Sunday, February 28, 2016

Blog Tour - The Winner's Kiss

When I was offered a chance to send a series I love off in style I jumped at the chance to get involved. When I found out it also included me getting to share one of my favourite literary kisses, while I was even more excited to participate.

In order to celebrate The Winner's Kiss, which is the ending to the fantastic Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, a whole bunch of bloggers are talking kissing. Specifically the kissing that happens in our favourite books! If you've missed any of the previous stops along the tour, be sure to visit the main tour page on the Fierce Reads website.

Before I share what literary kiss I selected, here is a little about The Winner's Kiss (spoilers for those who may not have read the first two books in the series in the synopsis.

The Winner's Kiss
by Marie Rutkoski
On Sale March 29th, 2016
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
This series is incredible! If you haven't read the first books be sure to do so before the end of March when the finale releases. I've read it and it's a fantastic ending to an already amazing series. Be sure to add them to your Goodreads as well.

Now I get to share one of my most favourite literary kisses. I anticipate it may be a few other people's as well! This book is still one of my all time favourites.

What book is your favorite literary kiss in? Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Who is kissing? Anna Oliphant and Étienne St. Clair 

Why is it your favorite? You know how when you're reading a book and every single part of you just wishes you could make the characters kiss already? The author has built up this tension that you feel as desperate for the kiss to happen as the characters do? That moment that it happens? That dizzying, heart swelling moment? This scene is that. The lead up to this kiss is pure delicious torture but the kiss is so worth it.

Bonus Question: what kiss do you hope will occur in Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Kiss? The only obvious answer to that is Kestrel and Arin.
Etienne's dark eyes search mine. "What are we doing?" His voice is strained.
He's so beautiful, so perfect. I'm dizzy. My heart pounds, my pulse races. I tilt my face toward his, and he answers with an identical slow tilt toward mine. He closes his eyes. Our lips brush lightly.
"If you ask me to kiss you, I will," he says.
His fingers stroke the inside of my wrists, and I burst into flames.
"Kiss me," I say.
He does.
I love, love, love, love this scene, and this kiss. If you've read Anna and the French Kiss let me know if this is one of your favourites as well in the comments.

The people at Macmillan were also kind enough to allow us to...

I've chosen Emilie from Emilie's Book World to be introduced to this incredible series. I know she'll love the romance between Kestrel and Arin and I cannot wait to discuss it with her.

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat.

Be sure to let me know in the comments what your own pick for best kiss would be! Have you read The Winner's Curse? If so let me know who you hope gets to kiss in the thrilling finale! Look out for my review of The Winner's Kiss this week on the blog!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

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).

New To My Book Closet is a day early this week, and there will be no Weekly Obsessions posts because I have a special post going up on Sunday! I am taking part in the blog tour for The Winner's Kiss and will be sharing my pick for favourite literary kiss! Check back on Sunday to see what I selected.

I had quite a few goodies show up in my mailbox this week! So many that I am very excited for.

First up, Hachette sent me some books that I am VERY excited for.

Asking For It by Louise O'Neill (goodreads)
The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker (goodreads)

I've heard great things about Asking For It, and cannot wait to read the sequel to The Witch Hunter! Thanks to Hachette Canada for these titles.

Next up are some books I purchased and another review copy that arrived in my mailbox.

Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins (goodreads)
The Edge Of Falling by Rebecca Serle (goodreads)
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (goodreads)

Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me the short story collection. I loved My True Love Gave To Me and cannot wait to see these summertime romance set shorts.

The other 2 are books I purchased from Book Outlet. I couldn't resist this adorable copy of Peter Pan and hadn't yet read this book by Rebecca Serle!

What bookish items made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman 
Release Date - February 9, 2016
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay. 
Origin stories have always fascinated me. I love delving into what made someone who they are. This is the origin story of Blackbeard, one of histories most fearsome pirates. Blackhearts, at it's heart, is a love story. An incredibly romantic one that leaves you eager to learn more about the man who became Blackbeard.

Those looking for a swashbuckling pirate adventure may be disappointed as very little of this takes place on a ship and there is also very little piracy within these pages. This feels like rather a set up for more grand adventures in future novels. This truly is an origin story where we see his desire for adventure, and his passion for the sea lead him towards his future.

