that I'll have to wait until Season 3 starts in September. How will I get by without my daily dose of Downton? Think Downton Abbey sounds like something you might like to give a try? Check out the Season 1 preview commercial below!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.

Before I started reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, a couple of my blogging friends (Chels and a Book and Ikhlas) warned me that it was weird...but in a good way! I think those words are the perfect way to describe my reaction to this book. Between Mara's hallucinations and her struggle to maintain sanity, I sometimes felt like I myself was going a bit crazy at points, but the story was so gripping that I just couldn't put it down! I loved the fact that as the reader even I wasn't sure whether or not Mara was actually mentally unstable, or if her hallucinations were real. Although the final explanation of what was happening to Mara at the end of the novel wasn't what I was expecting, it certainly put me on the edge of my seat to find out what will happen next in the series. Unfortunately that's about all that I can say about the weirdness of the story without giving any spoilers away!

While I loved Michelle Hodkin's writing style, which was full of suspense, the one thing about this novel that I found difficult to fully accept was Noah's character. Sure he has the whole bad boy hotness going for him, but his whole tough reputation thing was a bit overplayed. There was also the fact that he was randomly British, which just seemed to push his character over the edge even more. While in most novels I generally like British accents or the bad boy who turns good, this combination just seemed like too much British bad boy oozing too much goodness for one story.

Despite my unresolved conflict with Noah, I still LOVED this book. It was both thrilling and suspenseful! The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer literally had me reading all day! During those rare occasions where I wasn't reading Mara Dyer, my hands were itching to pick it back up and start reading again! I'm really looking forward to the sequel, although I have no idea what direction Michelle Hodkin could possibly be thinking of taking this story next. Whatever happens though, if it's anything as good as The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer I'm sure that I'll love it!

Rating: A- (4 stars)
Recommended to
Fans of Suspense (or those who like reading about British bad boys!)