Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday .... Cracked Kingdom

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

This week's pick is Cracked Kingdom by Erin Watt

**Spoilers For Previous Books In This Series**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
These Royals will ruin you.

Ever since Hartley Wright met Easton Royal, her life hasn’t been the same. There are enemies behind every corner and dangers beyond each door. When tragedy strikes and steals her memories, she can’t trust anyone, not even the blue-eyed boy who promises her that everything will be all right.

Because while Hartley’s memory is full of gaps, her instincts tell her Easton is dangerous. She doesn’t know if he’s the snake in the garden or her chance at salvation. The chaos he brings wherever he goes is too much to handle, the intense feelings he evokes are too confusing to unravel.

Easton wants her to remember. Hartley thinks it’s better to forget.

She might be right.

Tragedy. Treachery. Trust. Hartley has to face the facts—in this world, you can’t escape the Royals.

Either you live by their rules or you die by them. 
The books in The Royals series are so dangerously addictive and I am so glad that I am very close to getting my next 'fix' because it feels like it has been forever (even though it really hasn't been that long).

The cliffhanger ending of the previous books in Easton's story left me desperate to get my hands on the next (and possible final) installment in this series. I cannot wait to see what happens next. and luckily I don't have to wait very long. It's only a few short hours away from the books March 1st release!

Expected release date - March 1, 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

I am thrilled to be part of the Canadian blog tour for Tanaz Bhathena's A Girl Like That. I am even more thrilled to be kicking off to the tour with Erin over at Quillable! The novel releases tomorrow so be sure to pick yourself up a copy.

Follow along with the rest of the blog tour for some great reviews, and each stop will have a question that Tanaz kindly took the time to answer for us.

Here is my own question for Tanaz. I was struck by the beautiful cover for the book and wanted to give Tanaz a chance to discuss it a little. I had interviewed her as part of my 2018 Most Anticipated event and this was something I hadn't gotten to focus on.

Q: The cover of this novel is incredible. What was the cover design process like for you? Did you get to provide any input into the cover? 

A: I agree, it’s absolutely incredible! I was lucky that the designer, Beth Clark, read the book and really got the story and the main character. She came up with an amazing cover concept from the very beginning.

I got to provide a lot of input, which again I’m very thankful for, as many authors don’t get to have much say in their covers. I was very clear on how I wanted the model portraying Zarin to wear her scarf as it contained clues about her personality. I wanted to make sure she looked modern but, at the same time, like someone who lived in Saudi Arabia. My publisher was great about listening to my suggestions, they understood me and this book perfectly. 

Very early on, before I had even seen a cover concept, my editor had asked me for my ideas for the cover. I was hoping to somehow incorporate a Jeddah landmark—either the King Fahd Fountain or the Island Mosque (both actual settings in the book) and had provided them with pictures of both. Beth surprised me by using that early suggestion, too, and beautifully incorporating the Island Mosque into Zarin’s sunglasses! This, till date, remains my favorite part about the cover.

A huge thank you to Tanaz for taking the time to answer all of the questions the bloggers on the tour sent in. I am excited to see what the other bloggers decided to ask her!

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
Release Date - February 26,  2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  336 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A timeless exploration of high-stakes romance, self-discovery, and the lengths we go to love and be loved.

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.
A Girl Like That is both unique and universal. It is a story that feels fresh and new, and yet is so profoundly relatable to so many. This book tackles important topics like abuse, sexual assault, and bullying. While those who may be triggered should be mindful picking this novel up, those who do red it up will find a nuanced, though provoking look at some timely issues. Issues that are handled deftly and thoughtfully which makes for a great conversation starter and a engrossing reading experience.

Zarin is a multifaceted character who is having the universal experience of growing up. She is a teenager who is learning, making mistakes and finding out who she is. She is presented as many things to the reader, and like the other characters in the book you may make assumptions about her. These assumptions are torn away as you get to know Zarin and who she really is and perhaps even change as the story unfolds.

