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Gwenyth Love (Toronto, ON, Canada)

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It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways
It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways
by Melissa Hartwig
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 26.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, June 30 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Great book and great program. I lost 10 pounds in the first two weeks!

Vampire Academy / Vampire Academie [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Vampire Academy / Vampire Academie [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Zoey Deutch
Price: CDN$ 11.49
8 used & new from CDN$ 7.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, June 30 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Pretty cheesy. Not a fan of the casting.

How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight)
How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight)
Price: CDN$ 1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars How Beauty Met the Beast, Feb. 7 2013
This is one quick and steamy novel of awesomeness! I have always been a huge fan of the whole Beauty and the Beast theme, and Jax Garren doesn't destroy my faith in the story type at all. in fact, I have the urge to rush out and re-read all BatB novels right this minute!

/breathes

There is so much to love in this novel, and not a lot to not like. I think one of my favorite things is the main character Jolie (don't get me wrong, I love Haul too). But Jolie is special for many reasons, one of which is that she has Celiac Disease. As someone who has a serious gluten sensitivity herself I just felt an instant connection with her. Add this to the fact that she is a dancer/aerial performer...wow...just an amazing and well rounded character. I absolutely adore her. You will understand when, not if, you read this book.

The Pros:
Steamy scenes where you hold your breath in anticipation of the excitement to come
A firm grasp in weaving in tension without killing the reader with it
Absolutely wonderfully stable characters you cannot help to love...every single one of them
A main character who has celiac disease...love the added depth of this
A fabulous and realistic underground steampunky community
Piercings, tattoos, steampunk, burlesque, magic and mystery...oh my!

The Cons:
The fight scenes, especially at the end, move very quickly and don't flow well.

This is a really well written steamy book that mixes action, romance, great characters, and so much more into a VERY enjoyable product. I suggest you read this now if you don't mind a little blushing as you read...

Brightest Kind of Darkness
Brightest Kind of Darkness
by P. T. Michelle
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.96
3 used & new from CDN$ 8.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle, Sept. 28 2012
I was impressed by the professional quality of this self-published title. I tend to get a little nervous and second guess myself when I accept to read and review a self-published e-book, but this one was a pleasant surprise.

Brightest Kind of Darkness kind of reminds me a little of a toned down Final Destination with better characters and a much better romance building sub-plot. It also has a wonderful mixture of story-telling, character building, and humor.

"He didn't seem to want to interact with the people around him, yet he'd taken the time to talk to me, not just at school, but here too. The realization made me feel both sad and a bit special. Well, so long as he didn't think of me like a pet."

The pacing in the story was perfect. I enjoyed moving from the dream world to the real world and back and forth through the visions, and the author never made me feel lost during these transitions. I was also happy that the author didn't use the same cop-out a lot of writers use when a misunderstanding occurs and one of the main characters immediately does a complete 360 and no longer believes in the characteristics of the second character that made them fall for them in the first place. In the passage below, even though Nara is hurt and upset by something that has happened, she can immediately tell that Ethan didn't do anything on purpose to hurt her. she still feels the pain, but she is smart enough to realize it wasn't intentional and doesn't immediately flip-flop on her position regarding Ethan and now think he is a bad guy.

"Ethan's face didn't reflect triumph. It held intrigued interest; a desire for my understanding. My initial anger settled, even though I still felt a part of me was missing."

I was very intrigued by a lot of topics introduced in the story, the crows/ravens, the feathers, Nara's father, the radio, Nara's grandmother, Ethan's nightmares and connection with Nara... unfortunately, I felt like not enough of these things were explained enough to my satisfaction by the end of the book. I realize that as it is the first book in the series, some mystery has to remain, but I was left feeling like way too much was left open and I honestly felt a little lost.

My exact reaction upon finishing reading Brightest Kind of Darkness was this:

"Really? That's where you are going to go ahead and end it? /grumble grumble"

But overall Brightest Kind of Darkness was a very enjoyable read, and I definitely will be reading book 2, Lucid, as soon as I can get my hands on it. I really hope more is explained soon...

Glitch
Glitch
by Heather Anastasiu
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.63
26 used & new from CDN$ 3.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Glitch by Heather Anastasiu, Aug. 16 2012
This review is from: Glitch (Paperback)
Glitch is an intriguing introduction to what I hope will be a wonderful new series. It's an interesting look into a society where the government has decided the people are better off as unfeeling controllable drones than free-minded happy and social citizens.

I really enjoyed exploring the ideas of feelings and emotions through Zoel's newly opened eyes as she "glitches" and loses contact with the Link that usually blocks the population from feeling and building close relationships with others. It's almost funny when she experiences some sort of emotion and has no idea what is happening to her, and the resulting actions that come from that experience.

