Saturday, April 28, 2012

Just Finished: Forgotten

Catherine McKenzie is one of my favourite authors - she gets bonus points for being Canadian - so I was very excited when I learned she would be publishing a new book this spring. Forgotten (published May 1) is McKenzie's third novel (I've reviewed her first two on this blog, Spin is here and Arranged is here and both made it on my top books I read in 2011) and I was lucky enough to snag a review copy from NetGalley.

Here's the synopsis for her new release:
When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?
Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.
When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?
It's quite the interesting premise, isn't it? I can't know exactly what Emma was feeling during this insane/tumultuous/stressful time but because of the way McKenzie writes I was better able to imagine it. I did think that Emma was crazy because she assumed she could just plop herself back into her old life without any issues whatsoever but I didn't think she needed to change something about her life, as many others believed she should. If you like your life, why should you bother changing things just because you've gone through a traumatic event? Makes sense to me. It was tough to read when Emma realized that things were not going to be as easy as she hoped. It's a brutal situation but she handles it well and I was so happy with the way things turned out for her.

Even though this book deals with some pretty serious issues there are still some light and humorous moments. For example, there is a scene that involves Emma wishing she could use the Marauder's Map incantation from Harry Potter. This would be most hilarious to Harry Potter lovers but even those who don't know which spell I mean can appreciate the humour in an adult female lawyer wishing she was able to use the same magic as teenage boy wizard.

I don't want to give anything away (and, ok, I didn't make specific notes) but I just want to say - I love love love the New Year's Eve scene. It's sweet, fun, and a little heartbreaking all at once.

I adored Emma's best friend Stephanie. The two were childhood best friends who continued to grow closer as they got older. Stephanie has been with Emma through it all and is able to provide a family-type link when Emma is left alone after her mother's death. She knows just when to push Emma and when to leave her on her own, and is always there for her. In short, she's an amazing best friend - and a well written character. In fact, I would love to learn more about Stephanie and find out what she's up to now. At the end of Forgotten she's launching a new business that I think would be quite entertaining. What do you think, Catherine - care to write a sequel that focuses on Stephanie? :)

I could probably continue gushing about this novel but I won't. Instead I will say: I cannot recommend Catherine McKenzie's books enough. If you want to check them out and wonder what order you should read them in, I would personally suggest starting with Spin, moving on to Forgotten, and finishing up with Arranged. By then, I would hope that you'll be just like me - already eagerly awaiting her next novel.

Happy reading :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Excerpt: Kiss Me, Dancer

Authors Alicia and Roy Street are currently on tour with CLP Blog Tours with their novel Kiss Me, Dancer. I haven't read this book myself but after checking out this excerpt I think I might have to! Hope you all enjoy it as well :)

Casey Richardson stopped correcting the drooping hands and unpointed feet of her nine and ten-year-old students doing ronde de jambes at the barre when a man barged into her sunny mirrored studio, interrupting her Saturday morning ballet class.
A man who just happened to resemble a Greek god walking the earth in jeans and silky black tee. She ignored the flush of heat going through her at the sight of this hunk and said, “Excuse me, sir, but we have a class in session.” He shot Casey an impatient glance, stunning her with teal blue eyes. Grabbed little Josh by the arm and tugged him toward the lobby.
She’d seen Josh’s parents at the last dance recital, and this guy definitely was not one of them. “Wait a second,” Casey said, trying to cut him off as he made his way from the studio. “What do you think you’re doing?”
He stepped past her.
The classroom of students fell silent. Casey turned to them. “Same drill. Ronde de jambes. Let’s go.” She nodded to Jiao at the piano. Her accompanist went into Chopin’s Waltz in C-sharp minor.
Casey raced out to the lobby after the man (trying not to notice he had the most splendid back she’d ever seen). Timid Josh gave him no resistance, but looked like he was about to cry.
“Lisa, block the door.” The eighteen-year-old intern at the desk just sat there wide-eyed, unprepared for the sudden call to arms.
But Casey wasn’t about to let some pervert make off with one of her precious flock. As the hunk reached for the door handle she slipped in front of him, her back to the door, her palms pressed like stop signs against his chest. She told herself she didn’t notice the hard curve of muscle beneath her hands. Or that his face looked even better up close.
“Hold it or I’ll call the police. Who are you, and what do you want with Josh?”