The romance in this one was a slow burn. I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy the romance at first as the first meeting gets off to a rocky start, but the gradualness of their connection eventually won me over. They are both people searching for a way out of situations they do not want to be in any longer. She feels out of place with her mixed heritage and just wants to feel a deeper connection to her mother's roots. He wants freedom, and the right to decide his own future. Both are desperate to break free, and this brings them together. They do, at their core, have quite a bit in common and that is what cemented their bond for me. They also each have a strong personality which makes their relationship spark from almost the beginning.

There is no official confirmation of a sequel, and with the abruptness of the ending, it certainly doesn't end in a way that feels like a complete story. The story isn't fully told, at least from my point of view. This doesn't feel like an open ended ending to the story, but rather the ending of the first chapter of it. I enjoyed it, and want the sequel, but the ending almost necessitates one, and that is something that doesn't work in it's favour. This is particularly true if no sequels are planned, but I do hope they are in the works.

A beautiful romance is typically at the heart of any good story and Blackhearts is no exception. We end on the cusp of great adventure and a little further down the path to Edward Drummond becoming Blackbeard. Those who love historical novels, and romantic reads will want to give this one at try. I certainly hope to set sail with these characters for the next part of their journey.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday ..... The Female Of The Species

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

My pick this week is The Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever. Acclaimed author Mindy McGinnis artfully crafts three alternating perspectives into a dark and riveting exploration of what it means to be the female of the species.
This basically sounds like everything I have wanted in book. I am hoping for dark but also a poignant look at what it means to be a female. A bit of a wait for this one as it doesn't come out until Sept but I have every confidence it'll be well worth the wait.

Expected release date - September 20, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Kill The Boy Band by Gold Moldavsky

Kill The Boy Band by Gold Moldavsky
Release Date - February 23, 2016
Publisher Website - Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 320 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.
Four fangirls, and a kidnapped boy band member. What could possibly go wrong? Kill The Boy Band is a sharp, darkly funny look at fangirls, and the power a fandom can hold. It's addictive, and shines a bright spotlight on society's tendency to underestimate anything teens, particularly teen girls, are passionate about.

Goldy Moldavsky's writing is razor sharp. It is so on point, and captures the voice of the tumblr generation with precision. This will be the book that future authors will use as a reference to the voice of this particular time when it eventually becomes historical fiction. It's like an amped up time capsule in book form. The dark tone has been compared to Heathers, Jawbreaker, and Mean Girls and those are worthy comparisons to be had. This novel's greatest strength is it's voice, and the boldness in which is allowed to shine.

Not only offering a pitch perfect voice, this novel creates a delicious sense of tension. Things quickly spiral out of control after the girls kidnap their least favourite member of their favourite boy band. There is a sense of apprehension as you know that none of this can end well. That sense of foreboding only increases the dark tone of the novel. It's boundary pushing. It's bold. The writing, the characters, and plot all emphasis this.

People are quick to devalue or dismiss anything that is made popular by a female audience. Teen girls in particular are subjected to this. They are mocked, and the things marketed to them are deemed guilty pleasures that should be hidden in shame. Their power is all too often overlooked. However, this group has the money to spend purely on entertainment, and money talks. Comic Con had to move the Twilight movie panels to earlier in the day to accommodate the fact that their fans packed the venue. There is an awesome power there, people just tend to overlook it.

It is, also, often forgotten that these fandoms are behaving exactly as they should. There is a quote that resonated deeply with me as I was reading.

'Being interested in cute boys is what we're supposed to be doing at this age.'

This one line sums it up perfectly. This is exactly what they are supposed to be doing. This novel points out that the sheer power of their voice should be celebrated and encouraged because who knows where it could be focused as they grow older. This nugget is hidden within this novel's slick, black heart but it is there and it's a powerful message to take away. It also dances with how this power is sometimes viewed as scary or overwhelming and that is why there is this need to reduce or limit it.

The characters are an eclectic mix of girls that do not seem to have anything in common, nothing that would cement them as friends other than The Ruperts. This feels authentic to the fandom experience, particularly boy bands fans. Discovering that someone likes the same boy band as you will immediately result in a bond. This entire novel, while heightened and dramatized, does have some truth within it's pages about the frenzy that surrounds these boy bands, and their fans. It is easy to be pulled into the freedom of unabashedly professing your love of something and that is what fandoms are all about. I also delightfully appreciated that the crushing realization all fangirls have when faced with the fact that their idols are imperfect was included in this novel. These boy band members are human, and are flawed. Goldy makes sure that they fall from their pedestals just a little, and it's nostalgic for anyone who has gone through it.

