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Saturday, January 28, 2012

In My Mailbox

In an attempt to keep my blog as professional as I could, I stopped doing "memes" for a while.  However, every Sunday when I wake up, my immediate action is to check all my favourite blogs to see what fabulous books my blogger friends bought or received over the week and what reviews I can look forward to reading in the upcoming days.  I also get overly excited about my books and wish I could share them too -- so I will!

 
  This week I began my new internship with Hachette Book Group Canada.  As I was shown around the office by my new coworkers, I spotted a box of the new paperback editions of Tina Fey's praised memoir Bossypants.  I was given a copy to read and enjoy over the weekend and for anyone who loves 30 Rock or the multitude of movies Fey has written, produced or starred in, you will not be disappointed.  I am about halfway through now and have probably read 80% out loud to my boyfriend, laughing to the point that he didn't understand what I was saying anyway!  Expect a blurb/review sometime this week!

Also, I had a nice surprise last week when I came home on Sunday night.  My boyfriend's brother, who also lives with us, is a flight attendant for Air Canada.  In the past year, he has flown all over the world and our apartment is full of his unique findings from various countries.  He recently spent a few days in London, England and asked if there was anything he could bring back for us.  I immediately asked if he could try and find the UK edition of A Discovery of Witches.  My dear friend Yaz is living in Ireland and is currently reading this edition.  When she showed me on a Skype date, I fell a little bit in love.

When I got home from visiting my parents on Sunday, on our bed was an adorable tote bag from London.  In it was my book and a few ties for my boyfriend.  I am so excited and can't wait to dive into the book and to carry around my tote bag.  For some reason, I was equally excited about the tote... but the book has that amazing feel -- when it's almost like it belongs in your hands.  Love!


Next to all of this, I got a special package from my friend Ikhlas.  During the summer, Ikhlas and I were constantly talking bookmarks between our classes at Humber.  One day, she made me a lovely dark bookmark to go into all the dark fiction I loved.  A few weeks ago, I misplaced it and begged her to send me a replacement.  Although I did eventually find the previously mentioned bookmark,  I also received a card with three new bookmarks from her!  Thank you Ikhlas -- they are all so lovely!


Have you read either of these books?  Hope you all had a wonderful book week! 

(In My Mailbox is a weekly feature hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: A Temptation of Angels

Let's start with a little personal anecdote here: I hate doing this.  This being a not-so-stunning review.  Especially when the author is super nice via Twitter.  Especially when the book is an ARC.  Especially when it had more than enough potential to have me dancing around the room when it arrived.  This is someones baby.  Michelle Zink's to be exact.  And although what follows is not exactly a recommendation, I would not try to deter anyone from trying the book out for themselves.  However, to build rapport, a blogger is required to provide an honest opinion.  So here we go.

As previously stated, I did a happy dance around my living room (probably for longer than socially acceptable) when this arrived in the mail.  I started reading a mere 45 minutes later, when the dancing finally ceased (I'm totally joking).  But really, I was excited!  Last night, when I closed the book, I felt pending doom for this review.

Basic plot summary:  Helen Cartwright's parents are killed when her childhood home is set ablaze by curious strangers.  Helen's mother saves her life by shoving her into a hidden underground pathway leading away from the house. Within pages, Helen discovers that since early childhood, she has been prepared for a destiny she was unaware existed.  Now orphaned and clearly being hunted, Helen follows her mothers directions to the home of two brothers.  The three mark the sole survivors of a special breed of "Lesser Angels" and must work together to discover who is hunting them -- and why?

Though I think Michelle Zink has one of the most interesting plot lines I have read in ages, and characters who become very alive by the end, I could not overlook three certain obstacles that stood in the way of me really liking the book.

1.  I could not get passed the narration.  I truly think I would have been able to brush off the two following points if the narration of the book would have been in first person rather than third.  One of the most commonly used sentences (which made me cringe after the fifth time reading it) was "Then, Helen understood."  I'm happy Helen understands things but being told her exact thought process going from clueless to blindingly obvious could have been eliminated if we would have been in her head instead.  I felt like I was always three steps ahead of Helen and would have rather experienced things WITH her than waiting a few pages for her to "get" something I have known for an entire chapter.  Not to mention that for the first few chapters of the book, I assumed Helen was a little girl.  When I discovered she was indeed already sixteen, I knew I needed her to narrate.  I doubt this mistake would have happened if I would have been in her head with her.

