Archive | January, 2012

Fixing Delilah – Sarah Ockler

30 Jan

Things in Delilah Hannaford’s life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can’t seem to keep it together anymore. Her “boyfriend” isn’t much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family’s painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.

If you’ve read my review of Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer, then you know that I loved that book beyond. So I was super excited to get Fixing Delilah for review from the folks at Little Brown and Company.

I really loved this book. It’s one of those reads that left me sighing in contentment when I finished it. I loved the mix of coming of age, mystery and romance.  Ockler included just the right amount of each so that the book was well-balanced.

This is a book about family, for sure. Delilah and her mom have such a real and dysfunctional relationship that it was heartbreaking. It wasn’t the dysfuction that broke my heart, though. It was those small moments of connection that neither mother nor daughter felt that they could deepen that makes it an emotional – and believable –  relationship. I get tired when there’s issues between kids and parents and it’s all negative. You could see that these two really cared for each other, they had just lost the ability to really show it.

There was a twist towards the end (which I LOVED) but it wasn’t the twist I was expecting (which I loved EVEN MORE). It added a new layer to the story, which was great.

I love Ockler’s writing. She can get sentimental without being too mushy about it and her way of describing relationships and letting us watch them unfold is brilliant. She’s one of my favorite YA contemp authors, for sure.

The Thirteen – Susie Moloney

11 Jan

Haven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It’s close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing. The streets are clean, people keep their yards really nicely. It’s fairly pet friendly, though barking dogs are not welcomed. The crime rate is practically non-existent, unless you count the odd human sacrifice, dismemberment, animal attack, demon rape and blood atonement. When Paula Wittmore goes home to Haven Woods to care for a suddenly ailing mother, she brings her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She also brings the last chance for twelve of her mother’s closest frenemies, who like to keep their numbers at thirteen. And her daughter, young, innocent, is a worthy gift to the darkness.

A circle of friends will support you through bad times. A circle of witches can drag you through hell.

Ah, what a delish read!

The Thirteen is the perfect combination of mystery, horror, paranormal and chick-lit. I mean, this book was kinda like Desperate Housewives on some major  ‘shrooms.  It was fast-paced and juicy and scary and full of Holy shit moments. And it wasn’t a deep book, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. This is the kind of book that you can get 100% wrapped up in, enjoying it simply for what it is: a Hell of a good read.

The whole time I was reading The Thirteen, I was picturing it as a movie. Moloney’s writing really made everything very vivid and the scenes just popped off the pages. The writing was witty and campy and there was just enough ew factor to make me happy. And I loved the whole everything is not what it seems angle. Kinda makes you look at your own neighbors a bit closer. 😀

Thanks to the folks at Random House Canada for the review copy.

2012 Random Reader Challenge – Historical Fiction

9 Jan

This reading challenge changes each month or so. And there are PRIZES! I mean, who doesn’t love free stuff, right? Random House Canada is the host of this one and the first reading challenge has to do with all things hist-fict.

Basically they have a list of historical fiction books on their website and the challenge is to read one from the list by February 29th(yay leap year!). I’m not a HUGE hist-fict reader, although I have already read one from the list and it made my best of 2011 list (The Virgin Cure). I’m not sure which book from the list I’m going to read. Here are the choices:

The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak (Available January 3. Check out the video trailer!)
The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
The Salt Road by Jane Johnson
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
Anything in the 
Outlander or Lord John series by Diana Gabaldon (If you haven’t met Jamie Fraser yet, are you ever in for a treat!

What say you, hist-fict fans? Which book should I read for this challenge?

The 2012 TBR Pile Challenge

3 Jan

So, reading challenges scare me. There, I’ve said it. As soon as I sign up I start to feel all panicky. I kinda suck at a reading schedule. In fact, I think I’ve only ever signed up for one challenge.  But this year I want to make some changes,not just here on the blog, but with my reading habits and life in general. And part of those changes involves signing up for – and finishing – reading challenges. And the fisrt one I’m signing up for is The 2012 TBR Pile Challenge.

So basically I have to pick twelve books that I’ve had for over a year and promise to read them before December 31st. And I also have two alternatives in case one or two of the twelve aren’t my cup of tea.

So here’s my list! As I read and review each one, I’ll pop back here and link to the review.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
The Nine Lives of Travis Keating by Jill MacLean
Rattled by Lisa Harrington
Gone by Michael Grant
Nightingale’s Lament by Simon R. Green
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Monster by A. Lee Martinez
Away From Her by Alice Munro
The Shack by William P. Young
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon
Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout

My alternatives
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
Nevermore by Keith R.A. DeCandido

There you have it, folks. My books all picked out for the challenge. This will be interesting because anytime in the past I’ve set up a reading list, I’ve never followed it. Fingers crossed! 🙂

My best reads of 2011

1 Jan

Okay, so I was hoping to read 100 books in 2011, but I only finished 91 ( I know, I know for some that’s a HUGE number. But for me, not so much). And out of those 91 books there were only a couple I really didn’t like. A handful I was meh about. Most of them I really, really liked. And I few of them found their way into my “I loved it and will keep loving it forever and ever and recommend that everyone reads it” list.

Here’s my top read of 2011, in no particular order. And I’m quite happy to see that the majority of them are by Canadian authors. 🙂

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay –  So beautifully written. I loved Moth and her story and can’t wait to hear more.
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts – This one was CREEPY! Reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s The Stand.
Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret – This one had my favorite secondary character of the year, Dolores. And it was funny and quirky and I am in love with it.
Falling Backwards by Jann Arden – It’s Jann. In book form. What else can I say?
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr – This one killed me in all the good ways a book should. My fave YA contempt read of the year and possibly forever.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – This book blew me away with its writing, plot and genre- jumping. Just stunning.
Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari – From the opening scene, I was hooked. My favorite dystopian read if the year. (I liked it even better than The Hunger Games.)
The Canterbury Trail by Angie Abdou – I loved the characters in this one. And how they all intermingled, smooshed together by life.
Pluto’s Ghost by Sheree Fitch – The writing in the book blew my mind. Sheree captures free-flowing thought patterns like nobody else. Amazing.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – I don’t even know how to begin to describe my love of this book. By far the weirdest (and possibly most honest) book I read all year.

Okay, those were in no particular order, like I said. But if I was forced to choose my favorite read of 2011? Well, it would be a tie between The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and Ashes, Ashes. Two kick ass books that kept me thinking about them long after I finished reading them.

Most of these books came my way as review copies, so a big thanks and a massive hug to all the publishers who sent them to me.

And that’s the list, folks! Happy New Year and happy reading!