Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Title: Leaving Time
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publication: October 14th 2014 by Ballantine Books

Genre: Adult ~ Mystery
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: 5/5

Throughout her blockbuster career, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult has seamlessly blended nuanced characters, riveting plots, and rich prose, brilliantly creating stories that “not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us” (The Boston Globe). Now, in her highly anticipated new book, she has delivered her most affecting novel yet—and one unlike anything she’s written before.

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.

This was my first Jodi Picoult book (aside from the short story 'Where There's Smoke') but I know it definitely won't be my last. Although not my usual genre, Leaving Time was incredible!

This book was definitely one of the most unique and best books I have ever read. And the best thing was that I could read for hours without it getting boring. I was actually annoyed when I had to stop reading for you know, sleep and food. Darn basic needs! But oh, it was such a touching and marvelous book!

There were four points of view in this book — teenager  Jenna, her mother Alice, psychic Serenity and ex-cop Virgil. I can honestly say that I liked them all equally. I had already met Serenity in the short story 'Where There's Smoke' and I must say that I'm very pleased to know what happened to her after the events of the short story. The other characters were also great. 

The story revolves the most about Jenna, obviously, who's trying to find out what happened to her mother a decade ago when she disappeared without a trace. Is she hiding from the law? Is she dead? Did she run away from her mentally ill husband? We don't know! 
Virgil was the cop who was on the case all those years ago. I love, though, that at first both Serenity and Virgil are very wary of helping Jenna but they come around eventually.

The point of view from Alice was the most unique because it's featured in the past and at first there's mostly stories about elephant grief that she's researching. The stories about the elephants were kind of heartbreaking but I loved reading them. I didn't know a quarter of all the things I know now about elephants because of this book. Pretty amazing! But anyway, Alice's point of view slowly starts getting closer to the events of the day where she disappeared and eventually we find out what's really going on and wow, it was all very intense and dramatic but I loved it! 

The end where everything gets revealed is a huge twist, one that I hadn't seen coming at all. I was pretty shocked actually and had to re-read some sentences a few times for it to truly sink in. My mind was blown. I also really enjoyed Jodi Picoult's writing style. Like I said before it's my first book by her but she really impressed me with this story. 

Leaving Time is a mystery, drama and thriller all rolled into one book that was so moving. The story absolutely tugged on my heartstrings and I enjoyed reading it so much. It's one of those books that I know I will be thinking about for quite some time.

I'm the princess in an ivory tower, except every brick is made of history, and I built this prison myself.
When someone leaves you once, you expect it to happen again. Eventually you stop getting close enough to people to let them become important to you, because then you don't notice when they drop of your world.
Jenna lost her mother. I lost my credibility. Virgil lost his faith. We've all got missing pieces. But for a little while, I believed that, together, we might be whole.

About the Author:

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Expected publication: May 5th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

There are no words for how badly I want this book. I absolutely loved Rosamund Hodge's book Cruel Beauty. Such a beautiful book and one of my favorites so I'm having really high hopes for Crimson Bound. May, can't you be here already? 

[This is a standalone novel, not part of the Cruel Beauty Universe.]

What's your WOW pick of the week?
Leave me links to your post so I can stop by!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Title: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Pena, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White
Publication: October 14th 2014 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young Adult
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: 3/5

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons to stay indoors and fall in love.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell — 2/5

I've only read one book by this author (Fangirl) and it didn't really end up being a favorite of mine. So starting this story, I wasn't sure what to expect and I must admit that at first I wasn't liking it too much. As the story went on, I did start to slowly get into it more and ended up liking it a bit more. Not the best ever in my opnion but I liked the way that it told the story over the years mainly about Mags and Noel.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link — 4/5

Kelly Link is a new author to me. I never read any of her books but if they're like this story, then count me in! I liked this more than the previous book because it had paranormal elements and I've always prefered paranormal to contemporary. But anyway, the story was really great. I wasn't totally sure in the beginning, wondering where it would go but it got intriguing very soon and I ended up being quite engrossed in the story and all the mystery that surrounded Fenny. One slightly minor point was the writing style. It wasn't bad or anything but not really my thing either for some reason, though it was sometimes quite beautiful. 

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena — 3/5

This was a likable story. Not amazing but not terrible either. Honestly, I couldn't find anything wrong with it but it wasn't like it stood out either.  I've always enjoyed male points of view so I liked the main character. He was also pretty funny and realistic, in my opinion. So in short, I enjoyed this story but I didn't love it. 

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han — 2/5

This story had some potential but meh... I couldn't get into it. I didn't like the main character, Natty. She was a bit immature and I just didn't like her voice. The writing was okay but nothing to write home about and the story was a bit mediocre even though I liked the concept of it. I guess it just wasn't my thing. 

