Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: He Will Be My Ruin



Tomorrow is a big day in author K.A. Tucker's world...her first standalone novel is being published, and in hardcover to boot! He Will Be My Ruin is also more of a suspense novel than Tucker's previous books. I'm not usually much of a thriller/mystery/suspense kind of girl but I am a huge fan of Tucker so I knew I had to read it. The new novel was twisty, it kept me guessing, and it was good.

Here's the synopsis:
A woman who almost had it all . . .
On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?
A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .
Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.
Until he became her ruin.
On the hunt for evidence that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer. A killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.
Tucker's previous books, particularly the Burying Water series, hinted at her ability to tell a suspenseful story well. He Will Be My Ruin was told well. I was kept guessing throughout the entire novel. I thought that maybe I had the mystery figured out even though I wondered if it'd be too obvious because the one suspect just seemed to obvious. (How's that for confusing?) I don't want to say too much because the last thing I want to do is give something away! Basically, the curveballs Tucker threw (er, wrote) were total strikes and I loved that. I didn't want to know what was going to happen next. I wanted to be surprised and challenged. I didn't necessarily want to be frightened but I did want to be kept on the edge of my seat. And I was.

Maggie was such an interesting character. She seems to have it all together and you almost want to be jealous of her at the beginning but you start to realize that she has elements of herself that need...shall we say, readjusting. Not changed, necessarily. Everyone has parts of themselves that could, should be better. By the end of the novel I think Maggie had realized how she could be a better person. It's just so heartbreaking that it had to happen because of her best friend's death.

Speaking of the best friend...I loved that part of the story was told from Celine's point of view. I think Tucker found a great way to be able to tell Celine's story from Celine's perspective. (Not her current one, obviously. Celine is dead and there aren't any ghosts in this book.) Even with this element, Maggie still had to hunt hard for more clues and had to piece together all of the information she was finding. What I learned is Celine would have been such an interesting person to know. I would have loved to hear the stories behind all of her treasures. Because I found myself drawn to Celine, I was even more hopeful that Maggie would find out what really happened and more invested in the overall story.

K.A. Tucker's latest was the first book I read in 2016 and it will be one I continue pushing on others throughout the entire year. He Will Be My Ruin was a damn good book and other book lovers need to know about it and need to read it. The only downside to having read this one well before the release date? I have to wait even longer for her next book. I don't think I'm going to be patient. :) Have you read any of Tucker's novels yet? You definitely should if you enjoy good, entertaining, page-turning reads.

*An ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Library Books I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

Today's Top Ten Tuesday was a freebie and I had no ideas what to post about until about halfway through the day when I saw Jamie of The Perpetual Page-Turner's post about ten books she feels like she doesn't talk about nearly enough. That made me think about the books I don't really talk about too much...the ones I get from the library! I tend to use the library for books that I want to read that I can't afford to buy (since they're usually new releases and in hardcover) and didn't get copies to review. I started keeping track of library books on Goodreads awhile back so it was easy to review...not so easy to choose the ten favourite books I've checked out from my library! Do you find you tend to take out the same kinds of books from the library or are you an eclectic library user? Do you even use the library? (If you don't...WHY NOT? Love your local library!) Have you read any of these ten books? Links lead to Goodreads.

The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling
I got myself on the list right away when the news leaked that Galbraith was actually Queen Rowling herself. They're great mysteries, a genre I don't normally read, and I really enjoy them. (Except for maybe The Silkworm...that was a weird one.)

Just One Day/Just One Year - Gayle Forman
For the first installment of the YA books I get from the library, I present the amazing Just One Day and Just One Day. I know lots of people of heard of and read these ones but because of other people's opinions, I just had to borrow them from my library!

The Orenda - Joseph Boyden
I ended up loving this one so much that I bought a copy so I could get it signed by Boyden when I met him a couple of years ago.

Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins
I probably would have bought these ones had Isla already been published and in soft cover but my wallet wouldn't allow it :)

Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson
I'd heard of Matson's books before so I scooped up Since You've Been Gone when I saw it at my library. Loved it!

The Bone Cage - Angie Abdou
I did an internship at Project Bookmark Canada and had to read a bunch of books set in Calgary. The Bone Cage was one of the books I read and I adored it.

