8/28/12

Spell Bound


Author: Rachel Hawkins
Pages: 327
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted. Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident. Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late? 
                                                                                                           



My Summary
: After nearly dying in the fire that burned down her father's home, Sophie wakes up in the middle of an eerie forest. Having followed Cal's direction, she went to find the Brannicks - a group of supernatural hunters that seem to have custody of Sophie's very-human mother. But if she was expecting a vicious horde of amazon warriors, she was sadly mistaken - the Brannicks are nothing but two teenage girls and their mother.

They also happen to be her relatives.

Now, without powers or anything to protect her, Sophie must find a way to stop the army of demons the Casnoff sisters seem intent on raising and get her powers back. But can she destroy the demon army when they happen to be in possession of the souls of her classmates and friends?

My Thoughts: I honestly could not put this book down until I was finished. After the end of Demonglass I couldn't wait to find out what happened to all my favourite characters. I'm a little glad everything went down at Hex Hall - after all, that is where it all began.

It's extremely difficult to talk about this one without giving too much away, but I will say this: if you loved the first two books in the series, you'll no doubt enjoy this final installment. There were enough heart-wrenching moments and laughs that just about anyone could enjoy it, no matter your genre preference.

Final Thoughts: I recommend Spell Bound and the entire Hex Hall trilogy to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA, romance, as well as anyone who's looking for something fun in their summer reading.

Demonglass




Author:
Rachel Hawkins
Pages:
359
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars                                  

Summary (from Goodreads)Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. 

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?



My Summary
: It's been almost six months since Sophie discovered Archer was a member of The Eye. After toughing out the rest of the school year at Hex Hall, she's sent to stay with her absentee father for the summer, in England along with her friend Jenna and her (sort-of) fiance. But her summer vacation turns out to be more than tea and sight-seeing: something is very, very wrong with The Council, and things are beginning to go south.

And just when she thought it couldn't get any worse: Archer appears, rescuing her from The Eye and making her heart do those stupid little flips in her chest. But being sworn enemies means nothing can happen between them - especially since Sophie's dad has ordered Archer to be killed on sight.

Being a demon is the least of Sophie's problems.
 
My Thoughts: I was so incredibly happy when I read the blurb on the back cover of Demonglass. I mean seriously. England? Magic? Sophie's snark and possibly more of Archer? Count me in.

I'm not even ashamed to admit I devoured this one. I finished in a little over four hours and couldn't wait to get my hands on the final book in the trilogy because that ending just -- nevermind. You'll know what I mean when you read it. Luckily I purchased all three of the books together, so all I had to do was reach over to my nightstand and start the third novel.

I really liked the new characters we meet in this one. Nick and Daisy were creepy to put it mildly, and Cal... I think he may be some serious competition for Archer.

Just kidding. Team Archer all the way! (Is it still cool to say 'Team ____'? I feel like it's one of those things the cool bloggers don't say anymore).

The pacing was spot on, and I loved the way the author made it feel like it was impossible for Sophie to trust anyone - even her dad. The sense of isolation added an extra layer to everything that was going on, and you really sympathize with Sophie.

But seriously guys. THAT ENDING. Gah. I can't imagine what people who read the series before the last book was out had to go through.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA, romance, and mystery / suspense novels.

Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Pages: 336
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.



My Summary: Sophie's always been a little different.

When she turned twelve, she came into her witch powers, and things just sort of started happening. But Sophie always had the best intentions - she never meant to make that guy go nuts and stalk that girl. She never meant to do any of it. Really, she was only trying to help people.

But eventually Sophie's 'good deeds' begin to attract unwanted attention, and her dad - the head of a secret organization that polices all supernatural activity - decides that it'd be best if she was sent to a reformatory
 school for 'troubled' supernatural teens. Whoopie.

But if Sophie thought there was going to be less drama at her new school, she was sorely mistaken. Within her first few weeks fellow students are attacked and nearly killed under mysterious circumstances.

It seems like Hex Hall is hiding something - something that goes back to Sophie's great-grandmother and the source of their family's powers.
My Thoughts: I heard about this series a few years ago but never really made much of an attempt to get my hands on a copy; I'm really regretting that now. This was probably one of my favourite paranormal YA books in a long, long time. Sophie's snark and sense of humour was really close to my own, and I laughed out loud more than a few times while flying through the pages.