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten All Time Favourite Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. They created this feature 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 list is Top Ten All Time Favourite Characters. Don't forget to check out their blog for a full list of everyone participating.

1. Ron Weasley - Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I could probably fill up this list with all Harry Potter characters but Ron is definitely my favourite. It's great to see him come into his own over the course of the series.

2. Anne Shirley - Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery
There's just something to love about this free spirited red head from PEI and I loved reading the series back to back to see how she grew and what happened in her life.

3. Elizabeth Bennet - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Ah, Pride and Prejudice. Great book with a fantastic protagonist. I know I'm not alone when I say she's my favourite Austen heroine. She's got spirit and doesn't try to hide it - this is huge in an era when women were not supposed to have much of a personality.

4. Jessica Darling - Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty
This series was so amazing because it featured a smart, witty, and different kind of teen girl. Perfection.

5. Katniss Everdeen - The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
In a time where female YA protagonists are not always very strong (ahem, Bella), Katniss provides an amazing character to young girls. She has to deal with issues that many teens can relate to (other than the whole having to kill other teenagers thing) and she handles them in a strong way.

6. Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
It's kind of strange to pick a real person as a favourite character but in all fairness, she did write her life as fictional books. I love Laura because she shows how resilient you had to be in the late 1800s. We may think life was oh so hard back then and yes, her novels show that, but they also show how much fun could be had and I really like that.

7. Remy - This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Remy is the main character in my favourite Dessen novel. She's got a bit more spunk and energy than some of her other characters and I think I was drawn to that. She's tough and vulnerable all at once and just plain awesome.

8. Bridget Vreeland - Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares
This was another one where I could have picked any of the main characters but I think Bridget tops my list of the girls of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I think it's because she seemed to be much more complex than the other girls, in that she had issues that required a lot more work to sort out. When I was reading Sisterhood Everlasting she was the character that I really wanted to see settled and figured out.

9. Georgia Nicolson - Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison
These books were freaking hilarious - great for a teen girl. I think they were so funny because Georgia herself is funny. Besides, you can't help rooting for a girl who has an evil, massive cat named Angus and a pain in the butt little sister. She's just trying to live a normal teenage life which, of course, includes some quality snogging :)

10. Jane Madison - Jane Madison series by Mindy Klasky
Jane is a librarian and a witch. How neat would that be? I think that says it all!

After I completed this list I noticed a trend. A lot of these characters are from a series and I think I can figure out why I gravitated towards those characters - it's because I've had more time (ie books) to learn to love them. Does that make sense to everyone else?

Who would YOU choose as your top fictional characters? Let me know!

Happy reading :)

Author Post: Nancy Scrofano

Yesterday I reviewed Nancy Scrofano's debut novel True Love Way (missed it? Check it out here). Today, Nancy was kind enough to write a guest post for Books Etc. A big thank you to Nancy for the post and for allowing me to take part in the tour for her novel! Happy reading :)