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins — 4/5

This was a story I really liked. It had funny and likable characters and was well-written.This is my first Stephanie Perkins book but I'm definitely interested in reading more by her now, partly because of this great story. It was easy to get into it and I just thought it was adorable. Marigold and North were characters I pretty much liked right away. North was probably my favorite because of the way he kind of argued with Marigold. It was all very cute!

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan — 2/5

Well, I'm not gonna lie... I expected more from a story by David Levithan. I usually really like his stories but I wasn't a fan of this one. The story in general was nice enough but the characters didn't do anything for me. At least it was a very fast read.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black — 2/5

The thing with Holly Black is that sometimes I really like (short) stories by her and sometimes they just fall flat. This one, unfortunately, falls into the latter category. The story and characters were just a little meh for me. The mention of all kinds of fairies, though, was the only possitive thing — that and the writing. I always usually like Holly's writing. I just couldn't get into this story. Which seems to be a repetitive things with this book.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman — 3/5

This story was pretty nice. I didn't feel bored, disconnected or frustrated by the characters like I felt with some of the other stories so that's always a plus. The romance was build up in a way that didn't make me want to barf. Sophie and Russell were great characters to read about. I liked that Sophie was Jewish. Obviously this book is about more than just the cute romance, it centers also on religion, different cultures, etc. I guess it depends if you like to read about that kind of thing. But it was also quite funny and it has a message.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire — 4/5

This story was super cute! I really liked it. Way more than any of the others for some reason. Not sure why it appealed to me so much. Maybe because it was written in a male point of view. Always love those. And Vaughn was really awesome to read about. Always getting in trouble with his pranks, even if he only does them to get noticed. I don't even care. I loved him. His love interest wasn't a bad character either. I won't say that I loved her as much as Vaugh or anything but she was outspoken and a bit feisty so yeah, I liked her. Her father was awesome. He really was. So yeah, good story (at last)!

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White — 5/5

Kiersten White more than delivered with this story. It's not really a surprise to me because so far I've really enjoyed all the books I've read by her. I felt like this story stood really out. Maria was a great main character. I enjoyed reading about her and her life in Christmas. I loved her interactions with Ben. He was so great. I loved his abilitiy to be able to sense what food to make that would make people happy. The story was also a little bit wacky (in a good way). It was the first story of the whole bunch that I actually laughed out loud with. Way to go, Kiersten!

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter — 4/5

Aw, this story was actually sort of beautiful and heartwarming. Ally Carter is another new author to me and I've been pleasantly surprised by this story by her. I liked the mystery that surrounded Lydia, why she ran away and what was going on with her. I really liked the answer that I got in the end. It was a really surprising ending. Didn't see it coming at all who she really was. I also really liked Ethan. He was sweet, cute and I loved them together. His family was the best. So caring warm and I love how they opened their hearts for Lydia. So nice!

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor — 3/5

It's no surprise that Laini Taylor is an incredible writer. Her writing style is absolutely gorgeus, there's no denying. And yet I wasn't totally in love with this story, aside from the writing. The story itself didn't speak to me as I thought it would. I liked it, sure, but it didn't went beyond that. Actually, it was the beautiful way it's written that saved most of the story for me. Maybe I wasn't just in the mood for this kind of story or maybe it's because it was the last story in this book. I don't know. I just was slightly bored and wanted it to be over soon. But again, it really had such gorgeous writing. It was a pleasure!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

Title: Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident
Author: Eoin Colfer

Series: Artemis Fowl #2
Publication: December 1st 2007 (first published January 1st 2001)

Genre: Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: 5/5

From: Colfer, Eoin (pronounced as 'Owen', by the way)
Sent: Yesterday
To: The World (above and below ground)
Subject: A message from Artemis Fowl's Official Biographer

The facts contained in this book are just that — facts.

It's all true, every word. Irish criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has discovered a fairy race living below ground. He has extorted gold from them and the fairy police have been on his tail for supplying power cells to the goblin gangs.

But that's not the half of it. The Russian Mafiya are holding his father to ransom in the Arctic Circle and only Artemis's bodyguard, Butler, stands in between him and an evil pixie. As an explosive situation threatens the entire fairy civilization, Artemis realizes that even a wicked genius needs help sometimes. And it can come from the most unlikely quarters...

Fowl will deny all of this, of course, as will his army of lawyers. But they haven't sued me, have they?

Read on if you must. But wrap up warm.
Things are about to get frosty...

Eoin Colfer

Re-reading Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident was once again fantastic! This shouldn't come as a surprise but Eoin Colfer manages to enthrall me again and again with his books, no matter how many times I have read them.

