Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween. I love the costumes, the kids having fun, the candy, the decorations, the scary TV specials. I also love the creepy books that keep me up long past my bedtime because I'm afraid to close my eyes! I hope everyone has a fun, scary, and safe Halloween.

You may not know, but I am the mom of a four year old who is gluten free, and I blog about it over at Celiac Baby! Halloween is an exciting time for him, but as a result of his food restrictions, it's a bit of a scary time for me. Sorting through candy is done with a printout of safe and unsafe candies because just one bite of a candy containing gluten can make my son violently ill. At the end of the evening after the sorting is done, his bag is usually less than 1/4 of the original amount. We take all that unsafe candy and give it to the Halloween Fairy, who leaves him a bag of non-candy treats. This year he's getting some Superhero stuff, including stickers, pencils, small storybooks, construction paper, and a few other small items.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: Finding Home by Lauren K. McKellar

Finding Home
by Lauren K. McKellar

Moody, atmospheric, and just a little bit punk, Finding Home takes contemporary YA to a new level of grit...

When Amy’s mum dies, the last thing she expects is to be kicked off her dad’s music tour all the way to her Aunt Lou in a depressing hole of a seaside town. But it’s okay — Amy learned how to cope with the best, and soon finds a hard-drinking, party-loving crowd to help ease the pain.

The only solace is her music class, but even there she can’t seem to keep it together, sabotaging her grade and her one chance at a meaningful relationship. It takes a hard truth from her only friend before Amy realises that she has to come to terms with her past, before she destroys her future.

Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: October 1, 2013


Kat's Review

This novel tackles some tough subjects, such as drug abuse, the loss of a parent, sexual assault, and more, all through the eyes of a teenage girl trying to start over in her Aunt's house, while her famous father is on tour. Amy manages to begin pulling herself out of her depression with the help of some misfit friends, and finds herself falling for a boy in her music class, the only place she feels she really fits in. When Amy regresses back to her self-destructive behaviour, she's certain that she'll never return to the happy girl she once was.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: The Vicar's Wife by Katharine Swartz

The Vicar's Wife
by Katharine Swartz
Jane Hatton and her British husband Andrew relocate from New York City to a small village on the Cumbrian coast. Jane has been city-based and career-driven but when her fourteen year old daughter Natalie falls in with the wrong crowd at school in Manhattan, she and Andrew decide to try country living. However Jane has trouble getting used to the silence and solitude of a remote village. Natalie hates her new school, and eleven-year-old Ben struggles academically. Only seven-year-old Merrie enjoys country life. Has Jane made a horrible mistake? The Hattons have bought the old vicarage in the village. When Jane finds a scrap of shopping list, she grows curious about Alice, the vicar’s wife who lived there years before. As we follow the twin narratives of Jane, in the present, and Alice in the 1930s we discover that both are on a journey to discover their true selves, and to address their deepest fears.
Publication Date: October 18, 2013
Publisher: Lion Fiction
Kat's Review
This book drew me in from the start. The twin narratives from Alice in the 1930s and Jane in the present actually made me more intrigued with the book, rather than less as I had originally expected. Both women are so interesting and strong in their own ways that it was fascinating to what their lives unfold over the course of the book.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blog Tour: Sweet Surrendering by Chelsea M. Cameron

Good Morning! I'm very happy to be part of the blog tour for Chelsea M. Cameron's newest release, Sweet Surrendering. If you're already a fan of Ms. Cameron's writing, this book shouldn't disappoint. It's an adult contemporary romance, so it's a bit racier than her New Adult releases, but as always, there's a strong plot to go along with the romance. There's a bit more heat in this one than in her previous releases, but there are also great friendships, fun romance, and a strong, independent main character. A nice change of pace to see the woman with the high powered job, and embracing it, too.

I have a short excerpt from the book to share, and then a great giveaway, so keep reading!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

Starry Night: A Christmas Novel

’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Random House

Kat's Review
I know that it's only October and this is a Christmas novel, but I don't think you only have to read Christmas stories in December any more than I would refuse to read a book set in July during the winter months. Besides, Christmas is coming, and this is a good way to get into the spirit of the season!