Hawkins manages to maintain a sense of suspense and mystery while also keeping up the light, playful side of the novel - I really liked that, because there's nothing worse than a book that takes itself entirely too seriously. I like a little humour and sarcasm thrown in, even when it's a serious subject matter. 
Final Thoughts: I recommend this to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA and romance. I'll definitely be continuing the series!

8/23/12

Never Enough



Author: Denise Jaden
Pages: 400
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

  
Summary (from Goodreads)
From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.
Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?



My Summary: Claire and her sister Loann have always been close. But a few years and opposite social circles separate them, and slowly, Loann feels her sister begin to slip away. What start as a nagging suspicion soon develops into a full-blown realization that Loann's perfect sister is anything but, along with the knowledge that her sister is on an all-consuming downward spiral that can only end one way.

My Thoughts:  I absolutely adored this novel. I started it a few hours ago and just turned the last few pages moments ago, but I know without a doubt that it was one of my favourites for this year. Loann's narrative comes off as plain and unexciting until you read closer and realize just what's going on behind the scenes. The author does a great job subtly hinting at things, building up the references until all is revealed. It was incredibly realistic as well - Loann and Marcus were extremely genuine, relatable characters, and through he entire thing I had hope that they'd get some happiness in the end. This was such an emotional, heartbreaking novel. The writing was beautifully simplistic, and the story was so easy to slip right into from the very first page. I read it all in one sitting and I regret absolutely nothing.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who has ever had someone close to them suffer from an eating disorder, as well as those who enjoy contemporary lit (a little on the edgy side).

8/22/12

I Am The Messenger

Author: Markus Zusak
Pages: 356

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)This teen gem about an unambitious teenager whose life is suddenly turned upside down by anonymous messages has it all - mystery, humor, romance, friendship.


Meet Ed Kennedy - underage cab driver, pathetic card palyer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack, and he's hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That's when the first Ace arrives...That's when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains. Who's behind Ed's mission?




My Summary: Ed is one of those guys you'd never look twice at. He's nineteen, a cab driver, and perpetually in love with his best friend Audrey. All in all, an ordinary guy.

Until he stop a bank robbery and chases the perp out the door with a gun. He gets some time in the limelight before people move on... Then he receives the first card in the mail, with cryptic instructions leading him from one place to the other.

Soon Ed begins following the cards, doing his best for every person. But what happens when the card lead him close to home and force him to consider his own life choices?

My Thoughts: This was my first Markus Zusak book, but it's definitely not gonna be the last. I loved every minute of Ed's narrative, and his observations about everything and everything were spot on. I loved the depth of all of the characters - especially Audrey and Marv. Ed himself was an awesome character. The reader feels themselves stepping into Ed's shoes, become another resident of his tiny house. He goes from boring nobody to - in his own words - somebody. The character growth is evident, and it's not done in a preachy way, which will appeal to teen readers.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys meaningful contemporary literature.

8/19/12

Announcing...

Beyond the Bookshelf finally has its own domain name! It's going to be a few days before everything's all ready, but I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who told me this could be done through Google. You guys are awesome!

I'm gonna go celebrate and configure some hardcore HTML. See ya'll later!


(That's me right now, in case you were wondering.)

8/18/12

Between

Author: Jessica Warman
Pages: 437
Publisher: Egmont Books
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Elizabeth Valchar wakes up after spending her eighteenth birthday party on her family's yacht to investigate a thumping noise. What she finds will change everything she thought she knew about her life, her friends, and everything in between. As Liz begins to unravel the circumstances surrounding her birthday night, she will find that no one around her, least of all Liz herself, was perfect--or innocent.




My Summary: Elizabeth - Liz to her friends - Valchar is undoubtedly the most popular girl in school. Beloved by everyone, she had no doubt that she'd graduate with top honours and ride off into the sunset with her boyfriend after a perfect year spent ruling the student body.

That is, until she awakens on the night of her birthday to find herself staring down at her body, floating in the water next to her father's yacht. Liz is dead ... but she can't seem to remember how she got that way.

Then Alex - another dead classmate - appears, telling Liz that her memories will return in fragments.Together they watch as Liz's family and friends mourn her passing while simultaneously trying to figure out who killed them and why.

My Thoughts: Another book I picked up on a whim and adored! I swear I'm gonna start picking all my books this way, because this method hasn't failed me yet.

