Faithful by Alice Hoffman

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman; published by Simon & Schuster (November 1, 2016); ISBN 9781476799209

At seventeen Shelby Richmond seemed to have a bright future ahead of her; pretty and smart,  she was looking forward to attending university. When a tragic car accident  leaves her best friend Helene in a permanent vegetative state while Shelby is physically unhurt, her world spirals out of control. Unable to deal with the guilt and pain, and convinced she should be punished for what has happened, Shelby isolates herself from her previous life, from her parents and friends. What follows is the story of the power of love, family and friendship to heal and inspire; a story of survival against terrible odds; the unyielding power of hope.

So many feelings after reading Faithful; on one hand devastatingly sad and heartbreaking. As a mother, I just wanted to take Shelby in my arms and hug her and hold her close to me, to make the pain go away. But on the other hand, Shelby’s story is heartwarming and hopeful, surprisingly uplifting and inspirational. Alice Hoffman has created in Shelby Richmond such a likeable  and relatable character, vulnerable, emotional, mentally broken in a million little pieces but still with a glimmer of hope and a survivors instinct. The supporting characters, who literally provide Shelby with the support she needs to get through this traumatic event in her life, are also wonderfully written and you are sure to love them.

Faithful is beautifully written. It sure ticks a lot of boxes and will appeal to a wide range of readers. Just a wonderful book and another great must read from 2016!

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me a advanced digital copy in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Buzz Books 2016: Fall/Winter by Publishers Lunch

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Buzz Books 2016: Fall/Winter by Publishers Lunch; published by Publishers Lunch Buzz Books (May 2, 2016); ISBN 9780996288699

If you’re looking for a new book to read or want to discover a new author, Buzz Books 2016: Fall/Winter is a great resource. With 40 exclusive excerpts from both debut and established authors, including titles in fiction, debut fiction, and nonfiction, you are bound to find your next read.

Some of the standouts for me this time around were the following (I have included links to Goodreads for each of the books for you to check them out yourselves):

Christina’s World/A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline; published by William Morrow (February 14, 2017); ISBN 9780062356260

The One Man by Andrew Gross; published by Minotaur Books (August 23, 2016); ISBN 9781250079503

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff; published by Mira Books (January 31, 2017); ISBN 9780778319818

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena; published by Pamela Dorman Books (August 23, 2016); ISBN 9780735221086

By Gaslight by Steven Price; published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 4, 2016); ISBN 9780374160531

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple; published by Little, Brown and Company (October 4, 2016); ISBN 9780316403436

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; published by Viking Books (September 6, 2016); ISBN 9780670026197

The Mothers by Brit Bennett; published by Riverhead Books (October 11, 2016); ISBN 9780399184512

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang; published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 4, 2016); ISBN 9780544734098

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra; published by Mira Books (September 27, 2016); ISBN 9780778319443

When in French by Lauren Collins; published by Penguin Press (September 13, 2016); ISBN 9781594206443

Thank you to NetGalley and Publishers Lunch Buzz Books for providing me a digital copy in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Buzz Books 2016: Young Adult Fall/Winter by Publishers Lunch

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Buzz Books 2016: Young Adult Fall/Winter by Publishers Lunch; published by Publishers Lunch Buzz Books (May 2, 2016); ISBN 9780997396027

If you’re anything like me, you are always on the lookout for the next great book. Sometimes finding what to read next is almost as much fun as actually reading the book once I’ve discovered it. Now if you’re also like me, you probably already have too many books on your TBR (real or virtual) so be warned, Buzz Books 2016: Young Adult Fall/Winter can be dangerous because it will introduce you to some great titles that you will be compelled to add to that ever-growing TBR list, go out and buy or checkout from your local library.

This fifth edition of Buzz Books 2016: Young Adult Fall/Winter provides the reader with excerpts from 20 new Young Adult titles, some of which might be on your radar already; others completely new to you. Of the 20, the following caught my eye and have been added to my TBR list:

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron; published by Scholastic Press (September 13, 2016); ISBN 9780545945219

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz; published by Harlequin Teen (September 27, 2016); ISBN 9780373212385

The Continent by Keira Drake; published by Harlequin Teen (December 27, 2016); ISBN 9780373212392

Caraval by Stephanie Garber; published by Flatiron Books (January 10, 2017); ISBN 9781250095251

One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi; published by HarperCollins (September 6, 2016); ISBN 9780062421906

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee; published by HarperTeen (August 30, 2016); ISBN 9780062418593

Replica by Lauren Oliver; published by HarperCollins (October 4, 2016); ISBN 9780062394163

Thank you to NetGalley and Publishers Lunch Buzz Books for providing me a digital copy in return for an honest, unbiased review.

The Murder Game by Catherine McKenzie writing as Julie Apple

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The Murder Game by Julie Apple; published by Lake Union Publishing (November 1, 2016); ISBN 9781537316604

Before I start this review, for the maximization of your reading enjoyment, I recommend you first read Catherine McKenzie’s novel Fractured. Why, you might ask? Well, you see The Murder Game is unusual in that it is the ‘Inception’ of the book world. In Fractured, the main character Julie (Apple) Prentice has written a bestselling book and moved her family cross country to escape her stalker. Mishaps and misunderstandings ensue, some of it as a result of The Book. Guess what? Her bestselling book is none other than The Murder Game. Cool, right!?