Review: Malicious Mischief by Marianne Harden

Malicious Mischief (A Rylie Keyes Mystery #1)
Is it strange to have the unemployment office on speed dial? Not for twenty-four-year-old college dropout Rylie Keyes. Her current job at a small retirement home is worlds more important than all her past gigs, though: if she loses this one, she won’t be able to stop the forced sale of her and her grandfather’s home, a house that has been in the family for ages. But keeping her job means figuring out the truth about a senior citizen who was found murdered while in her care. Explain that one, Miss Keyes.

The late Otto Weiner was thought to be a penniless Nazi concentration camp survivor with a silly grudge against Rylie. However, Otto was not a liked man by any means, and his enemies will stop at nothing to keep their part in his murder secret.

Forced to dust off the PI training she has to keep hidden from her ex-detective grandfather, Rylie must align with a circus-bike-wheeling Samoan while juggling the attention of two very hot cops who each get her all hot and bothered for very different reasons. And as she trudges through this new realm of perseverance, she has no idea that along the way she just might win, or lose, a little piece of her heart.
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Select
Kat's Review
This book is light, fun, and at times even a little bit outrageous! Rylie Keyes is a young, aspiring P.I. who can't manage to hold down a job for more than a few months at a time. When she's discovered with a dead man in the back of the truck she's driving, she sets out to solve the crime of Otto's true killer.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: The Hive by Gill Hornsby

The Hive
by Gill Hornsby

There's only room for one Queen Bee: A hilarious and touching novel about the social world of school mothers.It's the start of another school year at St. Ambrose. While the children are busy in the classroom, their mothers are learning sharper lessons. Lessons in friendship. Lessons in betrayal. Lessons in the laws of community, the transience of power...and how to get invited to lunch.

Beatrice -- undisputed queen bee. Ruler, by Divine Right, of all school fundraising, this year, last year, and, surely, for many to come.

Heather -- desperate to volunteer, desperate to be noticed, desperate to belong.

Georgie -- desperate for a cigarette.

And Rachel -- watching them all, keeping her distance. But soon to discover that the line between amused observer and miserable outcast is a thin one.

THE HIVE is a wickedly funny and brilliantly observed story about female friendship, power plays, and the joys and perils (well, mainly perils) of trying to do one's part.

Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company


Kat's Review

This book made me laugh out loud at times. I've seen some criticism online from people who claim that if you're not a mom of a school-age kid that you won't get it, but I don't necessarily agree. You may not be able to relate to it on a personal level, but the story itself is still entertaining, and I think the notion of cliques, or hives, is something that exists outside of the mom group in the schoolyard.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (Reckoners #1)
There are no heroes.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics... nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
Publisher: Delacourt
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Kat's Review
I am new to this author, although his credentials are impressive. It's obvious that he's a very talented writer from the start, and I rather enjoyed the main characters attempts to use metaphors in his hilariously inept manner. David spends his life waiting for his chance to get revenge on Steelheart for the death of his father, and when that chance comes, he jumps in with two feet.

Review: Ill-Gotten Gains (Nell Forrest Mystery #2) by Ilsa Evans

Ill-Gotten Gains (Nell Forest Mystery #2)
There are secrets in the sleepy town of Majic, where the past trips over the present ... and then looks the other way.

The country town of Majic is about to celebrate a milestone. It's been 150 years since the founding father, Petar Majic, rode into the bush after a liquid lunch, vowing to build a house at whatever spot he reached by sunset. However, what happened next isn't quite what town legend would have you believe.

A minor act of cemetery vandalism lands local columnist and amateur detective Nell Forrest right in the path of historical inevitability. An apparent murder-suicide leads to the unveiling of a century-old scandal and a trail left by a trio of long-dead women.

Nell's investigations are hampered both by the arrival of the handsome district detective and by her family – whose dramas almost eclipse that of the town itself. With directionless daughters, unplanned pregnancies, a spot or two of adultery and an ex-husband who wants her house, Nell barely has time for the case, let alone the energy to keep her wits about her at the same time.