Emotion was exhausting. Life had been so much simpler without it.

I have seen some complaints regarding the "love triangle" that occurs in Glitch, and as a self-proclaimed hater of the love triangle arc myself, I was surprised that this one barely bothered me. I guess it's because it is almost always clear which two belong together. Zoel, even with her steep emotional learning curve can feel that one of the boys just isn't right for her while the other clearly makes her react differently.

There was something else I couldn't quite define--something that made me uneasy. We were a wrong fit, like unmatching puzzle pieces.

I thought about everything that had happened since I'd met him, how I'd instinctual trusted him from the start, how his touch calmed me and made me feel safe, even in the most tense situations.

The character of Maximin did bother me quite a bit though. I feel as though he could have been made the "wrong choice" in better ways than was actually used. He just came out way too creepy stalker and almost abusive and I physically shuddered any time I had to read an interaction between him and Zoel. I just didn't enjoy it at all.

I found the world building very intriguing and the whole idea behind the society of great interest as well. It's one of those things, like with The Giver, where you can see some of the reasoning behind the choices that were made, but wonder if perhaps (well yes) the government took things too far...especially when it comes out that the government themselves don't follow their own rules! But then again, do they ever?

As a Torontonian, I think the subway train scenes were always some of my favorite and made me feel at home. I wish ours were as orderly as The Community's though!

The subway train had stopped with a hiss of brakes, exchanging passengers promptly ever quarter hour. I breathed in and looked around me. It was overcrowded as always, but subjects entered and exited the train in evenly spaced, perfect lines. Order first, order always.

I wish!

But overall Glitch is a highly enjoyable read that I recommend to anyone who enjoys dystopian tales. I look forward to the release of Override, book 2 in the series.

Thirteen: A Women of the Otherworld Novel
Thirteen: A Women of the Otherworld Novel
by Kelley Armstrong
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
7 used & new from CDN$ 1.98

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of 13 by Kelley Armstrong, July 24 2012
This is going to be a tough review for me to write. I have been reading this series since the first book, Bitten, was published in 2001. I was immediately drawn in by Kelley Armstrong's strong writing and unique voice, specifically how it related to shifters and the whole shifting process. I have always been very fond of strong female writers in the horror industry, and specifically it they are Canadian. Kelley Armstrong not only fit this bill, but she also lived in Toronto, which was almost like being my neighbor at that time (I lived in Hamilton). I felt an immediate kindred with her before even reading her books, but her writing hooked me from the first page.

My skin stretches. The sensation deepens and I try to block the pain. Pain. What a trivial word - agony is better. One doesn't call the sensation of being flayed alive "painful".

...and that's just a taste of her descriptive and engaging writing style.

The physical appeal of this new release is amazing! The cover is a stunning black and red artistic offering with a vellum type dust jacket overlay that I couldn't keep myself from stoking continuously once it was finally in my eager hands.

I have to be honest, when I first started reading 13 I was highly disappointed...it was clear very early on (from comments direct from the author) that 13 would not be told from Elena's point of view. I was really hoping the story would return to Elena, obviously so were many others. I thought for sure I was going to hate this final book and that the whole series was going to be ruined for me. I am one of "those fans" who was annoyed early on by the swapping of character viewpoints in books 3 and 4 and so on. It took me a long time to get to know these new characters and enjoy their stories, but eventually I got used to the way it was going and I think in the future a re-read of the series will help me enjoy everything in a more fulfilling way.

But I digress...

Upon seeing Savannah was going to be the star narrator I almost didn't read the book. Of all the characters I have had a hard time getting to know Savannah. To be fair...I haven't read the last 2 books in the series because they were Savannah books. I am going to have to rectify that soon.

13 is a FABULOUS ending to this wonderful series that has been such a big part of my life for just over a decade. Even though Savannah was the main narrator in the book, almost every important character (in my opinion) made some kind of appearance, and it was more than enough to keep me happy. And I actually enjoyed reading from Savannah's perspective. It is abundantly clear that she has grown and matured and takes things much more seriously than she did when she first appeared on the scene. And in usual Kelley Armstrong fashion, this book is a complete treat to read as her writing style is just as descriptive (maybe too descriptive) and witty as ever.

It was a little overwhelming in spots, so much going on, so many characters, I sometimes felt a little lost...but i guess that is to be expected when you are trying to tie all things together.

It's been a while since I read some of Kelley's adult fiction, so I forgot how brutal and gory her scenes came sometimes be. It was shocking at first, but then I started to remember how it often goes, and as is common in final installments, blood has to be spilled, and people need to die. It's just how it goes.

