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The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.97
6 used & new from CDN$ 17.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Mystery, April 9 2015
This review is from: The Girl on the Train (Paperback)
If you are a fan of Gone Girl, this is the book for you. The Girl on the Train (TGT henceforth) is a fantastic mystery novel which will have you constantly second guessing your theories. It is told from 3 point of view, but primarily from Rachel`s. Rachel is a recently unemployed alcoholic who takes the train to and from town every day to avoid telling her roommate that she has been fired. Her life has fallen to pieces after her boyfriend left her for his mistress and Rachel refuses to let go of her past. Every day when she passes her old neighborhood she sees a couple who she names Jess and Jason. She believes them to be a perfect, happy couple and often imagines what their life might be like. Then one day she sees Jess kissing another man in her backyard. Several days later, the woman she knows as Jess (real name Megan) is on the front of the paper; she has gone missing. Rachel feels that she knows something about this but due to her drinking habits, her memories of the day and night leading up to Megan`s disappearance are fuzzy at best. Rachel struggles to figure out what happened to this perfect woman she never met while trying to reconcile her own life and ends up discovering some unpleasant and shocking revelations on the way.

The Girl on the Train is well written and very engrossing. Rachel is delightfully unreliable narrator who constantly has alcohol induced blackouts in her recollection which she struggles to fill in. She obsesses over her ex Tom and his new wife and engages in stalker-type behavior which further complicates her attempts to have the police take her tips of Megan`s disappearance seriously. Rachel is determined to remember what happened the night Megan disappeared; she knows she was in the area (possibly staking out her ex`s house) and she knows that she knows something but she can`t remember what. We also get bits of narration from Megan and Anna (Tom`s new wife) which add contrasting points of view to the story. All of these characters are connected through their social circles, neighborhood and past although the nature of the connection is not immediately clear. This adds a nice suspense to the story.

TGT is definitely worth reading. It keeps the reader engaged and it is difficult to predict what has happened because the narrator herself keeps changing her theories and recollections. It makes the mystery even more engaging when you don`t know if you can trust the person telling you the story. I highly recommend adding this to your spring reading list.

The Shadows: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
The Shadows: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
by J.R. Ward
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
29 used & new from CDN$ 17.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unpredictable to the Last, With a Good Lesson on Ethics *no spoilers until the end*, April 1 2015
I will Keep this spoiler free until the last paragraph. At which point some venting of feelings must occur.

The Shadows focuses on both of our shadows, Trez and iAm. While the novel is primarily about Trez and his Chosen Selina, we also get to see iAm`s story play out in an unexpected fashion. Unlike the past few books where the main characters have been given maybe 50% of the page time, Trez and Selina dominate this novel. We get a little but of the other brothers (particularly Rhage with bits of Layla/Xcor and Assail) and we also get to meet Abalone's daughter Paradise (fitting as I believe the first of the BDB spin off novels is about her). iAm also plays a large supporting role and I enjoyed getting to learn more of his story. Trez and Selina have already consumed their relationship but are having trouble accepting their situation as a relationship; this is complicated by the revelation that Selina is battling a rare terminal illness and Trez is betrothed to the shadow Princess. Ultimately they must learn to overcome each others baggage as well as their own insecurities if they want to truly become a bonded couple. Selina is very much committed to living in the moment and her carpe diem attitude makes Trez feel more alive because of it. She isn't afraid to say what's on her mind and live every second like its her last. This makes their relationship brutally honest and so much more beautiful because of it. Selina is like a ball of light, fearlessly taking on life even though any moment might be her last. Trez finds himself trying to show her the world, all the while terrified of losing her.

I like Selina. She was confident yet vulnerable, brave with and underlying fear and a delight to watch. I never paid her much thought in previous novels but she won me over wholeheartedly in The Shadows.

We also see Layla and Xcor's relationship progress a little. While I have never been the biggest fan of this duo they do have some tender moments and some erotic moments so Layla and Xcor fans will be satisfied. Layla is in constant inner turmoil over her deceit of the Brothers (particularly Quihnn) and her growing feeling for Xcor. I suspect her and Xcor will be the next BDB novel.

