Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday ... My Dark Vanessa

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 My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.
I have been intrigued by this since I read the deal announcement. I've seen it called a feminist Lolita which is certainly going to create some buzz. Also, Stephen King called it a 'well constructed package of dynamite' which has me really hopeful. I am hoping that this is a another Tampa for me - a book that tackles difficult topics in such a well executed way.

This is one of my 'desperate to get my hands on' books of Book Expo! It doesn't come out until January but I anticipate it'll be the book to read with your book club and discuss for hours.

Expected release date - January 28, 2020

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg
Release Date - May 28, 2019
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  352 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Welcome to the Kingdom... where 'Happily Ever After' isn't just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom(TM) is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species--formerly extinct--roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful "princesses" engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time... love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana's memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty--and what it truly means to be human. 
If you took Westworld, mixed it with a true crime podcast, and added in some Disney theme park elements you would get The Kingdom. A story about a place that has a darkness under the happily ever afters it promises. Jess Rothenberg has written a unique story that not only entertains but causes the reader to think and ask questions of themselves.

Ana's voice, for me, was so distinct it made her a really strong character. It felt like the author had a very clear sense of who this character was, her motivations, and it translated off the page easily. She is one of those characters who just resonates with you and lingers long after you've finished the book.

The romance it tentative, and sweet. Seeing Ana experience emotions for the first time and grapple with what it means was part of what made this story feel so unique. Ana is aware that she shouldn't be dreaming, or feeling what she is feeling, but her reaction to it happening felt so authentic. It made the romance feel a touch more believable for me in a lot of ways. Ana's joy, sorrow, and everything in between adds to her relationship with Owen. Their moments are subtle, but so important to Ana's journey.

The Kingdom is basically Disney World dialed up. It's bright, magical, and the place where dreams come true. We, however, quickly see that not everything is as it seems. There is a darkness, particularly what happens to Ana and her fellow 'Fantasists', that pulses under the surface. The nods to the abuse that they suffer under the hands of wealthy men may only be delicately woven into the story but it is more than enough to repulse and turn your stomach. The lavish parties, the leering looks, the crass comments, the unwanted touches.  They all serve to paint a terrible, rage inducing picture. The anger that coursed through me as I read this made me realize how well crafted this book is. I cared about Ana and the others almost from the beginning and it was quite evident as this part of the story came into sharper focus.

The sexual harassment and abuse Ana and her 'sisters' face is, obviously, quite timely. This book is a product of the #metoo movement. There is female anger here and commentary on the right to feel it. There are questions and exploration of rape culture and the effect it has on women. It isn't overt but that makes it all the more impressive how it was woven in along with a strong mystery. The Fantasists to many men are things to be used with zero thought of consequences and that feels extra relevant right now.

The murder of Owen is the central mystery to the story. It is told in flashes of different story telling techniques. You have regular prose mixed with transcripts, photos, articles, and interviews. This allows for the twists and reveals to be perfectly paced. The mystery is important to the story but it really feeds into the overall narrative of humanity and what it means to be human. The use of all these narration devices is part of what makes this story as strong as it is and it shows what a clever choices it was in the set up of the mystery. The premise rests on whether Ana could be convicted for murder if what she experienced was a technical glitch of a piece of artificial intelligence. Who would ultimately be responsible if that were the case. The idea of agency and self awareness is the heart of this story and it threads into all the other elements.

Feeling for Ana is the entire point of this story. It asks us to question what we consider human. It also asks us to consider what we would owe to a creation like Ana if we do consider her human. It is fascinating, smart, and well written. It's the type of book you'll want to discuss with your book club or friends. I highly recommend this one for those who want a little something extra with their mystery read. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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.

Sunday posting once again! I am busy preparing for my trip to New York City to go to Book Expo so I was a little late getting this ready. I hope everyone is having a great weekend though!


Always Be My Maybe Trailer

Netflix has been on fire lately with their rom-coms and this latest one seems to be no exception. Please watch this trailer until the very end and join me in desperately wanting to watch it.

The Keanu Reeves part at the end? I laughed so hard. It's going to be amazing. I premieres on Netflix later this month so I'll be watching as soon as I get back from Book Expo.


