Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How To Break A Boy by Laurie Devore

How To Break A Boy by Laurie Devore
Release Date -  January 31, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  352 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself. 
Unlikeable is a word that gets used for female characters a lot. It usually means that the character in question made a decision the reader wasn't comfortable with, or made decisions that are morally skewed. I've noticed that female characters are held to a ridiculously high standard, or at least they used to be. Books like How To Break A Boy are starting to change this viewpoint. It unapologetically has characters that will be called unlikeable and I am so happy it does.

Laurie Devore's debut novel is written with precision. It's as bold as a dark red lipstick, and screams just as loudly. It's, at times, hard to believe that this is a debut novel because of how well crafted it is, and it is one that delivers a message as sharp as it's writing.

All the girls in this book make bad decisions. There are bad life decisions happening all over the place in this novel. These are not girls you're going to necessarily want to be friends with. You definitely wouldn't call them 'nice'. They are, however, complex, vivid, and realistic. We've all known girls like this, some of us may have been girls like this, and that makes this book instantly recognizable. I think it is important that this book shows girls like this that they can change. That their decisions do not have to define them forever. That you can make mistakes, and atone for them, and grow as a person.

As much as this book allows its female characters to be flawed, it never makes excuses for them. It shows the hurt that is caused to others, and themselves unflinchingly. It advocates for accepting the consequences of your actions, and showcases that you cannot control anyone else's actions but your own. It zeros in on manipulative toxic friendships and how hard it can be to break that cycle. It's easy to be sucked back in and we see that with Olivia and Adrienne's war. There are bystander casualties and that makes this book just a little more heartbreaking.

Olivia is such a nuanced character. Laurie has created a backstory for her that is simply heartbreaking, and as a result being inside her head gave me a bit of whiplash. She goes from having these redeeming moments, to making the worst possible decisions for reasons that make complete sense for her character even as you want to yell at her not to make them. Her voice is so strong, and vibrant that she effortlessly comes to life. It is her voice that compels the reader, and ensures you'll follow her through her bumpy journey.

Whit DuRant is definite book boyfriend material. He is forgiving, patient, and sweet. He calls Olivia out when she needs it, and encourages her to be the person she wants to be. He sees her not as the sum of her previous actions, but as someone who can be more. He may help Olivia find the path, but he recognizes it is her path to navigate. He cannot fix her, and I like that he didn't try. He just showed her that he felt she could change and that support was vital to both his character growth and Olivia's own journey. It doesn't hurt that their romance is basically the 'hate to love' trope which is one of my favourites.

If you like your female characters complex, messy, and razor sharp I recommend you pick up this stunning debut. If you like well written novels that are going to make you a little uncomfortable, I recommend this book.  Laurie Devore is a fierce new voice in young adult literature and I cannot see what characters she gives us next.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

New To My Book Closet

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

Lots of exciting things arrived in my mailbox this week. Two books I am VERY excited about and some yummy treats.

First up, Raincoast Books sent me this book which made me squeal and most likely annoy my neighbours, but I am sure you won't blame me.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (goodreads)

Next up is another book from Raincoast Books. I am also squealed when I received this one. It sounds amazing! I cannot wait to see how it twists the usual tropes and creates something really unique.

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (goodreads)

A huge thank you to Raincoast Books for both of these. I have already read the Emery Lord book and trust me, you want to pre-order this!

Lastly, my friend Kelly is amazing. She sent me some Oreo cookies that you cannot get here in Canada, as well as some fancy peanut butter (that is also not available here in Canada). Both are delicious and I am pretty sure this is my new favourite peanut butter. (Thank you, Kelly!)

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Weekly Obsessions

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

Everything is pretty awful right now but there were still a few things to get excited about released this week.


A Blade So Black by LL McKinney (goodreads)

Just read this deal announcement and tell me you don't want to read this immediately.
Pitched as a retelling of Alice in Wonderland with the butt-kicking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with a black teen heroine at its center, Alice is a warrior who battles Nightmares in the dark and terrifying dream realm known as Wonderland.
I love Buffy. I love retellings. This is obviously something I am going to be very interested in reading! I am excited to hear more about this title as the 2018 release nears.