The ending I did not see coming. DID. NOT. SEE. COMING. (No spoilers in this paragraph). I was so sure I knew how things were going to end and then the Warden pulls the rug out from under me. On the one hand, unpredictability makes the novel more enjoyable. On the other hand, you will require some tissues as there are some sad moments in this novel. The Warden tackles an interesting ethical point in this novel; dying with dignity. Selina is convinced her case is terminal, and science tends to agree with her. Trez refuses to give up and has everyone frantically searching for a cure. Selina just wants to enjoy the rest of her days and when her time comes, she wants to leave on her terms. Ultimately in any relationship (Rhage and Mary`s excluded) one partner must almost inevitably die before the other and Selina and Trez are faced with that chance very early in their relationship.

SPOILERS AHEAD

SPOILERS AHEAD

So the ending truly shocked me. I didn`t cry when Selina died because I was convinced the Scribe Virgin or some divine intervention was going to bring her back right at the end, like they did with Jane, Mary and Autumn. It was only when Trez was saying goodbye to her in the Fade that I realized that the Warden was actually going to kill off our protagonist in her own novel. Boy oh boy did the tears flow then. While I was angry and sad at the time, the story is beautiful and helps contribute to Ward`s credibility as a writer. Everyone likes (and expects) a happily ever after in novel`s of this genre. Ward shows us that true love sometimes means going on and living your life on behalf of your partner who has been denied that opportunity. Trez asking Selina if it was time for her to go and helping the doctors ease her suffering was heart wrenching, and that feeling was more absolute when he briefly reunites with her in Heaven following a near death experience and has her tell him to go back and live for his brother (who has spent all of his adult life trying to protect Trez from their tribe). She tells him she will be waiting for him but to go and live his life first. And if that doesn`t have you bawling into your pages I don`t know what will.

So, this book will tear your heart out but is worth the read. It tackles serious ethical and moral issues all wrapped up in the usual comical, emotional and occasionally erotic package. Read this book, Warden fans, but bring your tissues.

Burned: A Fever Novel
Burned: A Fever Novel
by Karen Marie Moning
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
35 used & new from CDN$ 17.61

3.0 out of 5 stars Better than Iced, Not as Good as the First Five, Feb. 7 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Burned: A Fever Novel (Hardcover)
Burned is the seventh novel in Moning’s Fever series. If you havent read the first six, I recommend starting there. While is would hypothetically be possible to jump in mid-series you would likely find yourself horribly lost and lacking the back story of all our main characters. Faefever is book #1 (and I loved every page of it) so swing by your local book store to grab that if you haven’t already read it. If you haven’t read the first 6 books, spoilers ahead. If you have, soldier on.

I have always loved the Fever series. Books 1-5 rank among my top reads and I have reread them several times. Book 6 was a disappointment that I try to forget ever happened. Fortunately, book 7 was infinitely better than the sixth (though still not nearly as good as the first five). Burned picks up right where Iced left off; Mac is confronting Dani at knifepoint. There is a lot of unresolved anger between these two and it quite nearly boils over in the first few pages. Mac wants to forgive Dani for the murder of her sister but still cannot come to terms with what happened yet. In desperation, Dani flees into the mirrors and disappears. Yes that’s right. We are without Dani for a good portion of this novel. If you are me, this is great news. Dani never grew on me. I didn’t appreciate the annoying preteen clogging up my nice adult fantasy novel with her “Dude’s” and whatnot. So personally I was relieved to have a break from Dani and go back to Mac. Unfortunately, the Mac as we know her has faded a bit. Mac spent less time in the action and more time sitting at home moping about. It was a little disappointing but I’ll take that over Dani any day.

