Friday, June 30, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Release Date -  May 2, 2017
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  336 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

**spoilers for other novels in this series**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to? 
Endings of series are difficult. Endings of series that were never planned as series are even more so. I wasn't sure what to expect from the final installment of Jenny Han's To All The Boys I Loved Before series. What I ended up getting is a poignant, heartfelt look at navigating high school, first love, and the bittersweetness of growing up. It's also the perfect end note to a brilliant series.

The bond that exists between the Song sisters is the most important element of this series. We see how their connection changes as they each grow, but their love for one another remains steadfast. Their relationship is painted as one that even when they hurt each other, the love is there. It reminds me of my own relationship with my sisters, and I feel this relationship is what makes these books so charming.

My favourite part of this novel is how grounded in reality Jenny Han makes it. She doesn't shy way from the unpleasant emotions that plague her characters. Jealousy is a huge part of the last two novels in some form. It also looks at feeling left behind as things change around you. We see Margo adapt to not being with her family on a regular basis as momentous changes occur. This story arc was building in the last novel, and I loved seeing it continue in this one. Through Lara Jean the novel examines having the stress and pressure of your plans for the future veering off course, and the joy at finding a new path that may just be what you needed all along. Jenny Han's characters are filled with a complexity that breathes life into them. She ensures that even as they sometimes make mistakes, the love they share shines through.

Lara Jean's character growth is most evident at the end of the novel. She's not the girl we met in To All The Boys I've Loved Before. She'd matured in a way that feels authentic to both her character, and the process of growing up. This novel specifically looks at the emotions surrounding the high school chapter of your life ending. The bittersweetness that exits in both the sadness of saying goodbye and the excitement of a new beginning. It captures the realization that things are going to drastically change and will not be the same. It honors the reality that relationships will change along with these other changes that are happening. Those bonds will inevitably morph into something else. This includes family bonds that will change as you no longer see each other every day, or live under the same roof. This novel captures all the highs and lows of this time and it does it perfectly.

The romance, like everything else in this novel, is crafted so realistically. There isn't a magic fix to the problems Lara Jean and Peter face in this novel. It's not something that can be brushed aside. They are facing growing up and that may mean growing apart. I don't want to give too much away about this story arc as it is the crux of the novel, but I loved the message Jenny Han delivered with this final installment of Lara Jean and Peter's story. Fight for what you love, but don't compromise your future and happiness for it either. It's a balance that fit the bittersweet tone of the story perfectly.

Kitty, once again, steals the spotlight. Her spunk and charm was entirely winsome and I would welcome a trilogy based around her high school experience. She is destined to be a main character and I hope that, eventually, she'll get her time in the spotlight. Especially if it means looking in on characters we've come to be so fond of.

Lara Jean's story concludes with her venturing into college. These are her first steps towards adulthood, and  her future. Jenny Han has created a trilogy that is, at its heart, a story of a girl navigating her way to the beginning of adulthood. It is also the story of first love, family, and coming into your own. If you're a contemporary young adult fan this is one series you cannot miss. It's something truly special. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger
Release Date -  June 6, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincoast
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  368 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.
Follow Me Back is the type of novel that would be at home as a television show on the CW network. A mix of mystery, twists, and romance, it will immediately appeal to those looking for their next obsession after finishing Pretty Little Liars. This novel looks at the dark and obsessive side of fandom and crafts an entertaining tale filled with surprises.

So much of this novel is hard to talk about because of spoilers. It, in my opinion, is better not knowing too much before reading this one and just enjoying how the story unfolds. The use of social media and police transcripts to fill in the story is well done and adds a very modern feel to the story. This narration style also ensures a quick, easy to read novel that can be devoured during a day at the beach. It's engrossing enough to keep your interest, and just offers a book that is fun to read.

Tessa has experienced something traumatic and as a result has retreated inside the safe little world of her bedroom. Barely venturing outside her room, she spends her days online and in therapy. I cannot speak to the representation of agoraphobia, but I felt Tessa's panic. A.V. Geiger manages to make you feel what Tessa is feeling. The fear, frustration, and desire to do better are all there. She blames herself for not doing better, and for the events that lead up to the way her life is now. She's a character that is easy to sympathize with, simply because you can imagine what it feels like for her.