If you haven't read Kelley's Women of the Otherworld books yet your are truly missing out. I suggest you dig in now, and if you do, let me know. I would love a re-reading buddy!

Once: An Eve Novel
Once: An Eve Novel
by Anna Carey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.59
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.18

4.0 out of 5 stars Once by Anna Carey, July 6 2012
This review is from: Once: An Eve Novel (Hardcover)
Even though I wasn't the hugest fan of the first book in this series, Eve, I was curious about what had happened to some of the secondary characters I had grown attached to. I had been patiently (not really) waiting for many months when I saw this on Edelweiss and decided to take a chance at requesting it. I hadn't had much success with Edelweiss prior to this, so I wasn't holding my breath. But thankfully, HarperCollins was awesome enough to accept my request and be my first acceptance on Edelweiss. I realized there were only 5 days left before the title would be archived so I rushed to download and read it. I didn't make it all the way to the end before it expired, but that's OK. My loss is your gain, because I had to obviously go out and buy a copy so I could finish the story, and now I want to share that with you. At the end of my review I will have a Rafflecopter form where you can enter for a chance to win my hardcover finished copy of Once.

My main complaint with Eve was Eve herself. I thought her to be wimpy, wishy-washy, and just not a stand-up character at all. I much preferred Arden, who ended up disappearing towards the end of Eve, which really annoyed me. But I have to admit that in Once, Eve has obviously gone through a period of growth during her time in Califia. It's nice to see her sticking up for herself and standing up for what she believes in, even if others don't completely agree with her methods. Also, the amount of emotional stress that Eve endures throughout this book is a testament to her growth, and how much more she is obviously going to continue to grow in the final book in the trilogy, Rise.

I have to admit that the storyline I was expecting to come out of this book did not actually happen. It was completely twisted and was a surprisingly intriguing touch, and I quite enjoyed reading it. I can't wait to see how it evolves by the end of the series.

I also fell in love with many of the new characters. The King was quite the enigma. You want to hate him for all that he has done that has caused the suffering of these girls and boys and the less wealthy people of his "Kingdom", but when he speaks about his reasoning behind his actions you can almost understand why he did it, or at least understand why he thinks it is necessary and not malicious. There are so many other characters I want to rave about, Beatrice, Charles, and so many more...but to tell you much of anything about them would give too much away. The one things I can tell you is the depth that Carey gives to each and every one of her characters is amazing. People are not just good and/or evil, they have motives, they have emotions, they make bad decisions, and they question themselves along the way. They are not perfect, and they all have flaws. They are realistic.

I also loved the setting for Once. The City of Sand, which is now the name of former Las Vegas is an amazing place to set up a new city. The many hotel suites are renovated and refurbished as living quarters (which is ingenious), and the logistical reasoning of choosing this city also makes a great deal of sense. It was a great touch!

The only issues I had with Once were typical of a second-in-a-series book, and that is primarily pacing. Although I enjoyed the story and the characters quite a bit, I did find it to be quite slow and sluggish in many sections. Also, I really hate when a story throws in an animal of some sort just for the added emotional anguish of taking it away at some point. I often want to stop reading a book (or watching a movie) at that point. It's not really adding much, if anything, to the story. All it does is upsets me, and for no good reason. Just don't do it.

It was great seeing so many familiar faces, even if just for short glimpses throughout the story. Some closure was given, but by the end even more was left up in the air. What will happen next?

And OMG, the end? Damn you cliffhanger of DOOM! I am not amused...not amused at all...is it April 2013 yet? /sigh

The Gathering
The Gathering
by Kelley Armstrong
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.43
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, April 16 2012
This review is from: The Gathering (Hardcover)
As mentioned in a previous review, I am a long-time fan of Kelley Armstrong, pre-YA novel days. And one of the things I feel Mrs. Armstrong does best is shifters. It was wonderful to see her returning to a shifter based character.

I think I am also a bit biased because this story takes place in pretty isolated portion of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. I have long since had a strong fascination with this area due to the "sea wolves" that live there. I love nature, and wildlife, and just general outdoorsiness, and this book has it all and more. It also has a strong basis in native culture, which also is a strong draw to me. (This is one of the few things I actually enjoyed in the Twilight series as well.)

Maya, the main character reminds me so much of myself. I was instantly able to connect with her and understood almost every decision she made (and I pretty much had made them in my head before even she did!). I was a very enjoyable read.