One thing I appreciated about this book was the chance to see the story through different perspectives (including the Unseelie King, Kat, Lor and Barrons…although if you have read KMM’s website, the Barron’s and Lor bits were not new). Unfortunately with these changing perspectives came a bit of chaos. The writing as not as organized as previous novels and it felt a little disjointed in places. Nonetheless I enjoyed learning more about the Nine and catching glimpses of their personalities firsthand. We see quite a bit more of Ryodan, Kasteo and Lor than we have in previous novels. The McKeltar clan also makes an appearance. The moments of intimacy are fewer than you might expect given the cover; Mac and Barrons are virtually chaste although we get glimpses into the sex lives of a few other characters here and there.

Ok, back to Dani. We all knew the age thing would have to be dealt with. In Iced it made me uncomfortable at best and I know I was not alone in feeling this. Moning has a creative way of dealing with the age issue in this novel but I didn’t care for it. It felt like the easy way out to me and it didn’t leave me liking Dani much more than I previously did.

Overall, if you have read the Fever series I would force yourselves through Iced and then pick up with Burned. It is not as good as its predecessors but not nearly as bad as the previous novel. Here’s hoping Flayed (the eighth installment not yet released) will be an improvement still.

The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman Trilogy Book 1)
The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman Trilogy Book 1)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars So Close to a Modern Masterpiece, Feb. 7 2015
This book had all the potential to be a 5/5. I will explain my decision to dock itba point in the coming review but a quick disclosure first; normally I try and write spoiler free reviews so that I don't ruin any of the novel for prospective readers. As The Bronze Horseman clocks in at over 800 pages, there will be some minor spoilers in this review.

The Bronze Horseman is set in Soviet Russia just prior to the start of World War II. Tatiana Metanova is the youngest daughter in a family of six and at sixteen years old she is totally naive to the troubles of the world. One day on her way home from work she meets Alexander Belov, a handsome officer in the Red Army. The chemistry is immediate so Tatiana is devastated when she discovers that Alexander is the boy her sister Dasha has recently met and fallen head over heels for. Out of respect for her sister (and Tatiana's tendency to put her own needs last) she does not tell Dasha that she has met and fallen for Alexander. Despite the feeling being mutual, she repeatedly tells Alexander that they cannot be. Tatiana hides her feelings as Alexander frequents her house, courting her sister. Despite this, he still meets Tatiana everyday after work to walk her home and talk with her. When Germany invades Russia and Tatiana's brother Pasha is presumed dead in the initial attack, the family is thrown into chaos. Tatiana quickly understands the gravity of the situation but the rest of the Matanova family is not as astute. As the war drags on and rations decrease, Tatiana must watch as her friends and family suffer from tuberculosis, starvation and the never-ending bombings on Leningrad. The streets become riddled with dead bodies and friends turn on each other to try and survive. Throughout the death and despair, she also must conceal her love for Alexander, which has not diminished over time. Although he is willing to tell her family of his true affections, Tatiana refuses to put her sister through the pain.

The Bronze Horseman stretches over approximately a year and a half and is for the most part, a fantastic piece of writing. My only criticism is that the writing (which was usually masterful and flawless) occasionally descends into a chapter or two of sloppy romance. 95% of this novel deals with the conflicts of the War, the deep but chaste connection between Tatiana and Alexander and the difficult realities of Tatiana's home life. At one point in the book there is in inexplicable chapter or two of nothing but sex. It feels quite out of place and tarnished the novel in my opinion. Perhaps the author was trying to appeal to a broader demographic or perhaps it was just their personal preference but I found it took away from the novel. I enjoyed the tender emotional moments between Tatiana and Alexander; if I wanted pages smothered in repetitive sex I would have grabbed myself Fifty Shades. Aside from these few setbacks though, the book is a masterpiece. I was drawn in to Tatiana's life and I felt as though I experienced Tatiana's troubles on a personal level. You will feel as though it is you walking the bombed streets of Leningrad in the dark with your families ration cards or holding in your feeling as the one you love is with the only person in the world you love more than them.