I found the parts from Eric's point of view to be the most interesting. A huge pop star who is becoming increasingly uneasy and (at times) paranoid after the death of a fellow pop star. Everything about this was captivating. He is apprehensive about any fan interaction, and frustrated with how his team is brushing off his concerns. Combine this with him being disenchanted with his public image and the path his career has taken and he is a fascinating character study. I would easily read an entire novel based on Eric's storyline. I mean, a pop star growing increasing paranoid after the death of a fellow pop star at the hands of a fan? It has the makings of a fantastic mystery. This novel, however, veers off onto a different direction that makes this only part of the focus. I anticipate it will continue to be important in subsequent sequels as this novel doesn't provide all the answers.

The slow build romance worked for me in this case. I may not have completely bought their connection, but it certainly felt more believable that they would have feelings develop as they got to know each other, instead of the celebrity falling for his fan at first sight that Hollywood based romance arcs in novels tend to do. It allowed me to suspend a little bit more disbelief and kept me in the story.

The pacing, for me, as a bit of an issue. The beginning of this novel is so strong. I was immediately hooked and intrigued by the mystery. The middle, sadly, lags a little. It loses its pacing and it felt noticeable to me. It just doesn't feel as tight has the first part of the novel. It does regain its footing with its ending that sent my thoughts racing. It's the type of ending that makes you wish you had the sequel immediately. It packs the most punch and is something that, for me, saved the novel.

If you're looking for a fun thriller with Hollywood flair, I recommend you give this book a read. It's filled with plenty of twists and reveals and sets up the second novel in this series perfectly. It may have a bit of an issue with pacing, but this is an otherwise a solid read for those looking for something other than romances to put in their beach tote this summer.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday .... Winner Take All

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 Winner Take All by Laurie Devore

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
For Nell Becker, life is a competition she needs to win.
For Jackson Hart, everyone is a pawn in his own game.
They both have everything to lose.

Nell wants to succeed at everything—school, sports, life. And victory is sweeter when it means beating Jackson Hart, the rich, privileged, undisputed king of Cedar Woods Prep Academy. Yet no matter how hard she tries, Jackson is somehow one step ahead. They’re a match made in hell, but opposites do attract.

Drawn to each other by their rivalry, Nell and Jackson fall into a whirlwind romance that consumes everything in their lives. But when a devastating secret exposes their relationship as just another game, how far will Nell go to win?

Visceral and whip-smart, Laurie Devore’s Winner Take All paints an unflinching portrait of obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection.
I loved Laurie Devore's debut novel. It was filled with messy, complex female characters and toxic friendships.

I was immediately on board with her second novel when it was evident she was taking those complex themes and applying them to relationships. It has a Chuck and Blair from Gossip Girl vibe, and I am curious to see how Laurie will handle a toxic romance.This synopsis has only made me even more excited to get my hands on this one!

It is going to be a long wait as this doesn't release until early 2018 but it gives people the chance to read How To Break A Boy in the meantime.

Expected release date - January 30, 2018

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Release Date - June 27, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 528 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.
I love books that are based around some kind of journey or trip. Especially ones set in Europe. I also love romances, and stories filled with adventure. Luckily, The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue has all of this and more. It's the kind of novel you'll want to immediately push onto others, and the type that makes you want to read it again once you've turned that last page.

This story is less fluffy than I anticipated. I didn't expect it to have the levity and weight that the story has. It's much more thoughtful and thought provoking than it might appear at first glance. It is still a whole lot of fun with some epic adventures within these pages, but it also tackles deeper issues with equal skill. It is the type of book you'll to discuss with others, because of the topics handled within these pages, as well as the feel good feeling it leaves you with.

Monty is a charming rogue who you will spend equal time wanting to smack and kiss. He both infuriates and invokes sympathy in equal measure. I appreciated how complex Mackenzi Lee made this character. He could have easily been a caricature, but instead we have a great example of character growth without losing what makes the character special. Monty never looses his spark, even as he comes to terms with his faults.