Book Expo America

We are almost a week away from when I'll be headed to NYC for Book Expo. The autographing schedule was just released and I am so excited about some of the authors that will be signing. I am mostly just excited to be at the event and eat Shake Shack again if I am being honest though.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, May 17, 2019

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn
Release Date - April 2, 2019
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  304 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.
You'd Be Mine is part A Star Is Born (the Bradley Copper/Lady Gaga edition), part Walk The Line, and part perfect summer read. Erin Hahn had crafted a story that offers an addicting blend of romance, angst, and hope.

Music is the heartbeat to this story. The way it influences and drives the characters makes it feel like a character itself. It is the central force that pushes every other element of the story in some way. It, therefore, is a good thing that it feels so natural to the characters.

Annie is the daughter of music royalty and that crown is a heavy one to wear. Particularly when that legacy is steeped in tragedy. Annie is struggling with doing things on her own terms and accepting the complicated feelings the death of her parents and entering the music scene bring out in her. She is doing her best to move forward and exhibits strength is some pretty tough situations.

Clay is the bad boy musician who drowns his sorrows with alcohol, women, and generally not caring about anything. He has a tragic backstory of his own but is, obviously, handling it different than Annie. He also happens to be incredibly charming and irresistible to Annie (thanks in large part to the way his butt looks in his jeans). He is exactly the kind of boy Annie knows to stay away from thanks to her up close and personal view of the darker side of what fame can do to someone.

The push and pull of Annie and Clay's relationship is electric. It pulsates like the beat of one of their songs. They tease, aggravate, and try to outdo each other. It is a romance meant to appeal to those who love the slow burn. They convincingly go from people who don't really like or trust one another to becoming friends and finally something more.

Obviously, both Clay and Annie have baggage to spare. These are not healthy individuals who should be entering into a relationship. Their own personal demons are something they have to face on their own and the writing never alludes to any kind of magic fix (and this includes love). Everything from Annie's grief to Clay's addiction issues is so raw and authentic that it adds some gritty texture to a story I thought was going to be lighter than it was.

The tour element provides the perfect backdrop to this story. It combined the rush of performing with the decidedly not glamorous reality of life on the road. Travel is not the focus of the novel, it instead feeds into the larger story being told. It, much like the music, just felt true to the story being told. Some of the elements of touring are used to highlight both Annie and Clay's personalities which helped flesh out their characters more.

I immediately wanted to watch Walk The Line upon finishing the final page of this book. Annie and Clay's story may not be June and Johnny's but there is inspiration to be found there. This book is a love letter to music, complicated relationships, and finding your own voice. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the young adult contemporary genre. Erin Hahn is definitely an author you'll want to keep an eye on.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday ... Into The Crooked Place

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 Into The Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Into the Crooked Place begins a gritty two-book YA fantasy series from Alexandra Christo, the author of To Kill a Kingdom.

The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.

Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.

Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.

Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.

And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.

Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other. 
I really enjoyed Alexandra Christo's wickedly dangerous take on sirens (and a little bit of a retelling of The Little Mermaid) in To Kill A Kingdom so I was eager to see what she would write next.

Her follow up seems to be diving into criminals and magic which is always intriguing. It sounds like it could be a fun, fast paced read so I am excited to get my hands on it in October when it releases.

Expected release date - October 8, 2019

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
Release Date - May 7, 2019
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  304 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

Millie can't believe her luck when she's accepted into one of the world's most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.

The only problem: Mille's roommate Flora is a total princess.

She's also an actual princess. Of Scotland.

At first, the girls can barely stand each other--Flora is both high-class and high-key--but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn't a fairy tale . . . or is it? 
Royal themed novels are a weakness of mine. It immediately gets me to add a book to my ever growing reading pile. It is always a nice bonus when they turn out to be a thoroughly enjoyable read that is everything a young adult contemporary fan could want.

Fans of the hate-to-love trope will delight in the dynamic between Millie and Flora. The sparks are there even when it seems like they would rather fight with each other than make out. Those hoping for a super romantic, light, and all around fun relationship between two female characters will absolutely find that within these pages.

The Scotland boarding school setting is the perfect backdrop to this story. Forcing Millie and Flora to be roommates makes great use of that classic trope and gives a wanderlust vibe to the story as we see the school (and Scotland) through Millie's eyes.  I loved everything about the school but especially the fun inclusion of it being the first group of female students to attend.

Millie is super smart and unapologetically into her interests. She is fascinated by geology and that fact is present throughout the entire book. Millie embraces who she is so fiercely that it is inspiring. I predict many readers will love her and Fiora quite a bit by the end of the novel.