The character growth in Liz was substantial. I loved the way she looked onto her old life with Alex and realized how bad of a person she had been before she died. You really see the contrast between her before death and afterwards. The secondary and supporting characters were also really well-written and easy to relate to; I think Caroline was probably my favourite.  By the end you really feel attached to every one of them.

I really liked the way the author revealed new information: one tidbit at a time, along with a flashback. This book is set in the past and the present, and yet it never gets too confusing to follow. The writing flowed easily, keeping my interest from start to finish.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoyed books such as The Lovely Bones and The Catastrophic History of You and Me, and anyone who enjoys romance and suspense. 

8/17/12

Fresh Off the Press Feature!

This week we have an awesome feature by an amazing indie author: The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle. Check out the trailer and summary below, and click the book cover for the goodreads link!


Ever since Kait Swanney could remember, the old crones of the village have been warning her to stay away from the selkies. They claim that like sirens of old, the seal men creep from the inky waters, shed their skins, and entice women to their deaths beneath the North Sea. But avoiding an encounter becomes impossible when Kait is spotted at the water’s edge, moments after the murder of a half-selkie infant. 

Kait is woken unexpectedly by a beautiful selkie man seeking revenge. After she declares her innocence, the intruder darts into the night, but not before inadvertently bewitching her with an overpowering lure. 

She obsesses over a reunion deep beneath the bay and risks her own life to be reunited with her selkie. But when she lands the dangerous lover, the chaos that follows leaves Kait little time to wonder—is it love setting her on fire or has she simply been lured?




I can't wait to check this one out! I've adored mermaid stories since I was a little girl. This one sounds awesome!

Follow Friday!

What blogger inspires you?

In the interest of remaining on everyone's good side, I'm not going to mention a book blog. Dat cool wit ya'll? I hope so.

 One of my favourite bloggers is Allie over at Hyperbole and a Half. I adore her blog and her humour and I can't wait until her book is released because I am going to stand outside the bookstore at 7 in the morning until one of the employees sees me and lets me in at 8 (when they open) to buy it. Yup, I will. And nobody can stop me.

When I first found her blog, I was ready to skim the latest post to see what all the fuss was about and get back to my book. But that is not what happened. I read one post, then another, then another... I sat there reading every post she'd ever posted, laughing so hard my mom knocked on the door to see if I was okay. I loved her little doodles and just... everything. I definitely recommend checking out her blog if you're in the mood for a laugh!

8/16/12

Dead End Deal

Author: Allen Wyler
Pages: 402
Publisher: Astor + Blue
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)World-renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world. His groundbreaking surgical treatment, using transplanted nonhuman stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease. But when the procedure is slated for testing, it all comes to an abrupt and terrifying halt. Ritter’s colleague is gunned down and Ritter himself is threatened by a radical anti-abortion group that not only claims responsibility, but promises more of the same. Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter turns to his long-time colleague, corporate biotech CEO Richard Stillman, for help. After successful surgical trials, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario: The trial patients have been murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Dead End Deal is a fast-paced, heart-pounding, and sophisticated thriller. A smart, unique, page-turner, Dead End Deal delivers.

***

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Jon Ritter is about to do something others have only dreamed about: discover the cure for Alzheimer's. Hoping to save his grandmother  - and if he has inherited the gene, himself - Jon works day and night to cure this horrible disease, turning down promotions and raises just to keep his work from falling into the wrong hands.

After discovering the death of his mentor is linked to a man trying to get him to hand over the cure, Ritter doesn't know where to turn or who to trust. And when he finds himself in a foreign land, he knows he will be fighting for more than just his cure - he'll be fighting for his life.

My Thoughts: Woah. Just... woah. I was blown away by this novel in a way that I can't even fully describe. Jon Ritter was a great protagonist; I loved the way he always seemed to be one step ahead of the bad guys.  What really struck me was the way the author managed to pull me into the story so much that he made me feel trapped in South Korea, just as Ritter was. 

I also loved how the theme of greed and its consequences resounded so strongly in this novel. We realize how far the greed of others may stretch, and just how much we are affected by the greed of those in positions of power. It really makes you wonder... what other diseases have cures being held back because of the greed of others? Considering how much money the pharmaceutical industry rakes in every year, I'd say there's a lot we don't know about what goes on behind the scenes.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys thrillers and fast-paced mystery and suspense novels.

