The Timeless Tour Kick Off


Last year, I was fortunate enough to have been a part of The Timeless Tour hosted by Simon & Schuster Canada. I was really excited to see which authors and works I’ll get to discover. I’m happy to see Ms. Genevieve Graham again and super pumped to read her recent work. Ms. Kearsley is, of course, a household Canadian name so to see Bellewhether amongst the list of books is a delight. I’ve already read Songs of Love and War by Ms. Montefiore and have loved it. As well, Ms. Van Alkemade’s Bachelor Girl.

To kick off this tour, we were asked three questions about our interest in Historical Fiction. As you know, I read a whole variety of stuff. But I find myself leaning towards Historical Fiction when I’m in need of something more cerebral, oddly enough.

To understand the past is to determine our future.

Historical fiction enables me to travel back in time and learn about the world I live in. History is not always an enthusiastic subject for me, but it feels different to see it through another person’s story instead of a stone-cold statement of facts. The irony is, I love to read about historical facts told in a fictional account of someone’s story.  So I love learning about it any way I can.

If I could travel back in time, which period would I want to be and why?

Elizabeth Bennett has done her part in making me feel like the Georgian era would be ideal for me. All we have to worry about is dodging our meddling mothers in finding us husbands and we’ll be golden.

Dinner for Two

There’s never been a great representation of grace and charm than the late Princess Diana. She’s not a perfect person, sure. But her life was the epitome of goodness and kindness towards the less fortunate, the sick children, and those in need. She would’ve had a lot of stories and experiences to tell, so if I could have a sit down with any historical figures, I would give a limb to have that time with her.

Thanks for reading!

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[613]: The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

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After a fit of starts and stops, I finally managed to read this book in its entirety on Friday. We didn’t have the greatest of starts, this book, and I. The first few chapters was painstakingly slow, but the story picked up as soon Elli escaped from the Temple of the Rock. After that, it was smooth sailing. I can never deny Sarah Fine’s talent in the world she lets us see. It doesn’t matter where she takes us. More often, it’s a world entirely her own. The stories tend to be dark, with characters well-suited and perfectly conceptualized. I will never doubt this woman again.

ABOUT THE STORY

Somewhere along the way, the Priests that govern the queen’s people got greedy. They wanted powers beyond anyone’s imagination and control of the kingdom forever. Three hundred years before the world of Impostor Queen, a prophecy that the strongest Queen will be born. A Queen who will rule and protect a kingdom where fire and ice wielders will have the free will to live however they want. When the stars aligned and this powerful queen was born, the priests did whatever they could to find this child. They had so much hope for her. They trusted her to protect them from the invading Soturis. And to provide for them when the winter months was long and cold. It is to their utter disappointment when Saadella was unable to wield any magic. When she found out that was to be put to death, she escaped with the help of her handmaiden.

Near-death, bleeding, and delirious, she was rescued by a mine dweller suspected to be a part of a group of thieves. Here, she will find out more about herself. She will find the truth about the prophecy. And most of all, she will find love. Love for an ice wielder who hates his power; and love for people who only ever wanted to be free.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT

For non-fantasy readers such as I, Sarah Fine has this incredible ability to simplify her world and her stories.  Sometimes, the prophecies are written in such a way that will put Bill Shakespeare’s writing to shame. I mean, seriously. I’d hate to have to read and re-read that part of the book just to get a better understanding of what I was up against. But Sarah’s writing is so concise and clear that I don’t burst a vein reading them.

I must admit that I had a tough time with Elli’s powers and her role in the prophecy at first. I was disappointed with it, in fact. I thought it was anti-climactic. She was supposed to be powerful, but she hardly exerted any of it. She’s able to siphon powers, but she’s not able to wield them. She’s more like a Teflon. Fire and ice do nothing to her. I mean, she can wield power, but she would need a conductor first. If anything, I thought the Suurin was more powerful than her. Regardless, I thought she was still a great character. She went through the motions of denial and acceptance once she found out what she can do.

The romance. Oh, the romance. For a moment there, I thought Sarah Fine was going to ruin it all by introducing a love triangle arch. I’m so happy she didn’t. Though, I’m a little afraid of what’s to come. Let’s just say,“you will regret this love”, is not sitting so well with me. Ominous much?

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[537]: The New Neighbor by Leah Stewart

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Simon & Schuster Canada | ARC paperback, 288 pages | Publication Date: July 7th, 2015 | Adult Fiction | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Although it took me a while to get into the swing of reading this book, The New Neighbor turned out to be one of those novels that had an uncanny ability to drive you crazy. Primarily because it was a very closed-book that didn’t show its true colours until towards the end. Reading this book felt like I had an itch buried subcutaneously that was hard to scratch.