How An Idea Became A Novel

My debut novel, True Love Way, is about friendship at its core. There are romances and a main love story, but the basis of all of it is friendship. Initially, I knew I wanted to write a novel about friendship. Specifically, childhood friendships turned into adult friendships and how they transitioned and changed throughout the years. I wanted to see what would happen if there was something that was holding two childhood friends together, something that would force them to work out whatever obstacles came their way. I knew that the main character would be stuck in the past because the story would essentially be about how she finally moves forward with her life. I wanted to give her a huge obstacle that would be the ultimate test of friendship and forgiveness. Before writing anything, I always outline the story and figure out exactly who the characters are so that I have a clear vision of where the story will go. True Love Way changed along the way as I wrote since new elements were added and deleted, but the original idea remained the same from start to finish. 
Marlo Spencer is the main character, and the book begins when her past and her present collide. She has felt a void in her life since her high school boyfriend, Josh, left the country right after they graduated and cut all ties with her. Up until he left, Marlo and Josh were inseparable since they were four years old. Marlo remained friends with her other childhood best friend, Savannah, and even became much closer to Savannah’s older brother, Nik, in recent years. When Josh returns, Marlo, Savannah, and Nik must confront the past and truly be honest with each other. I knew that the stakes had to be high and the secrets had to be heartbreaking in order for Marlo to really see her friendships and relationships for what they actually were, not only how she idealized them. Marlo tends to put those who are dear to her on pedestals and always wants to see the good in them, but the reality is that no one is perfect. If Marlo can accept her closest friends’ flaws and mistakes, then maybe she can finally accept and deal with her own. 
Once I had the basic idea for True Love Way, it took a few weeks to outline the story and for everything to come together. When I began writing, the storyline took shape naturally. It took me a year to write True Love Way, and it has been over two years since I first came up with the concept for it. I’m extremely proud of how it turned out, and so happy to see my idea come to life on the pages of True Love Way.

Author Bio Nancy Scrofano is the author of True Love Way and writes book reviews for a prestigious book review magazine. Additionally, she is the founder and managing editor of The Chick Lit Bee, a book blog that promotes and celebrates women’s fiction. Nancy is at work on her next novel. For more information, please visit

Monday, April 23, 2012

Blog Tour: True Love Way

Welcome to a stop on the True Love Way tour! Nancy Scrofano's debut novel was a fun read and while it won't feature on my top ten list, I'm still really glad I got the chance to read it.

Here's the synopsis for this novel:
Marlo Spencer relishes all things retro. Old TV shows, classic movies, and even the collectible lunch boxes to go with them. In fact, she’s quite cozy in her Malibu apartment, surrounded by her treasured knick-knacks and vintage memorabilia. It’s her best friend, Nik, who doesn’t get her fascination with all that “old junk,” as he calls it. He especially doesn’t understand why she’s so keen to get back to their hometown of Napa when her high school sweetheart, Josh, suddenly returns after twelve years in Paris and nary a single phone call, eager to reunite with her. So, when Marlo heads up north to wine country to rekindle her relationship with Josh, Nik tags along, claiming he was already planning to visit his sister, Savannah, Marlo’s gal pal. Once they reach Napa, however, dreams of a blissful reunion are shattered as old secrets and past betrayals are revealed, leaving an unsuspecting Marlo to pick up the pieces. Can she forgive and forget, or will true love find a different path to her heart?
Sometimes I really enjoy friendship turned relationship stories and sometimes I get frustrated because the characters in question are obviously blind to the attraction between them. Happily, True Love Way leaned towards the former. I know the synopsis doesn't mention this part of the story so I'm really hoping I don't give too much away (please forgive me if I do!). I figured Nik secretly had a thing for Marlo but I could tell that she had absolutely no clue. This provided enough drama without being overwhelming and Scrofano had enough plot twists to leave me unsure of how the story would wrap up.

At first I wondered if Marlo had completely lost her mind. Her first love is suddenly calling her up and asking to see her again after twelve years. She immediately wants to see him and seems to think that they can pick things up again where they left off. One teensy, tiny problem - they last spoke to each other a dozen years ago!! Marlo is so convinced that things will work out with her and Josh that she's completely blind to several other important matters. The aforementioned feelings Nik has for her being one of them. Even though I thought she needed to think things through a little bit more, I know I would have gone to see Josh if I was in her shoes. I may not have assumed that we would get married and have lots of babies and that everything would be a-ok but I would definitely want to see what he was up to and what sort of feelings were still lingering.

I loved the family aspect to this novel. I'm not sure if it was Scrofano's intention but the importance of family is incredibly prominent in this book. Marlo is close to her parents even though she lives a few hours away. She and Nik regularly visit her Aunt Margaret, which is so sweet. (By the way, her aunt is a fabulous character. You will love her as much as I did. I promise.) Then there's Marlo's other family - Savannah, her daughter, and Nik - which is just as strong as her blood relations. It was nice to read about these strong relationships. Each character had multiple people who showed that they would stand by them, no matter what, even when the world seems to be crashing down around them. It's the kind of family that almost everyone would wish for.

