Saturday, June 30, 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 King Of Fools by Amanda Foody (goodreads)

I read and really enjoyed Amanda Foody's Ace Of Shades. I am so excited to read the sequel! The cover was just released and it, in my opinion, is even better than the one for Ace Of Shades.

The colour scheme is eye catching and it matches the first wonderfully. The tagline is also PERFECT for how Ace Of Shades left off.


The Hate U Give Trailer

I read The Hate U Give and, like pretty much everyone else, loved it. I was excited when they announced a movie was going to be made and am now even more excited after watching this trailer.

It is a great trailer. It packs just the right amount of punch and is filled with the emotions that the book invokes. I was also encouraged to see how close it seems to be sticking to the source material. The cast looks great (perhaps some Oscar nom potential) and I anticipate it'll be a huge box office hit. I cannot wait to go see it opening weekend.

Beautiful Boy Trailer

This movie has had some Oscar buzz for quite some time now and this trailer solidifies that it is going to be in the conversation at least.

It is emotional and Timothee Chalamet makes all of this look too easy. I can tell it is going to be a movie that will make me ugly cry in public and I am excited about it.


Stranger Things San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Funko Pops

My Funko collection is pretty big. I particularly like collecting the Stranger Things line. I also look forward to the San Diego Comic Con exclusives being announced each summer. They had a Stranger Things line announced this year and I need all of the Pops from it.

The fact that the Billy Pop has a cookie is pretty much everything! Nancy's mom even has a little blush to her cheeks. The attention to detail is pretty amazing. How cute is the Snow Ball ready Dustin Pop? Adorable, right? Hopefully they are both shared with stores that will make it easy for me to get them.

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

Friday, June 29, 2018

ALA 2018 Recap

As many of you know I traveled to New Orleans recently to attend ALA's (American Library Association) annual conference. It was a week filled with a lot of books, incredible food, more alcohol than I usually consume, and amazing sites. 

I'll first share the books I got while attending the conference. I had a fantastic time walking around and seeing all the books that the publishers were eager to showcase. ALA is a much more relaxed than Book Expo and as a result I feel you get more time to really look at the booths and see what is on display.

Day one consisted of me snagging the following review copies:

Kens by Raziel Reid (goodreads)
Sadie by Courtney Summers (goodreads)
The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman (goodreads)
Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok (goodreads)
Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry (goodreads)
The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein (goodreads)
What If It's Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli (goodreads)
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle (goodreads)
A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (goodreads)

Courtney Summers is an actual ray of sunshine. She was so kind. It made me even more excited to devour Sadie as soon as I get the chance. It was also exciting to see ARCs of Spectacle as I wasn't anticipating it being available at the conference. 

Day two was just as fun and informative at the first day. I got the following books:

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (goodreads)
Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend by Karen Blumenthal (goodreads)
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (goodreads)
Enchantee by Gita Trelease (goodreads)
The 7 1/2 Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (goodreads)
Hunting Charles Manson by Lis Wiehl (goodreads)
The Lady's Guide To Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (goodreads)
Dear Evan Hanson by Val Emmich (goodreads)
Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco (goodreads)
The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (goodreads)

I  went to the panel that Lis Wiehl had discussing the process of writing Hunting Charles Manson and was blown away by the research and access she had. It made me want to read the book even more and was thrilled to learn that there would be a signing right after the panel. I got to say hello to both Kerri Maniscalco and Mackenzi Lee. I love both of their books and was so happy to get to meet them again. I also got to gush about The Wedding Date with Jasmine Guillory and was so excited to get a copy of her next book, The Proposal, to review on the blog.

My final day of the convention was much quieter. I stumbled across a great sounding thriller, snagged a YA book everyone has been gushing about and got to pick up a copy of a book I have been wanting to read ever since I saw the movie.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman (goodreads)
Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward (goodreads)
Jack Of Hearts (And Other Parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen (goodreads)

I looked forward to not just the conference but see New Orleans itself while I was in town. The city did not disappoint. I had so many memorial experiences while there and cannot wait to go back. Here are just a few of my favourite photos from the trip and some details about what I did while there:

As a huge true crime fan I had to stop by the LaLaurie mansion while I was in New Orleans. It's a rather pretty house that does not reflect the horrors that happened inside. This place is rumoured to be cursed (information provided by the amazing true crime tour I took while there) and I believe it.

Drinks were very much a part of the New Orleans experience. My favourite place that we had drinks at was Saints and Sinners. The restaurant/bar that Channing Tatum built in New Orleans.