The fun part of companion style novels is the cameos it allows and this book is no except. It has got some great cameos for those who have read Royals (retitled Prince Charming). It is, however, a better example of my other favourite thing about companion novels - they allow us to get to know characters we already know better. My opinion of Flora, and who she is as a character, changed so much as a result of reading this book. She is more layered and less frivolous than I expected. She also has a much bigger heart than I anticipated. Seeing this other side of her made me want a book about Seb because I can only imagine what is underneath that hot mess of a Prince.

This is a true rom-com with all of the cliche moments and required happy ending. Any reader who sees themselves reflected in Millie and Flora's story will be thrilled that they are finally getting a story usually told about a girl falling for a Prince. I highly urge you to seek out reviews from those people because this book is going to speak to them in a completely different way than it did me.

Her Royal Highness is a pure delight of a book. A romance filled with grand gestures, just enough angst, and plenty of swoon worthy moments. It will leave you with more than a dash of royal fever and wondering when you'll be able to watch the, hopefully, inevitable Netflix movie.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

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.


Judy Official Trailer

Renee Zellweger stars as Judy Garland in this upcoming bio pic and if the first trailer is any indication she'll be included in this year's Oscar talks.

It looks great and Renee's transformation is certainly impressive. I am looking forward to seeing more as the release date comes closer.


Stranger Things Season 3 Funkos

Funko has released their first wave of Pops for season three and they are amazing!

I am going to need the Steve and Will ones for my collection! I love them both. These are just some of the ones in the new collection and you can see the rest over on the Funko blog.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Reading Recommendations Needed

I was looking at my reading list of books I hope to get to by the end of the summer and noticed that I had some spaces left to add a few books to end out my summer reading. I immediately wanted something light with a lot of romance. I took a quick peek and noticed that I needed to broaden my horizons a little bit. I have quite a few books that fit into the LGBTQ+ category on my general 'to be read' list but noticed many of the the ones that were light in tone were offering m/m relationships.  The ones that I found that did offer a f/f relationship were either sci-fi or of a darker tone. Those titles are great and I am excited to eventually read them but I wanted something a bit more rom-com-ish to end my summer reading with.

I did a quick search and couldn't really seem to find any non m/m books that fit this description ... at least ones that are currently out. I have read Her Royal Highness which was perfectly adorable, and am excited to read The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smyth once it releases, but I am looking for something that I can pick up this summer.

This leads me to this purpose of this post. I want suggestions of books that I can read that fit the above description. Any lighter, fun books that would be classified as LGBTQ+ but are not m/m. I suspect there isn't going to be a ton to choose from (and hope that is changing) but I would appreciate any that can be sent my way.

Comment below, send them via Twitter (@kathycoe), or even email me suggestions. They don't even necessarily have to be young adult reads so please feel free to send along anything you think might fit.

I'll post an update with a list of the recommendations I get (if I mange to get sent any) so that everyone can see the titles that were suggested.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone recommends and hopefully adding a few more books to my summer reading pile.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday .... Flashed

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 Flashed by Zoey Castile

**potential spoilers for previous books in the series**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When a man makes his living by his looks, he can forget that love--and lust--are more than skin deep. But the right woman can remind him ...

A former soccer player, stripper, and model, legendary party boy Patrick Halloran finally gets his big break starring in the summer blockbuster. But when an accident leaves him changed forever, he hides away in his secluded Montana ranch. Only his new housekeeper is allowed inside--with one rule: she's not allowed to see him. But Pat sees her, and she's the most stunning woman he's ever laid eyes on. Even her voice is beautiful. Still, Pat can't allow himself to get close to anyone. Not without a fight at least ...

Magdalena "Lena" Martel is a long way from Queens, New York. After a rough patch, the aspiring artist is working her way through college--even if it means keeping house for a man whose gruff voice she can only hear through a closed door. Still, Lena senses Pat's got a good heart, maybe even a lovable one. She's intrigued--until his anger sends her running into the freezing woods. Now Pat will have to find her--and when he does he may have found the one woman who can thaw his heart--not to mention the rest of him. But can their new bond survive the paparazzi--and their personal demons? ...
I love the other books in the Happy Endings series and am excited that this one is a bit of a play on Beauty and the Beast. I also loved that there were some cameos from characters in Stripped in Hired so I am looking forward to seeing who (if anyone) from the previous books show up in Flashed.