2.  I enjoy complex plot lines -- when they are well executed.  As the story progressed, Zink throws in little details about the world Helen, Darius and Griffin live in.  As if to say, "oh, by the way, he was a demon.  Demon's exist.. they come from here and do this" then, "oh ya!  She was part of the lesser angels, which are ...".  I wanted to be told this stuff before, so I could understand when it all happens -- NOT as it happens.  I felt like the story almost Wikipedia'd everything for me as soon as I didn't understand.  Just as "who are The Alliance?" crossed my mind, the story would jump into a complex description about who they were.  I wanted to know this world before it was thrown at me piece by piece.

3.  Archetypes.  High school English classes have made me a bit of a prude when it comes to archetypal characters.  Having pursued an education in writing, I know how difficult it can be to step away from commonly developed characters and create something completely unique -- but an attempt is wholly necessary.  Though Griffin and Darius both had some fantastic qualities, they were characters that only seemed to exist on the surface.  Their parents were murdered and yet we hear nothing about what life was like when they were alive.  Darius is a hard-ass and we never know WHY.  Griffin has a strong jealous tendency towards someone he has just met.  All of these things could be brought deeper -- to make them more sympathetic and real.  I just couldn't get passed the idea that the only qualities that were talked about were ones that helped the plot line, and failed to make the characters feel alive for me.

I hate to say that I did not really enjoy this book, but here are a few things I do know:
  • Michelle Zink has an amazing imagination and if the narration of this book were different, I would have definitely overlooked other small nit-picky things.  She is immensely creative and this, I truly enjoyed.  She is also extremely talented with setting.  I loved the underground passages, old homes and even the image Zink created of Helen's home in ashes.
  • There is a lot hanging in the air for the next book.  This one concludes well -- with an ending that is both satisfying enough to not have you BEGGING for more, but with enough hints towards future events that you will anyways. 
  • Helen is definitely going to grow up a bit in the second book.  My assumption that she was a child came from attitude and action at the beginning of the book.  This all changed by the end.  
So that's it.  Hopefully this review, though negative, provided a good explanation of what I thought worked and didn't work.  I hope others still pick it up, even just so I can see the different views people have on it.  Michelle's previous series is well-known and I don't doubt that A Temptation of Angels will be well-read!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wonderful Week in Books

I know that most bloggers wait until Sunday to post news about books they bought or received, but this has been such a great book week for me, that I can't wait!  When I say book week, I don't just mean physical books -- even my career has taken a lovely turn this week!  
On Tuesday morning, I received word that I had been offered the Marketing and Publicity internship with Hachette Book Group Canada!  HBG is a multi-national company with a sales, marketing and publicity team here in Canada.  For those of you not familiar with them, here is one word that will educate you -- Twilight!  HBG is the publisher of Stephanie Meyer and her empire.  Their list of authors and wonderful books does not stop there.  Since we all know I adore teen, I thought it important to point out that HBG published The Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the newly released The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.  I will begin on Monday and am beyond excited to get started!  Getting an internship in general is great, but getting an internship at yet another publishing house that you adore is beyond wonderful!  Stay tuned for updates!

So now that you know about my new job, you can probably put two and two together and figure out that since finishing my internship with Simon & Schuster Canada, I have been on the hunt for employment.  Although I am fully aware of the state of the economy, I was still extremely picky with my applications.  Working at a place I love is unbelieveably important to me.  This lead to my last few weeks being spent at my computer, learning more and more about the job market.  In between my bouts of researching, I read. 

I have never had a more exciting mail week -- receiving orders I had placed weeks ago as well as a few small surprises.  Thank you to those who sent them, I am oh so grateful!  Now, without further ado!

 

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Hunger Games (which is actually Jay's) are from a few weeks ago when Chapters had their 30% off hardcover sale.  Jay finished The Hunger Games a few days ago and has been waiting eagerly for Catching Fire to arrive in the mail.  The only problem with ordering cheap books off eBay is the wait period.  Hopefully tomorrow?
Bloodrose and The Space Between arrived yesterday and I was ridiculously excited.  The Space Between has had my name written on it since it released.  This whole new teen horror thing going on?  I am LOVING it.  A few great new horrors are coming out soon, including an adult fiction title from S&S called White Horse in April.  I am counting down the days.  

Bloodrose is the third in the Nightshade series and I have been dying to dive into them!  I will be starting very shortly!

A Temptation of Angels was a complete surprise and I literally danced around my living room for a good half hour.  I am already a third of the way through and am really enjoying the setting of the book!  I'm sure I will have a review up next week.  

