Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Truth And Other Lies by Sascha Arango

Title: The Truth and Other Lies
Author: Sascha Arango
Publisher: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Canada Books Inc.
Format: Trade Paperback (ARC)
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

On the surface, Henry Hayden seems like someone you could like, or even admire. A famous bestselling author who appears a modest everyman. A loving, devoted husband even though he could have any woman he desires. A generous friend and co-worker. But Henry Hayden is a construction, a mask. His past is a secret, his methods more so. No one besides he and his wife know that she is the actual writer of the novels that made him famous.

For most of Henry’s life, it hasn’t been a problem. But when his hidden-in-plain-sight mistress becomes pregnant and his carefully constructed facade is about to crumble, he tries to find a permanent solution, only to make a terrible mistake.

Now not only are the police after Henry, but his past—which he has painstakingly kept hidden—threatens to catch up with him as well. Henry is an ingenious man, and he works out an ingenious plan. He weaves lies, truths, and half-truths into a story that may help him survive. But bit by bit the noose still tightens.

Smart, sardonic, and compulsively readable, here is the story of a man whose cunning allows him to evade the consequences of his every action, even when he’s standing on the edge of the abyss.

The Truth and Other Lies had me hooked from page one. This is one of those books where the main character is corrupt and a genuinely terrible person, but you secretly root for them anyway. The story itself is heavily fictional and has more than a few moments that are hard to believe, but is captivating nonetheless.

I greatly enjoyed this book and it has become one of my favourite thrillers this year. It is a beautifully written, dark and twisted thriller that will leave you wanting more. The twists and turns are shocking and as the story goes on, it becomes harder and harder determine the truth. I'm definitely looking forward to more books from Sascha Arango.

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a great thriller/mystery novel. For those who decide to pick up this book, find a comfy spot and settle in because you will not want to put it down.

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of The Truth and Other Lies from Penguin Canada. All opinions are my own.
Rating: ★★★

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Title: Extraordinary Means
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins
Publishing Date: May 26, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA

Lane was an exemplary high school student. He was member of the model U.N. and was enrolled in a number of A.P. classes to prepare him for his number one college pick, Stanford University. Unfortunately, his plans were derailed when he was diagnosed with an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Like many teenagers diagnosed with this devastating disease, Lane has been sent to Latham House. Latham House is a combination of an advanced medical centre and boarding school.

On his first day, Lane recognizes a girl he met at a summer camp years ago. He remembers Sadie as a shy person who kept to herself. However, the girl he once knew has completely changed. She is outspoken, sarcastic and utterly fascinating. Sadie and her group of friends are completely different from the other residents at Latham House. The group breaks the rules, obtain illicit items for fellow residents and in doing so, live life to the fullest. After spending days and weeks together, Lane and Sadie start to fall in love. Unfortunately, as their love blossoms, their friends' health begin wilt.

Extraordinary Means is a witty story about love, friendships a hope for second chances. I enjoyed this book because the characters were real. They were flawed, made mistakes and were easy to relate to. I saw pieces of my teen aged self in each of the characters. These flaws also made the story a bit more believable.

Another aspect of the book that I greatly enjoyed was the author's creativity when it came to technology. Each of the students are given electronic bracelets that allow them to unlock doors, track their health statistics and location while on Latham grounds (think Disney Magic Band crossed with a Fitbit and GPS locator). I thought the concept of these bands was very imaginative and may actually exist one day, if they don't already.

Extraordinary Means was well written and thoroughly researched. The inclusion of a new, incurable tuberculosis strain was very inventive. It allowed for all of the characters to be secluded and quarantined. Schneider's descriptions of the symptoms that the residents suffer from were vivid and believable. Lastly, the potential for a cure helps keep readers at the edge of their seats while they wait to see if it will arrive on time. This is the first book that I've read by Robyn Schneider and after reading it, I immediately purchased The Beginning of Everything because I enjoyed her writing style so much. I hope it's just as great.

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of Extraordinary Means from Harper Collins Canada (HCC Frenzy) as part of the HCC First Reads program. All opinions are my own.
Rating: ★★★

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Finding Audrey
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books
Format: Trade Paperback (ARC)
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: June 9, 2015
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary

Synopsis (from publisher's website):
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey's daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother's gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she's never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

This was a fun Young Adult debut for Sophie Kinsella. She is able to weave together light humour and sensitive topics that are relevant to the book's intended audience.

Bullying. We are made aware that the event that has triggered Audrey's anxiety disorders are related to bullying. There are very little details provided about the actual incident. As a reader, this is very frustrating. But, I can also appreciate that Kinsella wants to keep parts of Audrey's life private. Doing this was a great way to keep the focus of the book on Audrey's condition and road to recovery.

Mental health issues. Kinsella is very specific when she writes about the symptoms of Audrey's anxiety disorder. She focuses on the baby steps needed to improve Audrey's situation. Finally, Kinsella also highlights the support that Audrey's family and friends provide her as she works on getting better.

Screen addictions. Audrey's brother Frank is hooked on Land of Conquerers, an online computer game. He plays for hours on end. When his computer privileges are revoked, he finds other ways to entertain himself through smartphone games and video game consoles. Though this is a minor plot topic, I think Kinsella does a great job in highlighting how much time young people spend staring at screens. However, I do think Audrey mother blows things way out of proportion when it comes online gaming.