It's a fun little place on Bourbon Street and they had the best cocktails! I may have drank more than I should have there that night (but it was so worth it).

Two of my favorite drinks were the Love Potion #10 which was DELICIOUS!

I also loved the Saint which is one of their signature drinks along with the Sinner. Kelly and I each ordered one of them so we could try both and I definitely preferred the one I ordered. 

One of my favourite parts of the trip was the true crime tour that we booked. The tour company is called Unique NOLA Tours. The guide, David, was great at making sure everyone was having fun and told some great (but chilling) stories. It made me see New Orleans in a different light and also made me immediately want to research all of the stories we were told (and I am never going to forget the one that feature an oven *shudder*)

If you're in New Orleans I would highly recommend booking one of the tours they offer. They have a few different ones so no matter what you want to experience they should have something to fit your needs. 

No trip to New Orleans would be complete without trying beignets. We, obviously, went to Cafe Du Monde and I loved them. They were so incredibly delicious (and so obviously bad for you).

The other must try was a Hurricane. We went with the, rumouredly, best in the city and tried one at Pat O'Briens. This was perhaps my favourite meal out of all the ones I had in New Orleans. 

I can also confirm that Hurricanes and delicious (and extremely strong).

We also took a quick trip to the Historic Voodoo Museum which had some interesting things relating to Marie Laveau including this portrait. 

The architecture was incredible and I was constantly looking at buildings as we passed by. This is St. Louis Cathedral which is near Jackson Square and it is stunning in person.

That's pretty much it for my trip to New Orleans I am excited to dive into the books I got, and am pretty sure my body still needs to recover from the trip. 

Me and my friend Kelly (from Kellyvision) enjoying our Hurricanes

Thursday, June 28, 2018

One Small Thing by Erin Watt

One Small Thing by Erin Watt
Release Date - June 26, 2018
Publisher Website - HarlequinTeen
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.
I was intrigued by One Small Thing after reading the synopsis. It sounded so different than all the previous Erin Watt novels, and I was curious to see what they would do with this premise. It ended up being a well crafted look at grief, the people who are left behind after a tragedy, and the process of healing. It also was a lot more than that as well.

Erin Watt's previous novels have been fun, soapy, addictive reads that went at a high octane pace. This book is a complete game changer for them. This one is more quiet, but also deals with issues in a much more direct way than the previous novels did. It's a step in a different direction that I think may open them up to new fans because of how different than their previous works.

Beth and her parents are in a state of stasis after the death of Rachel. They are each dealing with their grief in different ways and not dealing with it in others. The tension in their household is stifling and so are the rules that Beth's parents enforce out of a desperate need to keep her safe. It was crushing to experience this broken family continue to spiral when it was clear they needed each other. Their actions are coming from a place of both love and hurt and that makes from some explosives circumstances. The book easily allows you to place yourself in this situation and the heartbreak each of the family members are carrying with them.

The forbidden romance element was the part I was most concerned about before I picked up this novel. Chase played a role in Rachel's death. This should mean that Beth wants nothing to do with him but when they meet, without knowing their previous connection, sparks fly. This part of the plot was, in my opinion, handled really well. Chase's actions are never excused but the point is made that he shouldn't pay for those actions forever. He punishes himself more than anyone else could, and I think that part of his character allows for a lot of sympathy from the reader. It also helps that the situation is so very different than what I anticipated going into the story.

There was an unexpected part of the plot that dealt with abusive relationships that I felt was also handled rather well. It is used not only to contrast Chase's character but show that people are not always as we perceive them to be. There is also an undercurrent of girls supporting each other and being there for each other that I found really resonated. I didn't expect it to examine any of this and was surprised at how well it folded into the main plot of the story. It felt effortless and not tacked on at any point.

One Small Thing is a book that tackles a lot of hard topics but manages to do them quite well. There is a lot of substance to this one as well as a lot of heart. The title reference is a hopeful one, and that is ultimately the note that this story is left off on. I think many readers will enjoy this emotion filled offering from Erin Watt and enjoy their time with Beth and Chase. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday .... The Reckoning Of Noah Shaw

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 Reckoning Of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

** Spoilers for The Becoming Of Noah Shaw and The Mara Dyer Trilogy **

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Noah Shaw doesn’t think he needs his father’s inheritance.
He does.

Noah believes there’s something off about the suicides in his visions.
There is.

Noah is convinced that he still knows the real Mara Dyer.
He does not. 