And that is it!  I will be absent for the weekend as I am going back home to visit my family for my Dad's birthday.  Have a wonderful weekend and I can't wait to see what you all got this week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Girl of Nightmares

When I began Chels and a Book, I wanted it to be more professional than my previous blogs and that meant not doing Waiting on Wednesday or In My Mailbox posts anymore.  I would focus mainly on book reviews and personal life ramblings.  But now, I find that the best way to get a readership is to participate in weekly features .. annnnnd I'm kind of obsessing over a few books right now.  So this week, I am going to do one anyway!

As you may know, during the holidays I read -- no, DEVOURED -- Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood.  I read well into the morning, scurrying around my apartment and hiding under the covers when my radiator clicked during a particularly terrifying scene.  Blake gave me that chilling read I had been aching for and the eerieness that promises I will not let the book out of my hands until it is done.

Girl of Nightmares follows a broken-hearted Cas as he contemplates what will become of Anna now that she has descended into hell.  If that one sentence doesn't immediately capture your interest, I do not know what will!  For me, Blake has broke the mold of YA ghost novels and ventured into new areas of horror.  I simply cannot wait to get my hands on this book!

(Waiting on Wednesday is a feature created and hosted weekly by fellow blogger Jill.  Visit her and see more links for this feature on her blog Breaking the Spine.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss

By now, it is far too late to write a review with any praise that hasn't already been expressed via Goodreads or other blogs.

But I am going to do it anyway.

What an sweet, heart-warming and realistic read!  This book was full out adorable in every way with perhaps the most likable hero and heroine I have read in ages.

Anna Oliphant (otherwise known as Banana Elephant) is sent to an American boarding school in Paris for what she thinks is pure prestige appearance for her father.  Though she can't deny the beauty of the city, she feels alone and isolated -- unable to speak the language, "deserted" by her parents, taken away just as a possible romance would have blossomed and of course, knowing no one.  Her tears attract her neighbour through the wall and with one small passage between Meredith and Anna, I began to love this book.

"I cried the first night, too." She tilts her head, thinks for a moment, and then nods. "Come on.  Chocolat chaud."
"A chocolate show?" Why would I want to see a chocolate show?  My mother has abandoned me and I'm terrified to leave  my room and ---
"No." She smiles. "Chaud. Hot. Hot chocolate, I can make some in my room."
Oh.

Anna finds friendship with Mer and her group of friends.  This group happens to include the short but absolutely gorgeous √Čtienne St. Clair.  And from there, perfection ensues.

From Anna's nerves, to her developing feelings for St. Clair, to all of the turmoil that occurs in between, I adored her, St. Clair and the gang.  The characters were beyond realistic in both thought processes and attitude.  Perkins did a fantastic job at showing that not all friendships are sunshine and rainbows and slowly developing a friendship is not always a seamless transition. Family also plays a huge roll in the plot, dealing mostly with the intricacies of parent/child relationships.  Each situation was handled with such tenderness and gave the characters even more depth.

And oh, the writing!  Perkins is hilarious and I laughed so many times during this book.  I kept a pencil beside me the whole time, starring my favourite passages, planning to write them in my review.  But, I have changed my mind.  You're just going to have to read it and be struck by the sheer wonder that is Anna and St. Clair on your own!

I haven't smiled this much during a book, possibly ever.  It was an extreme pleasure to read!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Weekend

Today is more of a reading day than a writing day -- so enjoy your weekend and happy reading =).


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ruben Toledo

As previously stated, one of my big goals of this year was to start reading some of the beloved classic novels.

Fact:  Though I don't read classics often, I collect the Penguin Deluxe Editions with covers illustrated by one of my favourite artists: Ruben Toledo.  Toledo illustrates, sculpts, paints and along with his fashion designer goddess wife Isabel, the two are perhaps one of the most artistic couples in the world.

I fell in love with Toledo's work one day at Chapters when I saw a copy of Wuthering Heights which he had illustrated.  After some research, I learned that Toledo had illustrated three books for the Deluxe Editions: Wuthering Heights, Pride & Prejudice and The Scarlet Letter.  Within a few weeks, I had bought them all.  Each edition contains a large drawing that spans the front, back and french flaps of each book.  His art is magical, incredibly eerie and undeniably creative.  Since then, three more classics have been released with his talented hand glowing on the covers: Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Jane Eyre.