Bates Motel Final Season Key Art

The key art is just as creepy as you would expect. They released multiple ones but this one is my favourite.

The key art is perfectly unsettling and perfect for the final season which takes Norman into Psycho territory to close out the show. I am going to miss this show so much. It holds some of the best acting on television right now and it pains me that it never got the awards recognition it deserves.

Beauty And The Beast 

The new live action Beauty and the Beast continues to be high on my must see list. They recently released a set of motion posters that introduce the characters. 

I particularly like the one for Gaston. He is exactly what I would expect him to be. The raised eyebrow and smirk are basically perfect. 


Mr Robot Funko Pops 

Funko recently announced a whole lot of upcoming Pops and Mr Robot was one of the collections they teased with some concept art.

I will obviously be needing the entire set. I especially love Darlene's glasses. The set did leave me asking one question though...

Which seems fair considering the second season. I hope he's just a store exclusive and is part of this first wave. I do not want to have to wait for the second wave.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, January 27, 2017

By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side by Kasie West
Release Date -  January 31, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  352 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side? In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side? 
Stranded in a library for an entire long weekend. Pretty much every book nerd's dream come true, at least on the surface but maybe not so much in theory. There may be all the books you could read but there are thing like the lack of food and heat that make this the opposite of fun. Kasie West mixes this premise with some sweet romance to create a novel that is classic Kasie West.

There is a lot of cute fluff within these pages, especially in the beginning of the novel, but the story does take a more serious turn once Autumn's panic attacks and Dax's past begin to play a larger role. Their romance is slowly built on how much they actually have in common and how right they are together. Dax calms Autumn and vice versa. They are simply what each other needs. It's like a perfectly fitting puzzle piece, even if it takes them a little while to realize this.

Autumn's need to please others, and not create waves stems from her desire to be liked. She doesn't want her friends looking at her differently. Her panic attacks ensure that she doesn't like being the centre of attention either. Plenty of people will be able to relate to aspects of her personality.

The biggest stand out, however, were the friends Autumn has. They were so supportive of Autumn and each other in general. Kasie West always tends to write really great friendships and this is no exception. It showcases how friendships should be, and I think that is an incredibly important message for everyone to learn.

This is a story of finding the courage to seek out what you actually want for yourself, and discovering what is good for you versa what is not. It's about knowing your limits and not being scared to voice what makes you uncomfortable. It may be about romance on the surface, but underneath each of the characters is discovering how to use their voice to get what they really need.

A cute, feel good novel for when you need to escape. A novel that will delight Kasie West fans as it gives you exactly what you're hoping for. It's exactly the kind of read you want to pick up after finishing something heavy as it'll leave you with a smile on your face.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Deal by Elle Kennedy

The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Release Date -  April 9, 2015
Publisher Website - Createspace Independant Publishing Platform
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 330 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**borrowed from a friend**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
She's about to make a deal with the college bad boy...

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she's carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush's attention, she'll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice...even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

...and it's going to be oh so good

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he's worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he's all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn't take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn't going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him. 
Unlike most Canadians I am not all that into hockey. I was intrigued however when I heard about this New Adult series that features hockey players. The Deal did not disappoint. Elle Kennedy heats things up on and and off the ice and delivers one of the best new adult novels I've read.

Pretend relationship to real relationship is always a good trope and Elle Kennedy uses it to perfection here. Hannah and Garrett entering into a mutual beneficial agreement leads to all kinds of delicious tension and relationship drama. I loved experiencing them navigate towards each other and overcoming the obstacles that stood in their way.

Despite the fun, light feel of the novel as a whole, there are some darker issues that are dealt with within the pages. Hannah's "baggage" when it comes to sex is on of these. I will not spoil where her baggage comes from but it makes complete sense for her character, and makes some of her choices more clear. Garrett is patient and allows Hannah to control what happens between them which added another sweet layer to their growing bond. I do wish that this had been a little more of the focus, and that it had gone a little deeper.

