Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review: A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan

Regency London’s most celebrated courtesan, The Blackbird, was a woman before her time—uninhibited, financially independent, and free to live by her own rules. Schooled in the sensual arts by the one man she loved the most, she recorded every wicked detail in her diaries…

When Boston museum curator Piper Chase-Pierpont unearths The Blackbird’s steamy memoirs, she’s aroused and challenged by what she finds. Could the courtesan’s diaries be used as a modern girl’s guide to finding love and empowerment? One curious curator—and one very lucky man—are about to find out…
Available for purchase at: Amazon, Book Depository, Book Depository UK

Being fairly new at reviewing historical romances, I'm never sure what to expect from authors within the genre. But this isn't exactly historical, having part of the tale told by a modern woman. And of course, there isn't only one author involved in the writing of A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man, so it was an interesting reading experience for me. I definitely felt there were times that I could distinguish the writing styles of each author, but as a whole, I think the novel flowed very well.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
Having heard so many rave reviews about this book, I was curious to see for myself if it could live up to all the hype. My first impressions though, weren't all that great. I think my biggest issue to get past was the other Faery themed books I had read and loved. The characters here had to compete with certain prejudices I had built up.

The story definitely took a different turn though, which more than made up for any initial short comings I felt it had. A new court created from modern society's advances and the potential of loss the older fairy kingdoms are told here in an interesting way. It is more

Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

New from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a dark, fantastical story about this world . . . and the underworld.

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

I got Abandon as a surprise review copy from Nikole at Scholastic Canada and was immediately intrigued. It has many of the elements I find enjoyable in a story: light YA reading, mythology, and a pretty cover. I delved in right away.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

And in Book Related News...

On May 24, 2011, Hachette Book Group announced the upcoming release of Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2. Yen Press, an imprint of HBG, will be handling this second installment and are printing 350 000 copies for the North American edition.

From the press release, Hachette states that "The Twilight Saga’s translation rights have been sold in nearly 50 countries and 116 million copies have been sold worldwide.  Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1 debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Twilight was named the #1 bestselling books of the decade by USA TODAY." This franchise seems to be continuing to grow exponentially.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
With its touted comparison to Anne Rice's earlier novels, I was intrigued by the idea of A Discovery of Witches. Add to this the author's biography proclaiming Deborah Harkness, herself, is a scholar, I was hopeful that the historical references in the story would teach me a few new things. But when I received the book, I looked at its near 600 pages with dubiousness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Location with Lauren Oliver and Veronica Roth

On May 17th, I had the great pleasure of attending The Dystopian Tour 2011, featuring authors Lauren Oliver and Veronica Roth. The event was held at Chapters Indigo at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto (one of three events in Ontario!), and was made possible thanks to Harper Collins Canada, Chapters Indigo, and Space TV.

Lauren was in town promoting her newest book, Delerium, while Veronica was here with her offering, Divergent, both of which have been getting a lot of buzz in the book community. Both young women were interviewed by Ajay Fry from Space TV, so the audience got to sit in on the interview then the floor was opened up to some fan questions.

Ajay started off with questions about inspiration. Lauren said she had read something from Gabriel Garcia Marquez saying that all writing was either about love or death. This got her thinking that the 'symptoms' of love can be quite similar to the symptoms of disease, so from there her story was born. Veronica

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review:Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

In a future world where the dead have risen and are attacking the living, the Church of Real Truth has replaced the government, and has sworn to reimburse those citizens who have been attacked by the undead. Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch, freewheeling Debunker, and ghost hunter, works for the Church of Real Truth investigating claims of hauntings. But meanwhile her drug habit has left her owing a dangerous drug lord who insists that she settle the score by dispatching a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. But the job involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and crossing swords with enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump's ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

Unholy Ghosts, the first of Stacia Kane's new Chess Putnam series, is a cross between 'Ghostbusters' and 'Escape from New York', featuring punk rock, black magic, greasers, drugs, human sacrifices, and a black 1969 Chevelle.

I've chatted with a few people about this series, receiving a general consensus that readers couldn't believe how much they liked the books considering the main characters, um, flaws. Of course, hearing the rave reviews made me curious to see what all the fuss was about.