The narrative device of getting to know a character after her death is two pronged. We have the growing sense of dread as the story progresses because we know how it ends. It also makes her character a little more tragic. We spend a lot of the novel wondering what will lead to her driving down the highway on the day she dies which ensures that every moment holds a sort of significance to her story. It makes the reader attached to this character even before we get to know her. This also works with Porus whose character holds significance from the moment he is introduced because we know what awaits his character. It is a narrative that is effect and especially in this case where it is so perfect for the story being told.

The most striking part of this novel is how universal Zarin's story is for girls of every culture. There are elements that are unique to this character, and the particular religion and culture she is part of, but the basic elements are the same. Girls and women are held to different standards than boys and men. They are vilified for things that their male counterparts are permitted to get away with because ‘boys will be boys’. It, at times, felt like Zarin couldn’t breathe without being judged for it. Are the decisions that Zarin makes always in her best interest? No, of course not. She is a flawed, complex character who is not perfect and this seems to be unforgiveable if you are female. We see male character do exactly what Zarin does, and yet she is the one that is gossiped about. She is the one with the reputation. She becomes 'a girl like that'. It is so achingly recognizable that I think many people will relate to her story.

A Girl Like That is a timely book. It fits nicely with the current #MeToo movement and paints a heartbreaking look at how rape culture fits into the reputation Zarin has and how alarmingly common the experiences she has are. This is a book with a lot to say about rape culture and it is a book that demands to be discussed afterwards which  makes it perfect for book clubs.

Tanaz B has impressed with me with her quiet and well written debut read. I eagerly await whatever she decides to tackle next as she did a tremendous job tackling the heavy topics found within A Girl Like That. I highly recommend this one be read with a friend and discussed after. I predict it'll be part of the conversation long after its initial release. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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.


Cover Of Michelle Hodkin's The Reckoning Of Noah Shaw (goodreads)

Michelle Hodkin's books always get stunning covers, and the Shaw Confessions trilogy is no exception. I loved the cover for the first one and how it invoked the feeling of the Mara Dyer trilogy covers but was also something entirely its own.

The cover for the second book in the series was just released and I am in love!

It is going to look amazing on my shelf next to the other books in this expanding series. I cannot wait to continue Noah's story as the first book was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Cover of Raziel Reid's Kens (goodreads)

Lainey Gossip recently revealed the cover for Raziel Reid's next novel and I have a desperate need to read it! It is being compared to Heathers and Mean Girls which would have immediately piqued my interest even if I hadn't loved Raziel's first novel, When Everything Feels Like The Movies.

The cover is amazing. Just read the synopsis on Goodreads and tell me it is not perfect!

I am keeping my fingers crossed for ARCs of this one to be available soon and that a Canadian book signing tour might happen (as the author is Canadian).


Love, Simon

I recently was fortunate enough to attend a screening of the upcoming movie Love, Simon. It is one of my most highly anticipated movies of 2018 so to say I was excited would be an understatement.

I am going to be posting a review closer to the movie's March 16th release date, but know that it is perfection. It's one of the best book to movie adaptations I have seen and made me so entirely happy.

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

Royally Endowed by Emma Chase

Royally Endowed by Emma Chase
Release Date -  August 31, 2017
Publisher Website - Everafter Romance
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  350 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**borrowed for review**


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Logan St. James is a smoldering, sexy beast. Sure, he can be a little broody at times—but Ellie Hammond’s willing to overlook that. Because, have you seen him??

Sexy. As. Hell.

And Ellie’s perky enough for both of them.

For years, she’s had a crush on the intense, gorgeous royal security guard—but she doesn’t think he ever saw her, not really.

To Logan, Ellie was just part of the job—a relative of the royal family he’d sworn to protect. Now, at 22 years old and fresh out of college, she’s determined to put aside her X-rated dreams of pat-downs and pillow talk, and find a real life happily ever after.

The Queen of Wessco encourages Ellie to follow in her sister’s footsteps and settle down with a prince of her own. Or a duke, a marquis…a viscount would also do nicely.

But in the pursuit of a fairy tale ending, Ellie learns that the sweetest crushes can be the hardest to let go.
Logan St. James grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, in a family on the wrong side of the law. But these days, he covers his tattoos and scars with a respectable suit. He’s handsome, loyal, brave, skilled with his hands and…other body parts.