Marlo and Savannah have such a strong friendship that nothing can break it. Seriously. This book is proof of that. I would like to say I would have been as mature as Marlo in the situation they find themselves in but I don't know if I could do it. I was actually incredibly upset with Savannah and it took me much longer than Marlo to forgive her. I am glad that things worked out for the best for everyone involved, even though I do foresee some awkward moments for the group in the future. And yes, I know that's super vague but I'm referring to a very important plot twist here so I'm not giving anything else away :)

I happened upon the synopsis of this novel well before I was asked to participate in this blog tour. I immediately told one of my best friends about it because I thought she would really enjoy it. She's an old soul and loves vintage things, just like Marlo. Even though I didn't love this book I still think my friend, and other chick lit lovers, would enjoy it. Sometimes a book doesn't totally click due to a personality thing and I think True Love Way was one of those books for me. So don't let any of my less than positive thoughts influence you too much. I still think readers should give Nancy Scrofano's novel a shot. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on her and will very likely read whatever she comes out with next!

Thank you to Lucie Simone at Simon and Fig and Nancy Scrofano for the review copy for this tour!

Check back tomorrow when Nancy stops by Books Etc. with a guest post.

Happy reading :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Awesome Things

A little while ago I wrote a review of The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. This book was a compilation of some of the posts on Neil's blog "1000 Awesome Things." Why am I mentioning this again? Well, after 4 years of writing his blog, the final awesome thing was finally announced. Ready for it?

This got me thinking...what would I want it to be? Immediately my thoughts went to books. To me, pretty much anything to do with books is awesome.

I've thought this ever since I learned what books least, that's what my mom says. I learned to read early and some of my happiest memories involved going on trips to the library in my home town. My first job was actually at said library. I worked there all four years of high school. My first summer job out of university? A bookstore. And if you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know that I still read. A lot. Some may say too much. I ignore those people. :)

I like reading because it transports me to another world. I love getting wrapped up in the lives of the characters in the story. It provides a bit of an escape when you need a break from your insane or boring life.

There is always something to suit your needs, too. Humour? Check. Romance? Check. Books filled with pictures of nothing but polar bears? Check. (Hey, you never know what you're in the mood for.) Point is, there are SO MANY book options that no one should ever say "I couldn't find anything I wanted to read." Look harder - sometimes that's half the fun!

I love talking about books with people. I will happily discuss books with anyone who wants to and some who don't. I'm happiest when someone stops at my desk at work to talk about book recommendations. (Yes, I'm aware of what that says about my day job, haha) I've just recently joined a book club and I'm really looking forward to our next meeting. Why? Because we will talk about a book that I've just become obsessed with and desperately need to talk about more (The Hunger Games, in case you're curious). As I have learned since starting this blog over a year ago there is a much larger book lover community than I had previously thought. Libraries and book stores used to be the easiest place to find like minded people. Now? We have the world wide web. There are TONS of book lovers out there who love many different genres and are just as eager to talk about books as I am. That, my friends, is awesome.

What about the awesomeness of libraries? They are a place to go to find books. That in itself is awesome. What makes it better is that you can take them home and enjoy them...FOR FREE. You didn't like the book? No big deal. You borrowed it and it didn't cost you anything. You ending up enjoying it and now absolutely adore the author? Now you know to pick up their latest book at the store when it's released - and perhaps all of their previous works as well! Wandering through the stacks can be an awesome experience too. You're just walking through, minding your own business, and BAM! A book jumps out at you, you take it off the shelf, and realize you've just found your next great read. Awesome.

I could really keep going on about the awesomeness of reading and libraries and all things bookish but I'm going to let you come up with some of your own ideas.

What would YOU pick for the #1 awesome thing?

Happy reading :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mini Review: It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night by Lisa Dale was another vacation read from way back in February so this will be another mini review. I was thinking I might be crazy for reading a book with a winter scene on the cover when I was in the Bahamas but the chilly season didn't feature heavily in the story. Phew!

