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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Unrest

Unrest
by Michelle Harrison

Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out-of-body experiences are harmless – but to Elliott they’re terrifying.

Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out-of-body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something that wants to live again – and it wants Ophelia, too . . .(goodreads.com)

This book surpassed my expectations and my expectations were pretty darned high. I have been madly in love with Michelle Harrison’s 13 Treasures series (middle grade) and couldn’t contain my excitement when I found out she was releasing yet another book, but this time in the YA realm.

Unrest is such an incredibly well-written and thrilling ghost story. If you’re thinking in participating in that RIP Challenge thing in the fall, I would suggest you add this one to your list of books.

There’s no fluff in this story. From the first page to the last, I was gripped by the mystery. My heart raced, I was happily creeped out and the suspense was just delightful.

I’m not quite sure how to write about this book without giving anything away because there were so many twists and turns and surprises throughout that I want you all to experience them for yourselves. I loved everything about the book from the way Elliott and his father and brother interact, to Ophelia to the ghosty goodness.

Unrest is completely different that Michelle’s 13 Treasures series. Those books were well-written as well, but have a different feel to them (not just because they were middle grade and this isn’t). I found Unrest to have a more literary feel to it. That isn’t quite how I want to explain it, but I can’t think of how else to put what I mean in words. It’s certainly not a fluffy book (not that fluffy books aren’t awesome.) It’s a book whose words carry weight.

GAH. I am not explaining this well at all. It’s close to what I call a “Smart Book” but it’s not exactly there, but it’s certainly not fluff.

I’m going to stop now because I’m not making sense and I don’t want to take away from how amazing this book is. (And I am not just saying that because I know, and like, the author.)

And I’m not taking away from YA literature when I say this – Unrest could be on the adult fiction shelves under thriller. I think it’s only YA because it has a teen protagonist, but I’d put the book up there with the amazing adult thrillers that come out.

Damn it all…. THIS BOOK IS AWESOME AND SUSPENSEFUL! Read it. Just do it. Even if you wait until autumn. Just ignore my failed attempt to explain what it’s like. Ugh.

Spell Bound

Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3)
by Rachel Hawkins

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late? (goodreads.com)

There’s nothing better than a fun story that makes you laugh out loud. Each of the three Hex Hall books have made me laugh, yet I forget each time that this will happen. I’m not one to collect quotes from books, but rarely I’ll come to the end of a story and regret that I didn’t note down the page numbers for a couple of the lines that really appealed to me. Spell Bound happens to be one of those books I wish I thought to collect quotes from. There was one snappy retort about this “not being a slumber party” that had me laugh so loud I annoyed my sleeping dogs. I just tried to flip through the book to find it with no luck. Bah! I should know better by now, but I’m just not someone who sits with a pen and paper at the ready while I read a book.

So you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was funny and that there are so many other funny instances in this story. In fact, I’m suddenly recalling the beginning of the FIRST book and Sophie’s reaction to meeting a werewolf for the first time and regretting not noting down THAT quote.

This is a YA series that I think would translate to Middle Grade readers pretty well. There’s not too much swearing, though words like jackass and bitch do scatter the pages occasionally. Oh, and there’s some death and scary stuff, but if you’ve read Harry Potter this is a lot less dark. For the most part, the Hex Hall series is a whimsical, witty, action-packed romp that will make you happy.

Maybe that’s because the imprint is owned by Disney? Who knows. But it works.

I’m pretty certain this was only a trilogy. As much as I love Sophie, Archer, Cal and Jenna (and Elodie!) I wouldn’t want them to wear out their welcome. Spell Bound wraps things up nicely and doesn’t disappoint when compared to Hex Hall and Demonglass.

One of the best things about this series is how well written it is. In a sea of repetitive paranormal YA books, this series truly stands out to me. I’m still not sold on the cover art for the books, but what shows up between those covers is excellent.

Added to the awesome that was this story is the fact that the book smelled amazing. It has that perfect book smell. You know what I’m talking about. I don’t know if all copies will smell wonderful, but mine was heavenly. I’d read a few pages and then bury my nose in the book and sniff and read on. Yes, I am a dork for that, but I don’t care. Book smell = BLISS!

Thank you, Rachel Hawkins, for making me laugh when I really needed it (not to mention I read this right after crying for an hour after finishing The Flight of Gemma Hardy. Talk about your 180-degree turn around in subjects!)  I’m just so thankful that there are authors out there writing books like this. Great writing, funny dialogue, interesting plot and action… who could ask for anything more?

Hex Hall series

  1. Hex Hall
  2. Demonglass
  3. Spell Bound

 

In My Mailbox #55 – the “Oops, I thought I was putting these on my wishlist, not in my shopping cart” edition

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

All my IMM posts can be found here!

What up, yo!

First a True Story:

Thursday, 6pm, I see a parcel on my front stoop.

Me: Ooo! A parcel! I wonder what it is! I thought I’d gotten everything I was supposed to get already.
Husband: Well, aren’t you special.
Me: *opens parcel and see’s The Humming Room by Ellen Potter*
Me: Ooohh! The Humming Room! I totally wanted to read this!
Husband: Wait, didn’t YOU BUY this book?
Me: I guess I did. I don’t remember, but I guess I did, I mean, the packing slip says I did. I think I remember doing this.
Husband: You know you have a book-buying problem when you can’t even remember what books you’re getting anymore.
Me: *maturely sticks out tongue at husband*

End scene.