This is going to be an excellent book to send your summer reading with and I highly recommend reading the other two books in the series this summer.

Expected release date - August 27, 2019

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Release Date - May 7, 2019
Publisher - Tuxbury Publishing LLC and Elle Kennedy Inc
Author Social Media - Sarina Bowen  / Elle Kennedy
Pages -  280 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Bestselling authors Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy return with their first Male / Male romance in 3 years.

LobsterShorts, 21
Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I'm an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21
Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries...

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing...

Top Secret is a mix of a lot of things. It has a little bit of You've Got Mail (if it were sexy hot and involved a potential threesome). It makes great use of the enemies to lovers trope. It even plays a little with the idea of opposites attracting. It gives the reader a character driven romance that also happens to come in a compulsively readable package.

The characters of Keaton and Luke both feel entirely believable. They both have strong, distinct voices that leapt off the page for me. They both came across as typical, horny college guys. This fact, in my opinion, helped the story. Strongly defined and created characters are not always easy to pull off but it is made to look easy here.

The banter between the guys, complete with random animal mating trivia (LobsterShorts is a thing for a reason), is filled with sexual tension and sparks. Sparks that are evident in every interaction. The chemistry between Keaton and Luke is undeniable.

The romance has its obstacle. Keaton's privilege, the walls that Luke has surrounded himself with, and both guys self doubt are just some of the things they have to face. Each of the guys has a lot of growing to do before they can even think of being together. Some of that growth they help bring out in each other but there is also growth that can only be done individually. These characters both go through so much character development and the reader feels like they have gotten to share in their journey.

The authors already promised that there isn't a love triangle within these pages and that is entirely true. Keaton's girlfriend's role in the story pleasantly surprised me. I respected how this part of the story was addressed and handled. It could have gone many different ways but I am glad it did not. It was worked into the story in a natural way and made it that each of the characters were presented in a favourable way.

Anyone who loved previous books by either of these authors will want to check out this one but I predict even new readers will be entirely charmed by this one. Fans who were eagerly anticipating Sarina and Elle's next cowritten novel will not be disappointed. This is a hot, steamy romance that has a lot of heart. It will leave you with a smile on your face and ensures that you will be eagerly anticipating whatever comes next from these authors.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

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.

Another Sunday posting! Lots to share this week (at least when it comes to the television show Lucifer).


Cover Of Capturing The Devil by Kerry Maniscalco  (goodreads)

The final book in Kerri's Stalking Jack The Ripper series has a cover and it is just as pretty as the others! I love the golden hue it has!

This one takes place in Chicago and incorporates H. H. Holmes into the story. Really excited to read this one!


Lucifer Seasons 1 - 4 Recap

I was thrilled when Lucifer was picked up by Netflix after being canceled by Fox. Netflix is dropping some amazing promo for the next season and that includes this fun recap!

'So grab a drink. You'll need one' is probably my favourite line in that promo simply because it sets up season four to hopefully be deliciously intense.

Lucifer Season Four Trailer

Netflix also released a trailer for the fourth season and it looks so good! 

Eve is showing up this season (which seems to be messing with Chloe and Lucifer) which could be interesting! I am excited to see what happens this season and love the fact I am going to be able to binge watch it.

Lucifer Key Art

Netflix also released the key art for this season and I LOVE it!

It puts Chloe and Lucifer at the forefront and seems to hint at a darker tone for the show (which I am fully on board with).

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, May 3, 2019

The End Of My Sinemia Experiment

There is a saying that if something seems to good to be true it is probably because it is. That turned out to be exactly the case with Sinemia. This month, as the title suggests, marks the end of my Sinemia experiment.

I had a lot of issues attempting to use the service in March. I was only able to use one of my three movies. I went to go see The Aftermath which I thought had some good acting in it. 

The app was pretty much not usable for most of March and their customer support is almost nonexistent (or supremely unhelpful when they did reply). After many messages, and a lot of aggravation on my end, I finally found out the reason for all of the troubles. Sinemia filed for bankruptcy in the United States and ceased operations there immediately.

They are supposedly still operating in Canada but their Twitter support has been silent since the announcement and the app is not working. I suspect this is because they have no money to allow their customers to purchase tickets and without support there is nowhere to go to for assistance.