Ten Tiny Breaths and Five Ways to Fall - KA Tucker
I read TTB first from the library because I wasn't sure if I'd like her books. I loved it and I've been hooked ever since.

To All the Boys I Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You - Jenny Han
Everyone was SO excited about these books and I knew I had to give them a shot. Really enjoyed them!

99 Days - Kate Cotugno
I've mentioned before that it was because of Jamie's enthusiasm for this book that I read it. When I saw that my library actually had a copy I went right there to check it out!

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes - Anna McPartlin
This was a (very) recent library read. The library I work for has a Beer and Books book club and it was this month's pick. I think I might actually write a mini review of this one because I loved it so much and everyone needs to read it. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

6th Annual End of Year Survey

Image from The Perpetual Page-Turner
I know, I know. 2016 is well underway. Why am I bothering with a recap of 2015 reading? Because I damn well want to, that's why. I adore Jamie of The Perpetual Page-Turner's End of Year Survey and I'm so glad I did take the time to work on it because it's rekindled my love of books, blogging, and reading, which took a bit of a hit last year due to all sorts of reasons. So, without further ado, I present my answers to the 2015 End of Year Survey. Jamie's survey can be found here.

2015 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 110
Number of Re-Reads: 6 (the first six Anne of Green Gables books)
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary (Some chick lit, women’s fiction, YA, NA)


Best In Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
I had a lot of favourites this year. You can check out my top ten list I did mid-December here. One book I keep mentioning as one of my favourites (might be number one) was The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (review, on Novel Escapes, the other blog I write for, is here).
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford. I don’t know why I didn’t love it but I just didn’t. It was one I was really excited about when I went to BEA and I managed to find an abandoned ARC just sitting on a table. I think part of the issue was I had only heard so-so things about it so I was negatively influenced. Ah well.


3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
I didn’t expect to like All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor as much as I did. The Canadian author wrote a great novel that I just couldn’t put down. Review is here.


4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I push every book that I love so it’s hard to say which one got the most pushing. I didn’t read it last year but I tried to get many library patrons to read Crazy Rich Asians (review) when I was working at a library this summer. At the Water’s Edge (review), The Lake House (review), and The Sisters of Versailles (review) all got pushed at the library, too.
5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
I finally read Jenny Han’s Summer series and am oh so glad I did. Loved them! And I thought the third book, We’ll Always Have Summer, was a perfect ending.
I also read the follow up to Meredith Schorr’s Blogger Girl (review) in ARC form and even though Novelista Girl (review) didn’t publish until 2016, it was probably the best sequel of the year. (Other than the manuscript of another book I read by Laura Chapman.)
I also devoured M.S. Force’s Quantum series. Seriously, I finished one and immediately picked up the next. I was that hooked. I’m so excited that the series isn’t actually over and she’s written another book about another couple from that world (Rapturous is out today!).
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
I found a bunch of new authors last year (some debut, some new to me) and put together a Top Ten Tuesday of all ten new to me authors a few weeks ago.
I think I’m most pleased I was able to get the chance to meet Sally Christie in July and cannot wait to dive into the ARC I have of her second book, The Rivals of Versailles.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Career of Evil was the third book in Robert Galbraith’s (aka J.K. Rowling) Cormoran Strike series. I don’t usually read straight mystery/suspense but I’m loving this series.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
See above :) Or any of K.A. Tucker’s books, especially the ones in the Burying Water series, I read in 2015 (Becoming Rain, Chasing River, Surviving Ice).
9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
As I’m sure I mentioned last year, I don’t often reread books that close together. I usually like to wait at least a year before diving back into a particular world.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
Three way tie between three very different covers: Finding Audrey (review), Christmas at Lilac Cottage (review), and Leading Lines (review).  


11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Ivy from Surviving Ice. I didn’t think I was going to love the last book in K.A. Tucker’s Burying Water series but Ivy worked her way into my heart and I loved reading about her kick ass self.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
I reread most of the Anne of Green Gables books this year and I forgot how exceptionally lovely they are.  