With re-reading this book, I have noticed a few things, actually. I noticed that Artemis definitely has a slightly more softer side. I'm not sure if this is just me, but it's what I think. He's more humane in this book for sure, with wanting to rescue his father and building friendships with Holly and Mulch. Or at least the start of a friendship that will turn into a strong bond.

Another thing I realized was that Trouble Kelp was a little more in the book. I never gave this much thought before but I suddenly noticed it. But god, his little brother is annoying. I love Trouble, though. He's pretty awesome. 

I have to admit that the second Artemis Fowl book was never a favorite of mine. It always used to be the least favorite of all the books, but still a good one. Now I'm not so sure because the book was actually really great. Guess I'll have to re-read the others too, then!

Oh and Opal Koboi made her first (but not last) appearance in this book. She's evil but I kind of love her, in a villainy sort of way. It was definitely a nice introduction to her character. More to come with her, people!

Not surprisingly, Eoin Colfer engrossed me with his fast and witty writing, as he always does. The Arctis Incident was quick, yet full of detail and intrigue. I love Colfer's way of storytelling and how he can always almost pull me into his books and make me turn page after page non-stop!

“No, I don't think you understand just how stupid goblins are. Let me give you an example. One of the B'wa Kell generals, and this is their top fairy, was caught caught trying to pass off forged credit slips by signing his own name.”
The craft's occupants clutched their armrests, and more than one of them closed their eyes. But not Artemis. He couldn't. There was something morbidly fascinating about flying into an uncharted tunnel at a reckless speed with only a kleptomaniac dwarf's word for what lay at the other end.
“Well, young man, have you found anyone worthy of your respect?"
Artemis smiled back. "Yes," he said. "I believe I have.”

About the Author:

Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) was born in Wexford on the South-East coast of Ireland in 1965, where he and his four brothers were brought up by his father (an elementary school teacher, historian and artist of note) and mother (a drama teacher). He first developed an interest in writing in primary (elementary) school with gripping Viking stories inspired by history he was learning in school at the time!

After leaving school he got his degree from Dublin university and qualified as a primary school teacher, returning to work in Wexford. He married in 1991 and he and his wife spent about 4 years between 1992 and 1996 working in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Italy. His first book, Benny and Omar, was published in 1998, based on his experiences in Tunisia; it has since been translated into many languages. A sequel followed in 1999, followed by some other books (see below). Then in 2001 the first Artemis Fowl book was published and he was able to resign from teaching and concentrate fully on writing.

He says, “I will keep writing until people stop reading or I run out of ideas. Hopefully neither of these will happen anytime soon. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Blog Tour - Review: The Silver Pear by Michelle Diener

Title: The Silver Pear
Author: Michelle Diener
Series: The Dark Forest #2
Publication: October 1st 2014
Genre: Adult ~ Fantasy 
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Rating: 5/5

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

An unlikely princess . . .

Kayla is determined to master her new-found abilities as a wild magic witch. She's learning everything she can so she and her betrothed, Rane, can put a stop to the sorcerers who are recklessly gathering their power, building up their magic to take each other on in a war that will destroy the countries of Middleland.

An even more unlikely sorcerer . . .
Mirabelle's father was one of the greatest sorcerers in Middleland, but when he used the magic in the silver pear to bespell his pregnant wife to give birth to the greatest sorcerer who would ever live, he never thought that child would be a girl. Mirabelle is nothing like a usual sorcerer, confounding every expectation, and when she comes to the rescue of Rane's brother, Soren, she makes a decision few sorcerers would. She saves him, rather than herself, losing the silver pear in the process.

And using magic always exacts a price . . .

With war not just a possibility but simply a matter of time, there are no neutral parties and no fence-sitters in Kayla and Mirabelle's new world. Everyone is either an ally or an enemy and there is a price to pay for everything. The question is, how high will it be?

So, The Silver Pear was a fantastic book. I really liked the previous book, The Golden Apple, but felt something was missing and I guess I found it in this one. The start was a little slow for me but in the end I couldn't stop reading and was kinda sad when I had finished it - Now that's a good read!

This book was a little different from the previous one since there were two points of view added - Soren and Mirabelle (a.k.a Miri.) We already met Soren in the previous book but Miri was a whole new character. I loved her right away. She was a really interesting character because she's the only female sorcerer in the world. Cool, right?

I loved the story because it had a lot of action, magical creatures, a bit of romance and read really fast. I loved Soren and Miri's journey and how they got to know each other but I also enjoyed reading how Kayla and Rane continued their journey.

As for the romance - I loved it. Even though Miri and Soren didn't know each other for that long, they had an intense connection and I felt like cheering when they kissed for the first time. Really made me happy. It wasn't hurried, but also not slow - It was simply perfection in my eyes!