Percy is a character that I wish I had gotten to know a little more. We learn quite a bit about him, but I find his part of the story arc to be something I really wanted more of. Race, racism, and class structure are all examined through this character and the ways in which others view and treat him. His character is so incredibly sweet that you instantly feel protective of him because he really is just a decent young man.

Felicity ends up stealing every scene she is in. She's determined, focused, and caring. She is just so vivid, and her voice really jumps off the page. She is a character who follows the path they choose, even when it seems impossible to do so. I predict many readers will love her just as much as I do.

The romance is everything I hoped it would be. It is grin inducting, and swoon worthy. It has a delightful tension to it. There is the push and pull that exists in large part due to the 'will they/won't they' nature of the romance. It ultimately leaves you rooting for them both as a couple, and own their own. It really is the heart of the novel, and I anticipate plenty of people will feel the same way I do. They're really easy to ship together, and the relationship is one of the sweetest payoffs of the story.

There are so many action adventure type scenes within the novel. I was surprised at the amount of these scenes within this novel.  It could easily be a movie with it's blend of action, humour, romance and strong characters. The action scenes add an element of danger, and risk to the story that is definitely welcome. It really makes this a grand adventure in all meaning of the word, and it is (perhaps) the most eventful Grand Tour that has even been written.

My slight issue with the novel was that I would have preferred this to be a series. There is so much more I want from this novel that I wish we had more time with this story. I wanted some characters to be explored more, I wanted some plot points to have more details. It really is a testament to how wonderfully this novel is written that it left me wanting more.

This is the book that I never knew I wanted. It's filled with fantastic characters, big adventures, and wonderful character development. It's left me eager to return to this world and I can only hope that Mackenzi Lee will return to this world, and these characters again and again. 

Sunday, June 25, 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)

I have some ebooks and the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly to share with you this week!

I am a huge fan of all the shows Ryan Murphy has created (the ones on the FX network at least).

The newest season of American Crime Story is coming up and it is the focus of this week's Entertainment Weekly. I already adore the casting choices, and I cannot wait to see this season!

I love so much of this article, and how they are approaching the story. An official premiere date has not been announced, but I am hoping it is soon!

Next up I have some ebooks that I purchased recently. Some romance novels to enjoy by the pool this summer! These book sound really good, and I have my friend Emilie to thank for bringing one of them to my attention (so thank you Emilie).

Wilder by Rebecca Yarros (goodreads)
The Accidental Honeymoon by Portia Macintosh (goodreads)

Let me know what bookish goodies made their way on your shelves this week!

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 24, 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

Summer is officially here, but I am already missing the weather that allows me to curl up with a cup of tea, a blanket and a good book. I guess it is time for outside reading, ice cream and fruity wine beverages.

Lots of exciting things were announced this week, and here are the ones I have been most excited about.


Marisha Pessl's YA Debut

It was announced that Marissa Pessl will be releasing her first young adult novel. I love Night Film by her so I was excited to hear she'd be releasing another book, and even more excited by the news that it would be young adult.

The title of the upcoming release is Neverworld Wake and the synopsis is basically everything I want in a book.
A group of teens who all attended the same elite prep school reunite a year after graduation. After a night on the town, the teens are faced with an impossible choice—only one of them can live and the decision must be unanimous.
That is not a choice ANYONE wants to make, but it instantly makes me want to ask a million questions. Mainly, why? Why do they have to make this choice? Who or what is making them? How long to do they have to choose? I can just tell it is going to be a discussion starting read and I cannot wait. There are also sci-fi elements to the story which isn't immediately evident from the synopsis.


The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

I am so excited for the second season of American Crime Story. It will focus on the assassination of Gianni Versace and looks to be just as well crafted as the first season (which focused on the trial of OJ Simpson).

This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly has a feature story on the upcoming season and it is PERFECT. I always love the casting in Ryan Murphy's shows and this is no exception.

