Tag Archives: Random House

Close Your Eyes – Amanda Eyre Ward

15 Sep

So, a month or so ago, Random House New York was tweeting about a #secretbook. Always the nosey one, I asked about it and was offered a copy for review with the promise that I would love it. A book junkie like me isn’t going to say no and a few days later Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward landed in my mailbox. I was in a major reading slump and almost didn’t start reading it. Deemed a “Literary Mystery” I felt that in my current state of mind I wouldn’t get ten pages in. But I picked it up anyway and started reading it. I finished it the next day. Not only did I absolutely adore it, it booted me out of my reading slump. A double win for sure.

This was such an honestly written book. The dialogue just blew me away. I mean, the characters didn’t always make sense, their speech wasn’t necessarily linear. You know, kinda like real people talk. It just made the story pop for me. Close Your Eyes is also an amazing example of show, don’t tell. I mean, as I read the book I was beyond impressed by her ability to make me realize something without spelling it out.

I also loved how the story had several parts and at first it seemed that there was no logical way that they would weave together. But when they did? I wasn’t shocked as much as I was like “Ah, why didn’t I see that?”. And there were serious heart string tugging moments. I usually don’t find that I get emotionally involved a lot with mysteries, but Close Your Eyes had me so drawn in emotionally that I felt like I was living the story along with the characters.

Review: Gimme A Call by Sarah Mlynowski

27 Aug

Random House Canada, 2010

A new life is just a phone call away!

Devi’s life isn’t turning out at all like she wanted. She wasted the past three years going out with Bryan—cute, adorable, break-your-heart Bryan. Devi let her friendships fade, blew off studying, didn’t join any clubs . . . and now that Bryan has broken up with her, she has nothing left.

Not even her stupid cell phone—she dropped it in the mall fountain. Now it only calls one number . . . hers. At age fourteen, three years ago!

Once Devi gets over the shock—and convinces her younger self that she isn’t some wacko—she realizes that she’s been given an awesome gift. She can tell herself all the right things to do . . . because she’s already done all the wrong ones! Who better to take advice from than your future self?

Except . . .what if getting what you think you want changes everything?

From Random House Canada website.

*Warning: overuse of the word “cool” ahead.*

Imagine being able to get a hold of your 14 year old self. How cool! I mean, the things I’d tell myself at that age! Let’s see, I’d start with “110 pounds is not fat”, “Ditch the dude but keep the music he introduced you to,” and “That scribbling you do all the time? For the love of God, keep at it!”  But enough about me. On to the book.

I first hear of Gimme A Call a while back on Twitter when the #gimmeacall hashtag hit. I think it was perhaps one of the coolest cases of viral marketing I have EVER seen. What started as a quiet way for the author to publicize her upcoming book on Twitter exploded into everyone and their dog tweeting what they’d tell their 14 year old self. Mucho cool and genius to boot. It made me curious about the book. Curious enough to request a review copy. So, yeah, kudos to Mlynowski.

This was just a cool book. Really. The idea was cool, the writing was cool, the ending was cool.

The book flips back and forth between now Devi and 14 year old Devi. It was cool to watch 14 year old Devi change something and then get to see how it affected today Devi. It was very butterfly affect-y. And of course the changes were rarely what today Devi was expecting.

I love when on the surface a YA book seems to be all about the fun and fluffy but underneath there is a layer of seriousness. Gimme A Call wasn’t just about watching the changes that happened in today Devi’s life and giggling about the snafus. It was also about choosing the right path, doing what’s best for you and how no matter how much you try to change, somethings are just inevitable. What was cool was that Mlynowski didn’t shove any big meaning in your face, but rather let it sneak up on you.

I think a lot of readers are going to enjoy Gimme A Call and find it as cool as I did.

Browse inside Gimme a Call.

It was very cool of Random House Canada to send me a review copy.

Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

6 Apr

Random House Canada, 2007

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other.

From Random House Canada website

I heard mixed reviews of The Road before I read it.  It seems to be one of those books that people either love or hate.

I’m one of the readers that loved it. I had no interest in reading this book until I heard about another Random House book, The Passage by Justin Cronin. In an article about The Passage, it was compared to The Road and Stephen King’s The Stand. Since The Stand is one of my all time fave books, I figured I should check The Road out.