Here's the synopsis:

Sometimes love finds you when you least expect it.
Lana Biel has always wanted to shake the dust of Vermont off her feet and see the world, one exotic country after another. But when a lighthearted spring fling changes her life forever, she turns to the one man whose strong shoulders can lighten any burden: her best friend, Eli Ward. Eli has always been there for Lana--after all, that's what best friends do.
But Lana isn't the only one hiding something. Eli is keeping secrets of his own that threaten their relationship. Yet as summer turns to fall, new desires awaken between them, even as old fears tear them apart. Then, when another Vermont winter fills the valleys with snow, Eli and Lana are given the chance for an adventure greater than they ever dreamed possible...and a love that will last for all time.
I was really looking forward to this book but, unfortunately, it was a bit of a let down. Part of it was the storyline and part were the characters. It drove me crazy that Lana bottled everything up and wouldn't let her emotions come through. This caused many more issues - she should have just learned to say what she thought! Lana had so much going on and unfortunately she wasn't able to lean on her sister, Karin, because she was too wrapped up in her own issues and always seemed to be negative.

This novel was all about facing your feelings and really understanding why you are the way you are. Each character - Lana, Eli, Karin - all learn something important about themselves over the course of the novel and that was nice to read, even if it was frustrating while they were learning! Overall, this was a decent book. Others may really enjoy it more but I think I have to put this one in the just-not-for-me column.

Happy reading :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just Finished: When Love Aligns

Welcome to my very first single short story review! I've reviewed compilations a few times before but When Love Aligns by Jennifer Daiker is the first stand alone short story that I've read in awhile. I've read some of Daiker's work before and really enjoyed it so I was expecting good things from this story.

Let's start off with the synopsis:

What do you do when you match the love of your life to someone else? Time is running out for this Goddess of Love to set things right and win her soul mate’s heart…without magic. Matchmaking just got a lot more interesting.
Drew just made the worst mistake the Goddess of Love could ever make. Accidentally matching her soul mate to another woman! What was she thinking?
Match making has always been Drew’s destiny – it’s the only things she’s good at. But time is of the essence, and the last thing she needs is for the Gods to discover her glitch. Her Goddess of Love status would be severed permanently. Now Drew has to convince Jack that she’s his one true love…without the use of her magic! Will she succeed before it’s too late?
As usual, Daiker created a sweet and entertaining story. I liked that she included a magical element because I haven't encountered a good magical chick lit story in awhile. It was an interesting premise - what would happen if the Goddess of Love fell in love herself? Is that even allowed? I liked following Drew and Jack and wondered how they would be able to be together.

I have found that I'm the type of person who will not read the synopsis right before reading the book. I'll read it when I buy it or agree to accepting a review copy but I won't read it again until I'm putting it up in a post. I've found that this gives me more surprises and allows me to enjoy the book more because I'm not expecting anything that was given away in the write up. In the case of this short story, I completely forgot that the main character was the Goddess of Love. I was a bit confused at the start but I don't think that all came from not knowing that Drew was magical. I feel like I was missing a chapter because I wasn't sure who all the characters were and it seemed as though I was expected to. Fortunately, this confusion was the only negative I found with this story.

Did I love When Love Aligns as much as I did the other stories Daiker has written? No. Will I read whatever she comes out with next? Absolutely. Jennifer Daiker has quickly become an author I want to keep an eye on because she always creates sweet but real and entertaining stories. I look forward to reading her next work!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April Chick Lit Challenge Read: What Stays in Vegas

Welcome to my April Chick Lit Challenge review! I actually read What Stays in Vegas by Beth Labonte way back in February but I've been so incredibly busy with moving and starting a new job that I am only just now able to get a review up. That being said, please forgive me if you find this review a little lacking - I read this ages ago and didn't make good enough notes! I was on a cruise, can you blame me? :) It was a great vacay read because it was funny, cute, and entertaining.