At the heart of The Murder Game, a fast moving thriller slash legal drama, are Meredith, Lily, Jonathan and Julian, a group of friends who first met at McGill University Law School. Jump forward ten years, the son of a revered Montreal Canadiens hockey player has been murdered in his sleep. Meredith, now a prosecutor, has been assigned the case. The case seems straightforward; the alleged perpetrator has confessed and is in custody. But Meredith is shocked to find out that the perpetrator is her old friend Julian and that Jonathan is defending him.

As the story unfolds, moving swiftly through two separate timelines, we learn that these longtime friends have had a complicated, rocky, intense friendship that has shaped them and influenced them to become the people that they are today. As a reader you will be questioning everything you read: is Julian guilty of this crime? How are the others involved? What is the murder game and what is Meredith’s role in it?

A really quick read. I basically inhaled it and really felt bad when I was finished for not taking my time and allowing myself the time to really enjoy it. But actually the speed at which I flew through The Murder Game is actually a compliment to the great writing, interesting and well developed characters and intense, engrossing storyline. Another gem from the very talented Catherine McKenzie (aka Julie Apple).

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing me an advanced digital copy in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

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Fractured by Catherine McKenzie; published by Lake Union Publishing (October 4, 2016); ISBN 9781477817940

After suffering a harrowing experience at the hands of a stalker, former prosecutor and bestselling author Julie Prentice moves to the quiet Cincinnati neighbourhood of Mount Adams with her family in the hopes of a fresh start. So when a chance meeting with her neighbour, John Dunbar, sparks an instant connection between the two, Julie believes that her life might actually return to a certain level of normalcy. Unfortunately for Julie though, a number of mishaps and misunderstandings with her neighbours and the resumption of her previous harassment increasingly derail her calm, until everything comes to a climax one fateful morning.

One of my favourite reads of 2016, Fractured was entertaining, engrossing and totally unputdownable. I read it from cover to cover in just one day, turning the digital pages with what I can only describe as an unquenchable thirst for more, more, more…Written from two points of view (Julie and John’s) and along two timelines (before and after the ‘event’), Fractured is a fast-moving thriller with plenty of twists and turns that will have you guessing until the very end.

Everything about Fractured is deliciously engaging, from it’s idyllic and picturesque setting to it’s overbearing neighbours and emotionally fragile and flawed main characters. Catherine McKenzie has woven together a wonderful, thrilling tale from which you cannot escape; not that you would want to!

But hold on to your hats folks, because the story doesn’t end with Fractured! In a stroke of creative genius, The Book from the Fractured storyline is an actual real book titled The Murder Game and is available for your reading pleasure as of November 1, 2016. Check out the link here for more details. I will be posting my review of The Murder Game very soon.

Other novels by Catherine McKenzie you should definitely check out once you’ve read Fractured: Spin, Arranged, Forgotten, Hidden, Smoke

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing me a digital copy in return for an honest and unbiased review.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

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This year for Christmas, I’ve decided to give all my friend’s children books as part of their gifts. So while browsing in the children’s book section at my local bookstore looking for just the right books, I came across a copy of The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires and fell in love with it instantly.

The story follows a regular, unnamed girl and her little furry ‘assistant’ as she attempts to create the most magnificent thing. Although she has designed and built many things, and knows exactly what she wants her magnificent thing to look like, making it is not that easy. After a number of failed attempts, the girl grows frustrated and angry and is ready to give up. Her little assistant has other plans though and with his support and the girls determination and perseverance, the most magnificent thing is finally created!

The Most Magnificent Thing is brilliant! From it’s gorgeous, colourful and immensely appealing artwork to the intelligent and stimulating vocabulary, Ashley Spires has created a wonderfully empowering story that will appeal to children and their parents. One of the things I’ve tried to teach my children is that failure is okay; what’s important is that you learn from your mistakes, that you improve on what you’ve learned and that success and the satisfaction of that success can only be a result of your hard work and determination. This is at the core of The Most Magnificent Thing and makes this book an absolute must read!

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires; published by Kids Can Press (April 1, 2014); ISBN 978-1-55453-704-4

Thank you to NetGalley and Kid Can Press for providing me with a digital copy of the book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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Following in the footsteps of a number of other reviewers, I’m going to refrain from giving any summary of the plot. I went in blind and started reading Dark Matter without really knowing anything about the storyline  and I think that made all the difference, in terms of my enjoyment level.

My one big problem is that I made the mistake of starting this at bedtime, the night before I needed to get up really early (like 5 o’clock in the morning early), and be well rested for a full day of errands both outside and inside the house. Consider yourselves warned, because once you start Dark Matter, you will not be able to put it down. With every sentence you read and page you flip, you’ll want to know more,  you’ll have questions that you absolutely need to have answered in order to go on with your day.

Dark Matter is like a mixed box of chocolates; a fantastic combination of action and thrills, with a healthy dose of mind bending science all wrapped up with a love story bow. It’s thought provoking, mind boggling and will absolutely make you stop and question things in your own life. It will make you question your own reality. And then just when you think you have it all figured out and you think you know how everything will end WHAM,  Blake Crouch flips everything on it’s head. What an amazing, wild, exhilarating ride!

My question is when is this going to be made into a movie? Or better yet, an awesome TV show?

Title: Dark Matter; Published: July 26, 2016; Published by: Crown Publishing; Acquired via: NetGalley

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for providing me an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.