Review: A Shore Thing by Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi

It's a summer to remember . . . at the Jersey Shore.

Giovanna "Gia" Spumanti and her cousin Isabella "Bella" Rizzoli are going to have the sexiest summer ever. While they couldn't be more different—pint-size Gia is a carefree, outspoken party girl and Bella is a tall, slender athlete who always holds her tongue—for the next month they're ready to pouf up their hair, put on their stilettos, and soak up all that Seaside Heights, New Jersey, has to offer: hot guidos, cool clubs, fried Oreos, and lots of tequila.

So far, Gia's summer is on fire. Between nearly burning down their rented bungalow, inventing the popular "tan-tags" at the Tantastic Salon where she works, and rescuing a shark on the beach, she becomes a local celebrity overnight. Luckily, she meets the perfect guy to help her keep the flames under control. Firefighter Frank Rossi is exactly her type: big, tan, and Italian. But is he tough enough to handle Gia when things really heat up? cont'd
When I was offered this book for review, I hemmed and hawed a little about it, but I knew there was someone that just might be a better judge of A Shore Thing than I would be. So, I enlisted my friend Nicole into interning for me (if you want to call it that); she read Snooki's book and was happy to share her thoughts with me. I will admit to being surprised by what she had to say. Here are Nicole's thoughts about the book :
Jackie: Was A Shore Thing just like Jersey Shore?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

As readers of series starter City of Bones already know, teenager Clary Fray is a Shadowhunter, a demon slayer who has the gift (?) of spotting Downworlder werewolves, vampires, and faeries. She is also an adolescent in an abnormally dysfunctional family: Her mom is in a magically induced coma and her father is probably insane and undoubtedly evil. All of which places Clary in situations that would challenge even the most talented average American girl.

Having whipped through City of Bones and being left with uncertainties in a particular part of the story line, I was anxious to get some resolution in City of Ashes. This might explain why, initially, I found this one a slow starter. I just couldn't get passed that one element.

Fortunately, Cassie Clare's writing doesn't allow you much time to dwell over not getting the exact story line you want. Clare feeds you a little of

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: Death of a Chimney Sweep by M.C. Beaton

In the south of Scotland, residents get their chimneys vacuum-cleaned. But in the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager's fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. The entire town of Lochdubh is certain Pete is the culprit, but Hamish doesn't believe that the affable chimney sweep is capable of committing murder. Then Pete's body is found on the Scottish moors, and the mystery deepens. Once again, it's up to Hamish to discover who's responsible for the dirty deed--and this time, the murderer may be closer than he realizes.
Death of a Chimney Sweep  is actually the 27th book in the Hamish MacBeth series, and I'm sure by this time, Hamish has come across all manner of dark deeds and scheming criminals in his adventures. But, what I like in these books is that Ms. Beaton can continue to find interesting ways to blend old world elements (a chimney sweep, in this book) with the modern world.

The drawing factor for me has always been the Scottish ideals and lifestyle that are woven

Friday, May 13, 2011

Superstition in Fiction

Everywhere around the internet today, in particular, you'll find people mentioning Friday the 13th, accompanied by their own tales of bad luck that happen, be it this day or any previous Friday the 13th. It got me thinking about other supersitions that I've recently read about in books.

One of my current reads is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. As I was reading along last night, I came across mentions of the Knights Templar, which of course, have

And in Book Related News...

In 2009, one of my earliest reviews here was Jess Walters' The Financial Lives of Poets, a fun yet sad look at a down and out writer that gets caught up in a "business" (drug) far from his ideal (financial advice provided with the back drop of poetry and prose). It has been announced that Walters has penned the screen play for the film adaptation and will star Jack Black. This is an interesting casting choice, considering I pictured the main character to be a tall, lanky man...but I'm sure the filmmakers aren't concerned with my inner vision of the character. Read the Hollywood Reporter for more details.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

It seems this year, that the biggest trend in YA books is the dystopian genre, and within this field, there are quite a few books receiving some extra attention. Wither by Lauren DeStefano is one of the many touted as superior in dystopian fiction for 2011, Having read the great things about it certainly outweighed my reluctance to read this type of book; the kind that generally makes me more angsty than usual.
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