And Nell will need her wits about her as the mystery of Majic begins casting its shadow into the present day, putting Nell and her family in grave danger. In the end, Nell must decide whether it is a tale of epic fortitude, or treachery and ill-gotten gains, before the past catches up with her.
Publisher: Momentum
Publication Date: September 1, 2013
Kat's Review
I chose this book because it looked as though it had the right atmosphere for an October read. I don't read too many unlikely-detective-type books, but this one was funny with a great protagonist, and I found myself laughing at Nell's insights and personal commentary along the way. Nell Forrest is a middle aged woman grappling with some big life changes. Her husband left her and their five children for another woman, Nell's daughters are dealing with the trials of entering adulthood, and Nell is struggling with putting her life back together and moving on.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Release Day:Sweet Surrenduring by Chelsea M. Cameron

I'm very happy to be part of the release day festivities for Chelsea M. Cameron's latest book, Sweet Surrendering! It's on sale for .99 cents for a limited time, so act quickly! There's also a fantastic giveaway below, so be sure to enter!

Sweet Surrendering by Chelsea M. Cameron




She’s his boss. He doesn’t care. This office isn’t big enough for the two of them…

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: Freakboy by Kristin Clark

FreakboyFreakboyby Kristin Clark From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?  In Freakboy's razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.

Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux


Kat's Review

This is going to be a short review of a very significant book. I have to start by saying that I don't generally enjoy books written in the form of a poem, or several poems. However, this book is just so powerful that once I moved past that, I realized that this is a very powerful story. There aren't enough books aimed at teens that work through the subject matter of Freakboy. A boy who seemingly has it all, questioning not only his sexuality, but his whole gender. In love with a girl but finding himself wanting to become one as well. It's the type of subject matter that is frequently the butt of jokes. It moves beyond gay and straight, into territory that I don't think many teens feel they can discuss openly with very many people. As someone who has worked with teenagers for many years, I can tell you that these issues do exist, and books such as this may give someone the courage to come forward with what they're experiencing.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: Made of Stars by Kelley York

Made of Stars
When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.

The reason they've never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance's quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off.

Then Chance's mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent...they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Kat's Review
Once again I'm a little late to the party when it comes to a particular author, but it looks like I arrived at the right time! This book blew me away. It's so poignantly written that I felt every emotion quite intensely. It's written in the dual perspectives of Hunter and his half sister Ashlin, who have moved in with their father for a year before heading off to college. Despite this, the story really belongs to Chance, the mysterious, lying, wonderful boy they've known since childhood, but who they now realize they never really knew at all.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: Darker Days (Darker Agency #1) by Jus Accardo

Darker Days (The Darker Agency #1)
Jessie Darker goes to high school during the day, but at night she helps with the family investigation business. Cheating husbands and stolen inheritances? They’re your girls—but their specialty is a bit darker. Zombie in your garage? Pesky Poltergeist living in your pool? They’ll have the problem solved in a magical minute. For a nominal fee, of course...

When gorgeous new client, Lukas Scott, saunters into the office requesting their help to find a stolen box, it sounds like a simple case—until the truth comes out. The box is full of Sin.

Seven deadly ones, in fact.

They’ve got five days to recapture the Sins before they're recalled by the box, taking seven hijacked human bodies with them. Easy peasy—except for one thing...

There’s a spell that will allow the Sins to remain free, causing chaos forever. When the key ingredient threatens the life of someone she knows, Jessie must make the ultimate choice between love and family—or lose everything.
Publication Date: August 19, 2013
Publisher: Entangled
Kat's Review
This is the first book I've read from this author, so I really had no idea what to expect. There seems to have been quite a bit of paranormal on my reading list the past little while, and this one is no exception, except that it puts a bit of a different twist on things. Jessie Darker and her mom are entrusted with capturing the human embodiments of the 7 deadly sins and locking them back up in the box from which they escaped. Oh, and they need to save the guy who's housing wrath, only the witch who put him there in the first place isn't being very cooperative.