I am hoping that Cineplex will eventually offer a subscription based service that is more sustainable. I loved going to the movies as much as I did and do think it is the future of movies (just not in this model which seems unsustainable).

I am going to still continue going to any of the movies I really want to see. I am going to just be a little more selective as I'll be pay full price again. 

Sinemia was great when it actually worked and the idea of making movies more accessible to all is a nice one but it ultimately sounds like this model of subscription service is not a good one. I am going to be interested in seeing what happens as things move forward with both the future of these subscription services and Sinemia itself

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Monthly TBR and Recap

It is the start of another month which means checking in with how I did with my April list and what I have added for May.

April was not great. I did not get nearly as much reading done as I wanted. I did  however read a few books on my list as well as some that were not on my list.

The books that were on my list are:

Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap (goodreads)
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (goodreads)
Enchantee by Gita Trelease (goodreads)
We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (goodreads)
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (goodreads)

Plus I had a bunch of ebooks on my list:

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly (goodreads)
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (goodreads)
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (goodreads)
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (goodreads)
Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan (goodreads)
Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (goodreads)
You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (goodreads)
Meet Cute by Helena Hunting (goodreads)

I managed to read five books this month and some were on my list and others were not. I read:

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins (goodreads)
You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (goodreads)
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (goodreads)
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (goodreads)
Top Secret by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen (goodreads)

I am now looking forward to May and the books I am hoping to read. As you can see I scraped the books that were previously on my list. I have too many May releases but the ones I haven't gotten to yet will be back.

Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered by Karen Killgariff and Georgia Hardstark (goodreads)
Finale by Stephanie Garber (goodreads)
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (goodreads)
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg (goodreads)

I also have some ebooks on my list for May as well:

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly (goodreads)
Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan (goodreads)
Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (goodreads)
King Of Fools by Amanda Foody (goodreads)
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (goodreads)
Last Things by Jacqueline West (goodreads)
There's Something About Sweetie by Shandya Menon (goodreads)

What books are you reading this month? Have you read any of the ones in my list? If so, let me know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday ... Capturing The Devil

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 Capturing The Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

**potential spoilers for previous books in the series**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer---or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World's Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they've heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him---and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device---is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end---together and in love---or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?
I loved Stalking Jack The Ripper and intended to get to the rest ASAP but the last book in this series sounds incredible! It has Audrey Rose and Thomas involved in the very real case of H. H. Holmes whom I assume will be a character in this story.

The Chicago setting, the backdrop of the World's Fair, and the very real inspiration may just make this book the best one of the series!

I love so much about how Audrey Rose was written and cannot wait to read another book about her again! It's autumn release date not only offers the perfect setting but ensures everyone has time to read the previous books in this series.

Expected release date - September 10, 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Cover Reveal: Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Those of you who love romance novels are probably familiar with both Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen. They've both written many books and have collaborated in the past on a few. Their newest book is about to release on May 7th and you may have already seen a tease pop up in your social media as some lucky bloggers (myself included) got to read an advance copy.

I am excited to help share the cover for Top Secret! It's a fun, bright cover that I feel matches the synopsis perfectly. Here is a little more about the book to get you excited!
Bestselling authors Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy return with their first Male / Male romance in 3 years.

LobsterShorts, 21
Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21
Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries...

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing...
Doesn't this sound amazing? I basically was intrigued just from the premise and I promise it gets even better once the story starts to unravel.

Sarina and Elle also answered a few questions about Top Secret (just in case you were curious).

Q and A about Top Secret:

Q: Have we met these characters before in another book?

A: No! These guys are brand new, and we can’t wait for you to meet them.

Q: Is this story MM? Or is it a MMF / MFM / menage?

A: This book is MM.

Q: Is this a love triangle story?

A: Not really. You’ll see.

Now that you've read the amazing sounding synopsis and have seen the absolutely perfect for this book cover I bet you're wanting to read some of it immediately. Luckily I can help with that! I also get to share the first chapter of Top Secret. Be warned: You'll want to go pre-order it as soon as you're finished.

Top Secret is now available to pre-order at some of your favourite ebook retailers!

You can also add it your Goodreads right now so that you don't forget to get your copy on May 7th!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

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.

Another Sunday posting! I was off seeing Avengers: Endgame and hanging out with my younger sister so things got delayed a bit.