This was in no way a light or fun read: in fact, there were a few times I wanted to put it down because it was so depressing I wasn’t sure I could handle it. But I kept reading and while there were more than a few times I cringed, I’m glad I finished it.

Because there were basically only two characters, the dialogue was very minimalist. But the descriptive writing was so rich and detailed that it didn’t matter. McCarthy pulls you into the story and makes you feel like you are right there.

This was a bleak story, yet there were moments of happiness, even though they were few and far between. It was these moments of contentment and the hope of even a slightly better future that kept the man and the boy going. And, I guess in a way it’s what kept me reading. I really wanted these two to survive. Hell, I wanted them to thrive.

This was a slow book, both in action and in reading time. It definitely isn’t a one-nighter. It’s one of those books that you have to take your time with. Not because it’s boring or the story is hard to follow, but because it is so heartbreaking at times, you need to take a break.

I know the way I’m describing it might make it seem like I didn’t like this book, but I did. I liked it very much.  A good book doesn’t always equal an easy book.

Browse inside The Road.

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

13 Nov

Random House, 2009

In the latest installment of her Women of the Otherworld series, Kelley Armstrong returns to one of her most beloved characters, female werewolf Elena Michaels.

This time around Elena and her mate Clay are off to Alaska in pursuit offrostbitten a mutt (a werewolf without pack affiliation), while also checking in on two werewolves who left the pack but remained friends. There are also some suspicious deaths in the area that their pack leader, Jeremy, wants them to look into.

While there was a lot going on in Frostbitten, Armstrong once again hits a literary home run, giving her readers what they want and expect: excellent storytelling, character growth, elements of the supernatural and a touch of romance.

The plots were tightly woven and as usual the characters were not only believable, but our understanding of their past, especially Elana’s, deepened, allowing the reader to get a better grasp on who she is.

Some new characters were introduced and while they may have been minor characters, I have a feeling that we will be seeing a few of them again in future books.

I have yet to read anything by Armstrong that I haven’t loved, and Frostbitten wasn’t an exception.

Browse inside Frostbitten.

Teaser Tuesdays: The Gargoyle

3 Nov


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week’s book: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson


It did not matter, the fact that you coughed fitfully in the middle of your singing. Simply because it came from the throat of a recovering man, it was more beautiful that any song that I had heard ever lifted on the nuns’ voices in salute to the glory of the Lord.

Page 184

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant

27 Aug

Published by Knopf Canada, 2009
Reviewed by Colleen McKie

As a Canadian, I am a wee bit partial to books that are not only written by Canadians, but that take place in Canada.  I am also a fan of weird, quirky characters and stories.  Thankfully Come, Thou tortoise, written by Canadian Jessica Grant, taking place in St. John’s, NFLD and featuring a tortoise as a main character meets all of these prerequisites.

The book centers around Audrey and her tortoise, Winnifred. The two areCome_Thou_Tortoise temporality separated when Audrey has to leave her Portland, Oregon apartment to head back to her hometown of St. John’s NFLD after her father receives a blow to the head and ends up in a coma.  Unfortunately her dad succumbs to his injuries before her plane even lands. Her uncle Thoby takes off for England shortly after, leaving Audrey alone to deal with things like clearing out the house and a set of faulty Christmas lights.  To cope with the situation, Audrey throws herself into solving a mystery she has stumbled across, using that as a way to avoid dealing with her father’s death.

Interspersed with Audrey’s story is that of Winnifred, who reflects on her life thus far and spends a lot of time wondering if Audrey has abandoned her. While at first the idea of reading the musings of a tortoise was a bit weird, a quarter of the way into the book, I was loving Winnifred and her unique take on things.

I also loved all of the play on words (Audrey often referred to her father as being in a “comma”) that Grant includes throughout the book. Audrey’s thoughts are often jumbled, but Grant writes them so that they appear to flow from one another. The only issue I had with the language in the book is really a technicality and an issue I have had with many other “literary” books: the avoidance of using quotation marks for dialogue.  I found it very confusing and distracting at first, but once I got into the characters and the story, it became less of an issue, although I always remained aware of it.

And speaking of the story, it kept me hooked throughout and the ending, while somewhat open (which I LOVE) was a bit of a surprise for me, but in a good way.

Jessica Grant is definitely a writer to read and watch out for and for me Come, Thou Tortoise is up there with Miriam Toews The Flying Troutmans and a Complicated Kindness.

Take a peek inside Come, Thou Tortoise.