A novel that celebrates the power of fangirls with a bitingly dark edge. This novel is a must read for those who want their stories laced with dark humour, and is a love letter to anyone who has ever been passionate about something, particularly young girls. Goldy Moldavasky is a bold, brightly vivid new voice the young adult genre and I await, with the fevered excitement of a group of fangirls, whatever she writes next.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Into The Dim by Janet B Taylor

I was thrilled to be invited to be part of the Canadian blog tour for Into The Dim! It's been described as Outlander for teens and since I am obsessed with the Outlander TV show, I was excited to give this a try.

As part of the tour we will each be reviewing the book, and were allowed to ask Janet one question! Mine was, of course, time travel related.

If you could travel any where, in any time period, when and where would you travel?

I've often said that Hope lives out my 1st time travel dream in Into The Dim, when she visits London in 1154 to meet Eleanor of Aquitaine. But aside from that…I love Christmas! And any Christmas fan worth their salt would likely choose that most ‘Christmas-y’ time of all…Victorian England! The age that really ramped up Christmas. So many of the traditions we still practice today were born during that time. The first Christmas trees in the home. Carolers. Ladies in bonnets and capes. Men in top hats and tails. Snow and lights and wassailing all over the place. Now THAT was how you celebrated Christmas. Those Victorians…They really figured out how to do Christmas right!

A huge thank you to Janet for taking the time to answer my question, and to Raincoast for hosting the tour. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more review, and questions!

My Review

Into The Dim by Janet B Taylor
Release Date - March 1, 2016
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 432 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.  Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.
At first glance it is easy to see why Into The Dim garners comparisons to Outlander. Time travel? Check. Scotland? Check. Romance? Check. Into The Dim has it's own spin on time travel, and creates it's own juicy romance that, I feel, allows it to stand as it's own thing. With shades of Romeo and Juliet, it will appeal to those who love their romances as complicated as they do swoon worthy.

The pacing of this novel is what initially drew me into the story. It's fast, and filled with action and adventure. The first part of the novel is used as set up fot the rest of the story and the time travel element doesn't really appear until about 1/3 of the way into the story. This extra time allowed us to get comfortable with Hope before we're thrown into a new setting with her. Once the time travel comes into play, the story picks up the pace, and doesn't let up until the ending. This is a case where the story is the focus, with the writing being straight forward.

The characters easily endeared themselves to me. Hope, especially, became one of my favourites. There is more than a few shades of the 'chosen girl finds her destiny' trope but I forgive that as it is used in almost all adventure style books. There is a call to adventure, and the heroine is the only one who can answer the call. Hope isn't immediately gifted, and she see her struggle with things. It added a level of realism to her character. The side characters, Phoebe in particular, are also engaging and I am excited to learn more about them.

The hows and whys of time travel are delved into, but almost as background information. Those looking for an in depth analysis and scientifically backed reasoning to this part of the story may be disappointed. I, however, felt this novel was more about it's absorbing storyline, and characters. The explanation given is logical, and presented clearly so the why and how are there, it's just not as big a focus as one might expect. The historical elements read as well researched, and there is an attention to detail that made the setting leap off the page.

This novel will make you want to transport yourself into history. As Hope gets to view a moment in history that means something to her, I couldn't help but daydream about what that would mean for me. The ability to see Anne Boleyn crowned Queen would be breathtaking. It absolutely is the kind of book that makes you question the choices you'd make if put in this situation, and the wonder and magic of seeing a completely different era.

While it allows you to see that time travel can hold a certain allure, it also focused on the more unsettling aspects. The reality of disease, the rights and freedoms we are accustomed to not being the same, the entire feeling of being a 'fish out of water' as everything feels strange and unknown. The act of time travelling itself is also painted as a painful, harrowing ordeal. There is also a focus on changing the past, and the ramifications that would hold. The novel hammers home the point that this is dangerous, and that is never far from the reader's mind. The balance between the rewards and risks is incredibly well done, and it paints a, surprisingly, almost realistic portrayal of what it might be like to be in this situation. Putting the reader into Hope's shoes, so to speak, is what this novel excels at and what allows a connection to the story and characters to be created.