The other is related to Garrett's issues and what made him the character we know. His rough relationship with his father sets up a side story arc that not only explains a lot about Garrett's character and his attachment issues, but makes a statement about abuse in general. The way this story is woven into the main storyline is wonderfully done and it is not just used for dramatic purposes. There is a reason, and it also is such a large part of who Garrett is.

The other guys on the team are just as memorable as Hannah and Garrett. They leave a lasting impression which will undoubtedly carry over to the other books in this series. It was nice to see the friendships between the players and have Garrett interact with them when Hannah was not around. The dual perspective was used effectively to not only flesh out both Hannah and Garrett but added to the tension. This is a novel where communication would clear a lot of things up, but because the reader knows everything it ends up being all about the journey.

If you're not a sports person let me assure you that you will still very much enjoy this novel. It is a relationship novel first and foremost. It is not about the game as much as it is about the players. It really will appeal to non sports fans, especially if they love romance.

If you like hockey players, romance, sexytimes, and some fun banter I highly recommend you check out The Deal. Elle Kennedy has written a fun, sexy novel that leave you reaching for the next novel in this companion style series. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday .... Bad Romance

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 Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape. 

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.
Abusive relationship books have to be done right in order for me to want to read them. Romanticizing the behaviour does not send the right message, and I find a lot of books tend to do that.

I, however, trust Heather Demetrios to write about this particular subject with the proper care and attention it deserves. I am hopeful that this book is going to be a contrast to the many that have come out where the love interest is actually abusive but is presented as a romantic option for the heroine of the novel. I also think this will be much more hopeful and inspiring than it appears at first glance. It'll be about the light that comes after the dark and I anticipate Heather will do justice to that element as well.

I anticipate that this will be a great summer read as it comes out in June, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

Expected release date - June 13, 2017

Monday, January 23, 2017

Blog Tour - Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I am honoured to be part of the kick off for the Canadian blog tour for Caraval. It is a dizzying, magical, enchanting read that I am so excited for everyone to experience. 

Be sure to stop by and check out the other stops on the tour for more Caraval fun and surprises. 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Release Date -  January 31, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincoast
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever. 
There is a magic that happens when you've been swept away by a book. It has the ability to transport us into the story and creates a long lasting impression. Stephanie Garber has crafted a novel that does exactly this, and more. Caraval is a decadently enchanting novel that holds writing just as spellbinding as its setting and celebrates the bonds of sisterhood. It's magic and wonder wrapped in a little romance and entirely addictive.

The world building is so vivid, and lush that it comes alive as you're reading. It's a sort of wonderland filled with magic, excitement, and breathtaking discoveries. There are magic dresses, interesting forms of payment, and more than a few secrets waiting within these pages. It's the kind of world that you want to lose yourself in completely because it is so well crafted. You want to stay a little longer in it so you find yourself savouring the descriptions, and lingering over the magic of what Stephanie has created. It's the type of world that begs to be brought to life on the movie screen.

The novel's heart and soul is the bond between Scarlett and Tella. They are fiercely loyal to each other, and this bond is the central focus of the story. It is a not a perfect relationship, and I appreciated the nuances that are woven in. They can deeply annoy and disappoint each other, but the bond between is always there. This bond is what motivates Scarlett and drives many of the choices she makes. It drives the story and I hope it remains the focus in further sequels.

This is a story of secrets, mind games, and illusion. You'll feel as if you've been thrown down the rabbit hole and into Caraval yourself. You'll quickly learn to trust nothing, but do allow the magic of the novel to enchant you. Part of the novel's charm is falling into it along with Scarlett and discovering the world that awaits. It makes for a dizzying, twist filled read that leaves you questioning what was real even while providing answers. It's masterfully put together, and almost feels like an illusion itself at times as there is a sense of controlled abandon to it all. It seems like there are no rules, even as everything is meticulously plotted. 

There is a darkness to this world. It's woven into the very fabric of Caraval. Participants are warned that previous players have gone insane and not to get too swept away into the game. This set up, combined with the unease of not knowing what is real, who to trust, and sensory overload create a more sinister tone that contrasts the alluring side of the game. It creates a delicious tension that only adds to the speed of the pages turning as you won't be able to read fast enough.