The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos (goodreads)

This book caught my attention with its deal announcement. It sounds amazing and immediately became one of my must reads of 2020!
pitched as The Raven Boys meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, about an openly gay high school senior in small-town Georgia. He may or may not be in love with his best friend, and his hopes for his last year of school are thrown off course when old secrets, new crushes, and a brush with dark magic threaten his close-knit group of friends.
The Raven Boys meets Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is not something I knew I needed until it was presented as an option. I can excited to hear more about this book as the summer 2020 release date nears.


Avengers On The Tonight Show

Arguably the biggest movie of the year was just released this weekend but I prepared by watching this fun and nostalgic clip over and over. If you are a fan of the Marvel movies I expect you'll love it as much as I did.

I love Paul Rudd's part! So fun! The Groot part makes me giggle. Also, Chris Evans is adorable as always. I also loved the 'everyone assemble' line. It is hard to believe that the first chapter of this epic franchise is ending.


Taylor Swift's Me!

You may recall me sharing a countdown that Taylor Swift had going on her official website. It ended at midnight on the 26th and her newest single was revealed. It's a catchy song featuring Panic! At The Disco's Brendon Urie.

Taylor's cats make a fun cameo and there are a lot of fun little references for Taylor Swift fans to sleuth out. I love the new colour palette that Taylor is working with for this upcoming album. It's a mix of cotton candy pastels that is much softer than the blacks and reds of the Reputation album.

Porcelain Wolf's Themed Box (May)

I have gushed about this company before and the amazing bath bombs that they make but they also host movie nights every month and offer a themed box to go with it.

The themed box for May is based off of American Horror Story (specifically my two favourite seasons Freakshow and Hotel).

I was sad that I couldn't order it because they do not ship to Canada but my friend Kelly and I will be seeing each other in May when I am in NYC so I am shipping it to her and she'll bring it to me!

I am excited to see what I get in this box. The box will include the following:

- An Exclusive Bath Bomb by us.
- A Shower or Skin Care Product
- Bar of Soap and or Shower or Skin care Product
- and 3 additional Outsourced items

It is only on sale until April 28th so you still have a bit of time if you want to snag one. You can find out more about Porcelain Wolf and place at order at their website.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Release Date - May 7, 2019
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 
Helen Hoang's first novel The Kiss Quotient shares a few similarities with her second book. They both are romance novels that have characters who are autistic. The Bride Test, however, is not just a retread of that plot. It offers up a story that it entirely its own and a different portrayal of autism and how it effects people differently.

The heroine of this novel is a strong, brave, determined woman who I absolutely loved by the end of the book. Esme's a woman who is determined to make her own path and puts in the work to achieve the dreams that she has. Helen Hoang's strength is creating these characters that you cannot help but root for.

Esme and Khai both have to learn something about themselves as part of their journey. Esme's arc is all about her learning self confidence and finding her own way. Khai's is a little more complex, but it mainly deals with dealing with things he buried deep inside himself and healing from that trauma. Their personality traits lead to a lot of miscommunication and the introspective parts of their story are needed to bring them to a place where the both understand each other and can fully love one another.

The romance in this is one of the best I have read. It's respectful and very equal. Both Khai and Esme grow and learn from their relationship. They compromise to ensure that each person gets what they need while making concessions for who the other person is. Neither of them wants to change the other but instead fully accepts the other person for who they are. They, most importantly, get one another (at least eventually) and that makes all the difference. It's an incredibly sweet, caring romance that I found really refreshing. It also showcases consent as the sexy thing it is. This is something that was true for The Kiss Quotient as well so I happy to see it be the case again here.

The relationship between Khai and his brother Quan is a part of the story that really stands out. Their love for one other is clear and it often provided some of the more humour filled moments of the story. Quan's way of helping Khai sees things more clearly is really well written and possibly one of my favourite elements of the story.

While this book can be read without having first reading The Kiss Quotient I highly recommend that you do. Fans of Stella and Michael's story will be rewarded with a fun cameo that made me smile just as much as Esme and Khai's story.

If you're looking for a romance that is a slower burn with some wonderful characters I highly recommend The Bride Test. Helen Hoang continues to showcase why she's one to watch in the romance genre. It's the type of book that is meant for summer reading and I anticipate many will enjoy it as much as I did.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Waiting On Wednesday .... The Bromance Book Club

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 Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The first rule of this book club:
You don't talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott's marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville's top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it'll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.
I love the entire premise of this book so much! A group of men meeting to read romance novels is perfect. I need this to become a Netflix movie and I haven't even read it yet.

