Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Why Haven't I Read More of their Books?

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

Have you ever read a book, loved it, and then decided you had to read more books by that author? And then...didn't? That's what this week's Top Ten Tuesday is all about. In alphabetical order, here are ten authors whose book I read and now find that I need to read more of. Note: it was completely unintentional that the first three on the list ended up being Canadian authors! Links lead to Goodreads or review.

Angie Abdou
I adored The Bone Cage. The writing and the story were fantastic and I want to see what Abdou's other work is like.

Joseph Boyden
I couldn't stop thinking about The Orenda after I finished it and I've heard that Boyden's other works are just as good.

Terry Fallis
I recently read my first Fallis book, No Relation, and enjoyed it. The boyfriend has read all of Fallis' others though and tells me he likes the older books better. I liked the humour so I imagine I'll love the other books even more.

Katie Fforde
I freaking loved Wedding Season and I still haven't read any more of Fforde's books. Silly because I really do love British chick lit.

Michele Gorman
Bella Summer Takes a Chance was so much fun and so enjoyable so I'm amazed that I haven't read more of her books yet.

Jenny Han
I was a Jenny Han virgin before reading To All the Boys I've Loved Before, despite owning the whole Summer series. I can't wait to read more of Han's work!

Sarah Jio
Yeah...I know. I've only read one of Jio's novels! I loved loved loved Goodnight June so I cannot wait to read the rest of her books.

Morgan Matson
I devoured Since You've Been Gone this past summer and Matson will now be my go to author when I need a good summer book. (Since I've read all of Sarah Dessen's. Multiple times.)

Ali McNamara
McNamara is another British chick lit author and I really enjoyed From Notting Hill with Love...Actually. There are more in that series so there's plenty more McNamara to love! 

Ali Novak
I really liked My Life with the Walter Boys and am really looking forward to reading other books from this young author. Particularly My Life as a Walter Boy!

Bonus: Two Cheater Entries

Gayle Forman
Technically I've read two Forman novels, Just One Day and Just One Year, but they're kind of the same, right? I mean, they're not, but they take place during the same time period so it's sort of the same. So I really need to read her others. Like, need to.

Erin Morgenstern
This is a cheat entry because she only has one book published and there are no upcoming titles listed on Goodreads. But The Night Circus was so freaking amazing that I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Save the Date

I was recently in a reading slump. *cue the horror music* I wasn't interested in anything I had to read (part of the problem, really, is that I have to read certain books for review...but that's a post for another day). I picked up two different books and put them down before finishing them (rare for me). I read another that I just wasn't thrilled with. But why does any of this matter to you? Because Mary Kay Andrews' Save the Date was the book that got me out of my slump. Woohoo! It was exactly what I needed to read...light, but not mind-numbing, with likeable, real characters.

Here's the synopsis:
A Savannah florist is about to score the wedding of a lifetime—one that will solidify her career as the go-to-girl for society nuptials. Ironically, Cara Kryzik doesn't believe in love, even though she creates beautiful flower arrangements to celebrate them. But when the bride goes missing and the wedding is in jeopardy, Cara must find the bride and figure out what she believes in. Maybe love really does exist outside of fairy tales after all. 
It's no real surprise that I enjoyed the wedding aspect of this book. I almost always love books that centre around weddings because I find that those occasions lend themselves well to chick lit and women's fiction novels. But this novel isn't all wedding all the time. I think that's because the heroine, Cara, isn't the one getting married. Instead, she's providing flowers (and sympathy and advice) to the brides of Savannah. In the novel, the weddings provided a way for certain characters to meet. Also, Cara's shop wasn't just there to provide flowers for the brides in the story. It had a lot of drama surrounding it because of the problems she was having (I don't want to give anything away since the synopsis doesn't even hint at those struggles) and I liked that. This leads to another thing I liked about this novel...

One of the things I like about women's fiction and chick lit is that they're not just about the romantic relationships. There almost always is one, and, let's be honest, I love that, but I need more from my romances. So, I was really happy that Cara's career and her shop played such a large role in the novel. I mean, I'm not happy that Cara was struggling so much but it was great to see her tackle the problems head on and learn from those struggles. She grew as a character, and a person, and I always love seeing that it the novels I read.