13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
Oh man. I don’t think I really had any book totally change my life last year. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso did give me a lot to think about though. I’m trying to read anything I can that will really help me find my focus and help me figure out what the hell I should be doing with my life.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Jenny Han’s Summer series, for sure.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
I am the worst at keeping track of quotes and I'm at a double disadvantage with not having my laptop working right now, so I can't easily access all my pictures. (I take a lot of pictures of pages with quotes on it I like. That's how I keep track. Not a great system lol) But this is one I posted on Instagram, so clearly it made an impact!
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Shortest was Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton (amazing graphic novel) at 166 pages.
Longest was Middlemarch by George Eliot at 904 pages. (Holy long and boring. Audiobook totally helped though.)


17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
I was shocked by the twist in November 9 (review) by Colleen Hoover but then I realized it reminded me too much of another NA book and then I was slightly annoyed.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Ben and Reese from Five Ways to Fall. I was surprised I loved this couple since Ben was always kind of a know-it-all pretty boy in my mind in the previous Ten Tiny Breaths series. But, I should know better than to doubt K.A. Tucker and I really grew to love Ben in this book.
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Anne and Diana from Anne of Green Gables. Kindred spirits, bosom friends. (See above quote!) 


20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Sarah Dessen finally had a new book out in 2015, Saint Anything. I love everything she does but this one was so much better than a few of her recent ones. Such an amazing novel.  


21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Actually, Jamie was all about 99 Days by Kate Cotugno so I decided to read it. So. Good.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Brook from First & Goal by Laura Chapman. Swoon.  
23. Best 2015 debut you read?
I’ve already talked about Sally Christie but I loved Avelynn (review) by Marissa Campbell too. Yay Canadians! Yay historical fiction!
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. The most outrageous thing about this book and it’s setting, among the filthy rich in Mainland China, is that it’s based on real life. Not the characters and their escapades, exactly, but people like Carlton and Astrid, and all the rest, actually exist. To have that kind of money…
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. (Review) If you’re like me and hadn’t read any of her Hark, A Vagrant! comics, you need to rectify that situation immediately. I loved the mix of history, pop culture, humour, and feminism in this collection.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
I’m fairly certain Who Do You Love (review) by Jennifer Weiner made me cry. At the very least, I had crazy goosebumps as I read the scenes taking place on 9/11.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
The Marrying Type (review) by Laura Chapman. This was a really awesome novel that was a subtle nod to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I adored it and wish others would give it a shot too!
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Possibly Before We Were Strangers (review) by Renee Carlino. WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER?!? (This also has a jaw dropping twist moment.)
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis (review). This one ended up winning the Scotiabank Giller Prize and, shocker, I had read it before it was even nominated. Quick and dirty synopsis: Two gods (Hermes and Apollo) make a bet and give a group of dogs at a Toronto vet clinic human consciousness and language. It’s a little bit heartbreaking and a little bit weird, but a lot riveting.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
I already mentioned how Before We Were Strangers was a bit annoying because the two main characters just didn't converse with each other. So many problems could have been solved had they just talked to each other. His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay also drove me a bit batty...it's why I don't read a lot of "literature" because nothing happens and I get bored.


Your Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?   
Every year I tell myself to make a list of the new blogs I find and every year I forget. Sigh. I can say that this year I fell in love with Alyssa’s photos on Instagram. She runs the blog Swept Away By Books and is on Instagram and Twitter as @alybabybooks. Her photos are gorgeous and she’s smart, funny, and Canadian.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?   
It was hard to pick a review I would call a favourite since I struggled a lot this year, but I decided to go with my review of The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster. Scott Wilbanks was a debut author and seemed so genuinely appreciative of my review. It was a really fun and riveting book too, which helped the writing and sharing process!


3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
I didn’t have many non-review posts this year (hell, I didn’t have many posts at all). In a couple of questions you’ll see my posts on BEA, which were a lot of fun to write.
My favourite Top Ten Tuesday post was probably the one about bookish things I want to quit. It was good to take a look at my reading and blogging habits and figure out what really needs to be change.


4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?  
I had so much fun at Word on the Street this year with my blog (and very good) buddy, Natalie (Browsing Bookshelves). It was a beautiful day and we crossed paths with so many bloggers, including part the Ottawa Blogettes, which was such a great surprise.
I was also thrilled that the Ontario Blogger Meet Up was back this year. I hadn’t realized how much I missed getting together with my fellow bloggers. Being able to meet more authors (Sally Christie especially), say hi to another I’ve met before (lost my mind a little bit about being able to really chat with K.A. Tucker), and (re)connect with contacts in publishing is also great. And the amazing swag bags don’t hurt either!