The romance is one of the most intriguing parts to the story. Not the romance itself, as that is rather typical of YA, but an element woven into the romance piqued my interest and has me excited for what it may mean for future novels. There are plenty of threads left to create compelling and dynamic storylines so I am excited to continue this series and see what the events of this novel mean for the characters, and the romance. There is the briefest hint of a potential love triangle, but it is definitely not the primary focus, even within the romantic plot.

Filled with adventure, romance, and engaging characters, Into The Dim offers a promising start to a new series. If you're looking for a time travel novel that will make you wish you could transport yourself back in time, and offers up pure escapism fun in the process, this is the book for you. It's a fun read, and sometimes that is exactly what you need.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

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 awesome made it's way into my mailbox this week! I feel rather spoiled!

First up, my first #otspsecretsister package for this new round.

Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour (goodreads)
Werewolves by Kelley Armstrong (goodreads)

I basically fangirled over the entire package but the tea, you guys! THE TEA! It's a set of Peter Pan inspired teas. It includes the following ...

How pretty are these tins? Seriously, I am in love. I am currently trying them all but have so far tried the Tink blend, and the Neverland inspired one. I am curious about the rest, and will report back on which was my favourite.

Oh and to my #otspsecretsister.... reply is coming soon! Writing it this weekend and will mail on Monday! Thanks again, Tink!

I also received this lovely for review. I am part of the blog tour and my stop is tomorrow! I am settling in to write my review but this is pretty much Outlander meets Romeo and Juliet and it was REALLY FUN!

Into The Dim by Janet B Taylor (goodreads)

Thank you to Raincoast Books for the chance to review and be part of the blog tour. Visit tomorrow to read all my thoughts, and to hear where Janet would like to travel to if she could!

Lastly, one of the books I had pre-ordered came in a little early. This will be on shelves on Tuesday and I've been hyping this one on Twitter with teasers all this week.

Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky (goodreads)

How insane is this design? Seriously. It's eye catching and pops. The end papers?! Amazing. It fits the inside of the book perfectly. This is a darkly funny story of what happens when 4 fangirls kidnap their least favourite member of their favourite boy band! Be sure to pick it up!

What bookish items made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Release Date - February 23, 2016
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.
My knowledge of the Aladdin tale begins and ends with the Disney version. Horrible, I know. I was immediately intrigued by the twist of having the jinni who aids Aladdin be female, and in doing so adding a delicious complication to the plot. The Forbidden Wish is a entrancing tale that not only pays tribute to it's source material, but creates a rich mythology all it's own.

The jinn mythology is rich and layered. Zahra, herself, comes with a complicated past that weaves together with the mythology to deepen and enrich the story. This is where the novel truly shines. Jessica Khoury has created a vivid setting that only compliments this mythology. Her writing is filled with lush descriptions, and breathing sequences of magic and wonder. The setting is perhaps the strongest aspect of the story after the mythology that has been created.

Zahra is a complicated character. She's steadfast, resolute, resourceful, impulsive, and both strong and weak. She is ruled by things that bind her and longs for freedom. She desperate for the freedom that she's been denied for so many years and is willing to be a little ruthless to get it. She struggles with a lot of the choices she has to make. She doesn't instantly do the right thing, or even know what the right thing is. She figures it out as she goes along, and learns what is truly important to her. This was especially relatable because none of us always know what to do in various situations. We stumble, make mistakes, and learn from them. That is something Zahra is desperately trying to do - learn from her mistakes and not repeat them. It makes this mythical being seem human in a very real way.

Caspida, the Princess, is used to be underestimated. She, like Zahra, is used to those around her thinking her incapable of making decisions on their own. She is a capable, strategic future Queen, and one whose intelligence is evident from the moment we meet her. This story has a pulsing undercurrent of feminism to it. It's focus is two women struggling against those who wish to rule them. It's two women claiming their voices, and forging their own path in hierarchies primarily dominated by men. This subtle aspect to the story is incredibly well done, and done in a way that feels organic to the story.

The romance is surprising. The initial pitch made it sound like a love triangle would grace these pages. There is the barest hint of one, but it is obvious where everyone's hearts are leading them almost immediately. Instead we are treated to a story about love in all it's forms, and the how powerful it is. Love has the power to do many things. It can heal, hurt, inspire and be a source of strength. People often allow their hearts to rule their decisions, and that speaks to the power it holds over us. This novel celebrates both the good and bad things that can result from love, and how sometimes sacrificing for those you love can be the most selfless thing imaginable. The love between friends, romantic love, family bonds, and the love a ruler holds for their people are all found within these pages, and all given equal weight and significance. It truly celebrates love, and is the heartbeat of the story.