Not only do I take great pride in my collection of Toledo's work, but I feel a great sense of pride as I sit on my couch with the rain pelting down outside and clutch the most beautiful version of Jane Eyre I have ever seen.  Jane Eyre's design is my favourite, featuring a cloaked woman holding a lantern and heading up a winding path towards a Gothic castle.  On the first french flap, the castle is ablaze with fire in the windows and cobwebs surrounding the stone window through which the castle is visible.  On the back flap, the flames have been extinguished and a spider stands watch over the quiet castle.  The back of the book shows an eerie-looking Jane gazing pensively out a window and writing with a quill.  Basically, I could stare at this book for hours.  Toledo captures the Gothic essence of this novel with astounding precision.  See for yourself!

Also, since I am a serious romantic, I love the story of Toledo and his wife.  Talented and beyond crazy about each other.  Ruben and Isabel are a fairytale come true.  Read the article from Harper's Bazaar here.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Maple Kind, Yeah?

So yesterday, it was announced that McClelland and Stewart is been bought out by Random House.  During the Humber program, my classmates and I learned all of the wonderful things M&S did for the Canadian publishing scene and this news feels a little like the end of an era for us.  To combat this sad news and to lighten the tone from the darker books I've been talking about lately, I thought I'd share the one video I can't seem to get enough of.  This dog makes my heart grow.  Enjoy =).


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review: The Taker


I have absolutely no idea where to start with this book.  I have never been confronted with anything like it before.  It was bone-chilling and enthralling -- absolutely captivating.  I had to take breaks every so often after particularly gruesome scenes, but upon picking it up, I was sucked right back in.

Fate must have intervened to make sure I read this book.  I had walked passed it many times in the office, even sent a copy to my friend.  The premise sounded almost too good to be true -- the perfect Gothic read.  Then, on our business trip to New York, one of the ladies at our head office asked me what my favourite books were.  I said anything Gothic, dark, magical and romantic.  She picked The Taker up and handed it to me.  When I arrived back home, my friend from S&S, Vanessa, was elated. She had been talking about it for ages and even did her Simon Recommends video on it (watch it here).  So, when my internship finished and the holidays began, I had the time.  Plucking the book from my shelf, I had no idea what was in store for me.  And now that it's over, all I can say is that no matter what I write here, you will not understand until you read it.

The novel begins with Luke, a doctor in the lazy town of St. Andrew, Maine, who arrives for his night shift only to have his life completely altered.  The police bring in a girl, handcuffed and covered in blood who confessed to killing a man in the middle of the woods.  When left alone to make sure that she, Lanore, was not wounded herself, Luke discovers that Lanny is (dare I use the cliche) different.  After seeing doubt in Luke's eyes when she begs him to escape, Lanny steals a scalpel and slices open her chest.  As the pieces of her flesh slowly crawl back together, Luke is filled with absolute terror -- and Lanny begins her story.

The book is divided between the present day consisting of Luke and Lanny's interactions and the 1800's, when Lanny was born.  We learn of her childhood, and the early development of her feelings for the son of the town's founder, Jonathan St. Andrew.  Jonathan is an image of crippling beauty, undeniable to anyone who meets him.  But Lanny's friendship with him does not mask her growing infatuation and her drive to make him solely hers turns into a dangerous obsession.

The novel spans years, a multitude of settings and beyond everything else, a phenomenal cast of characters.  Lanny, Jonathan and the villain, Adair, were so complex and well-written that they came alive on the page for me.  For those of you who need a sympathetic narrator, Lanny is not for you.  Though at times, my heart broke for her, I also equally burned with anger.  Jonathan was the perfect object for Lanny's affections; knowing his effect on women, mainly Lanny, but though deeply saddened by the hearts he breaks, unable to let them go.  And Adair....

Adair was by far the most well constructed villain I have read, possibly ever.  He was malicious, evil masked in the body of a handsome young man, but with such detail that you actually feared him as a reader.  Like many villains, he did not take a backseat to the other characters.  He exists at the forefront of the novel, living and breathing by Lanny's side for great lengths of time.

Above everything, this book was about obsession in it's rawest form.  For anyone who has ever felt that tinge of infatuation -- imagine this blown up by an atomic bomb and you will half understand how Lanny feels about Jonathan.  Each character has an obsession -- something driving everything they do.  If I had to describe a setting for the book, imagine being alone in the middle of winter at midnight in a forest, being chased by someone out for your blood.  This is how I felt with this book propped on my lap each night.  It was astonishing.

