Sunday, February 3, 2019

Blog Tour: The Matchmaker's List by Sonya Lalli

Image result for matchmakers list sonya lalliTitle: The Matchmaker's List
Author: Sonya Lalli
Genre: Contemportary/Realistic Fiction
Pages: 352 (Paperback - ARC)
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication date: February 5th, 2019


Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn't mean she has to like it--or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina's side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she's ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn't know won't hurt her...

As Raina's life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother's dreams.

THOUGHTS

Thank you so much to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
This book was just what I needed right now. So much so, that I read it in one sitting. One single sitting. I adored how cute and sweet this book was, but also how sad it was at times.
I loved the characters in this book, as each one of them was interesting and fascinating in their own way. They all had issues of their own, and they all seemed very realistic in their own ways. I loved how they interacted with each other, how they spoke to each other, and how they felt about each other. They all had amazing character development, and I adored them all.
The setting of this book was also super cool! As someone who lives fairly near Toronto, I loved being able to read about places that I am familiar with and places that I have been to. It makes the story much more enjoyable and definitely much more realistic when you have been to the places described in the book, and it makes the story stick with you much more.
I also adored the plot of this book. I felt sad for certain characters and happy for others. I felt their anger and frustration, and the love they had for each other. I felt everything that the characters were feeling, and I understood the reasons why certain characters said and did certain things that they did, (even if I wouldn't do them). The plot itself is sad at times and happy at others, frustrating and beautiful and something that many people will be able to understand and resonate with.
This book is about trying to find yourself, what is important to you, who you want to be and what you want to do with your life, and I'm so glad that I read it at a time in my life that I feel all of these things, and am trying to solve the same issues. This is a beautiful story that I recommend everyone an anyone to read!
Overall - ★★★☆.5

Q&A With Sonya Lalli!

How did you come up with the idea for The Matchmaker's List?
There wasn’t one particular moment or incident that I can pin down and say led to this book. I’ve always loved writing and now and then had characters and their stories appear in my head. Raina’s came along when I was about twenty-five, and I was at that age where I was done university and had started working. And I was single, and so I was starting to get some ‘looks’ from aunties that I perceived as: tick tock, it’s time to start thinking about marriage. And the rest was history! 

Are any of the characters in your book based on people in your real life?
Absolutely. Nani’s personality is very similar to my real-life grandmother. They are both loving and feisty, sweet and compassionate. And they are great cooks! Actually, I also have a very close bond with my Nani, just like Raina. I also borrowed some personality traits for Shay from a few of my close friends. 

What is your favourite place to write?
I’ve moved around a bit so I’ve actually lived in four (wait, maybe five??) different apartments since I started writing The Matchmaker’s List. I like writing in pyjamas or yoga pants at home, but even if the place I was living at the time had a desk I still  would often write at the kitchen table. I clear it completely and have my laptop right in front of me, a pen and notebook to the left, and a cup of chai to my right. 

How many books do you read in a year? 
That’s very difficult to say. There were times in my life where I was so busy studying or working that I didn’t get to read much for pleasure, and would only read a book or two on holiday. (So maybe, those years, I read six or seven books.) But over the past five years, I really have started to make time to read no matter my schedule. Not only is it relaxing and ensures I have ‘me time’, it’s important for my own writing too. Lately, I probably read a book after week or two. So on average, I’d say about 40. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Blog Tour: Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers (ARC)

Image result for courting darknessTitle: Courting Darkness (Courting Darkness Duology #1)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 512 (Paperback - ARC)
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication date: February 5th, 2019

Synopsis from Courting Darkness' Goodreads page

Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?



THOUGHTS

Thank you so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Honestly, I am obsessed with this book.
I first read Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assassin trilogy when I was in high school, and I was as obsessed with that then as I am now (that is to say - completely obsessed).
The characters of this book originated in that trilogy, however, you do not need to read the His Fair Assassin trilogy to understand, and to enjoy, this book.
The characters are just as good, if not better, as they were in her first trilogy. They all have amazing depth, resilience, and strength, and I love seeing empowered woman in literature that are just concerned about themselves and their family. Each and every character in this book has a saddening, heart-wrenching backstory, but none of them let that ruin their lives or define who they are. Every character, man and woman alike, are strong and are realistic and wonderful to read about. As a reader, you can connect with each and every one of them, and that is my favourite thing about them.
The setting of this book is also amazing. I am a huge fan of historical fantasy books, and basically anything set in times of knights, warriors, and castles. (and a little bit of magic and gods and goddesses never hurt anyone!). I loved the descriptions of every place the characters went to. Even places like barns where the characters spent a night were so realistic, it felt like you were actually there with the characters.
I also adored the plot of this book. The entire story, and each characters' story, was very interesting and I loved seeing how they progressed throughout the story. Each one of the characters, from minor to small, plays some important role in the story, and I love how their lives and stories progressed throughout. I'm very, very much looking forward to reading the next book in the duology and seeing where they all end up!
The only reason this book didn't get a full 5 stars from me is that a fair amount of the beginning of the book is backstory that is known in the His Fair Assassin trilogy, and I felt it was a little slow. Other than that, I absolutely adored it!
After reading the His Fair Assassin trilogy, and now this book as well, I am EXTREMELY invested in these characters, and there is no way that I will not be reading the next book. Not only am I invested, but the books themselves are amazing and I have always recommended them to anyone and everyone who has ever told me they are looking for a strong fantasy read with amazing characters, a compelling plot, and a fascinating storyline.
Overall - ★★★
Blog Tour Schedule


