Archive | October, 2011

Dark Inside – Jeyn Roberts

31 Oct

Oh my dear gods this was one Hell of a scary book! I mean it. The concept totally freaked me out and there may have been a night or two where I “accidentally” left a light on when I went to sleep. Not that it stopped my overactive imagination from thinking about Dark Inside once I fell asleep. There were nightmares.

I loves me a good plague book.  And this, kiddies, is a damn good plague book. But the folks don’t die of the plague in a fit of bloody coughing and oozing orifices, no. Instead it turns regular old peeps into murderous maniacs, hacking and pulling apart anyone who isn’t infected. Scary shit, my friends, scary shit.

Dark Inside is told from the view point of different teen survivors as they deal with the plague and the earthquake that preceded the plague, and also what the world becomes in the weeks after the plaque hits. What I loved about these different view points is that not all the kids are super nice, super hero types. There are some dark characters in this book. Damaged souls. It just added another layer of delicious awfulness to the story: when disaster hits, not everyone rises to the occasion.

There’s an element of the supernatural in Dark Inside, although we aren’t 100% sure what that is. The author does an amazing job of showing and not simply telling. Even at the end of the book I wasn’t sure where the plague came from or what the ultimate goal was. But one thing I did know: it was nasty and evil and extremely determined.

I usually hate making book comparisons, but Dark Inside reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s The Stand. Smooshed together with one of my fave movies, 28 Days Later. That’s not to say that Roberts was copying either. But the tone and epicness of Dark Inside was reminiscent of both, in a good way.

This was a unique read that had everything I love about a good post-apocalyptic plague book: multiple points of view, freakyplague, lots of evil folks and a desperation that I could feel in every page.

For me, the only thing scarier than Dark Inside is the fact that I have to wait so long for the next book.

This was another surprise book from the amazing folks at Simon and Schuster Canada.

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

26 Oct

I love when I get a book I wasn’t expecting for review and it rocks my reading world. This was definitely the case with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, which arrived as surprise book love from Simon and Schuster Canada.

Sometimes when I love a book so freaking much, I have a Hell of a time reviewing it. I usually sit on the review, trying to tone down my gushing a bit before I write it. Well, I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer way back in June. And I’m still not sure what to write for my review. That’s how much it blew my frigging mind.

This was such a different book. But in a totally “Holy crap I want to marry this book and have it’s little book babies” kinda way.  It had a touch of almost every genre: romance, contemp, mystery, horror, thriller, paranormal. While it may seem that all of these genres coming together would make for a messy, disjointed book, this was far from the case.  The different elements fit together perfectly. Hodkin’s writing style made it seem like all of these genres were made for each other.

What did leave me feeling off balanced for most of the book was Mara’s story. From page to page I was never 100% sure what was going on. But instead of pissing me off like it sometimes does, I loved it. This uneasy feeling of not knowing added another layer to the story, making it even more enjoyable.

To say I didn’t see the ending coming would be putting it mildly. It was a major “What the Hell?” moment that had me rereading passages to make sure I was understanding correctly. Actually, through the last part of the book this happened a few times.  But it wasn’t that Hodkin was writing in a confusing manner or that the plot twists and turns were unbelievable. It was the fact that she so brilliantly tied things together in such a surprising manner that I was once again caught off guard. It was wicked.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was a freaking amazing read and will definitely be on my best of 2011 list. I usually don’t reread books, but I anticipate wearing out a couple of copies.

Connie

25 Oct

Her name’s Connie. I found out today that she likes apples and bananas. And the chicken salad sandwich that I brought her yesterday. Today I brought her a bottle of water, some homemade muffins and lemon squares and some hand cream.  I asked her if she needed anything. A toque. I’ll bring her that within the next few days.

I don’t know her story, just that she’s homeless. She  begs for food and spare change by the grocery store that I frequent. She does it politely, though, with a sign. The first few times I saw her I did what most people do: I drove by. But my heart would only let me do it so much before it became physically uncomfortable. So I started buying a sandwich, some fruit and water whenever I stopped in to get some food.

Here’s the thing: I’m not writing this so you’ll all go “Oh that Colleen! Isn’t she a nice girl!”. No, I’m blogging about this because I wonder what the world would be like if every since person that could gave a sandwich, some fruit and water to someone who needed it.  Stopped a homeless person and said “What do you need?”. Helped in someway.  Because we should all consider ourselves damn lucky not to be in their shoes.

I’ve had some really, REALLY hard time in the past decade. And if I didn’t have amazing, wonderful parents that never minded helping out, I don’t know where I would be. They put a roof over our heads when we needed it (letting us live with them rent free for almost 7 years) and food on our table (helping out last year when Jason wasn’t working).

I think we all assume that those who are begging are lazy or it’s a scam. And maybe in some cases this is true.  All I know is that when I gave Connie the hand cream today she couldn’t believe it.  And when I asked her what foods she liked? Her face lit up. Someone was talking to her as a human.