Everyone thought the nightmare had ended with Mara Dyer’s memoirs, but it was only the beginning. As old skeletons are laid bare, alliances will be tested, hearts will be broken, and no one will be left unscarred.
I loved the first trilogy that makes up this series and was excited to jump back into this world when the first book of Noah's series was released. The ending of the first novel only made me more desperate to find out what is going on and to continue this journey with these characters I love so much.

These are not light, or happy books in any way. Noah's head space is not the most pleasant to be in. It makes them perfect reads for the Fall season. The November release date seems far away, but it gives anyone not caught up on this series a chance to read them before its release. 

Expected release date - November 13, 2018

Saturday, June 23, 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.

A very small Weekly Obsessions post this week. I am in New Orleans for ALA this week so everything else is just kind of a blur.


Posters For A Simple Favor

These immediately caught my attention. I love the colour scheme that is being used, and how Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are sort of in shadow. They also really make me want a martini.


I've seen two trailers for this movie and I only vaguely know what it is about but it's quickly becoming one of my must sees for the fall season.

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum

The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum
Release Date - June 5, 2018
Publisher Website - Sky Pony Press
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  256 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane has wanted to be a chef since she was old enough to ignore her mom's warnings to stay away from the hot stove. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: a prestigious scholarship competition in Savannah, where students compete all summer in Chopped style challenges for a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. The only impossible challenge ingredient in her basket: Reid Yamada.

After Reid, her cute but unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to screw her over on day one, Carter vows revenge, and soon they're involved in a full-fledged culinary war. Just as the tension between them reaches its boiling point, Carter and Reid are forced to work together if they want to win, and Carter begins to wonder if Reid's constant presence in her brain is about more than rivalry. And if maybe her desire to smack his mouth doesn't necessarily cancel out her desire to kiss it.
Enemies to lovers is a favourite trope of mine. When it works it is pretty much irresistible. It is also really hard to execute well. The Art of French Kissing has some elements that really worked for me, and other that just didn't quite hit the mark for me. It does, however, offer up an enjoyable romance read with a unique setting.

Foodies will rejoice that there are plenty of delicious sounding descriptions of food within these pages. The descriptions are mouth watering and I will pretty much guarantee that this book will make you hungry at some point while reading it. The cooking competition is also well written. The stakes are perfect for a young adult setting and it has just the right amount of tension woven throughout the competition. I think people who especially like the food competition angle will enjoy this book.

Carter is a headstrong girl who can often be insecure. The feeling of not belong or being looked upon as not worthy of something is something that her character grapples with. It reaches out into all of the other elements of that plot that worked for me. The decisions she made are not always the same ones that I would have made, but I can respect that they felt within character for her to do so.

I had two slight issues that kept me from loving this novel. The first is the 'culinary war' that is mentioned in the synopsis. I was expecting more mild high jinks than meanness. It gets nasty at some points and I found it hard to ship them together at times because of it. I appreciated it more when it was more reigned in and fun. There are moments where it really works though and those shining moments are great. The other is that there isn't a lot of transition time. The competition isn't that long and their progression from enemies to lovers is more rapid than I expected, particularly when you factor in how cutthroat it gets at some points. There are some things that counter act this and the author is good at giving the characters scenes where we see that they are bonding, but it felt a little rushed to me.

The romance did have it's good points. Brianna Shrum can capture the feeling anticipation so accurately. Her make out scenes are really more about the anticipation and that feeling that you get as a reader right before the couple is about to kiss. That moment where the character is clearly displaying how much they want to kiss the other person, if done right, can be really powerful and Brianna gets that. It's one of the strongest elements of the book and the romantic relationship within it.

The ending was another strong point for me. There were a couple of ways in which the plot went into different directions that I expected it to. The relationship aspect of the novel, in particular, ends on a rather realistic note. I felt more realistic overall with just enough wish fulfillment thrown in for good measure.

I recommend this one for those who love competition shows that feature cooking, some great banter and make out scenes. While there are a few little issues I had with the book, I mostly enjoyed it overall. I liked the romance scenes and for those alone I would read another romance written by the same author. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
Release Date - June 19, 2018
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  272 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the acclaimed author of The Assistants comes another gutsy book about the importance of women taking the reins—except this time, when it comes to finding sexuality, pleasure, and love sometimes where you least expect it.

Katie Daniels is a perfection-seeking 28-year-old lawyer living the New York dream. She’s engaged to charming art curator Paul Michael, has successfully made her way up the ladder at a multinational law firm and has a hold on apartments in Soho and the West Village. Suffice it to say, she has come a long way from her Kentucky upbringing.