I am excited to meet these characters and get to know Thea and Gavin and their love story.

It releases in the fall and while it may sound like a perfect summer book I think this is going to pair nicely with a cozy blanket and some delicious wine!

Unrelated but how cute is that cover?!

Expected release date - November 5, 2019

Sunday, April 21, 2019

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.

Happy Easter, everyone. It's a short post today because not too much has been revealed.


When They See Us Trailer

When They See Us is just one of the true crime based movies hitting Netflix in May. A trailer was just released and if you devour anything true crime related the same way I do this will become a must watch for you after seeing this trailer.

It is based on the Central Park Five and it is a enraging and gripping story. Ava Duvernay seems to have done incredible work here.


Book Expo Autographing Sneak Peek

I am going to Book Expo again this year and they recently released a sneak peek at the authors who will be in attendance. The list is pretty incredible with me especially looking forward to Renée Ahdieh, Leigh Bardugo, Jasmine Guillory, Brigid Kemmerer, Kim Liggett, Kerri Maniscalco, and Rainbow Rowell. It is already looking like it is going to be filled with amazing authors and I cannot wait for the full schedule.  

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, April 19, 2019

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - Lords Of Chaos

Lords Of Chaos

Rating: R (Canada)

Director: Jonas Åkerlund

Language: English

Length:  112 minutes

Cast: Rory Culkin, Jack Kilmer, Emory Cohen, Valter Skarsgård

Viewing Method: Regular Screening

Release Date: February 8, 2019 (limited)

Synopsis: A teenager's quest to launch Norwegian Black Metal in Oslo in the 1980s results in a very violent outcome. Lords of Chaos tells the true story of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners - a group of young men with a flair for publicity, church-burning and murder: MAYHEM.



There are three things I forgot before heading to the theatre to see Lords of Chaos. One was that this was a movie that involved black metal music which is something I know nothing about. I showed up to see this in a bright pink t-shirt which certainly stood out in the sea of black that was present. The second thing I forgot were the details of the case. If I had remembered the suicide/murders that anchor this unbelievable story I would have anticipated how graphic this would end up being. Lastly, I forgot how vital the music was to this story. I may have been there for the true crime aspect but plenty of the other people in the audience were there for the music.

The tone and direction of Lords Of Chaos creates a duality. It is very dark, visually and tonally, at times, but it has these moments of humour pierced throughout that give the movie its outlandish feel. It also captures the cult like mentality that existed and created this scene of one-upmanship. The director clearly knows the black metal music scene and paid aching attention to detail when it came to costumes and scene setting.

The movie, while set in Norway, has a cast that speaks English and none of them even attempt a Norwegian accent. It was a confusing choice, and one that certainly stands out while watching the movie. There is an aspect of being taken out of the movie because the accents do not mesh with what you are being told. It, eventually, becomes a minor thing that oddly ends up working for the story but something worthy of noting.

Øystein Aarseth aka Euronymous (protrayed by Rory Culkin) is portrayed as someone who liked to take credit for the ideas of others. Someone who was a narcissistic show-off and braggart. He, at least in the movie, is portrayed as an opportunist who used things to his advantage when he could. He is softened with reminders of his vulnerability that are shown throughout the movie. He is torn between wanting the influence that is bestowed upon him and terrified of that same influence. It hammers home time and time again that he was just a kid who didn't know what he was doing, and who was brutally murdered in the end. Rory Culkin gives a truly impressive performance (and one that is better than anticipated). He captures both the bravado and vulnerability of the character and showcases a young man caught up in something he quickly realizes he cannot control.

Emory Cohen plays Varg Vikernes, Euronymous' murderer. Emory Cohen also gives a memorable, and chilling performance that plays perfectly off the one given by Culkin. Their combined performances, in my opinion, are what make this movie as good as it is. Emory captures the narcissistic, attention seeking, power hungry persona that drives this portrayal of Varg. Cohen's shift from this excluded outsider to someone who gleefully burns down churches feels entirely plausible. His envy and anxieties create the perfect storm that eventually leads to murder. He plays Varg with a type of detachment that makes the eventual murder of Euronymous feel almost inevitable.