One of the best things about this book was the presence of strong parental figures! It's about time! I am so tired of wondering where the heck all the parents are in these YA books! No wonder they get into so much trouble without anyone to guide them. But Maya's parents (adopted) are fantastic role models that support her in her decisions while still allowing her the space to become her own strong and independent person. But you still get those strong parental undertones, like when Maya comes home with a guy and you can immediately tell the father is not super impressed by it at all. It makes sense! This is the way parents would (typically) act in reality. Thank you Mrs. Armstrong for proving parents can indeed still exist in a good YA novel.

Since most people are aware of my extreme hatred for cliffhangers of doom...I was warned in advance that I might not quite be happy with the ending. But I have to admit, it didn't really bother me as much as others have in the past. It seemed mostly wrapped up with a little bit of "what now" at the end. I can live with that.

I don't have much negative to say except for a slight feeling of "meh". I don't quite know how to describe that more in detail, but basically there was just a little of the certain something missing that I would need to rate a book a perfect 5. It was really close, but not quite there. Maybe next time! I'm also not a huge fan of the covers. I don't feel it suits Maya at all. The model on the cover seems much older and "calm" for the Maya I have pictured in my head as I am reading.

I have already devoured book two in the series, The Calling. The review will follow soon!

Embrace
Embrace
by Jessica Shirvington
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Embrace by Jessica Shirvington, March 12 2012
This review is from: Embrace (Hardcover)
I have had bad luck in the past with ya angel books. I have never really found one I thoroughly enjoyed. Embrace has changed that.

The name of the book, Embrace, had me fooled a little. The dictionary defines embrace as: to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly: to embrace an idea. I honestly expected to read a story about a young girl who willing rushes in to accept her heritage and defend the earth. It was surprising, yet very interesting, to read instead about this young girl who struggles with this new knowledge and not really wanting to accept the responsibilities and just trying instead to try to decide how to continue living a normal human life, knowing the dangers that will come with that choice.

One of the main selling points of this book is the amount of effort Jessica Shirvington puts into the explanation of all the angel types and their pecking order. On Friday, Jessica stopped by my blog and shared a complete post about the pecking order of angels in her series. I suggest you read it. It's fascinating!

As is typical in many ya novels recently, we have the two dashing young men (sort of) who are vying for the main character's (Violet in this case) attention. Although I am pretty tired of this type of story, and as frustrated as I was by it when I first saw it happening, I think the author ends it well with a nice twist that I won't share with you. It will be interesting to she what she does with it in book two however, because I can only see it getting annoying again...

The characters are wonderfully written and solid believable participants in this story. I liked each one of them for their own reasons, with Lincoln grabbing top spot, followed closely by Griffin (who struck me as a much younger version of a Rupert Giles type character). I know many readers fell in love with Phoenix, but there was something about him that just rubbed me the wrong way. So all you Phoenix lovers out there, have at him! I'll keep my quiet, dedicated partner, Lincoln (Linc). Maybe it's because he reminds me a little of Dimitri Belikov...and we all know how I feel about him... I had issues with Violet off and on as well, and I can't really explain why without giving a lot of the story away, but it all made sense in the end. I actually kind of want to go back and re-read the book knowing what I know now...

After reading quite a few poorly written angel books, Embrace was a breath of fresh air. I look forward to the highly anticipated second book, Enticed, due out in September.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a good angel book in the ya genre.

Blood Rights
Blood Rights
by Kristen Painter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.55
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Blood Rights by Kristen Painter, March 12 2012
I have been waiting quite some time to find a "good" vampire story again, and Kristen Painter finally wrote that story for me. I wish I had of taken better notes during the reading process, but I honestly went in with lowered expectations due to the amount of unlikeable vampire writing on the market currently (It's almost as bad as the angel writing!), and by the time I realized how amazing this book was, I was too busy devouring it to write any notes down...

I think one of the main reasons I really enjoyed this book was because it reminded me quite a bit of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series (Which I also absolutely adore!). We have the politics, intrigue, magic, a group of humans that are sold to the highest bidder and marked with a type of tattoo. It's fabulous!

The characters are fantastic and have minds and voices of their own. Chrysabelle, a special breed of human bred specifically to feed the vampire nobility, Malkolm the outcast vampire noble who has been cursed and is therefore trapped within his own misery, as well as the "aunt" who was able to escape the comarré life (at a very hefty cost), the ever-haunting ghost, and the cursed were-kitty. These intriguing characters make up a very intriguing cast that is likely to entertain even the most snobbish vampire reader.

I also have to give kudos to Kristen Painter's world building. It is strong, and vivid, beautiful and disturbing, and so realistic it's hard to imagine it's not real.

I recommend everyone give this book a read, even if you feel like you might be burnt out on vampire novels. I don't think you'll ever regret it!

Now on to book two, Flesh and Blood.

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