Of course, the romance was an important part of this book. When Cara and Jack meet, they're both very anti-love. Both of their last relationships ended badly and neither were looking for another. Plus, they didn't exactly meet under the best circumstances. I'm not telling you how they met but it's pretty amusing and unique. Definitely a good meet-cute! I was rooting for them throughout the whole story. I think the reason they had problems was pretty stupid, especially on Cara's part, and it felt too much like a plot device, but I'm glad they worked it out!

Overall, I really enjoyed Save the Date. Mary Kay Andrews' latest novel isn't groundbreaking but it was exactly what I needed to be reading so I liked every minute of it. This is a novel to read if you're looking for a feel-good story (you definitely get the HEA in this one!) with good characters and a good story-line.

*A copy of this novel was provided  by Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.*

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Giveaway: Meet Philippa Gregory!

If you're a historical fiction fan you'll know the name Philippa Gregory. The author of The Other Boleyn Girl (and many others) will be in Toronto on September 22nd talking about her latest novel, The King's Curse. And guess what? I have a ticket to give away! (Thank you, Simon & Schuster Canada!)

Curious about this book? Here's the synopsis:
Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.
After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.
Tickets for this event are only $5 and you can purchase them at TicketWeb (if you don't win this giveaway...or if you do and want to invite a friend!). Once you buy your ticket, join the Facebook event page. Don't have a copy of the book? Don't worry, Indigo will be on site selling books.

Some giveaway rules and info:
  • The winner must be able to get him/herself to the event (so make sure you can travel to Toronto!)
  • The winner will not receive an actual ticket. The winner's name will be on the guest list.
  • I will email the winner after the giveaway ends to confirm. If I do not hear back within 24 hours, I will choose another winner.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Event Recap: An Evening with Emily Giffin and Elle Canada

I'm super behind with a two of my bookish event recaps. Like, "this particular event happened in June and it's now September" behind. Oops! On June 16, I, and a whole bunch of other book lovers, crowded into a bar in Toronto to attend An Evening with Emily Giffin and Elle Canada. It was an awesome girls night out!

I try to make every Toronto visit into a social event so I was happy that two of my favourite Toronto authors, Lydia Laceby and Samantha Stroh Bailey, would be attending the event with me. It had been ages since I had seen them and this event was perfect for catching up while having a bookish time.

When we got into the event, which was held at The Citizen, we handed over our tickets and were given our swag bags in exchange. We could hardly wait to dive in to find out what we had been given! First order of business: free drinks! We could have wine or a specialty cocktail (and, of course, I didn't get a picture nor can I remember what was in it other than vodka...it was good though). We got two tickets so I tried both!

After getting our drinks, we decided to get our free Pandora bracelets and charm. Obviously, since it was a freebie, the bracelet isn't one of their high end ones but it's still very nice! I liked how they did the charms for this event - everyone got a charm with their astrological symbol on it. Cute idea, no? (I'm a Gemini, in case you're curious.)

Pic of a pic. Not ideal :)
There was a photo booth up at the Pandora station as well so we, of course, had to get a picture! While Sam and Lydia got one of just the two of them I did my blogger duty and pimped their books to the photographer!

We realized that the seats were filling up quickly so we hurried to find a place to sit (there were not enough seats to accommodate everyone and, even though we got seats, we didn't appreciate that there wasn't enough room).

Emily Giffin finally came out, talked/was interviewed for awhile, and then answered some questions from the audience. A typical sort of book event! She mentioned that she has never written anything autobiographical or based any characters on herself but Shea, the heroine of her latest book The One and Only, ended up being a lot like her. She said Shea's voice flowed more than any other character.

At the time of the event I was still trying to figure out what, exactly, I wanted to do with my life so I found this story meaningful: when Giffin was leaving the law office she worked at to move to London to work on Something Borrowed, a partner said, "Good luck with that whole writing thing" and she thought she'd die if she had to go back. She eventually realized that there was no shame in that as she wouldn't fail because she had tried

Other things to note...Giffin did say that she will write a sequel to Where We Belong (which makes me SO happy) and that she was currently at work on the Something Borrowed script (yay! More John Krasinksi!).

There were only a couple of brave males in the crowd who were there supporting their ladies (I think
the Argos cheerleaders thrilled the guys more than the rest of the event!). One guy was sitting next to me and during the interview portion of the night he pulled out his girlfriend's copy of the novel and started reading! Too cute.

Even though I'd met Giffin before, I decided to wait in line to get my complimentary copy of The One and Only personalized (each swag bag contained a signed copy). Definitely worth it to have another signed book in my collection! (Just realized I don't have a pic of the book and it's now at my mom's waiting for her to read it!)