Scarlett is a delight. She's not someone who possess strength in the typical way we may talk about when we consider strength. Her love for her sister is a strength. Her determination is a strength. Her willingness to take chances is a strength. Her agency is one of the things I love most about her character. She makes her own choices, and follows what she believes to be the right path. She isn't dependent on others (even if she receives help from time to time) and often follows her gut instincts instead of what people are telling her. This combined with her fierce bond to her sister made her an easy character to root for. You understand her, and therefore her choices.

The romance is as seductive as the rest of the novel. It boasts adorable nicnames, earned trust, and some incredibly romantic moments that will leave you swooning. While the romance may not be what drives the novel, it does play a large role. The backdrop of Caraval only highlights the magic of falling in love and Scarlett's journey to find Tella would not be complete without it.

The jaw dropping set up for the sequel is enough to make you want to win a wish of your own so that you could get your hands on it immediately. It peels just another layer from the mysterious world and the characters that inhabit it while giving readers plenty to theorize about. 

A magical adventure that transports you into the world of Caraval along with Scarlett. Stephanie Garber announces herself as a new voice in young adult literature with this stunning, and decadently written debut. This is a novel that will undoubtedly sweep you too far away, but you'll enjoy every moment of it.

Now that you've seen what I thought of Caraval, perhaps you want a little taste for yourself? Click the below image to be transported to Caraval and get a teaser of what awaits. You can also click the above image to check out more photos from Stephanie's Caraval Pinterest board! 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New To My Book Closet

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

I had a bunch of goodies make their way into my mailbox in the last little while.

First up are two candles that I ordered before Christmas and waited to share as some of them were gifts.

I especially love the Bucky Barnes scent while it is burning. It is lovely. I may have to order a larger size of that one.

Next up I ordered some lovely bookmarks from HappyHello on Etsy. I love my Stranger Things one so much! They are super cute but Will is noticeably missing so I may have to get one specially made to complete the collection. 

I also got her Will and Lou from Me Before You set! How cute are they?!

I also purchased a few things from Hot Topic this week. A colour changing Stranger Things mug!

It is amazing. The letters R, U and N turn red when heat is applied, and the background fills in white. It is pretty much my new favourite mug. 

Lastly, I manged to score this Joker Funko Pop. I previously showed that he came in two editions (regular colour and this special edition black and white option). I hit it lucky and was at Hot Topic when they put them out and scooped up the black and white edition as it was my preferred one. I love how the kisses pop as the only colour against the black and white.

That is it for me this week. Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Weekly Obsessions

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

Lots of exciting things in this week's post. I am excited for a new year and new things to get excited about.


Cover for E. Lockhart's Genuine Fraud (goodreads)

The new book from E. Lockhart was just announced and with it the cover was revealed. I love both the cover and the brief synopsis that was given for this book.

If you haven't read We Were Liars do so immediately and add Genuine Fraud to your 2017 reading list.

When We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia (goodreads)

This novel immediately caught my attention in its deal announcement. It sounds amazing and I cannot wait to read it 
set at the Medio School for Girls, where young women are trained to become one of two wives assigned to high society men. With revolution brewing in the streets, star student Dani Vargas fights to protect a destructive secret, sending her into the arms of the most dangerous person possible – the second wife of her husband-to-be. 
It is going to be a bit of a wait since this comes out in 2019 but I have a feeling it is going to be totally worth it.


Entertainment Weekly's First Look At Feud

I love everything about this cover. Ryan Murphy's newest show is going to be amazing and the talent is certainly there to ensure it is also well acted.

Canada is always a week behind on Entertainment Weekly issues so I am excited to pick up a copy of this as soon as it is available in stores.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood by Elly Blake
Release Date -  January 10, 2017
Publisher Website - Hachette Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 376 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Star-crossed lovers is a familiar trope to most book lovers. We've all read our fair share of books that embrace this trope and its forbiddenness. Frostblood offers up Elly Blake's take on a star-crossed romance and ends up providing an entertaining read in the process.