It was also just revealed that Finn Wittrock will be joining the cast in a minor role (he is playing a friend of the guy who murdered Gianni Versace) and that news has only increased my excitement level (which surprises nobody who has read this blog).

Fun fact - they are filming at house Gianni Versace lived in at the time of the murder. This is going to add a layer of realism to the show, but also sends shivers up my spine. Not sure I could do it myself.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
Release Date -  May 2, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincoast
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  336 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances.

 One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again.    How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time. 
How To Make A Wish's synopsis promises a love story between two girls who are dealing with difficult things at this point in their lives. It is also so much more than that.  Ashley Herring Blake delivers a novel that looks at the complexity of relationships, both healing and toxic, and the strength in accepting the reality of both.

I love when the main character and love interest each have story arcs outside of the romance. How To Make A Wish excels at this. Ashley Herring Blake has given each girl their own issues, and comple stories outside of falling in love. This, for me, made them seem even more nuanced and real. It made their story seem more fleshed out, and this allowed the characters to grow outside of the relationship so that the relationship could work. It made them better characters, and as this is a character driven novel, it made all the difference.

The romance in this is rather adorable. It contains a lot of my favourite things - secrets, inside jokes, well written kissing scenes, and characters who are actually good for each other. It was nice to read a love story between two girls where discovering their sexuality, or coming out was not the focus. Those stories are necessary and vital, but so are stories like this one. Stories that focus on relationships and the giddiness of falling in love. Stories in which both girls know who they are, even if one (or both) are still testing the language that feels comfortable to define themselves with. It showcases the need for different kinds of stories for all kinds of representation.

The adult characters that populate this story are both utilized and woven into the story arcs seamlessly. There are complex relationships shown between the teen characters and the adult characters. The complexity mostly comes from the adult characters being complex themselves. The adults in this novel are imperfect, but not vilified. They are shown to make mistakes, but that those mistakes are not all they are. These mistakes do not make them beyond redemption. There are examples of both healthy and unhealthy examples of parent/child like relationships within this novel, and none of them veer into cliche territory.

This story doesn't wrap itself up in a happily ever after bow at the end. That doesn't mean there isn't happy things at the end, but the themes of this story are such that a 'perfect' ending would have felt false. The ending we get feels true. Repairing ourselves, and relationships take time. It is a longer journey filled with stumbles and set backs. Ashley Herring Blake acknowledges this with this story, and it makes this story feel very realistic. It is both satisfying and hopeful, while remaining true to the story being told. Those, in my opinion, are the best kind of endings.

If you're looking for a summer read that is a romance, but with something extra, I recommend picking this one up. I am looking forward to reading whatever Ashley Herring Blake writes next as she's proven herself to be an author to follow in the young adult contemporary genre.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ... A Line In The Dark

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 A Line In The Dark by Malinda Lo

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

“It doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me. It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.”

A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.
This sounds so incredibly dark and twisty and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. I love how you immediately know the tone of this novel when you look at the cover, and I love that it appears to have complex female characters within it.

It's release day makes me think it'll be a perfect spooky read for the Halloween season.

Expected release date - October 17, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Midnight At The Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Midnight At The Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Release Date - June 13, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 272 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Divided by time. Ignited by a spark.

Kansas, 2065. Adri has secured a slot as a Colonist—one of the lucky few handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own.

Oklahoma, 1934. Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine fantasizes about her family’s farmhand, and longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called the Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire—and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life—Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

England, 1919. In the recovery following the First World War, Lenore struggles with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself?

While their stories spans thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked up Midnight At The Electric. The synopsis really doesn't tell you much about the story with it giving you the minimalist of details. All I really knew was that it consisted of three stories set in different time periods that interconnect. I am so glad this is all I knew as this is a story that needs to be experienced and felt.

This is Jodi Lynn Anderson at her best. It's romantic, poignant, thought provoking and exquisitely written. It has that breathtaking prose that readers have come to expect from this author. It's filled with lush descriptions, wonderful character development, and unraveled at just the right pace. It's the type of story you want to savor, but end up devouring because you're transported into the story and need to keep reading.