Q&A with Robin LaFevers!!

Q: What is the best advice you can give to aspiring writers?

A: How long do you have? Just kidding!

So, most importantly, 1) Give yourself permission to write. It’s so easy to think we aren’t special enough or our perspective isn’t unique enough or wonder who would ever be interested in what we have to say. Put all that aside—we all have a story to tell. How effectively we are able to tell it depends on the second piece of advice I have.

2) Take the long view of your writing journey and wallow in and enjoy both the act of creating AND your apprenticeship. The ‘overnight success’ is a rare, rare bird. Much more often writers have toiled in silence and ignominy for years to produce a saleable manuscript. But hopefully, you write because you love language or stories, and while talent plays some part, studying the craft plays a far larger role. That and persistence.

3) So be stubborn about this. If you want it, allow yourself to want it and spend time doing it and honing your craft and immersing yourself in becoming a writing nerd. No words are wasted—even the crappy ones that we use in our early manuscript teach us something and bring us closer to the story we are struggling to tell. My caveat to this is to check in with yourself periodically. If writing stops bringing you joy or becomes something that makes you down on yourself, put it aside. It’s okay to try something, then stop. And it’s okay to try something, put it aside, then pick it up again years later.

4) Protect the work—whatever form that might take. By keeping your writing private and not sharing it with those who don’t understand your need to create. Sometimes it can be extremely unhelpful having others poke their nose in: Have you finished anything yet? Gotten an agent? Sold something? It’s okay to not invite others in to your process.

It’s okay to protect your work by keeping your words private until you feel they’re ready to be seen by others. Or perhaps you’ll need to protect the work from your own rush to get published or making a facile writing choice within the story. Time and practice will help you recognize those moments.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Review: A House of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy, #1)Title: A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy #1)
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Pages: 311 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Sky Pony
Publication date: September 11th, 2018

Synopsis from A House of White Fire's Goodreads page

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back. 

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali. 

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.


THOUGHTS

Thank you so much to Thomas Allen & Son for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Going into this book, I found the beginning to be a little bit slow for me. When I read a space opera/science fiction book, I expect to be pulled in straight away. With this book, it took a few chapters before I was really pulled in and immersed in the world, and I am SO thrilled that I stayed with it. This book ended up being amazing, and it ended up being so much better than I had hoped for.
This book is very much about discovering who you are and who you want to be. The main character, Esmae, struggles with many aspects of her identity for her entire life (as you find out why fairly early on in the book) and it is understandable why that is. She is very young, and she has a lot placed on her shoulders. I loved how this book showed that even though you may know who you are, you may know nothing about yourself, your family, or where you come from, and that means that you are missing a part of yourself until you figure it out. I loved how Esmae knows what she wants out of life, and that she has a plan to get it from the very beginning of the book.
I also loved how much emphasis the author put into love and friendship. Esmae has few wonderful people around her, however the ones she has are devoted to her and she is devoted to them. I loved how it shows that friends will do anything for each other, and that friendship can conquer anything, even a prophecy that the gods can see no way around.
I also loved the character development in this book. The author does an amazing job of having certain characters grow and become stronger, more fearless people, and it doesn't feel forced, it feels natural to read about them in that way.
I also loved the setting of this book - imagine battleships, force fields, and floating cities in space, then add a talking space ship to all of that. Absolutely amazing descriptions, and I love how each of these amazing ideas were described.
The only reason this book wasn't a full five stars for me was the slightly slow beginning as well as the awful cliffhanger (and by awful I mean amazing except for now having to wait for the next book!!), however I am SUPER EXCITED to read the rest of the trilogy and see where it leads!
Overall - ★★★

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Blog Tour: The Current by Tim Johnston