This novel is a fantasy that reads as contemporary. This is may way of saying that casual fantasy fans will love this book as well. It's a 'lighter' fantasy which is perfect for readers who are just dipping their toe into the world of fantasy. It has those elements, but the characters, not necessarily the world building, are what drive the story. I feel this will especially appeal to younger teens who are just discovering the genre. Fantasy fans will appreciate the world that is built and hunger for more from the subsequent novels to come in this series.

Romance fans will also delight in this novel. The romance in this one offers up plenty of banter due the personalities of the characters. Ruby and Arcus clash as much as you would expect and it makes for many humour filled moments. If you like your love stories to be filled with snark and tension this delivers in all the best ways.

Ruby's temper is a fiery as her gift. She's strong willed, capable, and determined. She has strength and vulnerability much like fire itself. She is just beginning to learn about her gift and her story arc is all about embracing all of herself, even the parts that scare her or that she doesn't like about herself. This element grounds the story and makes it relatable to pretty much everyone. We've all struggled with accepting ourselves in some way. Arcus is as cold as his frost and has his emotions walled in. It is a direct contrast to Ruby whose emotions are on full display. He is brave, loyal and has a hidden sense of humour that shows itself now and again. It is easy to fall into the story because you enjoy both these characters. It is made even better by the fact that you enjoy both of them together and on their own. The draw is not just their relationship.

This novel is, obviously, the beginning of a larger story but the book really does feel self contained. There are teases of what is to come, but there is a clear beginning, middle and end to the arc in this particular book. The tease of what is to come is more than enough to ensure you'll want to read the next book. What is left to discover about the mythology and history behind the powers of fire and ice is enough of a hook.

A promising start to a new series that offers up a strong willed main character, and plenty of romantic charm. If you are looking for a lighter fantasy novel this should be on your radar. I look forward to continuing Ruby and Arcus' story in future installments and that is largely due to how Elly Blake crafted their world and characters. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ... This Is How It Happened

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 This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened. 

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging.
I am a fan of all of Paula's previous novels and I am pretty much going to read anything she writes next. I am really excited for this one because of the premise and the information she has revealed about how it came about.

If you haven't read anything by Paula before I highly recommend that you do!

Expected release date - July 11, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cherry by Lindsey Rosin

Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
Release Date -  August 16, 2016
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In this honest, frank, and funny debut novel, four best friends make a pact during their senior year of high school to lose their virginities—and end up finding friendship, love, and self-discovery along the way.

To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan.

Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it was just simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving To Do List. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is scandalized, but, once they all admit to wanting to lose their v-cards too, they embark on a quest to do the deed together... separately.

Layla’s got it in the bag. Her serious boyfriend, Logan, has been asking for months.

Alex has already done it. Or so she says.

Emma doesn’t know what the fuss is all about, but sure, she’ll give it a shot.

And Zoe, well, Zoe can’t even say the o word without bursting into giggles.

Will everything go according to plan? Probably not. But at least the girls have each other every hilarious, heart-warming, cringe-inducing step of the way.

From debut author Lindsey Rosin, Cherry is a coming-of-age, laugh-out-loud tale of first times, last chances, and the enduring friendships that make it all worthwhile.
When I first stumbled across Cherry in the publisher's catalog I was immediately intrigued. It was pitched as American Pie but teen girls were the ones making the pact to lose their virginity. I was curious about how it would translate and if the novel would work. Luckily, Lindsey Rosin has written an empowering, and important novel that just also happens to be funny.

The friendship in this novel was probably my favourite aspect of the entire novel. The girls are supportive of each other. They push each other to be better and are not in constant competition with each other. They genuinely care about each other, and that bond shines through all of their scenes together. Their rituals, and group texts, and even the pact itself is more about the bond they share and wanting to let each other be part of their experiences. It may seem strange in a novel about sex that friendship would be the focus, but it really is.

This novel tackles the topic of losing your virginity from the female perspective. One of the the elements this novel gets so right is that none of the girl's stories are the same. None of them have the same experience with their first time. Some are awkward, some are sweet. Some are life changing, and some leave them wondering what the fuss was all about. Sex also means different things to each of them and each of them have sex with their chosen person for their own reasons. There are also varying levels of enjoyment which was refreshing. This showcases that sex is different for everyone, and means something different to everyone which is incredibly important. This novel really highlights that there is no 'normal' when it comes to sex, and that fact should be celebrated. This novel also features a bisexual character discovering this part of herself as part of her sexual journey.