Finding Audrey is a great book to take with you to the beach or on a picnic as the weather warms up. I'm really looking forward to any future novels she decides to write in this genre.

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of Finding Audrey from Random House of Canada. All opinions are my own.
Rating: ★★★

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install

Title: A Robot in the Garden
Author: Deborah Install
Publisher: Random House Canada
Format: Trade Paperback (ARC)
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Genre: Fiction

What would you do if you found a rickety robot sitting under a tree in your back garden? 

For floundering 34-year-old Ben Chambers the answer is obvious: find out where it came from and take it there to be fixed, even if it means risking his marriage in the process. Determined to achieve something for once in his life, Ben embarks on a journey that takes him and the endearing robot, Tang, to the far side of the globe...and back again. Together they will discover that friendship can rise up under the strangest circumstances, and that Artificial Intelligence can teach a man what it is to be human.

Funny, touching, charming, wise and a bit magical, A Robot in the Garden is a gem of a first novel, perfect for anyone who has ever found it difficult to connect with the world.

A Robot in the Garden is an adorable story about a man and his robot. After finding Tang in his garden, Ben goes on a mission to to find out where he comes from. As they circle the globe, Ben becomes increasingly attached to his new friend. Tang is like a child. Constantly learning from his surroundings and throws Tangtrums when he doesn't get his way. His vocabulary is also evolving although he makes up words and phrases which he calls Tanglish.

A Robot in the Garden has become a new favourite of mine. As I neared the end of the book, I was constantly looking at how many pages I had left because I didn't want it to end. I hope Deborah Install decides (if she hasn't already) to do a follow up to this book. I would love to find out what Ben and Tang are up to now. I whole heartedly recommend A Robot in the Garden to anyone who enjoys a great story about a budding friendship. The graphic below pretty much sums it up.
Image provided by Random House Canada
What would you do if you found a robot in your garden?

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of A Robot in the Garden from Random House of Canada. All opinions are my own.
Rating: ★★★

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Title: In the Unlikely Event
Author: Judy Blume
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: June 2, 2015

The new adult novel from the beloved and bestselling Judy Blume, based on true events.

When a series of passenger airplanes crashed in Elizabeth, NJ within a three-month period in 1951-1952, Judy Blume was a teenager. "These events have lingered in my mind ever since," says Blume. "It was a crazy time. We were witnessing things that were incomprehensible to us as teenagers. Was it sabotage? An alien invasion? No one knew, and people were understandably terrified." Against this background, Blume uses her imagination to bring us the lives of three generations of families, friends, and strangers who will be profoundly affected by these events, either directly or indirectly. But life goes on and Blume digs deep into her characters--we see them coping not only with grief but with first love, estranged parents, difficult friendships, familial obligations, divorce, career ambitions, a grandparent's love, a widower's hope, and everything in between... Most importantly, it is filled with the same warmth and authenticity that have won her the hearts and minds of readers of all generations.

I was a fan of Judy Blume as a child. When I found out she was publishing a new adult novel, I couldn't wait to read it. I stayed away from reviews and even avoided reading the synopsis until I had the physical book in hand. I was shocked to learn that the three plane crashes that occur in the story were based on real life events. Learning this only added to my excitement to read it because it's obviously an event that affected Judy Blume who grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Looking at the size of the book, I didn't think I would get through it so quickly. I was so engrossed in the story that I breezed through the 400+ pages like it was nothing. It took a bit for me to get the hang of the writing style as the book alternates between the POV of a variety of characters. However, once I got used to it, I found the character's connections to each other quite intriguing.

Even though Judy Blume writes about fictional characters, I don't think she's too far off from how people reacted during these difficult times. Each character was believable and relatable. Through the pages of In the Unlikely Event, we see how each of these crashes directly and indirectly affected the fictional residents of Elizabeth. Their heartbreak and outpouring of compassion for each other made for a rollercoaster of emotions. The book has readers experience how one character's decisions can cause a ripple effect and impact another, unrelated, character's fate.

Judy Blume did not disappoint with her latest book and it is one that I will cherish for many years to come.

Disclaimer:  I received a finished copy of In the Unlikely Event from Random House of Canada for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.
Rating: ★★★

Teaser Tuesdays #5

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page (some times you need more than two for it to make sense).
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's a peek at this week's book:

Title: My Secret Sister
Authors: Helen Edwards & Jenny Lee Smith
Publisher: Pan Books, an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Publishing Date: March 1, 2013
Genre: Non Fiction

Teasers (p. 106):
"Every Saturday night I was uprooted from my own room to share a bed with another girl who was a complete stranger to me."

"When his wages as an apprentice went up, George bought himself a sleek black overcoat with a black velvet collar. Very trendy at the time. When he came round one day wearing it, my father went ballistic"

What book are you reading? Feel free to leave the link to you Teaser Tuesday in the comments below.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday SHELFie #11

New month, new reading challenge! As I mentioned in a previous post, I'll be taking part in the Paperback Summer challenge hosted by Sophie at Reviewed the Book and Suze at Librarian Lavender. I'm setting up a goal of 30 over the course of the challenge, though I think my total count will be a bit higher (I still have a few ebooks and digital galleys that I want to get through). 

The challenge only takes into account physical books (I'll also be including ARCs in my count). I will be keeping track of my Paperback Summer books here.

Here's a sneak peak at a few titles that I'll be reading over the course of the challenge, in no particular order:

What are your reading plans for the summer?

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