There are really three main characters to this story. Adri, the closed off woman who keeps people at arms length. Catherine, the dreamer who wants the best for her family. Lenore, the grieving woman who wants adventure. They all have distinct voices that make them come to life. Each of them have self contained journeys that could be fascinating stories all on their own, but create something even more magical when woven together. The most impressive thing is how each character is allowed her own agency and story. It is handled so well, and I really enjoyed getting to know each of them.

Along with three main characters comes three unique settings for each of them. The futuristic world Adri lives in. The post First World War London that Lenore is navigating. The storm ridden Oklahoma of the 1930s that Catherine calls home. Each of these is vividly painted with the lush descriptions that are found within these pages. The settings truly do come to life and they are the perfect backdrop for this story.

The three stories end up interconnecting rather beautifully. While some of the connections are immediately clear, others unravel slowly and end up being a pleasant surprise. This story really is one of connections. It focuses on the connections we share, and how those don't necessarily stop mattering when we die.

This is, in my opinion, the most romantic novel Jodi Lynn Anderson has written. It's done with her classic flair of bittersweetness, but the relationships are some of my absolute favourites. From slowly building tension, to literal sparks when people touch, there is something special about how the love stories are written and how captivating they are. It mirrors the theme of the novel, and makes each of the stories engrossing. It's not just romantic love that gets to shine. The love between family members and friends also gets it's chance at the spotlight and is equally well crafted. The bonds of sisterhood that thrum this story are some of my favourite elements, especially as it looks at sisterhood as not just being those who are blood related.

A lovely story about the ties that bond us together, what we leave behind after we die, and way our stories interconnect. This happens to now be my second favourite Jodi Lynn Anderson novel, after Tiger Lily, and I am sure it'll be one I read again and again. I urge anyone who loves having their heart punched and healed in equal measure pick this well crafted story.

Sunday, June 18, 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)

Some pretty exciting reads made their way onto my bookshelf this week.

First up are some books I purchased when Chapters had a sale on romance reads for the summer. I picked up a few of my favourites that I didn't have a copy of yet, and the next in a series I have been really enjoying. 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (goodreads)
Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren (goodreads)
Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren (goodreads)

Penguin Random House Canada sent me a summer reading packing filled with some thrillers and I am so excited to read some of them. My favourite summer reads are either romance or thrillers so this is perfect.

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen (goodreads)
So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum (goodreads
The Child by Fiona Barton (goodreads)

A huge thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for these reads. 

Let me know what bookish goodies made their way on your shelves this week!

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 17, 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.

A few fun things were announced this week.


Funko's San Diego Comic Con exclusive Pops

Pretty sure everyone is aware of my Funko addiction. This time of year is especially exciting as the San Diego Comic Con exclusives are announced. Plenty of them are shared with retailers such as EB Games and Hot Topic and will be obtainable for those not attending the convention.

Funko has announced a few waves at this point, and their television wave was the first that had a few Pops I was interested in pick up.

First up, in order to complete my Stranger Things collection ...

Steve! I love that they captured his hair perfectly. haha. If you've seen Stranger Things you'll recognize the scene this Pop is modeled after and I cannot wait to add him to my collection.

Next is probably the Mr Robot Pop I am MOST excited for ... 

It has the iconic mask, and Elliott's trademark black hoodie. This is a must get for my collection.

Funko will continue to announce exclusives for the rest of June (every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and  into early July. I am sure there will be others I want as well, especially when the Disney wave is announced.

My Favorite Murder bracelets from ilove2stamp's Etsy Shop (link)

I have be binge listening to the My Favorite Murder podcast. I have mentioned it before as part of my weekly roundup, but I have become so obsessed that I now want merchandise. I discovered this bracelet and I NEED it.

SSDGM (Stay Sexy Don't Get Murdered) is a motto and sign off that the hosts use and is something fans of the podcast have really embraced. This bracelet also has 'f*@k politeness' written on the inside which is another saying fans have embraced. I seriously LOVE this bracelet. It's something I would actually wear as well as it being a great piece of fandom swag.