A dizzyingly spellbinding retelling that is as romantic as it is magical. This will please fans of the Aladdin tale and ensnare new fans with it's lush setting and delightful characters. Jessica Khoury adds a little extra magic to the jinni that aids Aladdin, and her story is not one you're likely to forget.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday ..... As I Descended

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

My pick this week is As I Descended by Robin Talley

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford?and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.
This was immediately on my list when I heard it was a retelling of Macbeth where both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are female. Add that to the fact that it is a modern adaptation set in a high school and I was obsessed. The cover was just revealed and it has only increased my need to devour this book.

The wait for September is going to be a long one but I have a feeling it's going to be well worth it.

Expected release date - September 6, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard
Release Date - January 26, 2016
Publisher Website - Mira/Harlequin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.
It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream;to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights.In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want;a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends;except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition :to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth;that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it. Amid a glittering cast of ingenues and Hollywood titans: Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes, Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.
Classic Hollywood has always fascinated me. The studio system, and the way that the stars seemed larger than life have always held an undefinable allure. Jean Harlow, one of it's brightest stars, was not well known to me when I picked up Platinum Doll but she had always fascinated me and I wanted to know more about her. This novel examines a specific time in her life, one that showcases her charm, and makes her story a universal one at it's core.

The magic of this novel is that it captures Classic Hollywood and the 1920s perfectly. While there may be some romanticizing on my part, that era feels like it does hold a little bit of magic. There is a decadence to everything and that shines through the writing in this particular novel. It makes you long to be able to transport yourself, even for just a little while, to experience it for yourself. This novel succeeds because it makes you feel a little of that Hollywood magic as you fall into Harlean's story.

Harlean, who would become Jean Harlow, is portrayed as young woman finding her voice. Following her journey during those formative years between the age of 16 until her early 20s,  we see her transformation from a timid but driven girl into someone who demands her voice be heard. Her bond with her mother is the central focus on this novel. Their relationship is often frustrating as you see how the bonds of love allow Harlean to be taken advantage of time and time again. This story of a young woman being thrust into the spotlight as she tries to find her own footing will resonate simply because we all go through that period where we define ourselves for ourselves instead of for those around us. This really is a story of a girl growing up in so many ways and that is something everyone experiences.

This hits so many of the right notes for me - Classic Hollywood, family drama, an intriguing main character. It does, however, have an all too familiar feel to it. It could be the story of any pretty, blonde actress in the 1920s into the 1930s trying to make her way in Hollywood. There is nothing that sets is apart from other similar novels. It offers a well written, fun read, but perhaps one that doesn't leave a lingering impression on the reader once the final page is turned.

A worthy read more for the writing within the pages than the story itself. The story, while enjoyable, is instantly familiar, but offers a sympathetic, and uplifting look at a young starlet learning to make her own decisions. Those who love the golden age of Hollywood will not want to miss this one.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

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).

This adorable addition to my mailbox made me very happy. I saw these and had to purchase them immediately. I love Stephanie Perkins' books and her characters.

How cute, right?! I especially love the Anna and Etienne. Something about their love story is still my favourite. Now I want to do a re-read of this series.

What bookish items made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

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.


Outlander Season 2 key art and trailer

I was a late to the Outlander party but when I finally decided to watch it I totally fell in love. The cast, the storyline, the romance! All of it is perfect.

The official season 2 trailer has been released and it has made me VERY excited for the show to return in April! I mean... this trailer!

The also released the key art for season two and it is STUNNING! How hot do the Frasers look? Big fan of Jamie's new hair cut! *swoon* and Claire looks beautiful. 


Suicide Squad Funko Dolls

I am not usually into Funko Dolls. The only one I really REALLY want is the Lumiere one (from Beauty and the Beast). He is adorable. 

Now, Funko released their new Suicide Squad Funkos and they are awesome!!

I need the Harley Quinn and Joker Funkos! NEED!! I am so excited for this movie.

Ottawa Book Blogger Meet Up

Sign ups for the meet up close VERY soon and I am so excited to get planning this event. It's always really fun. If you want to sign up all the details are in the sign up post. We'd love to see you there!