The frank discussion about sex, from masturbation to orgasms and everything in between, serves as a great jumping off point for conversation. This is a a perfect novel for an older teen book club because of this. It doesn't make sex or talking about sex something shameful. It encourages dialogue, consent, and readiness. It also looks at safe sex and protecting yourself as something that is part of the sex conversation.

The biggest message this book offers, however, is the notion that you are not defined by your virginity. Females in society are often shammed for enjoying sex, or called a tease if they aren't ready and willing. This novel simply states that it should be on your terms. You attach the value to it. It can mean what you personally want it to, but that is not all you are. It's a healthy, positive message that encourages the embracing of female sexuality on our own terms.

The only minor issue I had was that it took a little while to fall into the pattern of the writing style. Once I did, however, the pages flew by. Your commitment is rewarded because the message of this novel is so incredibly worth it. It's a minor element that didn't impact my overall enjoyment of the story.

Cherry is a sex positive book that examines sex through a female perspective. It is a book that every young girl should read simply because it inspires so much discussion and reflection. It is the type of book I wish would have been available to me when I was a teenager. I am curious to see what Lindsey Rosin tackles next, but this fun, heartbreaking, second hand embarrassment inducing, smile causing novel is definitely worth the read. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Chapters Pinecrest YA Event

If you're an Ottawa book lover, a YA book fan in particular, you probably share my pain of there not being many bookish events in the city. There are not many signings, and hardly any other events that bring us all together.

Luckily, Chapters Pinecrest has something to help with that and chase away a bit of the winter blues at the same time.

If you're a YA fan and free this Saturday between 4 and 7 pm I highly recommend going. There will be ARC giveaways, trivia, arts and crafts and much more. It'll also provide an excellent opportunity to meet fellow YA fans and allow you to connect with people who like to read the same books you do!

No registration is required, you can just stop by and join in the bookish fun. I need everyone to go and post lots of photos so I can live vicariously through you as I will be working that day! It'll also help more events like this happen if we all support the ones that do happen.

You can learn more about the event on the stores Facebook page and also find out details of the store's location for travel planning.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New To My Book Closet

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

Some very exciting books made their way into my mailbox this week! I cannot wait to read both of these amazing sounding titles!

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon (goodreads)
Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor (goodreads)

A huge thank you to both Hachette Canada and Bloomsbury for sending these my way to review. Expect reviews of both of these on the blog in the upcoming months.

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Release Date -  May 31, 2016
Publisher Website - HarperCollins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.

Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.
Sometimes everything about a book - its characters, plot, writing - all come together to be exactly the book you need to read at just the right moment. Wanderlost was one of these books for me. Jen Malone crafted a charming, and immensely readable story of travel, romance and growing up. Wanderlost captures something special in book form and provides laughs, swoons, and inspiration in the process.

Aubree is a sheltered, and often overly dependent on others. She hasn't had the desire or opportunity to step outside her comfort zone. The idea of having to deal with the unfamiliar makes her uncomfortable at first. The heart of this novel is seeing Aubree come into her own and begin to discover the young woman she'll grow into. Her journey isn't just about romance, but about finding her own worth, and starting down her own path. The novel advocates going out of your comfort zone, and not underestimating yourself. It celebrates the confidence that is earned when you discover something about yourself you didn't realize before, and the growth that comes from testing yourself. There is real growth to her character, and her journey is something I feel will resonate with everyone in some way.

The side characters are a delight. The tour participants are such bright, vibrant personalities. They are used for the perfect amount of humour, with some surprisingly touching moments woven in. They will charm you as much as they do Aubree and help make the story even more of a pleasure to read.

Fans of banter filled romance will find much to love about Sam and Aubree's relationship. Their early interactions are giggle inducing and filled with some of the best banter I've read recently. Their chemistry, even over the phone, is palpable. It'll make you want to have a phone flirtation of your own, complete with adorable inside jokes (#ILikeYouBye).