Now, be warned that this book is not a light read in any way.  It has some of the most gruesome scenes I have ever read including rape of both men and women, torture and a multitude of sexual escapades.  Some readers have commented that sex is almost another character in this book and though I understand that concept, I also think that Katsu used it in all the right places and no sexual encounter failed to further the plot line.

Even reading over this review, I can honestly tell you that you won't understand the prowess of this novel until you read it.  You will be (oh yep, I am going to say it) completely taken with Alma Katsu's debut novel.  Oh and P.S. The writing is stunning!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review: The Poison Eaters

This collection of short stories is a testimonial to the prowess of Holly Black's writing.  I have been wanting to read her work for a long time, but took my time getting to it.  When I saw The Poison Eaters, I was intrigued by the thought that I could devour a short story on the subway to and from work.  Since there is no way I could give a short review on all twelve stories, I just wanted to make a few comments on the stories I enjoyed the most.

I  read "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" on the subway home from work the day I picked up this book and almost missed my stop.  It was chilling and a perfect way to open readers to Black's work.  Though she can write witty dialogue, her talent lies in the darkness of her writing.  The story takes place in a time where, to some, being a vampire is as sexy and seductive as being a celebrity.  When a friend's sister runs away to join them, narrator (and recently bitten) Matilda goes to great lengths to show her the true cruelty and darkness that lies within the gates of Coldtown, where the vampires live.  Eerie, scary and addictive, Black definitely did a good job putting this story first!

I found "The Dog King" to be one of the most exciting stories -- letting you piece together bits of the puzzle.  In this specific kingdom, wolves are hunted as they are the cause of brutal human murders in the town.  The king keeps a wolf as his pet, but this wolf spends its time watching the hands of aristocrats under long royal tables and begins to understand everyone secrets.  His own secrets are slowly revealed throughout the story.  Enthralling!

Lastly, I loved "Paper Cuts Scissors", a story about a world where certain people can move characters in and out of books.  I was delighted to see Anne of Green Gables come to life (my all time favourite character!).  Justin, who is studying library sciences, is on the hunt to find one man he knows can help him release his girlfriend after she inserts herself into a large Russian novel during an argument.  Just the concept that characters could come to life was fascinating!

All of this to say that Holly Black has my attention, and I will be turning to her White Cat series VERY soon!  (P.S. LOVE the creepiness of this cover -- a depiction of the three sisters in the title story, "The Poison Eaters".)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review: The Alchemy of Forever

I just can't get enough of this paranormal stuff lately!  And Avery Williams sure has it all down pat.  The Alchemy of Forever is the story of Seraphina, who was killed at the age of fourteen in the 1300's and given a second chance at life by the alchemist's handsome son when he transfers her soul into the body of her killer.  Centuries and many bodies later, Sera is still bound to Cyrus -- still as lovely as he once was, but now a vicious murderer and a constant reminder that Sera is very much like him.  Determined not to kill any more people, Sera decides to kill herself instead -- but fails. 

Her new body, that of a sixteen-year-old mysterious and popular girl named Kailey, comes with more than just a physical appearance; it comes with an entire life.  Waking up in the hospital, Sera is surrounded by Kailey's family.  Where she once would steal a body and escape, leaving the person's friends and family to presume their death, Sera is now stuck in the body of a girl she must pretend to be.  Only, this is easier than it should be, and Sera soon finds herself with a family who loves her, and a boy whose looks make her believe that she might not just have a chance at life, but at love.

Being a slow reader, I am always so proud of myself when I plow through a book quickly.  This one took two days (although only 246 pages) and although I'm excited to be well on my way with my 2012 goals, I feel like I didn't take the time to get to know the characters.  I felt like Sera fell into Kailey's life just a little too quickly, and of all the weird things that could have happened didn't end up being as big of a deal. 

However, Williams' prose was lovely and I loved her descriptions of the San Fransisco landscape verses that of Oakland.  The dark nights and the moon were like separate characters.  It was beautiful!  And Noah -- swoon.  This is one of the first books I have read about a guy walking his dog.  For some reason, I found that so endearing.

There were many questions left unanswered and Williams leaves you on a cliffhanger waiting to find out what happens to Sera, to Noah and to Cyrus.  Though I felt that everything went too fast (even contrasting to the hundreds of years that Sera has lived) and wanted to spend a little more time getting to know the characters.  Especially Sera.  All in all, this was a quick but lovely read!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Treasures

As a child, I always loved books, but as a teen, they became a lifestyle.  My childhood best friend Amanda and I used to go to Chapters once a week, buy ourselves a book, read it, come back and discuss them over Starbucks, then pick up a new one.  I can't even count how many of these trips we took.  Even after university pushed us into different provinces, we would meet up to browse bookstore shelves and email our thoughts to each other after.  One particular night in high school, we bought little notebooks together.  Mine is a beat up palm-sized book with a rose and a fake bird on it, dated November 4, 2006.