Anna and the French Kiss inspired tea from The Tea Spot (link)

I discovered this tea at Book Expo and now really want to try some! The people behind Owlcrate were at Book Expo with a wheel full of prizes. One of the prizes on the wheel was this tea. I, sadly, did not win the tea but I did Google it as soon as I left and discovered that it is for sale on The Tea Spot's website. I have heard it is delicious and tastes like chocolate cherry goodness. Hoping to be able to try some in the near future and will report back.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The One Memory Of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory Of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Release Date -  May 2, 2017
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  304 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
I didn't know quite what to expect going into Emily Barr's novel. I knew it featured a girl with memory loss and not much else. The One Memory Of Flora Banks ended up being a sometimes heartbreaking, often uplifting, thought provoking read that boasts a heroine at its heart whose strength isn't measured in physicality but rather her belief in herself and what she can do.

This is a hard book to review because so much of what makes up this story would be a spoiler. It is the nature of how the story reveals itself. We know as much as Flora does and knowing any more would spoil the story and the journey. It is the type of novel that needs to be experienced along with the character, and this makes it a difficult novel to talk about.

The writing in this one is, at times, repetitive. We're in Flora's head and she constantly needs to remind herself of even the littlest things about herself and her life. This is handled incredibly well by the author and is used to great impact. You immediately feel something for Flora. You are sympathetic to her situation, and often in awe of how she handles things. The writing gives you a glimpse into not just what she is going through, but who she is as a person. It makes her voice resonate for the reader and makes her character really the driving force of the story. This is Flora's journey entirely, and the writing ensures this remains true throughout.

Flora clings to the memory of her first kiss like it is saving her from drowning. It provides her with strength and hope. Her single minded focus on Drake as someone who can fix or heal her is both frustrating and understandable. It is frustrating as she is so focused on a boy to the point of recklessness. It, however, is understandable if you look at it through Flora's perspective. She sees Drake as the catalyst for her memory coming back. She sees him as someone who broke through her medical condition and caused her to remember. That would seem very romantic to a lot of people. It may make them assign a deeper significance to the memory and the person than one would normally. Plus, I remember having all consuming crushes as a teenager, so parts of that rang true for me as well.

The truth that is ultimately revealed about Flora, the reason behind her memory loss was, for me, completely unexpected. I expected a different story going in but was pleasantly surprised with the story I ended up getting. It is less dark than I imagine it being, and more heartfelt. The story is still, at times, heart breaking but this is main message is one of survival and strength.

The One Memory Of Flora Banks is a fast paced read that makes the most of its unreliable narrator. If you love stories about girls going on adventures that are filled with the promise of the unexpected and the possibility of danger, I would recommend giving this one a try. Its story packs a surprising punch and you'll be left a little in awe of the tenacity and resourcefulness of Flora Banks' determination and spirit.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ... Foolish Hearts

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 Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.
I really enjoyed This Adventure Ends and was excited to see what Emma Mills would write next. Her newest sounds like another great contemporary read. I love the focus on friendships that Emma seems to weave into her novels and I expect this one will be no different.

Its release date is perfect for spending those holiday gift cards as it comes out in late December. It may feel far away with the summer just beginning but it will be here before we know it.

Expected release date - December 26, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren
Release Date -  June 6, 2017
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.
Take a burgeoning romance, a work place competition, and serious sexual tension and you have Christina Lauren's newest novel.  It's a rom-com in book format that boasts a charming mix of romance, drama, and humour and it completely won me over.

This novel is perfect for those who are just starting to dip their toe into the romance novel waters. It has a storyline that is just as strong as the romance elements. This is because it spends equal amounts of time on both the story and the romance. It is also one of the tamer reads from Christina Lauren in terms of the sex scenes. There are some sexy scenes within these pages, but they are fewer in number than in previous novels, and less explicit overall. Combine this with the fact that this is a standalone novel and it makes a great jumping in point for not just the romance genre, but Christina Lauren's novels as well.

