Thursday, July 27, 2017

Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone

Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone
Release Date - July 25, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A "road" trip romance that takes place at sea!

All Cassie wants is to get some solid ground under her feet following the shock of her parents' divorce. So when she learns of her mom's plans to take Cassie and her brother, Drew, on a four-month sailing trip from Oregon to Mexico, she's stunned. There is absolutely nothing solid about the Pacific Ocean.

Cassie is furious. And nervous. It's been hard enough keeping Drew sheltered from what Cassie knows about her mother's role in breaking their family apart, but living in such close quarters threatens to push her anger past its tipping point. Enter Jonah, a whip-smart deckhand who's as gorgeous as he is flirtatious. Cassie tries to keep him at a distance, but the more time they spend together--wandering San Francisco, riding beachside roller coasters, and exploring the California coastline--the harder it is to fight the attraction.

Cassie wants to let herself go, but her parents split has left her feeling adrift in a sea of questions she can't even begin to answer. Can she forgive her mom? Will home ever feel the same? Should she take a chance on Jonah? With life's unpredictable tides working against her, Cassie must decide whether to swim against them... or dive right in.
I have always been fascinated by novels that focus on some kind of travel. I love the idea of learning about yourself while discovering some place new. I had never read a novel that focused on a sailing before so the synopsis for Changes In Latitudes immediately caught my attention. Jen Malone manages to craft a highly entertaining, heartfelt novel that also manages to ignite a little bit of wanderlust all its own.

Sailing has never been something I have thought I would be into. I have never had the desire to take a cruise, or anything of the sort. Changes In Latitudes not only makes this type of trip seem very appealing, but it paints it as an adventure. The novel carefully balances the more fun elements of sailing with the harsh realities (like last of food storage space). I felt it gave a pretty decent overview of what it might be like, while not overwhelming people who have very little knowledge of nautical terms or experience being on the water. I may have personally appreciated the land portions of their trip but this novel definitely managed to make the call of the seas seem a little more alluring.

I often refer to books at palate cleansers and this is one such book. It's got enough substance to be satisfying but is light enough to be read after a more emotionally heavy book. It the kind of book that reminds you of a nice summer day after a string of grey cloudy days. It is exactly the book you need in specific circumstances.

The family dynamic is really the heart of the novel. Cassie is having a hard time dealing with her parent's divorce and the anger she holds towards her mother. I always love when teen books include parents and family as part of the story and I found that in this novel it was THE story. It was more vital than the romance. It was really the driving force of the plot and the emotional parts of the story. The novel allowed a deeper look at this family and their adjustment to the many changes they are going through in a very real, and relatable way. The bond between Cassie, her mother, and her brother was one of my favourite parts of the novel. No matter how much anger there was between them, the fact that there was genuine love there was never in question. The inclusion of Cassie's father, even in a secondary role, also made the story feel more complete. This really feels like a story of a family weathering the aftermath of a divorce in all its messy, broken glory.

The romance was, much like the rest of the book, really fun to experience. It has its fill of swoon worthy moments. The 80s fangirl in me was delighted by the call out to not only the movie The Lost Boys, but the town where it was filmed as part of the romance. The romance is really based on these characters getting to know each other, and letting each other in, which made the progression feel really natural. I also appreciated the more realistic feel to the relationship in terms of not having all of the answers for what happens to them as a couple. It feels like one of the more grounded elements of the novel.

Changes In Latitudes offers a novel in which both the family dynamic, and romance elements are equally strong. Jen Malone has created a fun, lighter read that will be a perfect read for your end of summer reading lists. It manages to be fun, heartfelt, and engaging all at once. It certainly made me want to read whatever comes next from Jen Malone and I eagerly await news of her next release.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ... White Rabbit

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to "talk." Things couldn’t get much worse, right?

But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox—but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.
I really enjoyed reading Caleb Roehrig's first book, and I cannot wait to see what he in store for us with his second. It sounds like there is going to be a fantastic mystery at the heart of this story which makes me all the more eager to read it.

The wait for this one is pretty long, it doesn't come out until April of next year. However, if you have read Caleb's first novel, Last Seen Leaving, I recommend you do so to help ease the wait.