8/10/12

Interview with author Heather Beck & Giveaway!

I know I've been gone for a while (vacation, woohoo!) but I have a treat for you guys today: an interview with author / screenwriter / all-around-awesome person, Heather Beck!

Her latest book, Whispers In The Shadows, is a collection of short stories chock full of paranormal romance, intrigue, and mysteries.

I asked Heather a few questions about writing and got some pretty awesome answers. Heather's also letting me give away pdf copies of one of her books, so read on below!


What inspired you to write your latest book?
My latest book, Whispers In The Shadows, was inspired by my love of paranormal romances and the idea that anything is possible. I enjoy creating surreal plots and settings, and with this anthology, I’ve allowed my imagination to run wild. It has a ghostly love triangle, a sexy Egyptian tour guide who hides an ancient secret, a perfect man who really can offer eternal love and so much more. One element that is consistent throughout Whispers In The Shadows is the presence of a strong female protagonist who transcends her daily life to find an extraordinary world; it’s about fantastical emancipation told in a fun and sexy way.
What book are you reading now?

I have a ton of projects, both books and screenplays, in various stages of development so, unfortunately, I don’t have the time for recreational reading at the moment. However, as a huge fan of paranormal romances, there are many books being published right now that I’d love to read.

When did you first start writing seriously?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I have a great imagination when it comes to creating characters, plots and settings for stories, and writing is a very natural activity for me. At the risk of sounding clich├ęd, I just feel like I was born to be a writer. Throughout school I loved writing essays, stories and plays and was even encouraged by teachers to publish some of these assignments. However, it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I started writing professionally. While writing my first book, I did a lot of research on the publishing industry. The more knowledge and experience I gained, the more interested I became. After receiving my first publishing contract, I was hooked. I wrote several more books and, to date, have worked with eleven small, but traditional, publishers.

Is there any element of writing you find particularly challenging?

The most challenging aspect of writing is finding the time to execute all my ideas into books and screenplays. While writing, I like to be wholly engrossed in my work. However, having other commitments can sometimes make that a difficult thing to do. I also find editing and re-writes to be somewhat tedious, but they are crucial steps in making one’s work the best it can be.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

My favourite authors are Tennessee Williams and Jack London. I’ve read all of Williams’ plays and am amazed by his ability to be so blatant, accurate and compassionate about the human condition. He really gets to the core of what it means to be human, and he does so in a beautiful and entertaining way. In my own writing, I strive to achieve Williams’ signature feat. Regarding London, I am impressed by his depiction of the struggle between man and nature. This is a theme that has always interested me, probably due to my love of nature. London has helped to shape my goal of writing a great wilderness adventure.

Did you learn anything about yourself while writing your book?

I think the opposite is true – what I’ve learned from life, I’ve put into my books. I feel like I’ve had a lot of unique and even cinematic experiences in my life, so I draw on that while writing. I’m usually pretty discreet when I include my experiences in my work, though. I alter situations but still rely on how I felt and reacted in real life. Every single book or script I’ve ever written has a bit of me in it.

Any advice for those trying to get into writing?

My best advice for aspiring authors is to be hopeful yet realistic. The publishing industry can be brutal and making a living as a writer is extremely difficult. That being said, it’s definitely not impossible to be a successful writer. You must have an unwavering belief in your talent, be knowledgeable about the industry, have a hard work ethic and be wholly dedicated to your writing. I’d also advise aspiring authors to have a day job since breaking into this industry can take a long time. Additionally, education and experiences broadens one’s horizons, which ultimately helps to shape one’s writing.

What inspired you to make the jump from screenwriting to novels?

I actually started off writing novels. I became interested in screenwriting when one of my books was optioned for a TV show. From there, I began to seriously study the art of screenwriting. Writing scripts is very different from writing books. Scripts have rigid formatting guidelines and you must always “show, not tell” your story. In books, however, there’s more opportunity for writing inner dialogue and descriptions. Another huge difference between scripts and books is the amount of people involved and the cost of production. To produce a book with a small press, you will have a few editors for different stages of your manuscript, an art and PR department, a printer and distributors. However, with films, there could literally be hundreds of people involved in just one production. Using a small publishing house as an example again, it takes much less money to produce a book than a film. My first short film, Young Eyes, cost the production company $7500 to make; The Rarity cost $25000! Although I think the publishing industry is tough, I find the entertainment industry to be even more difficult. Nevertheless, I love writing books and films, and I strongly believe it’s worth the effort.