Any woman would be proud to call him hers.

But there’s only one woman he wants.

For years he’s watched over her, protected her, held her hair back when she was sick, taught her how to throw a punch, and spot a liar.

He dreams of her. Would lay down his life for her.

But beautiful Ellie Hammond’s off-limits.

Everybody knows the bodyguard rules: Never lose focus, never let them out of your sight, and never, ever fall in love. 
The bodyguard who falls in love with the person they are supposed to be protecting trope is one of my favourites so I was thrilled when the next book in the Royally series promised this sexy sounding scenario. I was happy to discover that this book more than delivered on that premise, even if I wish some elements had been fleshed out a little more.

This novel is different than the other two as it spans over a few years of Ellie and Logan's relationship. We see it progress slowly which makes it feel more realistic. This narration style allows us to see events from the previous two books from a different perspective and it also allows the author to fill in some details that were not include in those first novels. It's pretty much a love letter to fans of the series, which I appreciated.

Logan St James is focused, determined, and loyal. He's presented as a sort of 'alpha male' who presents a tough exterior but loves fiercely. His loyalty was something that defined his character for me. It is present in every decision he makes. I typically do not enjoy the alpha male character trope. I find plenty of them problematic and infuriating, but Logan manages to walk the delicate balance between sexy and douchey. He's protective without being stifling or controlling which was my concern going into this novel. 

Ellie is the character that I felt we got to see grow and change the most. We meet her when she is just on the cusp of adulthood and see her mature into the young woman she is by the end of the novel. It is her that I predict readers will feel the most connected to as a result. She's more bubbly and outgoing than Logan which makes them an excellent match. I especially enjoyed the teasing banter that was built into their friendship and eventual relationship.

Those interested in the sexy parts of this novel will have to be patient. It is the slowest of slow burns and really only heats up in the latter part of the novel. This unresolved sexual tension is the only tension that really worked for me in the novel. It makes the eventually payoff all the sweeter and ensures that the reader is fully invested. It also allows the two characters to be on more equal footing. Ellie is technically still a teenager when she first begins to have a crush on her sexy bodyguard. She needs that extra time to grow up and become an adult herself before anything can happen. Logan also needs this time to see her has something other than the teenager who has a crush on him. The age difference is handled perfectly, and nothing really happens until they are both mature enough for it to.

The ending is what the novel has be building towards, but it didn't hold quite the power I expect it was supposed to. The earlier part of the book was more tightly paced and engaging. Getting to see Ellie and Logan's novel story evolve through the years he was her guard was endearing and ensured that we cared about both of them. The love story wasn't the issue. There is a side plot that is meant to provide the  main stakes of the story and it doesn't quite have the payoff I wanted because it wasn't spread out enough throughout the book. The raising tension that should be felt just is not there as a result. It could have been woven in better and it would have resonated a little more. The good thing is that the rest of the novel is done really well that it was only a minor blip in my enjoyment of this novel.

The Royally series is perfect for those wanting their reads to be both sexy and fun. They are also perfect for fans of books that feature royalty and everything that ensues from being related to, or falling in love with, one. I can only hope that Emma Chase plans to return to these characters again in the future, because I don't think I am ready to fully leave them behind just yet.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Waiting On Wed ... The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

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

This week's pick is The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness. 
I have always been fascinated by the Frankenstein story and am immediately interested in any retelling that I become aware of. Kiersten White has written one from the perspective of Elizabeth, the woman who loved Victor Frankenstein. This has so much potential because her character has always fascinated me and I am eager to have a story that has her as its center focus.

This book pretty much demands to be read in October as it seems like a perfect read for the Halloween season. Its end of September release means it'll be out just in time to enjoy with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, a cozy blanket, and the doors locked.

Expected release date - September 25, 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Score by Elle Kennedy

The Score by Elle Kennedy (Off-Campus #3)
Release Date -  January 11, 2016
Publisher Website - Createspace Independant Publishing Platform
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 360 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**borrowed from a friend**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she's going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.
I like to venture into the New Adult genre from time to time. I had devoured the first two books in Elle Kennedy's Off Campus series and was eagerly anticipating the third. Dean Di Laurentis' story did not disappoint. This novel has some scorching chemistry, some perfectly paced angst, and a guy who proves himself to have a heart of gold under all his cocky swagger.