Sexism in the work place takes a central focus in this novel which creates a deeper level to this romance. It explores all different kinds of sexism from subtle to overt and does so in a way that is a great conversation starter for groups reading the book together. It doesn't just focus on the glaringly obvious ones, but also looks at the way it is ingrained in people. It was one of my favourite elements of the novel as I feel it not only added to the plot, but the character development as well.

The relationship dynamic is deliciously fun, even if it is sometimes frustrating. The 'enemies to lovers' trope works well, especially with the competitive edge thrown in. It will delight fans of banter filled romances. It is sharp witted, and exactly the perfect dynamic for these characters. You totally believe that this is how these characters would act.  It will, however. make you want to scream at the characters at various times. Communication is key to any relationship and you will want these characters to talk to each other more than anything at certain points of the story. There is so much that could be cleared up by them sharing their feelings with each other and you so wish it would happen (even as you want the banter to continue).

The side characters were also a pleasant surprise. The previous series from this author has shown me that they excel at crafting an electric cast of characters that you fall in love with. This is vital to companion novels where those characters will become the focus of the subsequent novels in the series. I was curious to see if that same care would go into the secondary cast of a standalone novel. I was happy to discover that the effort was put into them. They are well crafted, and often steal the scene. A novel is usually made by the secondary cast of characters, and this novel is made all the better by the amazing support system that the main characters have.

A fun, sexy 'enemies to lovers' romance novel that pretty much demands it be read with a cocktail. This is an excellent choice for a fluffy beach read and should be in your beach bag this summer. If you're a romance fan this one should definitely be on your radar. 

Sunday, June 11, 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)

Lots of exciting things arrived this week! After Book Expo I am drowning in amazing books to read and am having a hard time deciding what to read next. This week's arrivals have only added to that particular problem. 

First up, I have a pre-order that arrived a little early. Jodi Lynn Anderson is one of my most favourite authors so I was thrilled to have this hard cover in my hands a little early. 

Midnight At The Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (goodreads)

I also had two new Funko Pops arrive. I had pre-ordered some of the Mr Robot ones, and was super excited to have some of them arrive.

Elliott and Darlene look amazing! I am just waiting for Mr Robot himself to arrive.

I was spoiled by Harper Collins Canada this week with the arrival of some very exciting fall season reads.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand (goodreads)
Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (goodreads)
This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis (goodreads)

Last, Penguin Random House Canada also spoiled me with these amazing sounding arrivals!

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (goodreads)
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore (goodreads)

A huge thank you to both publishers for these! I cannot wait to read and review them. Now to decide which one to read first. #bookbloggerproblems

Let me know what bookish goodies made their way on your shelves this week!

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 10, 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.

Just a few items to share this week, and they are both related to superhero movies.


Wonder Woman

I have been very mixed about the DC movies that have been released so far. I wanted Wonder Woman to be great. I needed it to be great. It was not only important to the future of the DC movie universe, but also female superhero movies in general (which is garbage, but a sad reality). I was thrilled that I ended up loving

I ended up loving the chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine as Diana and Steve. I loved Diana's journey. I especially loved the little girls dressed up as Wonder Woman at the screening I attended.

I am so glad this movie exists and I cannot wait for the female superhero movies that will follow. I want more types of female heroines to be represented and I think this is a small first step to that happening.

Black Panther Teaser Trailer

I am always excited for the next Marvel movie and Black Panther is no exception. I am loving this teaser trailer that gives us a taste of what is to come while really revealing nothing.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Book Expo 2017 recap

I was fortunate to travel to New York City for Book Expo again this year. There is something special about having the event in New York. It's the heart of publishing. There is a buzz that, for me, is unlike any other book event I've attended. 

Part of the appeal of Book Expo is the feeling you get being surrounded by fellow book nerds. There is something so welcoming and energizing about getting to talk about the books you love with people who totally understand your passion. The exhibit hall floor is pretty much heaven for book lovers and a large part of that is being surrounded by like minded people. This, for me, is the main reason I attend the event.

entering the exhibit hall 

It is a great opportunity to network and see what the publishers are excited about for the upcoming seasons.

There were plenty of changes this year from the previous years I attended.