As I was leaving I asked her if she liked to read. She laughed and said, “Yes! But not romance.” So when I drop off her toque I’m bringing her some books to read. Will it put a roof over her head? No. But dammit I wish I could. But it will put a smile on her face and let her know that someone cares.

So this is my challenge to all of you: do something for someone that you know is in need. Drop off a meal to a homeless person. Donate coats to a women’s shelter. Just do SOMETHING.

Trust me, it will make a difference.

The Virgin Cure – Ami McKay

24 Oct

Warning: This will be a gushy review with the overuse of the word “love” and too many exclamation marks. 

I loved Ami’s first book, The Birth House. LOVED IT. So when I had the chance to get my grubbies on an ARC of her second book, The Virgin Cure, I giddily accepted.

OMG this book!!!!!! I think I actually loved it a teensy bit more than The Birth House. I always say I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but when it’s written as well as and with as much love as Ami’s books, then I freaking love it!

Moth. What can I say about Moth. What an amazing character. She’s dealt the shit end of the stick and she never dips into whining or feeling really bad for herself. Instead, she makes the best out of her situation or tries to change things. She’s only 12 but she’s one of the strongest characters I’ve ever read. I just loved her.

Moth isn’t the only strong female character in The Virgin Cure. Actually, come to think of it, ALL the female characters were strong. But I really loved Sadie, the female doctor that tends to the poor, including Moth. Sadie was the inspiration for The Virgin Cure, and even though she isn’t the main character, her presence is felt throughout the book.  She really rounds out Moth’s story and adds another point of view and dimension to the book.

The research that went into The Virgin Cure is mind-boggling. Like The Birth House, Ami gives readers a clear picture of the time period. I actually felt like I was there with Moth in the turn of the century NY. And I loved how Ami laid out some of that information in side bars. It was just really, really cool.

I loved The Virgin Cure. From the beginning right to the end I was drawn into Moth’s story. Ami has written a beautiful book that is guaranteed to be a huge hit.

Thanks Random House Canada for the review copy.

Bargains and Betrayals – Shannon Delany

12 Oct

So, you know when you’re reading a series and you’re thinking “Okay, not blowing me away, but not horrible either. Think I’ll keep going.”? I have to admit, that’s where I was with Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life Series, published by St Martin’s Press. If you read my review of the first two books then you know I had some issues with both of them.  But man, I frigging LOVED Bargains and Betrayals. I mean it. The issues I had with the first two books vanished. This was a kick ass, well written YA paranormal book.

The main issue I had with the first two books (don’t read any further if you haven’t read them) was the whole Pietr dating Sarah but smooching Jessie all the time story-line. I felt that it just didn’t groove with either Jessie or Pietr’s personality. I’m so beyond happy that that was taken care of at the end of the second book.

I also felt that the pacing was a heck of a lot more even in this book. Never once did I feel that things were happening way to face. Yes, things happened quickly, but it felt like it was the right speed.

I loved that the book switched from Jessie’s point of view to Alexi’s point of view. It really, for me, showed off Shannon’s mad writing skillz. Alexi’s sections were written so differently from Jessie’s, something that’s hard to do. But Shannon does it flawlessly. Never once did I get confused about whose section I was reading.

A lot of the mystery that’s introduced in the first two books is explained, but in no way are things wrapped up nicely. I mean, Holy cliffhanger. It left me yelling “Nooooo, I need to know moooooore!”

So, yeah, sometimes when you aren’t in love with a series, it pays to stick with it. Because I so can’t wait for the next book to come out.

Secrets and Shadows – Shannon Delany

10 Oct

I wanted to love this book. But I didn’t. I liked it, though. For the most part. But, there were things in Secrets and Shadows that just made me kinda unhappy. If you haven’t read the first book but plan to, then read no further. I’m about to get a bit spoilerish on ya.

I really, REALLY had issues with the whole Sarah-Pietr-Jessie story line. To the point that I almost didn’t finish the book. I guess I just didn’t get it. Jessie said Pietr had to stay with Sarah as a favour to Jessie. But they still snuck around for a bit. Not a lot, but a bit. I thought it was mean. And childish. So, yeah, I really, really didn’t like this aspect of the book.

I also felt that the middle of the book was a bit of an info dump. There was A LOT of stuff thrown at readers and for me it just put the pacing of the book way, way off. Sure, it was information that we needed to know, but the quantity that was unleashed in a few chapters left me feeling unbalanced.

But the ending! Wow did it ever draw me in. A bit of a cliffhanger, as soon as I finished I immediately wanted to start the next book, Bargains and Betrayals. Which I did. So in the end, I’d have to recommend this book, especially after finishing the next one. (review to come tomorrow)

Thanks so much to St. Martins Press for the review copies.