These novels are really good at balancing the plot elements along with the sexy scenes. These are really steamy novels, but they are done in a way that still keeps the focus on the plot. These books would be a good litmus test for those unsure if this genre is for them. It balances everything pretty evenly even if this one felt a little more sex focused than the others.

I always forget how hilarious these books are. There are definite laugh out loud moments in this that rival the blush worthy ones. From coded song choices at a bar to a hilariously awkward near miss, this book has plenty of lighter moments to help balance the darker ones within it.

Dean is the character that surprised me the most in this series so far. He is almost nothing like what you would expect. We've seen Dean through the viewpoint of others in the previous novels in this series and I feel that only gave us a surface level understanding of who Dean is. He is plenty of things you would expect him to be, but is also a lot of things you wouldn't. I expect that Dean even surprises himself at various points in this novel and that is one of my favourite things about The Score.

Allie is Dean's opposite in so many ways and that is exactly why their relationship works. Dean brings out a more adventurous side to Allie, and Allie grounds Dean in a lot of ways. They bring out the best in each other, while never wanting to change the other person. I love this kind of romance because it shows that someone cannot make you change, but they can encourage you and help you thrive.

There is a underlying commentary in this novel about slut shaming and the ways that society views men who enjoy sex versus women who enjoy sex. Allie feels guilty after her sex filled night with Dean. She judges herself a little bit which, for me, perfectly showcased how women internalize this narrative. We see people reassure her, and we see those who judge her just as harshly as she judges herself. There is a particularly brutal scene between Allie and her ex-boyfriend that felt like a gut punch. The books overall message of sexual empowerment is made extremely clear and that is something worth mentioning. I especially liked the 'erase the word slut from your vocabulary' advice that Allie is given. I wish the book had examined this a little more deeply, but I do applaud what it did manage to convey.

The Score is pretty much tied with The Deal for my favourite novel in the Off Campus series. It's a fun mix of everything I like in my New Adult reads. I highly recommend this book (and series in general) for anyone who wants some sexy sports themed reads. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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)

A few bookish goodies made their way into my mailbox this week. First up is a book from Penguin Random House that sounds like so much fun!

My Lady's Choosing by by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris (goodreads)

It sounds like a fun 'choose your own adventure' style book with a romance twist. I am excited to review it on the blog closer to release! Huge thank you to them for sending it along for me to review.

Next up is my February #otspsecretsister package! I love all of the pink! The button is perfect, the chocolate may already be eaten, and I am excited to use the rock sugar in some tea!

Misadventures Of A City Girl by Meredith Wild and  Chelle Bliss (goodreads)

This book sounds like a fun read and is entirely new to me so I am excited to give it a try when I can fit it into my review schedule! A huge thank you to whoever has me this round. Excited to get to know you!

What bookish goodies made their way into your mailbox this week? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

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.


Cover Of Courtney Summer's Sadie (goodreads)

People have raved about Courtney Summer's novels to me before. I have not read nearly as many of them as I should but I have read enough of them to know that her books are powerful, and her newest sounds like no exception.

Courtney's newest novel is being compared to the Serial podcast and sounds like it has a great murder mystery hook that will (most likely) also examine missing girls in general.

I also happen to love this cover. It's striking and eye catching while being very simple. I am super excited for this one as I think it is going to be one of the must reads of fall 2018 for a lot of people.

When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen (goodreads)

Publisher's Weekly recently posted their Children's Books Fall 2018 Sneak Peek and this title caught my eye. It is described as "relating the fictional story of the love triangle that started Chicago’s Great Fire" which immediately intrigued me. I am looking forward to hearing more about this one when the Fall catalog is released.

Cover of The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White (goodreads)

A creepy sounding book deserves a creepy cover and Kiersten White's newest has got one of the creepiest covers I've seen in a long time.