In it, I proceeded to do what Goodreads now does for me.  I would write my to-read list, the date I started a book, the date I finished it, what I thought and my favourite quotes from it.

Last night, I found this book.  I was reminded of a bunch of books I adored as a teen -- mainly Douglas Coupland books.  I wanted to share a few quotes I wrote in the book -- ones that made me beam when I re-ead them.  Ah, so good!

We had quietly settled into a premature autumn of life - no gentle mellowing or Indian summer of immense beaut, just a sudden frost, a harsh winter with snows that accumulate, never to melt.  In my head I wanted to thaw the snow.  I wanted to reorder this world.  I did not want to be old before my time.
- Girlfriend in a Coma (Douglas Coupland)

Youth is the time of life lived for an imaginary audience.
- Girlfriend in a Coma (Douglas Coupland)

Forget sex, or politics, or religion.  Or even failure.  Loneliness is what clears out a room.
- Miss Wyoming (Douglas Coupland)

Our life is made up of time.  Our days are measured in hours, our pay measured by those hours, our knowledge is measured by years.  We grab a quick few minutes in our busy day to have a coffee break.  We rush back to our desks, we watch the clock, we live by appointments.  And yet time eventually runs out and you wonder in your heart of hearts if those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades were spent the best way they could have possibly been.
- Where Rainbows End (Cecelia Ahern)

The heart is resilient, I mean literally.  When a body is burned, the heart is the last organ to oxidize.  While the rest of the body can catch flame like a polyester sheet on a campfire, it takes hours to burn the heart to ash.  My dear sister, a near-perfect organ!  Solid, inflammable.
- Skinny (Ibi Kaslik)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Review: Born Wicked

In one line: As a teen, this would have been the kind of book I devoured and fell madly in love with; as an adult, I appreciated it, but perhaps came to it with more mature expectations. 

I adore YA.  Clearly!  I find that the imaginative writing of YA authors is something rarely captured in regular adult fiction.  I read adult fiction for the story, the characters and the beautiful writing.  Not that I don't find this stuff in YA, but I usually go to YA to be sucked into a different world entirely.  Even if it is contemporary, it brings me back to when I was a curious and nervous thirteen-year-old myself.

Born Wicked tells the story of three sisters, who live in the shadow of their deceased mother with a father who can hardly look at them anymore.  They are all witches, with Cate being capable of magic powerful enough to change the future all witches.  Since their mother passed away, Cate has been the mother figure to her sisters Maura and Tess.  Told to watch over them and protect them, Cate becomes overbearing to her sisters -- constantly scolding them for using magic in plain sight.  Their town is "protected" by the Brotherhood -- a group of devoted religious men who will go to extreme lengths to rid the town of anyone suspected of witchery.  The Sisterhood is their female counterpart, but their growing interest in Cate and her sisters may prove to be more than religious devotion.

In Born Wicked, the narrator, Cate, is very much the worrywart I was at that age and still am today.  I related to her for the first while of the book -- but then her worries about protecting her sisters became slightly daunting.  I kept waiting for action to take place, but just more worries came.  Then, at the end, when the end of the prophecy was revealed, I dove further into the story.  I couldn't help wanting to yell at Cate and tell her that her life means something too and that she didn't have to give everything up everything for her sisters.  Her romance with the gardener, Finn Belastra was my favourite part of the book.  He is the perfect love interest; not your typical gorgeous, suave man, but a scrawny, freckled but devoted man.  Like many other readers of Born Wicked, I have to agree that Finn was by far one of the best love interests in ages. 

I loved the presence of Finn's mother's bookshop.  As a booklover, I even love to read about books IN books!  Picturing Finn sneaking a few pages of his pirate adventure reads in between weeding gardens made me melt.  His mother was also a wonderful character -- quiet but loving and wise.  I couldn't wait for Cate to take a step toward being part of that family.

Though I enjoyed many parts of this book, I did find myself being reminded that I am not a teen anymore and my twenty-two year old self detached from the story a few times.  I will definitely still be picking up the rest of the series to find out what happens to Cate and her magical sisters.  Oh, and Finn!