But the rug is swept from under Katie when she is suddenly dumped by her fiance, Paul Michael, leaving her devastated and completely lost. On a whim, she agrees to have a drink with Cassidy Price-a self-assured, sexually promiscuous woman she meets at work. The two form a newfound friendship, which soon brings into question everything Katie thought she knew about sex—and love.

When Katie Met Cassidy is a romantic comedy that explores how, as a culture, while we may have come a long way in terms of gender equality, a woman’s capacity for an entitlement to sexual pleasure still remain entirely taboo. This novel tackles the question: Why, when it comes to female sexuality, are so few women figuring out what they want and then going out and doing it? 
I went into When Katie Met Cassidy expecting a lot of things. I expected it to be a romance. For it to have a light and fluffy tone. I expected a relationship that featured two female characters. I got a lot of those things within this book. I also got a novel that wasn't quite the fun rom-com I was expecting even though it certainly had elements of that within it. It felt like, for me, that this was a book ultimately trying to be multiple things but not committing to either one of them in the end.

The writing within the pages of this novel ensures that it will be a fast read. It's the type of writing that is simple and clean. It means that you'll breeze through it quite easily. This is a plus for romance reads that are meant to be light and fun. You want that tone and atmosphere to be felt in the writing. It means the author is tailoring their style of writing to the genre of book. It works well and makes this book more engaging as a result.

Katie is someone who is just discovering that she is attracted to women. I appreciated that Katie was confused and unsure what this meant. She couldn't label herself because she was still attempting to figure that part out. This element of the story worked for me and I wish her journey had been explored a little more if it was going to be part of the plot. It may be a personal preference but this element was important to the plot so I thought it should have been fleshed out a little more. We see her grappling with big decisions and having to ask herself important questions and I just didn't feel that coming through.

Cassidy's character is dealing with something that everyone deals with at some point  - aging. She is entering the stage in her life where going out to clubs and hooking up with strangers is losing the appeal it once had. She comments that she is 'aging out' of her lifestyle and coming to terms with what the means for her. This shifting focus was also interesting, but I never really felt the full emotional payoff of the journey Cassidy's character takes. It's never explored enough to fully resonate even though the surface level stuff shows promise.

There are some interesting side characters that helped flesh out Cassidy's character a little bit, but this character development was lacking on Katie's end.  Katie is either seen at her place of work, or with Cassidy and her friends. The moments where she is alone in her apartment are used quite nicely to establish who she is, but having relationships outside the main romantic one is, I feel, important. They are both point of view characters and getting to see Katie outside of her relationship with Cassidy would have went a long way. I wish we had gotten to see more of who each the women are outside of the their connection to one another. We get these glimpses but nothing materializes out of them.

When Katie Met Cassidy offers up an enjoyable enough read but I wanted just a little bit more from both the character development and romance. The taste we got was just not quite enough to make it work for me the way I wanted it to. It's a novel that, for me, never quite reaches its potential.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Waiting On Wed .... An Assassin's Guide To Love and Treason

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 An Assassin's Guide To Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further--kill the queen herself.

Katherine's opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare's newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn't know is that the play is not just a play--it's a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.

The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play's leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.
Virginia Boecker's first series had historical elements to it and I really loved her attention to detail in that series. I was thrilled when I discovered that her next series was going to take some real life historical inspiration and have it set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and the main characters are performing William Shakespeare's newest play. It sounds basically perfect (and this is before you factor in the whole assassian/spy element of the plot).

This one doesn't come out until October but I am already itching to get my hands on a copy so I can read it immediately. 

Expected release date - October 23, 2018

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Release Date - June 5, 2018
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  336 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
It's summer and with that comes me wanting to devour more romance novels than I typically do. I had heard a ton of praise for The Kiss Quotient and could not resist when offered the chance to review it. All of the advance buzz this novel has was more than deserved. It's a charming own voices romance that is guaranteed to make you swoon and leave you with a smile on your face.

Helen Hoang does with this novel exactly what Salley Thorne did with The Hating Game. She instantly turned into an insta-read author for me. I think those who loved The Hating Game will love The Kiss Quotient just as much and I highly recommend it to those readers in particular. The stories are not at all similar, but the feelings the authors are able to invoke, and the light, fluffy feel while still creating a lot of substance is equally strong in both novels. Helen Hoang writing especially shines in The Kiss Quotient in that she manages to make creating the characters feel effortless. Stella has Asperger's and yet this book ensures that this is only part of who her character is. It is both important to the plot and just another thing we learn about Stella. The balance of this was great, and I feel it could have only come with someone who also has Asperger's like Helen Hoang.