This Frankenstein retelling has a cover that looks, chillingly, like sewn skin  (even if it is pink velvet). It instantly brings to mind the classic story of Frankenstein while the title tells you that it's something all together different.

I am excited to see what this version of Frankenstein does to twist and reimagine the story. I am so excited to get my hands on this one, and that amazing cover is just one of the reasons.

Cover of The Lady's Guide To Petticoats And Piracy (goodreads)

I loved The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue. I especially loved Monty's sister, Felicity, and was thrilled that she was getting her own novel!

The cover of that novel has recently been revealed, and it is amazing!

I love that it is both similar to Monty's cover and yet uniquely Felicity's at the same time. I cannot wait to see what adventures await Felicity and the new characters we are to meet!


Jessica Jones Season Two Trailer

My love for Jessica Jones is well documented and I am very (im)patiently counting down the days until I can binge watch season two.

This newest trailer is doing nothing to make the wait any easier. It's even better than the first trailer that was released. It pretty much filled with everything I love about Jessica Jones - Jessica's snarky one liners, Trish being the kind of best friend we all want, and Jessica calling men out on their shit.

I love that this show calls out rape culture the way that it does. It was vital to season one because of the plot, but it is nice to see that it is still part of the show for its second season. March 8th isn't that far away right? *cries*


Grease Funko Pops 

I am a huge fan of classic movies, and Grease is one of my favourites. It is a movie I remember vividly from my childhood and is one I still watch when I am feeling nostalgic.

I was excited when Funko announced during their huge batch of Toy Fair announcements that they would be making some Grease Funko Pops!

We get two different versions of Sandy and Danny and I am pretty sure I am going to need both of them. I also really want to see the back of the yellow dress Sandy as I am sure her hair is amazing.

More Stranger Things Funkos

Along with the above mentioned Grease announcement, Funko also announced some new Stranger Things Funko Pops that have me already clearing some room on my shelves.

I am, for sure, going to need both of the Steve Funkos, and that Eleven is pretty awesome. I may also have to add Billy to my collection, and who could resist Bob dressed a vampire (it certainly doesn't suck)? The details on these Funko Pops keep getting better and these are some of the best I have seen yet.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine

The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine
Release Date - February 13,  2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  416 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Javan Najafai, crown prince of Akram, has spent the last ten years at an elite boarding school, far away from his kingdom. But his eagerly awaited return home is cut short when a mysterious imposter takes his place—and no one believes Javan is the true prince.

After barely escaping the imposter’s assassins, Javan is thrown into Maqbara, the kingdom’s most dangerous prison. The only way to gain an audience with the king — and reveal Javan’s identity — is to fight in Maqbara’s yearly tournament. But winning is much harder than acing competitions at school, and soon Javan finds himself beset not just by the terrifying creatures in the arena, but also a band of prisoners allied against him, and even the warden herself.

The only person who can help him is Sajda, who has been enslaved by Maqbara’s warden since she was a child, and whose guarded demeanor and powerful right hook keep the prisoners in check. Working with Sajda might be the only way Javan can escape alive — but she has dangerous secrets.

Together, Javan and Sajda have to outwit the vicious warden, outfight the deadly creatures, and outlast the murderous prisoners intent on killing Javan. If they fail, they’ll be trapped in Maqbara for good—and the secret Sajda’s been hiding will bury them both. 
The next novel in the Ravenspire series offers up a fantasy twist to The Prince And The Pauper tale It is a story that I am not overly familiar with (other than some vague memory of Mickey Mouse cartoon) but one that grabbed my interest immediately due to my love of retellings. It offers a story about identity, freedom, and the responsibility a leader has to those they serve.

The world that CJ Redwine has built over the course of the three novels within the Ravenspire series is breathtaking. There are so many details that make you want to dig deeper. There is a richness to the overall world that entices you to discover more. It's a series that could easily continue for countless books simply because of the vastness of stories that could be told. It's the world that shines the brightest within these stories and that fact is used to its fullest.

Javan, the rightful prince of Akram, is filled with honour and noble intentions. He wants nothing more than to make his father, and his kingdom, proud. He is so kind and caring that, at times, it is hard to believe him capable of the violence he has to commit to survive the deadly tournament he finds himself in. He is, at times, selfless to his own determent.