And now! The books I mention in this video:

Surprise ARCs from Simon & Schuster Canada

Accidentally bought from Book Depository (er… & Chapigo)  (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy – Margot Livesey
  • Unrest – Michelle Harrison
  • Poison Heart – S. B. Hayes
  • A Witch in Winter – Ruth Warburton
  • The Book of Blood and Shadow – Robin Wasserman
  • Violet Wings (book 1)  – Victoria Hanley
  • The Humming Room – Ellen Potter
  • Renegade Magic (The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, #2) – Stephanie Burgis

And, hey! I’d link all of these up to Goodreads as usual, but the site just went down as I was finishing up this post, so, you get two links for your viewing pleasure. You’ll have to find the others on your own because I will totally forget about coming back here and fixing up this post once it’s done. I have no memory capacity anymore. =P

I’m going to continue reading Unrest now. Happy weekend, Internet!

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

 The Flight of Gemma Hardy
by Margot Livesey

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.

But Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin . . . a journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery that will lead her to a life she’s never dreamed. (goodreads.com)

Earlier this year, The Flight of Gemma Hardy kept popping up on my radar. Eventually I saw a review over on Stephanie’s Written Word (where I find all of my interesting adult fiction, if I were to be honest). There was something about both the title and cover of this book that haunted me. After reading Stephanie’s review I felt like I needed to read this book almost as much as I need to breathe (something I occasionally forget to do, I might add). Through the rest of February and all of March, as my reading difficulties progressed, I would still think about The Flight of Gemma Hardy and wish I had to it read. I wasn’t buying books because, well, I wasn’t reading the ones I had in the house. Why spend money on something you’re not going to use, right?

I finally broke down and bought this book online after having checked it out in the store. To add to the beauty of cover and title that was haunting me, the book’s pages are that ragged, torn edge thing that for some reason makes books all that more appealing. I know that sort of binding is called something, but I can’t think of it right now. The book was stupidly priced in the store, but I knew I could buy it from the store online, making it cheaper AND not have to use my credit card (bonus!)

Gemma flew to my house last Monday when I was home sick. The book arrived just as I was finishing another book and I started it the same day. Although I wanted to do nothing but read the book the week proved to be stubborn in its instance that I do so many other things. I did not find this fair at all. After almost three months of being unable to keep my nose in a book for more than 3-5 pages at a time, I was now ready to forget about the world and bury myself in a book. I spent my working days daydreaming of this book. I didn’t want to work at all, I wanted to curl up in a corner and read. The few nights I was able to find time to read last week, I was so exhausted I’d fall asleep before I got any reading done.

ARGH!

It’s rare I am haunted by a book so deeply. It’s almost as if I knew from the first time I heard the title or saw the cover that I would fall in love with this story completely. Friday night I read until I was cross-eyed. I woke up Saturday morning and finished the book.

I cried for an hour when it was done.

It was a good cry though. One of those happy endings to a heartbreaking tale sort of cries. I loved Gemma and her sad little existence. I loved her story. I loved her determination. I loved her heartbreak and her joy.

I might have hugged this book for a while after I finished it.

Every once in a while you come across a story that just resonates with you. A story you are so glad to have in your life. I feel this way about The Flight of Gemma Hardy. I know this is a retelling of Jane Eyre so I think I shall now pick up a copy of that classic (since I have never read it) and give that a try. Maybe it’s the plot that I am in love with. Maybe it’s the author’s words. Maybe it’s just Gemma. Either way, this book vaulted to the top of my All Time Favourite list. I am going to buy copies of this book for friends. I am going to lend out my copy (possibly with a written contract about owing me their soul  in case they damage the book that the reader will have to sign before I let them leave with the book. Heh).

This book is beautiful and heartbreaking and just utterly charming. It’s what I needed to get me back into reading again. The book is sitting on the coffee table right now and I keep looking at it longingly. I can’t remember a time when I wanted to re-read a book as soon as I finished it, but that’s exactly how I feel now. I’m trying to channel that desire into reading all of the other books I have in the house right now.

I want to write a love letter to this book. This book is my soulmate. I swear.

I now have Jane Eyre on my iPhone, though I don’t think I’ll be able to read it that way because I hate reading things on my iPhone. I wanted to download it to see what I’d think of it before I rush out and buy yet another classic novel that I’ll never read, despite my best intentions. Meanwhile, I think I’ll have a cup of tea and make doe-eyes at The Flight of Gemma Hardy a little bit longer.

Arranged

Arranged
by Catherine McKenzie

Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company’s success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all. (goodreads.com)

Having ADORED Catherine McKenzie’s Spin earlier this year, I was more than happy to agree to review her latest US release on my blog. Her being a Montreal author made me want to support her from the start, but the love affair I had with Spin just made me want to promote the heck out of her even more.

I will say right off that I did not love this book nearly as much as I did Spin but I did enjoy it greatly.  Face it, there are very few books that ever reach that euphoric level of love with me like Spin did, so I’m not being negative about Arranged.

Catherine McKenzie has a sort of Sarah Addison Allen-esque way with characters. Characters that are real and tangible. Characters that have flaws but are still charming and warm. McKenzie’s stories have a lot of humour to them, too. Anne Blythe comes off the pages as funny and endearing through her inner monologues and outer dialogues with the other characters in the book.

I finished this book feeling happy. Happiness isn’t something that I have been feeling a lot of lately, but Arranged left me content and relaxed. I could see this book being one of those sappy, rom-com movies that you’d force your man to, but you’d probably both end up enjoying it. I know there are only so many ways to say that this book is funny and charming, but I can’t stop saying it because it’s 100% true.

Catherine McKenzie is officially an authors that I will always buy a book from in the future. She’s up there with Sarah Addison Allen but she gets extra points for being a Montrealer. 😉