The violence shown is often grotesque and brutal. The two murders that drive this unbelievable story are just as graphic as you would expect.. Every minute of the scenes depicting the death of Euronymous is felt. The suicide of Per Yngve Ohlin aka Dead (portrayed by Jack Kilmer) stand out as a scene that feels too much for many reasons. It's a jarring, and arresting scene that lasts far longer than it should. The death of Dead serves in creating some of the mythology that surrounded Euronymous. He famously took photos of Dead's body before calling the police and those photos were later used for album cover art. The movie takes time to show how much the death did impact Euronymous even if he didn't always show that to people. Jack Kilmer's performance is brief, but memorable. Dead is someone who is haunted in many ways and the light, almost fragile, way Kilmer plays him, and those scenes, is captivating.

Those going to get an insight into the black metal scene may be disappointed. This movie focuses on the true crime elements of the story and while that is driven by the music scene it is set in, it seems to push the music itself to the background. It also seems to want to ignore the ideologies that drove some of these young men. The movie doesn't really examine toxic masculinity that this actually steeped in. It would have had a huge impact on the events that happened but is ignored in favour of portraying these characters as just a bunch of young men who were what they accused everyone else of being - posers.

Euronymous ends the movie listing off all the things he accomplished in his young but short life, albeit in his narcissistic fashion, and asking the audience 'what in the fuck have you done lately, poser?' filled with arrogance. This to me sums up not just Euronymous as Culkin is portraying him, but the real young men who were at the core of this horrific story. The movie paints a picture of them as bored, entitled young men who wanted to make music, be as shocking as possible, and who tried to one up each other with deadly consequences. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Release Date - May 14, 2019
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books 
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  432 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends...

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
This is one of those books that I fell so completely in love with that words will not be enough. Red, White and Royal Blue will easily make my list of best books I read in 2019. It's the kind of book that works its way into your heart and leaves a lasting impression. It is one of those rare occurrences where a premise that dazzled me was executed to perfection.

This book a salve for those of us who were weary and broken after the 2016 election. It offers up a very bittersweet ‘what if’ but also manages to bring such joy. A female president may be something that only exists in fiction but this, somehow, makes the reader hopeful for it to one day happen in reality. It also paints a portrait of a powerful woman who can be there for her family and run the country. It is not that this should be a shocking idea, but the way that Casey crafts President Claremont circumvents some of the expectations I anticipate people are going to have. She could have been a very different character, as we see elsewhere, but I am glad she wasn't.

We get to know Henry mostly via Alex’s perspective as the story mostly exists through him. We also get to know both of them through the achingly romantic email exchanges that they exchange. The emails are the stuff of romantic legend. The kind of thing hopeless romantics dream of receiving. They, much like the relationship between the characters themselves, are a mix of humour, banter, and  emotion with just the right amount of sexual tension.  I found myself swooning one minute, giddy the next, and delirious from the amount of emotion showcased in this correspondence. The little details make all the difference and Casey McQuinston obviously gets this. The inclusion of quotes from various famous writers not only revealed a lot about the characters but their feelings in a simple, yet clever, way.

The romance is much more complex and complicated than I was expecting. This shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. I anticipated reading more of a fluffy rom-com. A book where Henry and Alex falling in love would not have ignited any backlash  just some tabloid fodder. Instead, this book is very much grounded in our reality. It's a poignant look at what falling in love in the spotlight would look like for the First Son and Prince of England. It is messy and real but always tinged with hope.

Both Alex and Henry have baggage that they need to deal with. It is baggage that relates to their romance, but would have surfaced at some point regardless. Having a story for your main characters that is separate from the romance always makes the story richer and this story is made all the better because of the detail given to building up the characters. It really is the characters who make you fall in love with this story because you wholeheartedly root for them. The obstacles they face are ones that feel organic and real that this, at time, feels like it could have been inspired by real events.

The relationships outside of the core romance are just as important to the story. The family bonds and friendships showcased add nuance and texture to the story just as well as the romance does. These other relationships add layers to the main romance and flesh out the book in important ways. I loved the dynamic and friendships that exists between Alex's group and Henry's group. They're the cool kids you want to hang out with. A group whose lives come with certain expectations that make them cling to the people who understand what that is like. Their love for one another is evident as we see them be there for each other time and time again.

I can only hope this novel finds the readers who need it. It might inspire them to, like Henry and Alex, make some history of their own. Casey McQuiston became a must read author for me after this knock out of a debut. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I expect you'll love Alex and Henry's love story as much as I did.

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