Travel is a huge part of this story. Prepare yourself to be plagued with the desire to hop on a plane going anywhere after finishing this one. You'll want to map out your own itinerary and recreate some of your favourite movie moments while discovering new and unfamiliar places. The cities visited are used as a breathtaking backdrop to Aubree's journey but they add a little extra sparkle to an already wonderful story.

The ending of this novel is pitch perfect. It doesn't lose sight of what this story is really about and makes the ending not just about the romance, but about Aubree's personal journey. It's the perfect punctuation on a delightful story. It reaffirms the message of growth and taking chances while igniting your own desire to venture into the great unknown.

A story that will undoubtedly ignite your own wanderlust and leave you with a gigantic smile on your face from the sheer cuteness of this story and the romance. It's a perfect read to lift your spirits and chase away some of the winter blues.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Night In With Grace Kelly by Lucy Holliday

A Night In With Grace Kelly by Lucy Holliday
Release Date -  January 12, 2017
Publisher Website - HarperCollins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

**spoilers for the other two books in the series**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The LOL finale to the series that started with A Night in With Audrey Hepburn. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk.

Fate has got it in for Libby Lomax. She realised, far too late, that her best friend Olly, is the actual Love of Her Life. Now he’s in love with the so-nice-it-hurts, Tash, and it looks like her happy ending is completely out of reach.

Things start looking up when she, quite literally, runs into the completely gorgeous Joel. Libby discovers that there is more to Joel than his six-pack, not least, the incredible fact that he honestly believes he has found his fairy tale princess in her.

And if this wasn’t enough, an unwanted guest shows up on Libby’s enchanted sofa; Grace Kelly, wearing her iconic wedding dress and convinced that Libby is figment of her imagination. But one thing that Grace doesn’t believe in is fairy tales. Grace believes that if you really want something, then you’ve got to make it happen yourself; words which give Libby hope that happy endings aren’t just for fairy tale princesses… 
I love a little Hollywood magic, particularly those classic movies that feel like they transport you to another time and place. The Libby Lomax series has a little of that magic within its pages. It's part Bridget Jones, part golden age Hollywood combined to make fun rom-com style series that offers a quick read.

Libby is just as charming as in the previous two installments. Her self deprecation combined with her ability to get herself into the most embarrassing situations make her endearing. She's someone you easily root for and that is key in this type of story. She's a balance of the 'every woman' you typically get in this kind of story but has enough quirks and personality to keep her from feeling bland.

Out of the three Hollywood legends she is visited by I knew the least about Grace Kelly. Based on the portrayals of Audrey and Marilyn, I am going to guess this was a heightened portrayal. Lucy Holliday tends to take the known characteristics and gave them a dramatic flourish for these particular characters and it works. The outlandish nature of the story allows the quirkiness to feel grounded and real. She did a fantastic job in blending Libby's all to normal storyline with some magical realism.

Those expecting an answer about the magical couch may leave this novel disappointed. We don't get an explanation for the 'hauntings' that occur but I, personally, did not want one. Part of the charm of this novel is in the not knowing. It is not the important aspect of the story. The little we do know about the couch's history is enough and, like Libby, that is all we need to know.

Libby's love life has been filled with ups and downs and this book is no exception. She gets her typical Hollywood ending and drives off into the sunset with the guy that is perfect for her. I doubt anyone will be truly surprised or upset by who she ends up with, even if you happen to ship her with someone else. It is undeniable that things end as they should. It's a sweet, romantic ending that is the perfect way to say goodbye.

There is a bittersweetness to having this series end. I am not ready to say goodbye to Libby or her friends. I want to spend more time in this magical world. I am hoping that Lucy Holliday decides that Dillon needs his own story and that she writes a series with him being magically visited by three iconic Hollywood legends of his own (may I suggest James Dean and Clark Gable because I think that would be amazing). Here's hoping that Lucy eventually returns to this world and gives us a glimpse of what is going on with Libby, even if it is through someone else's story.

Libby's story ends with some laughs, some swoons, and a desire for more time spent with her and this world. Most of all however, A Night In With Grace Kelly, offers up a perfect ending to Libby's Hollywood story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ..... King's Cage

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 King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard


Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.
I could not believe that I hadn't already used this upcoming title for a Waiting On Wednesday post. It is one of my most anticipated of 2017 and I cannot wait for it to be released.