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Blog Tour : Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

I am so happy to be part of the official blog tour for Glass Sword. Since it's already in stores I hope some of you have already picked it up and have started reading it. I cannot wait to discuss it with you all.

My review will be below, and there is a pretty amazing giveaway as part of this blog tour as well so be sure to enter it. Seriously, the prize is amazing! Also visit the other stops for more reviews!

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Release Date - February 9, 2016
Publisher Website - HarperTeen/Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 448 pages
My Rating - 5/5
Book Links - Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes and Noble // Chapters
**received for honest review from the publisher**


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
The Red Queen series is not one of absolutes. There simply good or bad. There is a whole lot of wiggle room in between the two. As a result there is not one character that can be defined as fully good or evil within these pages. People are often ever shifting in their morality and this novel reflects that truth. We all make bad decisions for what we feel are good reasons sometimes and Victoria Aveyard embraces that greyness. Glass Sword embraces the shades of grey that Red Queen first introduced and reminds us that good and evil really depend on who is telling the story.

Glass Sword took Mare's story into unexpected places. The world is expanded and with it comes breath stealing storylines that are filled with surprises, and some new characters to love. So much of what Victoria chose to do in this instalment felt bold and daring. It's not the predictable direction you would expect it to take and that makes this story all the more engaging. It could go in any direction, and it is not necessary telling the story you think it is. It leaves you feeling unsettled because this could be the story of how a young woman becomes the hero, or it could just as easily be the story of a young woman becoming a villain.

Mare struggles with the events in book one. They have left their mark and haunt her every step. Maven's betrayal has cut deep and she is now a closed off, distrustful mess. She is sometimes selfish, sometimes cruel, and often makes quick tempered decisions AND I LOVE HER FOR IT. I've always said that I don't have to agree with a character's actions, or even like their decisions, but I do have to understand them. I understand Mare. The writing ensures that the reader recognizes her motivations. The things that happened to her have an impact and that's made her who she is. There is character growth, even if it feels like negative character growth. This isn't the story of someone learning to open up. Instead this is a systematic hardening of a young girl who has had a large responsibility put on her, one she is not sure she's ready for. She's a reluctant heroine, one who isn't sure the shoe fits. “If I am a sword, I am a sword made of glass, and I feel myself beginning to shatter.” This quote lingered with me and I think it defines Mare's mental state during Glass Sword perfectly. Mare is beginning to become a little ruthless, and we all know that saying about power and how it corrupts.

Maven haunts these pages both physically and metaphorically. His betrayal is the catalyst for so much of what happens in this novel. Both Cal and Mare mourn the loss of the boy they thought he was. He is never far from any of their thoughts, and he is hot on their trail while tracking down the new bloods. The path that Victoria takes with him is unexpected, and welcome. He is not some cliche villain. This is a villain who thinks he is just and right in his actions. This is a villain that sees himself as the hero of his own story, and those are the most dangerous (and fascinating) villains of all.

The romantic scenes are extremely subtle in this novel, but they are some of the most swoon inducing ones I've read. The ability to create chemistry and sexual tension without any kissing is an art, and Victoria Aveyard manges it masterfully. Her words paint a picture with nothing more than a look, or a brief touch. I am so fully invested in one particular ship that I am sure it'll end badly, but it doesn't even matter, because it is so perfectly written. There are parts of this novel I want to read again because of the emotions they capture. The romance in this isn't the central focus (hello, war happening) but it is the heartbeat. It is just as complex, and complicated as everything else. Feelings of betrayal, guilt, trust, loss, and lust are all tangled together. It's messy and that makes for some compelling dynamics.

Victoria Aveyard once again offers up a juggernaut of an ending that will leave you madly desperate to get your hands on book three. It is the sort of ending that once again pushes this novel into new territory. It is, like the rest of Glass Sword, bold and offers the perfect exclamation point to this chapter of Mare's story.

Now for the giveaway! Be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter below to win this amazing prize. Seriously, I need one of the Scarlet Guard scarves! *need*

One winner will get a RED QUEEN Prize pack from HarperTeen, which includes:

- 1 Physical Copy of CRUEL CROWN (0.1 & 0.2 Red Queen)

- 1 Red Queen foam sword that reads “Kneel or Bleed”

- 1 Scarlet Guard scarf

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Victoria Aveyard is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Red Queen.