The story follows two women at two opposing points of their lives. One is a 90-year-old woman who’d practically lived like a hermit all her life; and the other, a single parent looking for a fresh start with her son. In more ways than one, they are an unlikely pair. However, through their interactions, a fragile dynamic will be formed. In the nexus of their relationship is a mutual curiosity that would somehow assuage them of their guilt; a way to face the past. But were they really guilty? Or were they victims of their own circumstances? That’s the crux of this book, and Leah Stewart did a tremendous job in flaying her characters in such a way that would appeal to her empathy-deficient readers.

Admittedly, my issue with this book was that I thought the author forgave them easily, made excuses for them, even. The ending, in particular left a lot to be desired. No one was punished. No one repented simply because the characters were made to feel like they were within their rights. I supposed they were right. But in doing so, the story lacked the emotional pull required to feel satiated. I wasn’t enraged. At the end of the novel, all I felt was an “unfeeling” relief that it was over.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the ARC. 

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[521]: Three-Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Simon & Schuster BYR | ARC Paperback, 286 pp. | May 5th, 2015 | Young Adults | Contemporary | Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


This is one of those instances when I wish I had enjoyed a book much better than I did. When I got the email from Simon & Schuster, I knew it was something that I could really enjoy. First, because I thought it would be a perfect summer read; and second, because the story is set in the era of love, peace and music, man. I mean, Woodstock! The music festival that started all music festivals. Iconic. Historic. It was fun to read about legendary bands and performers of the time: Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker – to name a few. A walk down the memory lane and all that.

It wasn’t only those music legends that whetted my appetite. The 60s is an interesting period of time for me. I’ve always been curious about the social and political climate of the times. In this book, the author glanced over the ideals that started Woodstock: camaraderie through music, brotherhood/sisterhood transcending races and blood. It was meant to be a peaceful protest against the war, which was on everybody’s minds. Kids were terrified of being drafted; drugs and free love went hand in hand. Also, hair; lots of hair and nakedness. It was the worst of times and the best of times, folks.

Despite of all that, I couldn’t rate the book any higher than the paltry two stars I gave it. I found the writing to be somewhat pedestrian. So much so that the characters sounded juvenile and lacking any personality whatsoever. Cora and Michael bored me; they were flat characters who had very little to offer as far as charisma and dimensions go. I don’t know, maybe because the story’s short  that it didn’t really leave much room for character development? I felt like they could’ve been so much bigger, more in depth than how I perceived them. Ultimately, this single blight is what dragged the book down for me. Characterization is such an integral part of a great story. This book needed a lot of work in that department.

If there’s one thing that I can appreciate from this book is that how the author expertly transported me to Bethel, NY. How easily I could imagine being amongst the crush of bodies writhing in mud whilst in the haze of musical oblivion.  It was so easy to picture how carefree and uninhibited the people were. Above all things, it’s a glimpse of shared sentiments and worry about the Vietnam war and their futures. While Michael didn’t know what the hell he wants to do with his life, Cora didn’t know how  to make her dream a reality.

So far, this book has been getting quite a few favourable reviews on Goodreads. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but I really thought this book had so much unrealized potential.

 

 

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[492]: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Simon & Schuster | ARC Paperback, 418 pp. | January 13th, 2015 | Adult Fiction | Urban Fantasy | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Your eyes do not deceive you. I know seeing an Urban Fantasy book reviewed on this blog is a rarity, but it’s all a part of a grand scheme to expand my reading territory. Also, because this book was sent to me for review. Ha. Kidding aside, this book was a fantastic re-introduction to the genre, as it were. I loved every single nuances about Owl – even her impulsive behaviour that so often lead her into a whole world of trouble.

No digs for you!

Once upon a time, Owl had a promising career in archaeology. But an ethical decision to blow the whistle on her superiors left her blacklisted among her peers and colleagues. In an ironic twist of fate, the current state of her career is suspect, to say the least. She’s a hired thief, with supernatural beings for employers on a quest to find artifacts that bear importance to their kinds.

Fire-breathers, Blood-suckers, Venom-spitters.

Her recent assignment brings her face-to-face with the most dangerous creatures known to the supernatural world: dragons, vampires, and nagas. She needs to find a scroll bearing a magic spell that if translated and read properly, has the potential catastrophic destruction of an atomic bomb. Time is of the essence as a powerful vampire with a personal grudge against Owl is also on a quest for the same dangerous artifact. One obstacle after another, Owl, along with her friends will travel to Bali, and Vegas, and  California in search of this scroll. That is, if those after her life doesn’t get to her first.

Indiana Jane.