Sajda is the character who I found the most fascinating. An enslaved young woman who has had to learn to protect herself. She wants nothing more than her freedom. Freedom from her captors. Freedom from the harsh reality that is her life. The freedom to live her life the way she wants to. She is Javan's polar opposite in that she is jaded, bitter, and guarded. Her story is one of the more heartbreaking elements of this novel, and one I found myself really invested in.

This novel benefits from a decent villain in Rahim. It is easy to understand his motivations. He acts in his own self interest at all times which makes for an interesting dynamic as the story progresses. He is not overused and the author does not rely on this character to carry the conflict in this story. The secondary threats, such as the prison warden, do a lot of the heavy lifting, but Rahim is perfectly used as someone pulling the strings in the background.

There is some romance lightly sprinkled within the story. A romance that worked for me because of the sparseness in which it was used. The romance only carried the plot when necessary, and ensured that both characters grew because of the connection growing between them.

The nods to the original tale of The Prince And The Pauper are sprinkled throughout the story. The item that reveals the true identity of the prince is found, along with idea that there is much to learn from having to walk in someone else's shoes. A large part of the story revolves around Javan having his eyes opened to the realities of the kingdom he is desperate to save. It makes him realize things that his privilege may have prevented him from seeing.

The ending of this story, while satisfying, felt a little rushed for me. I wish it had taken a little more time to allow the events that occur during the novel to really be felt. The adjustment that would happen due to the events that transpire did not feel as jarring as I anticipate it would. It felt a little too neatly wrapped up, but I expect many will be happy with an ending that feels as hopeful as this one does.

If you're a fan of retellings and are looking for one that feels a little more unique, I recommend this series and this particular book in particular. The Prince And The Pauper is not an inspiration for many YA retellings, so this one really felt fresh to me while I reading it. It's a welcome addition to the Ravenspire series, one that I hope sets up many more to come.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday ..... Sadie

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

This week's pick is Sadie by Courtney Summers

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. 

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late. 
This novel has been compared to the Serial podcast, and seems like it is going to be catnip to my true crime obsessed self. It also sounds like we might have two stories running parallel to each other. Sadie chasing down Mattie's killer, and West following Sadie's trail. I like the idea of getting to see things through two different perspectives and that seems highly likely in this story.

I love that this is a fall release and it feels like an appropriately atmospheric read for that time of year. It might seem like a long wait, but I am fairly certain it'll be worth it.

Expected release date - September 4, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Winner Take All by Laurie Devore

Winner Take All by Laurie Devore
Release Date - January 30,  2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  336 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

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

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

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

Visceral and whip-smart, Laurie Devore’s Winner Take All paints an unflinching portrait of obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection.
After devouring How To Break A Boy I knew that I was instantly going to read whatever Laurie Devore wrote next. It offered an unsettling look at the type of friendships that consume us, and turn us into the worst versions of ourselves. I was thrilled when her next book was announced and it sounded just as intense and discussion worthy.

It is a not a secret that these books are going to invoke a wide range of varying perspectives when it comes to discussing how much people enjoyed them. Books like Winner Take All often get called polarizing. The characters within both of the books by this author are so unflinchingly and unapologetically flawed that it makes you work for it in a lot of ways. It makes you have to invest in characters that you may even find unlikeable, and that is a hard sell for some readers. These characters fascinate me. Nell Becker fascinates me because I cannot relate to her. This novel does its job of making me understand her, and I think that makes all the difference while reading a book like this.

Nell is a character that is going to garner some strong reactions from readers, and I hope readers examine why they are having these reactions. I hope it ignites a conversation about female characters and the way we are so unforgiving of them. I hope it continues the conversation about the imbalance that exists for male and female characters. Both Nell and Jackson do some incredibly awful things to each other. They are both, at various times, horrible people. I predict, however, that Jackson will be judged less harshly than Nell will be. Male characters are often easily forgiven for things that female characters are crucified for, and that is pretty much the over arching theme of this book. It is a message that, I feel, Laurie Devore captures perfectly.