Victoria was born and raised in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, a small town known only for the worst traffic rotary in the continental United States. She moved to Los Angeles to earn a BFA in screenwriting at the University of Southern California. She currently splits her time between the East and West coasts. As an author and screenwriter, she uses her career as an excuse to read too many books and watch too many movies. She has sold several television pilots and feature-length screenplays. You can visit her online at or on Twitter at @VictoriaAveyard.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday ..... Eligible

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

My pick this week is Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, ELIGIBLE both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.
As a huge Pride and Prejudice fan any adaptation is going to catch my attention. This one is a modernize take on the classic and sounds perfectly delightful. The April release date isn't even that far away at this point and I am very excited to get my hands on it!

Expected release date - April 19, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Truth About Boys by Shana Norris

Today I get to celebrate The Stolen Kiss series by Shana Norris. I'll be reviewing The Truth About Boys which is the most recent in the series.

Before I do, however, here is a little bit about the previous books in the series. Keep in mind that you can read them in any order you want so you don't have to start with the first book that was released (but I do recommend it).

The first book released was The Boyfriend Thief. You can find out all about by visiting it's Goodreads page.
The second book released was The Secrets Between You and Me and be sure to visit it's Goodreads page.

The fun thing about this series is that the characters overlap and each book allows you a glimpse of what is happening with them! It's fun and exactly why I love companion style novels.

There is also a short story called One Week that you can read that is set in this same world.

Be sure to visit it's Goodreads page. The Studio (by Paper Lantern Lit) also has a series page set up where you can learn more about each of these titles. The images above will link to The Studio page for each book as well.

Lastly, if my review temps you (and I hope it does) you can start this series for FREE! Yup, FREE! The Boyfriend Thief AND One Week are both currently free on multiple platforms.

Here are the purchase links for each book (if you want to check them out).

The Boyfriend Thief

The Secrets Between You and Me

One Week

The Truth About Boys

There is also a Rafflecopter giveaway after the review for a copy of The Secrets Between You and Me and The Truth About Boys to round out the series for FIVE lucky winners.

The Truth About Boy by Shana Norris
Release Date - February 9, 2016
Publisher Website - The Studio
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 251 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
6 guitar strings. 2 boys. 1 summer to let it all go.

The summer before college, Kate Watts wants to do three things: make music, hang out with her best friend Ashton, and scoop ice cream. With an ailing grandfather, a flaky mom who shows up once every who-knows-when, and a looming tuition bill to pay, Kate doesn’t need any more complications.

But “complications” have a way of finding her.

Like when an infuriating new boy named Rory humiliates her at a party.

Like when her wild cousin Paisley shows up unexpectedly at her doorstep to stay.

Like when she’s offered the chance of a lifetime—but only if she throws away the dream she’s been working for.

Soon, straight-shooting Kate gets swept up in a whirlwind of parties with Paisley, all while falling for hot-and-cold Rory…until she begins to suspect that Rory and Paisley might be keeping a huge secret together. Will Kate have to leave everything behind to untangle the truth—including herself?

The Truth About Boys is a companion novel to The Boyfriend Thief and The Secrets Between You and Me and the third book in Shana Norris’s Stolen Kiss Collection. The Stolen Kiss Collection may be read in any order. 
We've all heard the saying about ships and how they are safe in harbour. We also know the ending of that saying. The harbour may keep the ship safe, but that isn't their purpose. The idea that keeping yourself (or your heart) safe may mean missing out on some pretty great experiences is the heart of this novel. Shana Norris focuses on a young woman who struggles to take risks, and in doing so inspires us to take a few ourselves.

The entire Stolen Kiss series is a fun read. It's light, and well paced. The story isn't needlessly dragged out, and it balances the drama with resolution rather well. It's this fact that made the series such an enjoyable one. The author knows what works for her skills and characters and uses it to her advantage. The writing is straight forward and matches the style of novel perfectly.

Kate is careful, controlled, and safe. She has a plan and nothing will stand in the way of it. She also judges those around her, sometimes unfairly and harshly. I think that everyone will recognize a little of themselves within these pages. We've all made decisions and regretted them. We've all been too scared to grab an opportunity and been haunted by the notion of 'what if'. Even if you cannot relate to Kate, you can at least understand her and her motivations. Her character arc is predictable, but there is something comforting about that predictability and the character herself.