Expected release date - April 24, 2018

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody

Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody
Release Date -  July 25, 2017
Publisher Website - Harlequin Teen
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear. 
I was intrigued by the synopsis of Daughter Of The Burning City immediately. It promised to be filled with a darkly alluring carnival, plenty of magic, and a cast of unforgettable characters. It certainly delivers on this promise, and also has a murder mystery element that only served to increase this novel's already alluring atmosphere.

Amanda Foody's strength as a writer is in creating a setting and atmosphere. These are both found in abundance within the novel. The carnival she has created is vibrant, rich and brought to life with her descriptions. I could almost taste the licorice cherries, and smell the various smells of Gomorrah. It's a world ripe for movie or television adaptation with its descriptions meant to tantalize all the senses.

The characters are also well crafted. Sorina, in particular, is well developed. I do wish that some of the side characters were just as well fleshed out. It was one area where the novel could have improved for me. Outside of Sorina, Luca, and her illusions I didn't feel like the other characters got the same attention. The characters that are given the chance truly do shine. They are the type of characters who mesmerize you because they are entirely unique. The entire premise of the novel is unique, and it's characters only ensure it becomes even more so.

The murder mentioned in the synopsis surprised me in a lot of ways. Mostly in that I cared so much when it happened. The illusions that Sorina calls her family are brought to life via Amanda's character development and you come to care about them. It makes the stakes undeniably higher for the reader. I was worried if there wouldn't be that connection with these illusions, and there absolutely was for me. That connection made me care about the murder mystery and its outcome all the more.

This is a slow, unraveling mystery. I am sure plenty of readers may find the pacing lacking, but I really enjoyed the way the story took its time to reveal itself. The murder mystery is, in my opinion, made all the better by the use of atmosphere and benefits from the pacing because it is a more straight forward mystery. I think if it pacing of the novel was too quick, it wouldn't have held up the way it did. I found the murder mystery to be one of my favourite elements as a result. It is filled with enough intrigue thanks to the magical elements that I was captivated.

I believe this is a stand alone novel, and I very much wish it were not. There are a lot of unexplored plot points left at the end of the novel that would make great jumping off points for further installments. The ending does feel a little rushed and this combined with so much left unexplored has made the latter half of the book less strong in comparison to the first half.

A debut filled with magical world building, and an interesting cast of characters. It's one that offers a glimpse of the talent Amanda Foody currently has, and what it will become. I look forward to whatever she writes next, and to seeing how her skills continue to grow as she comes into her own as a writer. This novel offers, what I feel, is a tantalizing tease of what is to come from this author and is only the beginning. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews)

First up is the stuff I received from a Kickstart I backed awhile ago. It was for a #Stucky themed anthology and it came with a bunch of goodies in addition to the book.

The book itself is stunning. It has silver edges, and a fancy bookmark attached and some spot gloss finish on the cover. The back is my favourite (it's Cap's shield under the ice) and the entire book surpassed my expectations. It's really a beautiful piece of art work. 

The Kickstarter did so well that it ended up reaching a bunch of the stretch goals so we got a whole slew of extras (this on top of the extras that came with my category). It was a box filled with amazing #Stucky stuff!

I especially love the art card shown in this photo. It is my favorite piece of art after the cover and I was thrilled to have it in art card format. I also am obsessed with the cute little pin that came with it and the patch. It's all really impressive. The amount of creativity in the fandom is amazing. I need to get a frame to put that art card in and put it on my shelf.

Lastly, I got to pick up my must get from the San Diego Comic Con Funko Pops. This one was shared with Hot Topic and was quickly added to my Stranger Things collection.

STEVE! He even has the hair. It's too perfect. I also appreciate that they used Steve's most memorable (and heroic) moment to model the Pop from. It doesn't excuse that he's a douche the rest of the time, but it made me want to add him to my collection. #IStillThinkNancyPickedTheWrongGuy

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday

Lots of exciting things revealed this week! I am so excited about all the television announcements being made and all the upcoming reveals still to happen.


American Horror Story Season 7 Theme Revealed

The upcoming American Horror Story season has finally had its theme revealed! Ryan Murphy revealed it on his Instagram and Twitter pages yesterday and I am already loving the potential for this season.
photo copyright belongs to Ryan Murphy

So AHS will finally be delving into cults this year. Evan Peters has been announced as having his largest role to date, so I think we can safely assume he is the cult leader. The premiere date for this season is September 5th. I am already counting down the days.