Here's the synopsis for this novel:
Bored administrative assistant, Tessa Golden, is trapped in a life of lousy weather, irritating bosses, and mind-numbing secretarial work. Her dreams of being an artist have rapidly deteriorated into building things out of paperclips while on hold with tech support. To make matters even worse, the love of her life has gone off and married another woman.
So when Tessa is suddenly transferred to the Las Vegas branch of her company - playing wingwoman to her freshly divorced boss, juggling a client from hell, and catching the eye of one very eligible coworker - will her life finally be shaken up enough to straighten itself out?
This was one of those books where I was always thinking about the story and the characters even when I wasn't reading it. The story kept me entertained and wondering what was going to happen to Tessa and her friends. There were some mildly outrageous escapades but it seemed to work for me - perhaps because it was taking place in Vegas and everything about Vegas seems outrageous to me! There were a couple of times I wanted to yell "What are you doing?!?" but I was invested in Tessa and her life, not annoyed by it. Overall, I thought she was a great character.

The romantic storyline in this book was fun and kept me guessing. I thought I had figured out how the ending was going to play out early on but Labonte threw in enough curveballs to make things interesting. And Chris? Sigh...I absolutely love him. That's all I'm going to say about that - read the book yourself to see how things unfold!

I thought the ending was great. I knew something had to totally blow up but the pieces ended up falling back into place perfectly. I'm so happy with the way Tessa's life turned out.

One of the things I liked about this book was that it provided a character who was able to go after what she wanted. She's working a boring job that is just a paycheque, it's not what she really wants to do. Like a lot of people, Tessa figured she would always have to work some sort of job and do her art on the side, as a hobby. It was nice to see her evolution and realization that she can turn her passion into a full time career.

I'm really hoping this review results in at least a few more people reading this book. I really enjoyed it and think many others will too. Plus, if you have a Kindle it's only $0.99! (If you want to buy it, click on the Amazon link below) A big thank you to Beth for sending me a copy of her novel to review. I'm so glad I got the chance to read this one. I encourage you all to give this book a try - and then let me know what you think!

Happy reading! :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

I hope you're all having a wonderful Easter weekend with friends and family. Any holiday that allows for copious amounts of chocolate and reading is a good one in my book!

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

My New Obsession: The Hunger Games

I feel as though I need to start this post with a bit of an explanation. I can hear all sorts of assumptions being made - "Oh, she only read the books because the movie was being released." Honestly? That's only part of the reason. I've known about The Hunger Games series since the first book was released back in 2008  because I used to work in a book store. This job allowed me know when books were released and to have an idea of what was popular. When I had tons of people telling me something is good I usually paid attention. Key word being usually. The Hunger Games was on my radar and even though I had co-workers telling me I MUST READ THEM, I never did. Part of it was because I was 21 when the first book came out. Not exactly the target demographic for a YA series. The other part was that I just didn't think the subject matter would be interesting to me. Post apocalyptic world? Kids fighting other kids to the death? No thanks. So I kept putting it off. I would walk by the books on my shift and every once and awhile would think about reading them but I would always dismiss it. Once the movie buzz started way back when I started thinking more seriously about the series. Then I saw the trailers. That's when the actual story started to interest me - I think I just needed it shoved in my fact to really get it. So, in a way, I did jump on the bandwagon. And I'm finally starting to come to terms with that. The point of all this rambling (and be prepared...this post is going to be massive and will contain a lot more rambling) is that I finally got around to reading this series by Suzanne Collins. And guys,


Cue own butt kicking.

Why did I wait so long to read these books? Stupid, stupid me. Oh well. I've read them and am now totally obsessed.

As I mentioned, I'm not exactly the target audience for these books so not many of my friends have read them (and if they have they are keeping that fact under wraps). Since I love to talk about what I'm reading, especially when it's such a powerful story, I was constantly texting my one friend who has read them with updates on my thoughts as insane things occurred. Needless to say (at least to those of you who have read the books), I was texting him a lot. Things like, I can't believe they killed that character! Or, woah why is that happening? So I feel that I must say: thanks for putting up with me! :)

I'm glad I had at least one person to really bug about these books because they're so intense that I really needed to talk it out. This intensity is really what made me love the books. I could feel all of Katniss' emotions and was constantly on edge, just as she was. The circumstances she finds herself in are just so unfathomable but Collins writes in such a way that you're connected and can understand what's going on, even though it's nothing like our own lives (thank goodness).