Putting other people's desires before your own is thoughtful, but not to the detriment of your own happiness. Sometimes it is okay to be selfish and say that you want something for yourself. Sometimes you have to make your own decisions and follow your own path because it'll lead to your own happiness. Kate struggles with this. She is, at her core, a people pleaser. Particularly when it comes to those people she cares about. I can relate to this aspect of her character strongly. Telling readers, particularly young girls, that putting yourself first sometimes is not only okay but necessary, is perhaps one of the most important messages that a novel can have. This novel doesn't over do it making this point, but it's meaning is clear. Follow your dreams, let your voice be heard because what you want matters. If readers take anything away from this novel, I hope it's this message.

This ended up being my second favourite from this series of companion novels (The Secrets Between You and Me is still my favourite). Shana Norris has written a fun, enjoyable series that is a perfect read for a day at the beach. You'll fly through The Truth About Boys quickly, and immediately want to go read the others (if you haven't already).

a Rafflecopter giveaway ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Most days, Shana Norris still feels like she’s stuck at sixteen, which is probably why she enjoys writing about teens. She's played the flute since she was eleven years old, but is definitely not planning to start her own DJ business anytime soon. Shana lives in a small town in eastern North Carolina with her husband and small zoo of pets, which currently includes two dogs, seven cats, and a small flock of chickens.

Shana Norris has entertained millions of readers as the author of Troy High, the popular Swans Landing series, and the Stolen Kiss Collection, which includes The Boyfriend Thief, The Secrets Between You and Me, and The Truth About Boys. You can find her at

Monday, February 8, 2016

This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin

This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin
Release Date - January 5, 2016
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books/Macmillan
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 224 pages
My Rating - 2/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Bandmate, best friend or boyfriend? For Ramona, one choice could mean losing them all.

Ramona and Sam are best friends. She fell for him the moment they met, but their friendship is just too important for her to mess up. Sam loves April, but he would never expect her to feel the same way--she's too quirky and cool for someone like him. Together, they have a band, and put all of their feelings for each other into music.

Then Ramona and Sam meet Tom. He's their band's missing piece, and before Ramona knows it, she's falling for him. But she hasn't fallen out of love with Sam either.

How can she be true to her feelings without breaking up the band? 
Bands, love triangles, and messy complicated relationships are typically a recipe for me to love a book. When I picked up This Song Is (Not) For You, I had high hopes that I would love it. I wanted to love it. Sadly, I could not connect to the story or the characters and ended up not enjoying it as much as I had hoped to.

This novel explores three different points of view. Unfortunately, none of them differentiate from the other. They all, for me, blended together with nothing memorable standing out about any of the characters. This novel, I feel, would have worked better if the focus had been kept on one of the characters. I felt the time spent was too brief to get a clear picture of the characters, and when connecting to the storyline was finally starting to happen, it would rip me out of that narration to throw me into one of the others. It was jarring, and didn't allow the story to flow as naturally as it could have.

I felt that I was told a lot of things, instead of shown. Ramona repeatedly TELLS us how in love she is with both Sam and Tom. We are told of their amazing bond and how Tom brings their band together. We don't really get to see it. We don't feel the connection to the characters or the story and I think a lot of that is due to being told things. We need to feel the emotions with the characters, and that cannot happen if we're not invested.

The novel begins to deal with asexuality, but stops short of following through on this unique premise. It could have a fascinating story element to explore and expand upon, but it felt like footnote that missed all of the potential it held. The core of this story is three high school students finding themselves, and starting down a path to the future which may or may not include the band for some of them. This could have been used to create some excellent tension and been the central focus of the story. It would have allowed a nice look at growing up and changing in the time between who you are at the start of high school versus who you are at the end. Instead, for me, it felt like all these little pieces of potential were put into the story and left unexplored or fulfilled.

The ending is an abrupt ending. One that offers up it's own version of a happy ending that doesn't feel natural to the story. This is mainly because of the unresolved, and untapped story potential. It felt like things were tied together for the sake of a happy ending, without having the conversations that would reasonably happen with the reveals in this novel. Life isn't perfect, and neither are these characters, and it felt untrue to have it end the way it did (again, at least for me).

There are moments in this novel that do shine brightly, and plenty of potential. Even with that, this book ended up, sadly,  not being for me. The voices were not distinct from each other, and while plenty of the storylines showed promise, that promise never quite felt followed through for me. This is a case where the idea was fantastic, but the execution was just not something I personally enjoyed.

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