Mr Mercedes Trailer

I am a huge fan of Harry Treadaway's acting. I loved him in Penny Dreadful and was thrilled when it was announced that he would be in the television adaptation of Stephen King's Mr Mercedes.

A trailer has been revealed, and the show looks like it is going to be intense!

I love that Harry Treadaway is playing the villain. I think he is going to be great in the role. I am loving all the amazing television that is coming our way this autumn!

The Snowman Trailer

This unsettling and creepy trailer has made me want to pick up this book. I am not even sure this premise should work, but the trailer makes it seem like it does.

I am not even sure creepy begins to describe this trailer. I am going to have to get the book before the movie comes out as I tend to prefer to read the book before going to see the movie.

Outlander Season Three Key Art

I enjoy the Outlander TV show, and especially like the cast they have. The show is about to debut its third season in the autumn and I cannot wait.

The key art released is perfect, especially after the events of season two.

It captures the romance and longing that I am sure will be present in the upcoming season.


San Diego Comic Con

This weekend is the huge convention in San Diego where a TON of trailers, news, and other pop culture goodness is revealed. I am going to include the announcements that made me especially excited next week, but for now I am so excited to see what will be revealed, and what we'll be fangirling about for months to come.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally

Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally
Release Date -  July 4, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincost Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

This is a standalone novel. 
Reading a new installment of Miranda Kenneally's 100 Oaks series is like putting on a favourite cozy sweater. There is a comfort to be found within these pages. Getting glimpses of past characters we've come to love is something I look forward to, and only adds to the nostalgia feel that surrounds these books. Coming Up For Air hit all those sweet spots while still entertaining with a new couple to root for and their story to become invested in.

Maggie is a driven young woman with dreams of qualifying for the Olympics. Swimming is one of the most important things for her, and she is prepared to do what it takes to win. Most of the time she's more than happy to miss out on the 'typical' high school experience to get up early for swim practice. Maggie's journey is one of balance. She, through a college visit, realizes she might have missed out on things in high school that she wants to experience before she leaves (like making out with a guy, for example). Her story arc has her caught between different wants and the pull of what is expected of her, and what she expects for herself. I think her story will be wonderful for those teens who are just as driven as Maggie is, and wondering how they can fit in dating, and other teenage experiences. I admired Maggie's sense of self, and what she wanted. She may get a little lost along the way, but she never looses sight of what she is willing (or not willing) to sacrifice.

Each of these companion novels make some of kind of statement on sex. I was immediately struck with how sex positive this one was. Particularly for the readers who happen to be teen girls. Maggie's desire to hook up and explore that side of herself is presented as being entirely valid, but this novel also explores other choices teens can make and they are made to shown as just as valid. We see people with different view points to relationships, sex, and making out within this novel. It was also refreshing to see a novel address the fact that when you're a teen you feel like everyone is doing the things you're not. That you're the only one who hasn't kissed someone, or had sex, or a million other things. It showcases that everyone experiences things at their own pace, and that you don't have to do something just because you think it is expected of you. It should be because you want to and are ready. It's a message that I don't recall seeing in another novel, and I was glad that it was approached in such a sex positive way.

Romance is something Miranda Kenneally fans have come to expect from her novels, and this one delivers in a big way. If you're a sucker for the 'friends to lovers' trope I predict that Maggie and Levi will be one of your favourite Hundred Oaks couples. The bond of friendship that these two share really is the highlight of the novel, and the move to something more felt entirely natural. It also seems effortless, and I think it takes a lot of skill to make the chemistry that apparent and easy.

While this wasn't my favourite of the Hundred Oaks series it still is a solid contemporary read. I appreciate how this series tackles important issues in each of the books without feeling preachy, or making anyone feel judged. This is easily a series that I could see continue for as long as Miranda wishes to write them. Her fans will love checking in with their favourite characters and falling in love with some new ones.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ... The Wicked Deep

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself. 
I was sold on this as soon as it was compared to Practical Magic! I love witch stories, and I cannot wait to read this one. It sounds incredible!

The wait for this one is pretty long as it doesn't come out until March of next year but something tells me it'll be worth the wait.

Expected release date - March 6, 2018

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