Thanks so much, Heather! Below are the books up for grabs - simply leave a comment on this post and I'll choose the winner randomly (pieces of paper in a hat - guys, we're doing this old school).

Sir Tristan's Estate (Click to read a summary!
- Blue Water (Click to read a summary!)
- Where Feelings Go To Die (Click to read a summary!)
- Hot Egyptian Nights (Click to read a summary!)

8/9/12

Follow Friday!

Happy Friday, everyone!

What would you do over if you could start your blog again from scratch?

Hmm... probably start networking more. Or start from wordpress. I like the idea of having my own custom URL but the thought of going through all the work to transfer from blogger to wordpress makes me cringe. Seriously. All that html work and transferring posts and oijkdjafjhdflskjhgsd I'm stopping, just the thought is making me sweat. Maybe next year, when I get 4 months off school....

8/8/12

Life on the Refrigerator Door

Author: Alice Kuipers
Pages: 220
Publisher: MacMillan
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Mom, 
I went to the store. See inside the fridge. I watered the plants. I cleaned out Peter's cage. I tidied the sitting room. And the kitchen. And I did the washing up. "
I'm going to bed. 
Your live-in servant, 
Claire 
'Life on the Refrigerator Door' is told exclusively through notes exchanged by Claire and her mother, Elizabeth, during the course of a life-altering year. Their story builds to an emotional crescendo when Elizabeth is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Stunningly sad but ultimately uplifting, this is a clever, moving, and original portrait of the relationship between a daughter and mother. It is about how we live our lives constantly rushing, and never making time for those we love. It is also an elegy to how much can be said in so few words, if only we made the time to say them.
***

My Summary: Claire and her mother may live in the same house, but they might as well live on a different planet for all the time they spend together. Claire's mother is a doctor and single mother, so Claire is often left on her own. The only way the two interact is through their little notes on the refrigerator door.

But one night Clair comes home to a note that rocks her entire world.

And suddenly, notes aren't enough.

My Thoughts: I loved the premise of this novel. The way the notes from Claire and her mother are organized leaves room for the readers imagination to fill in the rest of the story, which I really liked. The writing was very genuine, and the reaction of both Claire and her mother were spot on - all the confusion, grief, and sorrow of the situation were portrayed honestly and never glossed over. 

Final Thoughts: This was not a long read by any means, but it was very emotional and eye-opening. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary lit or has found themselves in a similar situation. 

8/7/12

The Thirteenth Tale

Author: Diane Setterfield
Pages: 406
Publisher: Atria

Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father's antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise–she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.


Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.

As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story. In the end, both women have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets. As well as the ghosts that haunt them still.

***

My Summary: Margaret is an amateur biographer living above her fathers bookstore. One cold winter night, she returns home to find a letter waiting for her on her porch steps - a letter from the famous writer Vida Winters. And Ms. Winters has an odd request: she wants Margaret to write her biography.

Shocked by Ms. Winter's request, Margaret reluctantly agrees. But nothing could have prepared her for the the dying author's story, and the more immersed she becomes in Vida Winter's past, the more her own past seems to haunt her.

My Thoughts: From the moment I read the first line of The Thirteen Tale, I was hooked. Setterfield draws the reader in with the mystery of the envelope on Margaret's front steps and doesn't release them again until the book is over. I adored the dark, creepy atmosphere of the novel and the realness of the characters - each was inflicted with their own secrets; each had something they were running from but couldn't escape. So many stories intertwined in this book, and yet each was easy to understand. I loved the way Ms. Winter's story kept you guessing until the very end. The author has a gift for weaving words together - every line was beautifully written. It felt like poetry.

I adored this book. The only thing I disliked is the fact that I'll never own my own copy of Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. 

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of gothic literature, as well as mysteries. 

8/3/12

Follow Friday!!


Do your reading habits change based on your mood? Do you read a certain genre if you are feeling depressed or happy?

It really depends. Sometimes if I'm feeling sad I'll read contemporary lit, but I also drift toward paranormal YA as well. It really depends on the mood and the day and whatever I have in my TBR pile. When I'm happy though, I love books like Croak - books that are entertaining and funny and have a great story-line.

What about you guys?