Girls are often told contradictory messages. Smile, but not too much. Be confident, but not too much. A woman who strives to be the best, who is competitive, who dares to ask for what she deserves is looked at in a very specific, very unflattering, way. Nell is a character who embodies this. The pressure that Nell feels is overwhelming at times, and yet she is often viewed as simply 'too much' by those around her. This is sharply contrasted with the treatment of Jackson, the golden boy of the high school. We should be telling girls that it is okay to want, to make mistakes, and to take up space. They should demand what they worth, and strive for everything they want to achieve. I hope we eventually stop punishing them for it when they do take the chance.

Jackson is everything the jacket copy promises. He's easy to love. He's charming, even when he is infuriating. He is exactly the type of male character we all too easily forgive because of his panty dropping smile and effortless charisma, even if he is all too often a jerk. He is written to be the polar opposite of Nell, and that contrast is really what drives home what this book is trying to say. I feel that just as much work went into creating both of these characters because they each so dependent on the other in order for the story to work.

The love story in this one, much like the characters, is not pretty. It's not some romantic tale complete with a happily ever after. It is unhealthy most of the time. Nell and Jackson are not good for each other in the current state that they are each in. What makes this relationship work are the vulnerable moments that exist between them. The moments that make you see what this relationship could possibly be. Those moments are interwoven into the narrative at the exact right moments. The pacing of the entire novel worked for me as a whole. The increasing tension feels like the lead up to an explosion which is pretty much a metaphor for Nell and Jackon's entire relationship. That it is felt in the pacing of the novel only showcases the talent Laurie Devore has.

Winner Take All does for toxic relationships what How To Break A Boy did for toxic friendships. Laurie Devore is quickly becoming a writer who is known for her flawed, messy characters and thought provoking novels. I am eager to see what she does next and follow her characters down whatever dark paths she may want to take them.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The End Of The F***ing World

The End Of The F***ing World

Rating: TV-MA

Network: Netflix

Language: English

Episodes:  8

Cast: Jessica Barden, Alex Lawther

Synopsis: A budding teen psychopath and a rebel hungry for adventure embark on a star-crossed road trip in this darkly comic series based on a graphic novel by  Charles S. Forman.


I have never reviewed a television show before. I have done recaps and have talked about some of my favourite shows plenty of times on the blog, but there is a first time for everything. The End Of The F***ing World made me want to yell at everyone to watch it. It made me want to immediately rewatch it, and it, mostly, made me want to debate why it really shouldn't have a second season.

The tagline of 'Some love stories begin at the end' is rather brilliant and fits this darkly humourous story perfect. It is a love story, but a darkly messed up one. Much of this show rests in the kind of dark places you might not expect it to at first glance, but those moments are matched by the dry British humour that works incredibly well in this story format. The show especially shines in the moments that embrace that humour and the darkness together and allows them to work their magic.

Alyssa and James are two characters that work their way into your heart. How fiercely you come to care about these two teens will surprise you. It sneaks up on you and it is too late by the time you realize how much you care. The actual, and emotional, journey that these characters take is immensely satisfying. The cast is so mesmerizing, with Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther giving amazing performances in particular. They are biting, brilliant, and gut wrenching. The acting and plot combine perfectly to make these characters feel so vivid and that is part of what makes this show so wonderful. 

This is the type of show that is best experienced as cold as possible. The less you know going in the better. It is meant to be experienced along with the characters, shocks and all. It makes for a pretty unforgettable watching experience that you'll want to immediately get others to watch simply so you can dissect it with someone. It demands to be talked about and debated and that, for me, is the mark of a great television show.

These eight, incredibly crafted, episodes tell a complete story. It feels like the proper ending to Alyssa and James' story.  The story is left in such a way that it can really only go in one of two directions, and I am not all that interested in exploring either of them. It would taint the ending this season gave us, and lose a little bit of the magic that made this such a memorable show. The End Of The F***ing World may be the type of show you want to have a follow up season, but it is not one that needs it. I would watch these actors is pretty much anything they did next, but I firecely hope that they leave Alyssa and James behind to exist in the near perfect bubble that is this season.