Also, the author always creates strong and amazing female characters who people can look up to. That's one element I love about her books for sure!

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better book. The writing together with the action-packing and magical story made for one hell of book. Michelle Diener has definitely proven that she can not only write amazing historical books but also books that involve fantasy, magic, sorcerer's and witches. I loved it!

About the Author:

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction and fantasy. Her Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series, set in the court of Henry VIII, includes In a Treacherous Court, Keeper of the King’s Secrets and In Defense of the Queen.
Michelle’s other historical novels include Daughter of the Sky, The Emperor’s Conspiracy and Banquet of Lies (loosely connected to The Emperor’s Conspiracy).

Michelle’s first fantasy novel, Mistress of the Wind, was published on December 19th, 2013 and her second fantasy, The Golden Apple, was released on March 24th, 2014.

Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

When she’s not writing, or driving her kids from activity to activity, you can find her blogging at Magical Musings, or online at Twitter, at Google+ and Facebook.

2 sets of The Dark Forest Series (The Golden Apple and The Silver Pear) (2 winners, USA ONLY)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Stacking The Shelves: 25/10/'14

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted @ Tynga's Reviews, to showcase the books we received.

Storm Born by Richelle Mead
Bought for only $1.99 on Kindle! Yay!

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Also bought for only $1.99 on Kindle and I'm soooo excited to read it because it's inspired by the Poe story.

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason
Another book bought for only $1.99 on Kindle. I can't resist sales!

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Another Kindle book, but this one was $4.99. Still very cheap compared to the physical copy prices. Can't wait to read it!

What books did you all receive?
Leave me links to your hauls so I can stop by!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I can't believe it's been two months since I did a WOW post but I wasn't in the mood for it lately so here I go again. =)

A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii 
by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter
 with an introduction by Michelle Moran

Expected publication: November 4th 2014 by Knight Media, LLC

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets.
An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.
An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.
A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.
A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.
A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others' path during Pompeii's fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

This book is going to be incredible! I'm not even doubting it a little bit. Just look at the amazing set of authors. And it's stories about Pompeii! I'm so freaking excited about it! I'm definitely buying it the moment it comes out. Hurry up, November 4th!

What's your WOW pick of the week?
Leave me links to your post so I can stop by!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Book of Names by John Peel

Title: Book of Names
Authors: John Peel
Series: Diadem Worlds of Magic #1
Publication: September 8th 2004 by Llewellyn Publications

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2/5

Three teenagers from very different worlds--Score, a streetwise New Yorker; Renald, who prepares for a medieval battle; and Pixel, who is confined to the one-room world of Virtual Reality--are kidnapped and plunged into a perilous odyssey as they seek to unlock the secrets of the Diadem.

Book of Names wasn't a totally bad book to me. There were some parts that I did like but overall it was just okay and nothing more.

Most of the time I was weirdest out by the story. Some really strange things happen in it, like a killer whale jumping out of a river and changing into a man. That was just a little too weird for me. I  didn't think the writing was all that good, either. This book is obviously more for younger readers but usually I can find books like this entertaining. So it's too bad that it wasn't the case with this one.

As I said before, some part I did like. One of those parts were the three main characters: Score, Renald and Pixel. They were a great set of characters, with each their own story and world they lived in. Personally, I liked Pixel's story the most because he came from a virtual reality world. Pretty cool. I also liked the fact that Renald kept her identity as a girl hidden for everyone for a little while. She was definitely a feisty character!

If it wasn't for the writing style that was only so-so and the mediocre dialogue, I think I would've liked this book a lot more. Also, the villain wasn't as hateful as I like my bad guys to be. He, also was so-so. 

There is talk about a more mysterious villain, but although there was some talk about him, he didn't make a real appearance. I'm guessing that will be for the next book, with how the story ended.

All in all, Book of Names was tolerable. I didn't completely hate it but I obviously didn't love it either. It definitely had some promise but to me it wasn't enough.

About the Author:

John Peel is the author of Doctor Who books and comic strips. Notably, he wrote the first original Doctor Who novel, Timewyrm: Genesys, to launch the Virgin New Adventures line. In the early 1990s he was commissioned by Target Books to write novelisations of several key Terry Nation Dalek stories of the 1960s after the rights were finally worked out. He later wrote several more original Daleks novels.

He has the distinction of being one of only three authors credited on a Target novelisation who had not either written a story for the TV series or been a part of the production team (the others were Nigel Robinson and Alison Bingeman).

Outside of Doctor Who, Peel has also written novels for the Star Trek franchise. Under the pseudonym "John Vincent", he wrote novelisations based upon episodes of the 1990s TV series James Bond Jr.