Now, about the ending. Some endings you never see coming. Others you can tell right off the bat. And some endings you start to get a sense of about 2/3 of the way through the novel. You can feel it coming and you hope that you are wrong and even though you shouldn't you sneak a peek at the last page just to mollify yourself and then have to deal with the horror of discovering you are right. This was one of those endings. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking masterpiece tied up in bow. The good news for those who have read it or are thinking of reading it is that this book is the first part of a trilogy (I saved myself many tears when I discovered that) so the ending is not as final as it may seem.

I would highly recommend this book. I don't read many war novels (and admittedly, this war novel was a bit of a war romance at times) but this one was stellar. It literally had me gasping, crying and laughing out loud. I picked it impulsively off of the shelf and I am so very glad I did.

Dark Places: A Novel
Dark Places: A Novel
by Gillian Flynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
52 used & new from CDN$ 4.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly Better Than Gone Girl, Jan. 11 2015
This review is from: Dark Places: A Novel (Paperback)
If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of Gillian Flynn (author of the twisted yet engrossing Gone Girl) I suggest you climb out from under said rock and run to the book store where you can buy the full collective works of Ms. Flynn for under $50. Dark Places is much like Flynn’s other novels; a dark mystery with characters who despite being tainted and unlikable, draw you in and win you over. It tells the story of Libby Day, the only survivor of a horrific satanic sacrifice which left her entire family dead and her older brother Ben in prison for their murder. Twenty five years later, Libby is a depressed, unmotivated kleptomaniac surviving off the last pennies of a trust fund set up by well-wishers when she was a child. She is approached by the Kill Club, a group of fanatics who obsess over notorious murders that are unsolved or (in their opinion) solved incorrectly, who force her to question everything she thought she remembered about that night. As she begrudgingly relives the events that wiped out her mother and two sisters, Libby comes to realize that there were many secrets in her family that people do not want dragged up.

I loved Dark Places, possibly more so than Gone Girl. Libby is instantly unlikable; she is lazy, unmotivated, self-obsessed and a thief. Despite all of this, I wanted to hear more about her and her story, which Flynn writes with her usual expertise. I enjoyed watching the character progression in Libby as she struggles to deal with all of what she uncovers. The flashbacks to the day of the murder from various family members viewpoints was the cherry on top. Getting to hear the first hand perspective of Ben the troubled outcast, and Patty the debt ridden mother who doesn’t believe in her on worth as a human being really tied the story together and helped the reader understand things that would be missed from single person narration. Libby’s family was the ultimate dysfunctional and it was fantastic being able to read about it from all different perspectives.

The one complaint I have is the ending. I find this is where Flynn falls short (although not by much). Admittedly, the ending to Dark Places was (in my opinion) a THOUSAND times better than the ending of Gone Girl (after reading the last few pages of that novel I wanted to throw the book out the window and then retrieve it just so I could throw it out again). I still found it lacking in some ways; it tied up most of the loose strings but I still felt that something was missing; it seemed a tad anticlimactic after all the events of the novel. Admittedly, I have a habit of liking clean, pretty endings where all is brought to justice and everyone lives happily ever after. To her credit, Ms. Flynn doesn’t deliver the happily ever after; she delivers real endings, where life isn’t perfect, people have unchangeable character flaws and everyone has dark places.

The Rosie Effect
The Rosie Effect
by Graeme Simsion
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
18 used & new from CDN$ 7.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and amusing, but not quite as good as its predecessor, Oct. 25 2014
This review is from: The Rosie Effect (Paperback)
The Rosie Effect is the second book in what I suspect will become a trilogy revolving around the life of Don Tillman, a brilliant geneticist whose social skills could use some work. In the sequel to the Rosie Project, Don and Rosie have settled in to their new life in New York when the unexpected happens: Rosie is pregnant. Don is left reeling with this unplanned event enters his perfectly scheduled life and struggles to embrace the changes a baby will bring to his well manicured life. Rosie also must deal with the changes she must make to her lifestyle, and Don’s usual charming if not overbearing demeanor. As the stress of impending parenthood begins to eat away at them and secrets begin piling up between the couple, Don and Rosie must work to understand each others different approach to pregnancy or risk losing each other forever.