This novel has all the usual beats that a romance novel should. It follows the known formula perfectly. It ensures that the reader gets exactly what they are looking for but also manages to be something pretty unique. The characters are where this novel really shines. Stella, for me, was a character that I hadn't encountered in a romance novel before. She was both compelling and interesting, and I ended up loving her. I hope that get to see more diversity in not just the characters but the stories being told in romance novels. It was never far from my mind that women like Stella might be seeing a character like themselves in a romance novel for the first time and how important that was.

Michael is exactly what a romance novel hero needs to be. He's charming, sexy, patient, has a well placed tattoo,  and just a little broody. It is easy to see what Stella sees in him. He, like Stella, is fleshed out rather well and has a lot of backstory that forms his character. I liked that both main characters had interactions and lives outside of each other. The family relationships in particular are written rather well and are important to each of the characters story arcs. It made each of them feel a little more real and I always appreciate when we see that the characters have lives outside of their romantic interests.

The synopsis of the novel immediately mad me think of a gender swapped Pretty Woman. It is easy to see the comparison. A rich person hires a sex worker in both. Michael certainly has a good heart (much like Julia Robert's Vivian in Pretty Woman). The stories both end up with them falling in love. What I appreciated about The Kiss Quotient is the amount of time that was spent getting to know Michael. We learn his reasons for becoming an escort. We get to see who he is when he's not with clients. We see him as something more than just a fantasy being offered and I think that is why this story works.

This book also sheds light on women finding pleasure in sex. Stella had some disastrous sexual encounters that were not pleasurable for her at all. She needed a partner who was patient and took the time to work at it with her. This was something she hadn't been aware of as she hadn't experienced that sex could be, and should be,  pleasurable for her. She accepted that her experience was the way things were supposed to be because of  not knowing anything different. It's really a sexual awakening for her and that was empowering to read as a woman. The story makes a pretty strong statement that your partner should care about how you are feeling. That they shouldn't ignore the signs that things are not okay. Michael's anger at the men who ignored the clear physical indicators that what was happening was not enjoyable for Stella even serves to make him even more swoon worthy.

The Kiss Quotient is simply a book made for summer reading. It's fun, sexy, romantic, and funny. Those who love a good romance read should definitely toss this one into their beach tote and enjoy a romance read that is both unique and familiar all at once. You'll immediately want to read it again and share it with others. It's one that is not to be missed for romance fans!

Sunday, June 17, 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)

I have a few ebooks to share this week that I purchased. They are mostly because they were recommended to me by people who I trust so I figured I would take a chance on them.

First up are some fairytale inspired reads that sound like a lot of fun.

At The Stroke Of Midnight by Tara Sivec (goodreads)
In Bed With The Beast by Tara Sivec (goodreads)

The first one is obviously inspired by Cinderella and the second is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. There is a third one that is releases in the fall and it is inspired by The Little Mermaid. I am hoping to read them soon to determine if I want to snag the next one when it comes out.

Next up is a Hollywood set romance that immediately caught my attention.

#Starstruck by Sariah Wilson (goodreads)

This is also part of a series and if I like the first one enough I'll pick up the second (which seems to be about a musician instead of an actor).

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

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Best I've Read In 2018 .... So Far.

As the midway point of the year is quickly approaching I figured it was time to check in with my year in reading up to this point. It's a great way to see how influential the first half of the way was to my overall reading and just a nice way to see how far I've come so far.

Sadly, I am way behind on my Goodreads reading challenge this year. I am 10 books behind schedule and I am not hopeful I'll catch up. I am going to give it my all but I am okay with possibly no making my goal this year.

I have noticed that my reading selection gets better every year and this year is no exception. I know what I like as a reader and have a better ability to pick out the books I am going to enjoy. It means my Goodreads ratings are trending really positive right now, but I am considering that a perk of the journey of discovering who I am as a reader. Does anyone else worry about being too positive sometimes, or are you just happy that you're picking books that you enjoy? Let me know.

I am reading a lot more romance than I tend to (at least for the first half the year). It's not surprising as there have been some great ones that have come out. I still think my reads lean heavily to young adult and I doubt that will ever really change.

As previously mentioned I haven't read as much as I typically have by this point in the year. This has made picking my ten favourite reads of the first half of 2018 harder in some ways and easier in others. I have less choices, but each choice feels more deliberate. Each exclusion hurts a little more than it has before.