5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
BookExpo America was, hands down, the best bookish event of 2015.This was the first time I had ever been to the event and the first time I had ever been to New York City. Needless to say, it was amazing. I got to meet some of my favourite authors (Catherine McKenzie - finally, K.A. Tucker - again, Meg Cabot) and hung out with some of my other faves at an amazing author dinner, after a fantastic event for Laura Dave’s latest novel (I love her and her book Eight Hundred Grapes - review) where I also got to meet Liz and Lisa, authors and defender of chick lit (amazing women).
My recaps (sans haul post because I suck): Planning and Travel, Day One Day, Day One Night, Day Two, Day Three, Touristing and Leaving.


6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
I got really behind with blogging near the end of 2014 when I was working over an hour away from home (one way). The commute (and the job) sucked the life out of me and it was hard to focus on anything fun. I was still playing catch up but I was getting there...and then my laptop broke at the end of 2015. It’s been so frustrating trying to get it fixed. Also, because of falling behind, I feel like I’m also having to totally rebuild relationships with publishers. It was a really tough year.


7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog?   
One of my popular posts this year was about my Five Year Blogaversary. I still can’t believe I’ve been blogging for over five years now!
Another highly viewed post was my review of Clara Hughes’ book Open Heart, Open Mind.


8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?   
Probably my review of Dina Silver’s newest book, Whisper if You Need Me. I loved this book and I wish more people knew about it. It was her first YA novel and it was a damn good one. Definitely one for contemporary fans (especially those who love Sarah Dessen).
9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? I'm sure there was something at BEA or Word on the Street that I hadn't heard of before but I'm drawing a blank. So, instead, I'll go with adult colouring books. I had heard about them way early on (thanks to constant Chapters browsing) and finally got myself one, Johanna Basford's The Enchanted Forest, right before said book sold out pretty much everywhere. Then it seemed like everyone and their sister was colouring! I have...well...a lot of them and I adore them. Yay adult colouring books!


These were just the three I got for Christmas!
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I wanted to read 100 books and I did. I made it to 110, a secondary goal I made once I hit 100. I’ve cut my number down to 75 because I don’t want to stress about hitting the goal (and I can’t not make one...it’s kind of fun to a point. We’ll see if I stick with it in 2017). I’m also hoping I’ll be working full time soon so that will cut into my reading time.


Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?     
It’s not that I didn’t get to it in 2015 or that I’ll make it a priority, but I really should finally read Me Before You before the movie is released and my imagination doesn’t get to have any fun creating characters.
I’ve also been saying for years I want to read Outlander. Maybe 2016 will be the year I finally read it.


2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?   
I am the worst at actually knowing what books are coming out, if you can believe it. Oh, I’ll know when it’s about a month out but that’s usually after it’s gotten a little bit of bookish press (which is before the average person would hear about it). Needless to say, I had to do some research for this (and the following) question.
The Austen Project has finally announced the date for probably the most anticipated Jane Austen update. Curtis Sittenfeld is taking on Pride and Prejudice and, surprisingly, they’ve actually changed the title. Does this mean the book will be more updated than the other ones have been? (Emma - review - and Sense & Sensibility - review - were such a disappointment but I did enjoy Northanger Abbey - review.) The new book, Eligible, will be released April 19.
I’m also so excited that Catherine McKenzie will have another new book this year. Circling October 4 on my calendar!


3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?    
I’ve seen The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney pop up here and there and I am really intrigued. It's set to release in March.


4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
I’ve already mentioned it but I am so excited for The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie. My amazing friend who works at Simon and Schuster Canada snagged me an ARC right before Christmas. I could have kissed her when she delivered it. I probably would have if I hadn’t been working. I did squeal and do a dance. You're welcome, David's Tea customers.   


5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
One thing I’d love to be able to do is go to Canada Reads and watch the debates in person. They’re in Toronto (an hour and a half away, ish) so that’s why I haven’t made it before now. Perhaps this year my schedule will allow for it!
I’ll also throw it out there to the Bookish Gods in the hopes they can help me get to Chicago for BEA this year...   


6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone
I’ve only read two 2016 releases so far and one has already published. Novelista Girl by Meredith Schorr will be pushed on my chick lit girls (review) and He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker will be pushed on everyone else. Love those two women and their novels!