Overall, the event was a pretty good one. I think I enjoyed meeting up with the girls and being in the city more than the actual event itself (you know when an author's personality doesn't thrill you like another author's might? Yeah...that...) but I'm still happy I went. The swag bag, which included delicious cookies, definitely helped ;)

Stay tuned for another couple of event recaps in the next few weeks as I play catch up :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: You Can Sit With Us

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is playing on the back to school theme that seems to be popping up everywhere. Especially since here in Canada the kiddies are back to class today! This TTT is asking, if I was back at school, which characters would be at my lunch table? Ooh, so tough! So I'm kind of cheating. Note: I definitely didn't intend to make this an exclusively female list. I guess my lunch table is my equivalent to a fort...no boys allowed! Unless they're wearing pink on Wednesdays. Links lead to Goodreads.

Kim from Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr.
I freaking love Kim and I think we'd immediately hit it off. Could we perhaps have a liquid lunch?

Basically any Sarah Dessen heroine but especially Remy from This Lullaby and Auden from Along for the Ride.
I love Dessen's main characters because they're so freaking real. I'm not a teenager any more but hanging out with them would be a lot of fun. Maybe if I'm eating lunch with them, fictional characters, it means I can also go back to being a teenager? :)

Cassie from S.E.C.R.E.T. series by L. Marie Adeline.
It might be a little inappropriate for the lunch table but I'd really like to know more about the women she met in New Orleans and through S.E.C.R.E.T. Plus, Cassie seems like one awesome woman that I'd love to get to know more about her.

All the girls in the When Girlfriends... series by Savannah Page.
The six girlfriends in this series are all different but each of them would be a lot of fun to hang out with!

Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
She's such a smart and funny teen who's dealt with too much in her life. Getting the chance to hang with her would be great.

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
She might have some difficulty with the cafeteria food but wouldn't it be great to get to know Lizzie and find out what Darcy was really like?

Lexi from Hard Hats and Doormats by Laura Chapman.
Lexi and I could totally be besties so lunch time with her would be awesome.

Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
I wish I could sit down with her and help her through her first year of post-secondary school. It's tough! And I'd love to hear more about Levi aka one of the best book boyfriends ever.

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Anne-with-an-e has been a favourite character of mine for many years. How cool would it be to hang out with the literary world's favourite redhead?

Anne Blythe from Arranged by Catherine McKenzie.
Not to be confused with the married Anne Shirley, Anne Blythe is the heroine in my favourite McKenzie book. She ends up taking part in an arranged marriage and I'd definitely want to hear about that. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: The Heiresses

If you're looking for an addicting novel to read before the summer is out look no further than The Heiresses by Sara Shepard. (Yes, the Sara Shepard behind the hit series Pretty Little Liars.) I've never read (or watched) PLL but I know the basic idea. Some may say The Heiresses has a similar "whodunit" in a high class world but that didn't matter to me. I loved it.

Here's the synopsis:
You know the Saybrooks. Everyone does. Perhaps you’ve read a profile of them in People or have seen their pictures in the society pages of Vogue. Perhaps while walking along that choice block on Fifth Avenue, you’ve been tempted to enter the ornate limestone building with their family name etched into the pediment above the door.
The only thing more flawless than a Saybrook’s diamond solitaire is the family behind the jewelry empire. Beauties, entrepreneurs, debutantes, and style mavens, they are the epitome of New York City’s high society. But being a Saybrook comes at a price—they are heirs not only to a dizzying fortune but also to a decades-old family curse.
Tragedy strikes the prominent family yet again when thirty-four-year-old Poppy, the most exquisite Saybrook of them all, flings herself from the window of her TriBeCa office. Everyone is shocked that a woman who had it all would end her own life. Then her cousins receive an ominous threat: one heiress down, four to go.
Was it suicide... or murder? In the aftermath of the tragedy, the remaining heiresses—Corinne, the perfectionist; Rowan, the workaholic; Aster, the hedonist; and Natasha, the enigma—wrestle with feelings of sadness, guilt, and, most of all, fear. Now they must uncover the truth about their family before they lose the only thing money can’t buy: their lives.
I had a feeling The Heiresses would be an intriguing read but I had no idea it would be as addictive as it was. This quality was due, in part, to the mystery surround the Saybrooks. Are they really cursed as the blog that chronicles their ups and downs suggests? I liked learning about the family history (which I found was shared in a great way...Shepard didn't fall into the "but the characters would already know this" trap) because, hello, there was a massive amount of money and diamonds involved.