Title: The Current
Image result for the current tim johnstonAuthor: Tim Johnston
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
Pages: 406 (Paperback - ARC)
Publisher: Algonquin
Publication date: January 22nd, 2019


When two young women leave their college campus in the dead of winter for a 700-mile drive north to Minnesota, they suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives in the icy waters of the Black Root River, just miles from home. One girl’s survival, and the other’s death—murder, actually—stun the citizens of a small Minnesota town, thawing memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may yet live among them. One father is forced to relive his agony while another’s greatest desire—to bring a killer to justice—is revitalized . . . and the girl who survived the icy plunge cannot escape the sense that she is connected to that earlier unsolved case by more than a river. Soon enough she’s caught up in an investigation of her own that will unearth long-hidden secrets, and stoke the violence that has long simmered just below the surface of the town. Souls frozen in time, ghosts and demons, the accused and the guilty, all stir to life in this cold northern place where memories, like treachery, run just beneath the ice, and where a young woman can come home but still not be safe.


THOUGHTS

Thank you so much to Thomas Allen & Son for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I had a hard time at the beginning of this book; I found that I was confusing people and names, however after a few chapters everything started falling into place and I ended up really enjoying it!
The setting in this book I really enjoyed - the way that the author described the towns, and especially how they described the rivers, how they moved, how they froze over in winter, how cold they were - it really gave the book life and made it feel realistic. It made you feel like you were in the book, one of the characters, instead of just reading it. The settings were extremely life-like, and I really enjoy that in a book. When the author can make the reader feel like they are actually there, in the book with the characters, it's been done very well.
The characters in the book were also done very well. I found that they were all different, some good and some evil, some kind and others mean. They all had their quirks, and they all had some issues, but that made them seem more human and more relate-able. I really enjoyed reading about them!
The other thing I enjoyed is just how...sad this book is. These poor girls have so many bad things happen to them, and all of them have so many things that they have to struggle through. Especially the main character - she continuously has so many things to fight through, so many things to deal with and so many problems to face, and none of them are small or easy to deal with. This book is sad, but it is sad in a good way. We see her strength, her resilience, and her abilities through her struggles, and that made this sad book a little less sad.
The only reason this didn't get a full five stars for me was because I wanted everything to be neatly wrapped up at the end, and I feel like a little more could have been added, even an epilogue or something similar a few years or months down the road, just so that all of the loose strings could be tied up neatly. Other than that, I loved this book and I highly recommend it!
Overall - ★★★


TOUR-WIDE GIVEAWAY

The winner will receive 1 hardcover copy of The Current by Tim Johnston!

Giveaway details:
  • Canada only (excl. Quebec) - full rules found in the Terms & Conditions on Rafflecopter
  • Giveaway begins on January 21st and ends on February 4th at 11:59pm EST
  • Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize


Get your copy today!
* Also available to order through your local independent bookstore

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review: The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders

The Rule of One (The Rule of One #1)Title: The Rule of One (The Rule of One #1)
Author: Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders
Genre: Science Fiction/Futuristic
Pages: 270 (Paperback)
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication date: October 1st, 2018

Synopsis from The Rule of One's Goodreads page

In their world, telling the truth has become the most dangerous crime of all.

In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.

She has an identical twin sister, Mira.

For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.

Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.


THOUGHTS

Thank you so much to Thomas Allen & Son for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I was a little hesitant going into this book, because I went into it pretty blind! Every once in awhile I enjoy starting to read a book having forgotten what it was about, and honestly I think that was a good decision with this book!
I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this book, however I did enjoy it quite a bit! It is a very futuristic, science fiction-y type book, however it doesn't really feel like that when you read it. It takes place in the future where the government of the United States has drastically changed for the worst, and controls the number of children a family can have. Unfortunately, the main family in the novel had identical twin girls, and instead of choosing one to keep, they managed to hide them and allow each of them to have a life that the government doesn't know about.
I liked the premise of the book itself - I enjoy futuristic books where the government has become all-controlling because I really enjoy seeing how the characters will react to what happens, and I feel like you can learn a lot about characters that way.
Both Ava and Mira are very similar characters, however the author right away makes distinctions between them, and I enjoyed that. It makes the reader more impressed that they had managed to pretend to be the same person much more impressive.
I also enjoyed their relationship, as well as their relationships with other people. They both felt very real and I liked seeing how they were able to react to other people and each other.
One issue I had with this book was that it was a little slow at the beginning. I found that it took a little for the major action to start, however I also found that all the information that was explained in the beginning was necessary for the book, so it was a little slow but very much needed.
Another thing was that I found both characters' point of views to be VERY similar - I had a hard time distinguishing which character was which, and I had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to figure out exactly which character's point of view I was reading a few times throughout the novel.
I enjoyed the book, and although it did feel familiar at some points to some other books I have read and some TV shows I have watched, I did enjoy it and I am for sure going to be reading the second novel!
Overall - ★★★☆☆.5 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Review: What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell

What Have You DoneTitle: What Have You Done
Author: Matthew Farrell
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
Pages: 303 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication date: October 1st, 2018

Synopsis from What Have You Done's Goodreads page

When a mutilated body is found hanging in a seedy motel in Philadelphia, forensics specialist Liam Dwyer assumes the crime scene will be business as usual. Instead, the victim turns out to be a woman he’d had an affair with before breaking it off to save his marriage. But there’s a bigger problem: Liam has no memory of where he was or what he did on the night of the murder.

Panicked, Liam turns to his brother, Sean, a homicide detective. Sean has his back, but incriminating evidence keeps piling up. From fingerprints to DNA, everything points to Liam, who must race against time and his department to uncover the truth—even if that truth is his own guilt. Yet as he digs deeper, dark secrets come to light, and Liam begins to suspect the killer might actually be Sean…

When the smoke clears in this harrowing family drama, who will be left standing?



THOUGHTS

Thank you so much to Thomas Allen & Son for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I really enjoyed this book! Another psychological thriller (which I know I do read and review a lot of, however I absolutely love them all).
I found the beginning of this book to be a bit slow. I struggled through the first 50-75 pages, and I debated if I wanted to finish it. I got confused as to the backstory versus real time events, however I am very, very glad that I kept reading and didn't put it down, because I FLEW through the rest of it and I loved the rest of the story!
I found the overall story itself to be interesting and entertaining, which is what you hope to get out of a book. I don't read a lot of serial killer type books, however after reading this one I may just go and find more to read!
I found the plot line itself to be a little predictable at times, and I realized who the killer was quite ahead of the final end scene and the big reveal. However, I still wanted to keep reading and I did want to find out exactly why and how they did everything. I found the plot moved at a good pace past the first 50 or so pages, and it starts to really pick up near the end, which made the book much easier to read, and much more intense and enjoyable.
The characters of this book I absolutely loved. Every single one of them was wonderful in their own ways (even the evil ones!!). I adore evil characters being perfectly evil, and this was definitely one of those cases! I really enjoyed the back stories of the characters, and I really like how the events from the past of all of their lives were described and how instrumental they were in creating the actual story itself. I would actually really enjoy just a short story on the backstory of Liam and Sean from when they were younger, and just how and why what happened (no spoilers - you'll have to read the book to find out!) happened.
Overall - ★★★☆☆.5 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Review: After Nightfall by A. J. Banner

Image result for after nightfallTitle: After Nightfall
Author: A. J. Banner
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Mystery
Pages: 247 (Paperback)
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication date: August 7th, 2018

Synopsis from After Nightfall's Goodreads page

Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.


THOUGHTS

Thank you so much to Thomas Allen & Son for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I quite enjoyed this book! I've been into the psychological thriller phase for awhile now, and I have really only not enjoyed one or two books in that genre - thankfully this is one that I enjoyed!
The book opens up with a dinner party that is happening, with the announcement of an engagement between two of the main characters. Things start to spiral out of control after a few drinks and some celebration, and already negative feelings and emotions get stronger. Following the dinner party, an old friend (and not a great one) is found dead nearby. The remainder of the book is the struggle of finding out what happened and if it was a murder, who killed her, and why?
I really enjoyed the suspense in this book. I found that the main character Marissa is the main reason for the suspense - she is determined to find the person who killed her friend, and she is determined to find out why. She goes off searching for answers, and in result she places herself into unsafe situations, resulting in getting herself into danger. There are many small twists and turns throughout this book, as Marissa is working towards finding out what happened to her friend.
Throughout the book, Marissa suspects many different people in killing her friend, and because of this she suspects many horrible things are happening. These thoughts make many people angry at her, and she risks her own relationships and her own life in order to solve the mystery.
I really enjoyed Marissa as a character. I found that she was very stubborn, very focused, and very outlandish at times as well, letting anxiety and worry take over. She was realistic at most times, however sometimes she would become a little too focused on the murder and in result get into some sticky situations.
I liked how the author made her relationships and her life suffer in result of what happened, because many authors make the characters pretend that everything is perfectly fine after a murder happens. I liked seeing how so much stress and worry was placed on the character that she had to make hard decisions and had to get herself out of sticky situations and it made her stronger in result.
Overall - ★★★☆☆.5