A Mockingjay Pin
I have to say that I'm so glad I was able to read all three books back to back to back. I understand cliffhangers and get why they're used but Collins took them to a whole other level. For both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire I exclaimed "WHAT?!?" at the end and needed to know what was going to happen next. I would have been so frustrated if I had to wait for the next book to be released. I felt better knowing that I could dive right into the next one.

For those of you considering this series and think it's too violent - you're probably right. A lot of characters die. Not only that but they're gruesome, bloody deaths. It's not pretty. But, if you don't think about the fact that everything started with these Games where 24 kids are thrown into an arena to fight to their death...ok, you'll probably think about it. But don't focus on that. Focus on the story - Katniss' life, the romance (which, happily, doesn't feature too prominently like some other series' *cough* Twilight *cough*), the uprisings. Prepare yourself for the deaths of favourite characters because it will happen and it's incredibly sad (yes. I teared up in both Catching Fire and Mockingjay). I actually went into reading this series expecting everyone to die. And no, I am not going to tell you if I was right. Read them yourself. Anyway. Have I depressed you enough with all this death talk? Even though the books are violent and that's not usually my thing, I still loved them and I don't think anyone should let that issue stand in the way of reading these books.

It's been awhile since I've been so totally engrossed in a book. I was hooked from page one. As I write this, I'm still thinking about the series even though I finished Mockingjay a couple of days ago. I'm trying to do everything I can to prolong this feeling. I want to live in the world of Panem for just a little while longer. True book lovers will understand this. Sometimes you happen upon a book or series and you become so involved  in story and the lives of the characters that you just never want to leave.

This isn't so much a review post as it is an overall feeling on the books. There's not much I can say that hasn't been said before. Great for teens and adults alike. Yes, it will be a little violent for some. It's not as good as Harry Potter but it comes close. It's definitely better than Twilight. It provides an amazing heroine for young girls. Mockingjay is horribly depressing because Katniss is incredibly broken and it's essentially a war book. Other than that last fact, they're just plain awesome and everyone should read them :)

Am I going to read any other books on those "if you liked The Hunger Games  you'll like these books" lists? Probably not. I didn't read it for the world Katniss lived in. I read it for the story, which is the reason I read Twilight too. Do I like vampires? Not particularly. Did I enjoy the story? Yes. Even though I know what I usually like, I am going to try and keep a more open mind from this point forward because I now know what it's like to almost miss out on something amazing. Don't let it happen to you! If you haven't read these ones yet...well, I can't recommend them enough.

Happy reading...and may the odds be ever in your favour!

(sorry...couldn't resist!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mini Review: The Next Always

I wanted to do a mini review of The Next Always by Nora Roberts because I really enjoyed this new series and think other romance readers would love it too. Roberts' is my guilty pleasure author - the books of hers that I've read are all sweet and fun and have attractive male characters. And bonus: some of her latest ones have had gorgeous covers. When I saw that she was releasing the first novel of a new series I decided that would be a great Christmas present for my mom...and sort of me too since I stole it from her as soon as she was done reading it :)

Here's the synopsis of book one of The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy:
The historic hotel in BoonsBoro, Maryland, has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect of the family, Beckett’s social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen…
I want to move to Boonsboro. Immediately. And I plan on kicking Clare out of the book store she owns and taking it over as my own. (Clare is the girl Beckett's been in love with since he was 15, by the by) The store is totally perfect in a way only a store in a fictional small town can be. I love the following quote because I totally agree with it (it was one of my favourite things about working at Coles) and it shows how Clare's love of books really came through the writing:
She loved new shipments, opening the cartons and finding books, the covers that closed in all those stories, all those world, all those words.
Boonsboro just had an awesome feeling to it with lots of independent shops and restaurants. Since I can't move to this little town (because, you know, it's a setting in a fictional book...) I will gladly settle for diving into the second novel in the series and seeing what happens to the other characters in the town.

Overall, I liked reading this novel and I can't wait until the second book comes out (just a month from today!)

Happy reading :)