I found this book to progress a bit slower than The Rosie Project. The first 50-60% really dragged on in my opinion. It was very similar to The Rosie Effect, although surprisingly this did not take away from the novel. Don is still his quirky, peculiar self, although Rosie has helped to moderate his eccentricities. Don balances out Rosie with his steadfast predictability and desire to do everything “by the book”. The Rosie Effect had the same tone as its predecessor with the same oddball humor and witty characters. Many of our favorites return, including Gene, Dave and Claudia and we also get introduced to some new characters, namely Lydia and George. It wasn’t until the last 100 pages or so that this book really begins to pick up. It was interesting to see Rosie and Don go through the struggles with intimacy and unexpected changes that many couples face in their lifetime, and handle it in their own unique way. I felt that the ending may have been resolved a little too easily, but overall this was another light and enjoyable read. Not quite as good as The Rosie Project, but worth reading if you have read the first.

The King: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
The King: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
by J.R. Ward
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
43 used & new from CDN$ 5.14

4.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Characters Takes Away From Full Potential, April 13 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
*SOME SPOILERS BELOW*
I have always been a fan of the BDB series. I was very eagerly awaiting The King, as Wrath and Beth have always held a dear spot in my heart being the original couple. While this book was satisfying in many ways, it also had some shortcomings.

First, the good...
-I was glad that Wrath and Beth got at least half the page time; with both Blay and Qhuinn as well as Payne and Manny I felt that the main characters of the story got a minority of the page time. I was glad Wrath and Beth played a moderately central role in their own story.
-The flashbacks from Wrath Sr.'s point of view provided a neat contrast and insight into the royal family. I enjoyed that.
-Rhevenge got some page time! I have always enjoyed him and although there was nothing from his pov, I was glad to see him more involved.
-John's connection with Darius continues to develop. I am hopeful that in one of the coming books they will finally figure out the reincarnation bit. I am very glad Ms. Ward has kept up with this part of Johns life and I can't wait to see it play out.

Now the not so good...
-Wrath and Beth only got half the page time. While this has been an increase from past books I really wanted more from their point of view.
-The writing felt a little different. There were far too many pop culture references and something about the overall style of writing just felt different. Miley Cyrus's name should never come up that much in a BDB book
-Too. Many. Extra. Characters. Seriously, time to scale back. I have zero interest in Sola and Assail as they were thrust upon us out of nowhere and honestly, I have never liked Xcor and Layla. The girl either needs to turn him in and stop seeing him or not. And Xcor has just never appealed to me. I will be perfectly satisfied if he does not get his own book. Trez and Selena keep me intrigued, but this feels like a rewrite of Beth/Zsadist and Bella/Rhev again. Not terribly original.
-We didn't see ANY of most of the favorites....Vishous, Zsadist, Rhage, Tohr, Blay, Qhuinn....they were all only brief mentions. I enjoyed seeing John play a bigger part but I miss the classic BDB group.

Overall I was fairly satisfied. I wish that we could have a cease on new characters for a while and develop the relationships of some of the old ones a bit more. Hopefully the next book (which I hear is called The Shadows and focusing on Trez/iAm) will be a bit more streamlined.

Shadowfever
Shadowfever
by Karen Marie Moning
Edition: Hardcover
52 used & new from CDN$ 3.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Ending to a Fantastic Series, March 19 2011
This review is from: Shadowfever (Hardcover)
If you have read and enjoyed the other four books in this series, you won't be let down by the final installment. Morning does a fantastic job of tying together loose ends while leaving just enough open that for the possibility of a sequel. Readers will be captivated throughout the book, right up until a surprising twist at the end. If you haven't read the rest of the series, I suggest you start now but be warned; you may not be able to put the books down once you start. They are well written, captivating with just enough romance to satisfy the romantics but not so much as to turn away those seeking a thrilling read. This book, and this series, will not disappoint.

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