I really had no idea how it would conclude. I couldn't figure out who did it! There were so many conflicting clues that it was hard to pinpoint the murderer and that made the book oh so much better.

Be warned though: the novel ends with a MAJOR cliffhanger so I assume (and hope hope hope) that there will be a second book. This warning is for those who don't want to get into another series or who may want to wait until more than one book is released. I can't tell when the next one will be published but I need it now!

There are a lot of characters in The Heiresses. So many, in fact, that there is a family tree in the front of the book. It was confusing at first but I found I quickly caught on to who was who (and who's slept with who) and eventually stopped consulting the front of the book. Speaking of characters, I'm a huge character person and almost always need to like the main character in order to enjoy the book. I can't say that I particularly loved any of the Saybrook heiresses but I was intrigued by them. They all had a distinct personality and I think that helped me like them more than I otherwise would.

I'd also like to take a moment to acknowledge the beauty of this cover. I love it. The colours, the view, the font. Ah! Love.

The Heiresses is perfect for your end of summer read. It's a long weekend here in Canada so it's a great time to get yourself to the bookstore! Pick up Sara Shepard's novel and settle in for a mysterious, gossipy, addicting weekend.

*I received an ARC of this novel from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for review consideration. My review is honest, as always!*

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Solsbury Hill

When I first heard about Susan M. Wyler's novel, Solsbury Hill, I was immediately drawn in by the cover. I LOVE IT. Then, once I got past the gorgeous cover, the synopsis intrigued me a little more. I was a bit hesitant to read this one as I'm hit or miss when it comes to Gothic novels. In the end, I didn't love the book but I didn't hate it either.

Here's the synopsis:
The windswept moors of England, a grand rustic estate, and a love story of one woman caught between two men who love her powerfully—all inspired by Emily Bronte’s beloved classic, Wuthering Heights. Solsbury Hill brings the legend of Catherine and Heathcliff, and that of their mysterious creator herself, into a contemporary love story that unlocks the past.
When a surprise call from a dying aunt brings twenty-something New Yorker Eleanor Abbott to the Yorkshire moors, and the family estate she is about to inherit, she finds a world beyond anything she might have expected. Having left behind an American fiance, here Eleanor meets Meadowscarp MacLeod—a young man who challenges and changes her. Here too she encounters the presence of Bronte herself and discovers a family legacy they may share.
With winds powerful enough to carve stone and bend trees, the moors are another world where time and space work differently. Remanants of the past are just around a craggy, windswept corner. For Eleanor, this means ancestors and a devastating romantic history that bears on her own life, on the history of the novel Wuthering Heights, and on the destinies of all who live in its shadow.
I am not a Wuthering Heights fan. At all. I've even read it twice! (Not by choice...it was for two separate English assignments. One in high school and one in university.) Maybe I just don't get it...don't understand the so-called grand love story in it. But, even knowing my severe dislike for the novel, I wanted to give Solsbury Hill a try. It's not trying to be like Wuthering Heights. It's connected to the classic novel because of the location (the moors! the old house!) and the family history. Bronte fans will like the similarities between the novels but non-Wuthering Heights fans, like myself, can still find enjoyment in the story.

One of the big things keeping me from loving this book was the way it was written. It was divided into parts instead of chapters (there were four parts and an epilogue in total) and I wasn't always sure why the parts needed to be differentiated. It didn't always seem like there was a difference or a change from one part to the next. The other thing was just some of the phrasing. It was a little choppy and I sometimes felt like I was missing information. For example, early on in the book, Eleanor describes her friend Violet, who she and Miles were going to see. But then all of a sudden they're at Eleanor's apartment and I had no idea what had just happened. 

The story in Solsbury Hill was what kept me reading to the end of the novel. I was intrigued by the ghost Eleanor was seeing and the information she learned from her. I wanted to know what Eleanor would do - would she stay in England? Would she end up with Miles or Mead? The mystery and intrigue kept me reading but it wasn't quite enough to make me fall in love with the book.

Overall, Solsbury Hill was a good read. I think others would really like Susan M. Wyler's novel, especially those who are Wuthering Heights/Bronte/Gothic fans. 

*A copy of this novel was received by the publicist in exchange for review consideration.*