The main changes were mainly to security at the event. We're typically allowed to line up inside the Javits Centre while we wait for the event to open. This year, however, they had us line up outside the convention centre. The overall increase in security was certainly welcome, even if it did cause a bit of confusion on the first day. Having new processes in place always comes with a few snags and this was no exception. I was, however, impressed ith how things were handled overall.

I found that the signing lines, both in booth and in the autographing area, were handled rather well. There was a definite improvement from previous years. It also felt like attendance might be lower which lead to more manageable lines. The only slight hiccup was Leigh Bardugo's Wonder Woman signing. Penguin Random House handled it extremely well and ended up ensuring the potential chaos remained controlled. It feels like they are learning to manage things better, and that can only mean good things for future years.

There is usually a trend that is noticeable at Book Expo. A certain genre of book tends to be in abundance depending on what seems to be riding a wave of popularity. This year was noticeably different with the publishers offering a wider variety of genres and authors. No matter your particular taste in books there was something to be found for everyone it seemed. This also made schedules easier to manage and had the added bonus of people discovering titles they may not have previously. I, personally, hope this trend continues and we continue to see a wide range of books being promoted at Book Expo. It feels more in line with the spirit of the event.

I had two titles I was especially excited to learn more about at the event and I was thrilled to discover they would both be given out at the convention. 

I had been excited about Krysten Ritter's Bonfire since it was announced. There is a mystery element to it that immediately piqued my interest. I got to chat with the lovely people at the Penguin Random House booth and was assured that it was gripping and the type of novel you read in one sitting.

I also had the honour of speaking with Stephanie Perkins' editor Julie Strauss-Gabel about There's Someone Inside Your House. She, if possible, made me even more excited about getting the chance to read this one early. She's promised  swoons, lots of blood, plenty of terror, and that classic Stephanie Perkins touch. It sounds like one to not read with the lights on.

My day one haul was filled with some pretty exciting reads that will be featured on the blog in the later part of the year.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (goodreads)
No Saints In Kansas by Amy Brashear (goodreads)
Mean Girls by Micol Ostow (goodreads)
They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera (goodreads)
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter (goodreads)
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (goodreads)
The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison (goodreads)
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (goodreads)
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (goodreads)

I grabbed The Dirty Book Club after hearing a Simon and Schuster agent talk it up to someone else. It sounds like a fun read.

My day two haul was equally exciting. You can expect to see these promoted on the blog as well.

Mrs was an impulse pick up after the publisher called it this year's Big Little Lies. My interest was immediately piqued. 

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (goodreads)
Fireblood by Elly Blake (goodreads)
Brooding YA Hero by Carrie Ann DiRisio (goodreads)
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (goodreads)
Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo (goodreads)
Mrs by Caitlin Macy (goodreads)
I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin (goodreads)

I also snagged a copy of Hunting Prince Dracula. It would have been in my day two haul, BUT it was in its own tote bag and I couldn't find it at the time of the photo so I just took one of it by itself.

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (goodreads)

Outside of the convention I manged to do a few things I was looking forward to as well! I love getting to spend some time in New York and was excited Book Expo was held here again this year.

I scratched something off my bucket when I went to see the Tiffany's they used in the Breakfast at Tiffany's movie. The movie is a classic, and I have always wanted to have a little Holly Golightly moment by 'eating' breakfast at Tiffany's. 

I grabbed a scone and my morning tea and enjoyed a little moment outside the store. It is something I absolutely want to do again with friends. 

I love Shake Shack and it is unfair that we do not have them in Canada. As a result of this, I always make sure to grab food there when I travel for Book Expo.

It is probably better we don't have it here so that I don't have the temptation to eat it all the time, and I think part of its allure is that it is something I really only get once a year.

This year's event, once again, provided fun and excitement. I left exhausted but eager to promote these titles.

To all the publishers, authors, and fellow book industry people who made this year's Book Expo one to remember I say thank you. You make the event as wonder as it is.

Now that I am home and everything is unpacked the only decision left is what book I'll read first (and let's be honest, it's also the hardest decision).

me for the next couple of months

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