Waiting on Wednesday (29)

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

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

The Vicar's Wife
Jane Hatton and her British husband Andrew relocate from New York City to a small village on the Cumbrian coast. Jane has been city-based and career-driven but when her fourteen year old daughter Natalie falls in with the wrong crowd at school in Manhattan, she and Andrew decide to try country living. However Jane has trouble getting used to the silence and solitude of a remote village. Natalie hates her new school, and eleven-year-old Ben struggles academically. Only seven-year-old Merrie enjoys country life. Has Jane made a horrible mistake? The Hattons have bought the old vicarage in the village. When Jane finds a scrap of shopping list, she grows curious about Alice, the vicar’s wife who lived there years before. As we follow the twin narratives of Jane, in the present, and Alice in the 1930s we discover that both are on a journey to discover their true selves, and to address their deepest fears.
Publication Date: October 18, 2013
Publisher: Lion Fiction

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Omens (Cainsville #1)
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong begins her new series with Omens, featuring a compelling new heroine thrust into a decades-old murder case and the dark mysteries surrounding her strange new home.

Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Random House Canada
Kat's Review
I am new to Kelley Armstrong's books, having only read a handful of the many, many, books she has published, but she has certainly gained a new fan. Her skill as a writer is evident in the style and pacing of the book, and I like that this new series pulls the reader in slowly. There are obviously some supernatural elements at work here, but they are really only hinted at in this first book of her new series.

Review: Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic

Kat's Review

I'm a big fan of Maggie Stiefvater's writing, and this book does not disappoint. It's a little bit grittier than the first, but that's partly because it focuses more on Ronan, who's a little grittier than Gansey. The boys are still looking for the buried King, but as Ronan gets pulled deeper into his dream world, the focus of the book shifts to deal more with the mystery of how it is that Ronan can actually pull objects from his dream world, and what that means for the group as a whole.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux
Kat's Review
I've been getting very lucky with my book picks recently. Several winners in a row. This one is no exception. I loved it. I didn't love the main character right off the bat, but she grew on me, and by the end of the book I was firmly in her corner.

Waiting on Wednesday (28)

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

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones #3)
Bridget Jones is back!

Great comic writers are as rare as hen's teeth. And Helen is one of a very select band who have created a character of whom the very thought makes you smile. Bridget Jones' Diary, charting the life of a 30-something singleton in London in the 1990s was a huge international bestseller, published in 40 countries and selling over 15 million copies worldwide. Its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, published soon after was also a major international bestseller. Both were made into films starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

Set in the present, the new novel will explore a different phase in Bridget's life with an entirely new scenario. As Helen Fielding has said: "If people laugh as much reading it as I am while writing it then we'll all be very happy."

Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Canada

What are you waiting on? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: Blood & Bone (A Jack Hawthorne Adventure #2) by Don Hoesel

Blood and Bone (A Jack Hawthorne Adventure #3)
A decade after Serpent of Moses, Jack is married to Espy and back teaching at Evanston University. They have two sons, one of whom has cystic fibrosis. Despite this challenge, life is comfortable. But that all changes when the CIA, while combing through the papers of the late Gordon Reese, uncovers the secret of Elisha’s bones. Jack’s world is then turned upside down by an urgent call from his old friend Duckey, who’s been alerted to the CIA’s probing by one of his former contacts. Jack and his family escape from their home just ahead of the CIA, and he decides to do what he should have done long ago: recover the bones and destroy them. Except the bones aren’t where he left them.
So now Jack is in a race, for the last time, to find the bones. And he’s not the only one. Pitted against both the CIA and an organization that will kill to protect their secrets, Jack and Espy follow hard-to-decipher clues across the globe before arriving in the catacombs of Paris for a final showdown that will either save their family–or tear apart everything they hold dear forever.
Publication Date: July 2013
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Kat's Review
This is the third book in a series, but if you haven't read the first two, I wouldn't sweat it. The story offers enough back story to catch on quickly enough, and works as a stand alone. This is a fast paced thriller set all over the world. The style reminds me of a cross between the pacing of James Patterson and the historical intrigue of Dan Brown. Take that how you will, but it works.

Review: Charming (Pax Arcana #1) by Elliott James

Charming (Pax Arcana #1)
John Charming isn't your average Prince...

He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn't change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar... Right?

Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: September 24, 2013



Kat's Review

I'm always a bit wary when fairy tales are reimagined for the modern world, but when they're done well, I really enjoy them.

This one is done well.