My favourite thing about The End Of The F***ing World is that it is entirely not what you think it is going to be when you first start it. Episode three is where I started to realize what this show was really doing and saying and I fell completely in love. I have some spoilerly thoughts on what the show ends up being really about and if you're interested (and have watched the show) they are under the Show/Hide tag below:


If you enjoy dark comedies that have a surprising amount of heart I recommend spending an evening with this hidden gem of a show. I'll be available for you to unload your feelings to after you've finished. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday .... Legendary

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

This week's pick is Legendary by Stephanie Garber

**Spoilers for Caraval**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.
I loved Stephanie's first novel, Caraval, and this (sort of) sequel sounds amazing. It feels like, at least from the description, that it is more of a connected companion novel. We're getting a new main character as Donatella takes centre stage, but it also references events that occur in book one.

I am soooo excited to return to this lush, magical, breathtaking world. Caraval swept me away and I cannot wait to fall back under its spell.

This one comes out just in time for summer which means ice cream and I some how suspect that Stephanie would approve of Legendary being enjoyed with some ice cream.

Expected release date - May 29, 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

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.


Cover of An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker (goodreads)

This was referenced as Phillipa Gregory meets Mr and Mrs Smith in the official announcement and I was immediately sold. I love the rivals who want to make out with each other trope so much!

The cover of this was revealed, and I think it's pretty fun!

I loved Virginia's previous books and am excited to find out more about this one. I especially look forward to the Shakespeare connection!


iZombie Season Four Trailer

Spoilers for the previous season of iZombie but I am so excited that this show is returning in about a month. It's such a fun show and I LOVE this teaser for the new season.

I love these characters so much, and I am hoping that we see some progression with Liv and Major this season.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Girls Made Of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made Of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Release Date - September 5,  2017
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
Fairytale retellings have always been a favourite of mine. It's one of those buzz words that will immediately get me to add a book to my to be read pile. Girls Made Of Snow and Glass offers a feminist twist to the classic Snow White tale, and blends it with a little heartbreak and magic.

Melissa Bashardoust weaves in recognizable elements of the Snow White tale subtly. It's done cleverly and in a way that does not feel overt. The story shines because of the elements that are added to the story. It makes it a more well rounded story, and definitely offers a different perspective on a story we all know well.

The relationship between Mina (the Evil Queen) and Lynet (Snow White) is the heart of this story. It is effectively used to show how society and expectations are geared towards women be adversarial towards one another. Mina is the aging Queen who sees herself, in large thanks to the people around her, as easily replaceable by the young Lynet. It is a theme prevalent in society. There is the idea of the young ingenue replacing the old and bitter has been. The man who divorces his wife for a younger woman. These ideas are not new, and yet seeing the impact of this on both Lynet and Mina in this story felt fresh. This book also deals with beauty standards, and the pressure that is placed on women to fight the ageing process as hard as they can. It also shows the pressures for women to fit into a specific mold and life that may not be what they want. This feminist twist paints the Snow White tale in a completely new, and entirely welcome, light.

The magical elements in this novel are seamlessly woven into the Snow White story. The lack of heartbeat in Mina, and the fact that Lynet is crafted from snow form a unique angle to this story that is used to flesh out the overall arc of the story. I was hesitant about the magical elements, but they worked beautifully and enriched the story in many ways. The magic also defines the two characters in a lot of ways and allowed some insight to who they are, and the reasons behind their actions.

There is usually a Prince who saves Snow White in any adaptation of the novel. That is not the case here. This is really Lynet and Mina' story. There is, however, some romance to be found within these pages. Lynet's love interest is a smart young woman who catches her fascination. Their tentative steps toward each other offer a few genuinely sweet moments that the reader will appreciate. There is also some romantic undertones to part of Mina's story, with that one being more heartbreaking. Neither side plot overshadows the main focus, and instead serves to compliment it.

If you're looking for a unique take on the Snow White tale I highly recommend this one. It's a retelling where the author fully embraces making the story their own. It examines the story through a feminist lens and makes us look at both the Snow White and Evil Queen character tropes in a different light.  

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...