Owl tackled every legends and myths accompanying every artifact in learned expertise. I didn’t think it would be my thing, but her voice as a smart-ass, fearless treasure hunter helped. Think, Indiana Jones with very little sense of self-preservation. This girl didn’t know the meaning of ‘surrender’, and one who persistently ignore the social etiquettes when in the company of supernatural beings. She’s as stubborn as they come; one who induces a great need to wring someone’s neck…preferably hers.

Got Your Cheetos and Slurpee ready?

If you’re a RPG aficionado, you will find a kindred spirit with our girl. She plays a game throughout the book that, if you’re not careful, has a tendency to be confusing. I know I had my moments. In some instances, I found myself reading with glazed eyes.  I could’ve gone without it, to be honest. But I understand that it’s all a part of her characterization.

Low and Slow.

If you like romance, this one has a burgeoning one between Rynn, a mysterious bar tender who was a former mercenary, and Owl. A romance that will probably not reach fruition until…whenever the heck the author deems it timely. I have no problem with this. I was told that Urban Fantasy books tend to drag it out until the bitter end, so I’m expecting this.

Nice to Meet You!

So this is a fantastic beginning. Owl’s complete lack of respect for authority is what makes her commendable and frustrating in equal measure. But this is what makes this series all that much fun to read. She’ll take you to places you could only dare to dream of going and teach you a thing or two about myths and legends you won’t normally find in books.

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[490]: The Damned by Andrew Pyper

DSC_0980GOODREADS SUMMARY | Simon & Schuster Canada | ARC, 287 pp. | February 10, 2015 | Adult Fiction | Horror | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Andrew Pyper’s latest tells the story of a Detroit-native best selling writer who knows a thing or two about dying. Having survived multiple close calls gives him the perspective of what being dead – even for a few minutes – felt like. In this novel, Andrew explores the afterlife, unfinished business and the limitations (or lack thereof) of twin intuition.

Death Becomes Him.

From the moment of birth, Danny and his twin sister Ashley were already familiar with death. When they were born, only one of them came out the womb breathing. You can say that their mother made a bargain with any one listening to save her children. It just so happens that the bargain came with a hefty price. From then on, Ashley has been a different creature altogether.

She seems to have something evil lurking inside her. Her powers of manipulation knows no bounds. She can will anyone to do her bidding; even persuade someone to hurt themselves to the point of suicide. When they were teens, Ashley and Danny died in a house fire. While Ashley stayed dead, Danny, somehow came back wearing their dead mother’s watch; a watch that was buried with her when she died. Everyone’s theory was that Danny was saved by his mother in the afterlife.

His memoir has garnered some nationwide attention. The story of how he almost perished along with his sister in a fire many years ago gave him the morbid reputation of being somewhat of an expert. And while he’s determined to forget about the past, and move on to the land of the living, his dead twin sister refused to let things go.

From the Grave and Beyond.

When Ashley was alive, Danny didn’t have much of a life to speak of. He lived in his sister’s effervescent shadow. But they know something was wrong with her. She’s feared, especially at her own home. Their mom drank herself to oblivion, and ended up drowning in an apparent suicide. Their dad worked all hours just to avoid being at home. When she died, it was almost a huge relief for both Danny and his father. Because then, they’ll be able to live without the every day fear of being around Ashley.

Years go by, Danny couldn’t hack college. He had no social life. Relationships are non-existent. That is, until he meets Willa and her son, Eddie. Now that he’s happy, however, Ashley couldn’t let him have his peace. She starts haunting his little family.  But if there’s one thing Danny understands about restless ghosts, it’s that they have some unfinished business that’s anchoring them to this world. If he ever has any hopes of achieving a peaceful life, he needs to find out what Ashley wants even if he had to die over and over again.

 With One Eye Open.

Sorry for the over long summary. It was the only way I could explain why this book was terrifyingly good. I mean, what’s scarier than a ghost? Hmm. I don’t know. Maybe a psychotic ghost? Ashley was that and more.

I’m the type of person who needs to watch a horror flick in broad daylight. The first time I watched Paranormal Activity, it was one sunny summer afternoon. Even then, I ended up hollering for my husband to turn the tv off. And I ended up sleeping with the lights on for at least a few days.

This book was a freaking nightmare. Sometimes, I had to calm my racing pulse before I could continue reading. It is why it took me a while to finish this less than 300-page novel. If I could read with one-eye open I would. But we all know that’s impossible. There is nothing worst than a violent ghost. And Ashley is the absolute worst.

If you can stomach reading with raised gooseflesh, The Damned is highly recommended. Dark family secrets, sinister vengeful ghost, and a glimpse of the different kinds of hell that await the dearly departed. This spine-tingling book is terrifyingly good!

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