The ending of Glass Sword made me desperate to get my hands on the next book in this series and it sounds just as incredible as I had hoped.

If you've missed reading the first two novels in this series I highly recommend them. Luckily the wait for this one is pretty short now as it'll be released in less than a month!

Expected release date - February 7, 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mind Games by Heather W Petty

Mind Games by Heather W Petty
Release Date -  December 6, 2016
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

**Spoilers for Lock and Mori**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Sherlock Holmes and Miss James “Mori” Moriarty may have closed their first case, but the mystery is far from over in the thrilling sequel to Lock & Mori, perfect for fans of Maureen Johnson and Sherlock.

You know their names. Now discover their beginnings.

Mori’s abusive father is behind bars…and she has never felt less safe. Threatening letters have started appearing on her doorstep, and the police are receiving anonymous tips suggesting that Mori—not her father—is the Regent’s Park killer. To make matters worse, the police are beginning to believe them.

Through it all, Lock—frustrating, brilliant, gorgeous Lock—is by her side. The two of them set out to discover who is framing Mori, but in a city full of suspects, the task is easier said than done. With the clock ticking, Mori will discover just how far she is willing to go to make sure that justice is served, and no one—not even Lock—will be able to stop her. 
Retelling Sherlock Holmes is nothing new. It seems there is always a new adaptation or twist in the works. A teenage Sherlock may have been the initial hook, but this series charms far surpass that particular character. It boasts a finely crafted doomed romance, an unforgettable Mori, and some impressive plotting to create something fun, fresh and attention grabbing.

Heather Petty's Mori is the stand out of this entire series. You may pick it up for Sherlock, but will be pleasantly surprised by Mori. She's imperfect, and that is what makes her so fascinating. You can see the antagonist she'll become for Lock. You can see the damage being done to her, and all the broken pieces being made within her as a result. You see the path she is heading down, and you want to prevent it even as you want to see what she'll become. She's already formidable, capable, and steadfast. Her love for her brothers is the beacon guiding her and what she clings to with admirable stubbornness. She balances Lock and his quirks while still being given her own agency and story. She's not there to simply advance his.

Mori, in this sequel, is still dealing with the fallout of her father being  arrested for murder. The ramifications of the events of the first novel are felt strongly through every single page of this story. Every character's actions are a direct result of choices made in the first novel and that ensures not only to make the story feel cohesive, but shows the meticulous planning that went into this story. There is one longer arc that will thread through the entire series, even if it appears we're solving self contained mysteries. 

The romance in this is the stuff of shipping dreams. Part of the allure is that you know this is going to be soul crushing. You know this relationship could never work even as you lie to yourself that it could. The glimpses of what if, the moments of happiness, the potential it holds, all make it all the more agonizing because the author makes it so easy to fall into the idea of hope. You want them to work out so badly that it burns. The calming influence each has on the other is endearing, and their bond really shines in this sequel. Mori's point of view adds a little more poignancy to the heartbreak as you can see the cracks that will eventually break them. It's compelling, and would be an incredible dynamic for a television show. 

The mystery, just like in the first novel, is well crafted. It is logical and once you have all the puzzles pieces it makes perfect sense. It may sound strange but the mystery is really secondary to the characters and the stories that are being told through them. The mystery at the heart of both books are used to further the characters, and the plot. It all works in tandem to create a really entertaining reading experience. The mystery isn't the hook, the characters are,  and that makes this resonate all the more.

The only missing link is Lock's Watson. He's presence is a looming thing. I think it is because you associate Holmes with Watson and not having Watson be a more prominent presence feels strange. He is briefly teased, and I hope for much more of him in the future installments of this story. 

Heather Petty crafts her Sherlock with a fun mystery, wonderful character development, and a Moriarty that is witty and complex. Fans of the source material will delight in this fresh take while non fans will fall under its spell for many other reasons. I cannot wait to read the next chapter in Lock and Mori's doomed love story, Heather Petty has made it impossible not to want to.

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