With that said, here are my top ten of 2018 (so far) ....

*These are in no particular order* 

1 Side By Side by Jenni L Walsh

2 Royals by Rachel Hawkins

3 I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

4 The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

5 Save The Date by Morgan Matson

6 Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

7 Legendary by Stephanie Garber

8 The Kiss Quotient by by Helen Hoang

9 Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

10 You by Caroline Kepnes

Each book links to my review (except for The Kiss Quotient which I have not reviewed yet, but will be up next week).

What books would make your own best of lists at this point in the year? Let me know in the comments as I am always looking for new books to add to my to be read list. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday ..... Stripped

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 Stripped by Zoey Castile

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Skilled, sculpted, and sexy, the men of adult entertainment are the kind of guys a woman reserves for her fantasies, not her reality. But is there more to these professional hotties than meets the eye?…

The day Robyn Flores meets Zac Fallon is one of those days. You know, when you’re already late for work. Mostly because you haven’t really slept since your best friend abandoned you for her fiancĂ© and her exponentially better life. The kind of day you drag yourself to the cleaners to pick up your laundry, only to discover you’ve got the wrong bag—Star Spangled sequined thong, anyone? So Robyn is definitely not ready for the ridiculously gorgeous guy at her front door, except that they have each other’s clothes. But then, is any woman ever ready to meet the love of her life?

There’s just one problem: Zac Fallon is not the love of Robyn’s life. Zac knows, despite the all-too-intimate dinner they share, he doesn’t have a shot at her. Because the next time Zac sees Robyn, he’s front and center of the male revue headlining her best friend’s bachelorette party. So much for wooing the pretty schoolteacher, much less impressing her old-fashioned family, with his upstanding lifestyle. Now he’s only got one way to win his dream girl. It’s gonna be the steamiest, most irresistible seduction she’s ever seen. And this time it will be no act…
The deal announcement compared this one to Magic Mike and I was instantly sold. I expect it'll be a great mix of romance and humour which is especially appealing.  The meet cute sounds perfectly charming and I cannot wait to read the dance scenes.

It comes out at the end of summer which mean it's the perfect way to end your summer reading. It'll pair nicely with a drink by the pool (and make a fun book club read I imagine).

Expected release date - August 28, 2018

Monday, June 11, 2018

Side by Side by Jenni L Walsh

Side by Side by Jenni L Walsh
Release Date - June 5, 2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Texas: 1931. It’s the height of the Great Depression, and Bonnie is miles from Clyde. He’s locked up, and she’s left waiting, their dreams of a life together dwindling every day.

When Clyde returns from prison damaged and distant, unable to keep a job, and dogged by the cops, Bonnie knows the law will soon come for him. But there’s only one road forward for her.

If the world won't give them their American Dream, they'll just have to take it.
The story of Bonnie and Clyde is infamous. Everyone knows how they lived and died. Their cross country crime spree is the stuff of legend. Jenni L Walsh first dove into what made a woman like Bonnelyn turn to a life of crime with Clyde Barrow in Becoming Bonnie. In Side by Side she shines that same spotlight on their crime spree and ultimately humanizes them in the process.

The research that went into this novel is evident in every meticulous detail. It's like a snapshot of what Bonnie and Clyde's life on the run would have been like, and what that era in general was like for people living in it. It's setting at times feels disjointed as a result of the duo crisscrossing the country to evade police. This, however, fit the tone perfectly and ensure that the reader felt as disoriented as Bonnie did sometimes. These elements are all a testament to the strong writing that is within this book. Jenni L Walsh makes you feel like you are there experiencing it with the characters.

Many portrayals of Bonnie and Clyde treated their crime spree in a glamorous manner. They tend to gloss over the realities that would have come with the lifestyle they were living. The sleepless nights on the road. The constant worry that would have plagued them. The injuries that were never tended to properly. This portrayal makes it sound exhausting and horrific. It never erases what they've done, but makes you feel sympathy in a way that I am not sure other adaptations of managed quite so effectively.

The bond between Bonnie and Clyde must have been strong for them to have stood by each other during everything that happened. Jenni L Walsh weaves in the love they had for each other into every decision that is made. It's evident in every part of their journey. It makes your connection to the characters stronger because you become invested in ther connection to each other. 

We all know how the story of Bonnie and Clyde ends. It's an ending that always haunted me. I think it is a large part of why their infamy remains long after their lives ended. It's a tragic ending to an already tragic story. Their ending is handled perfectly within this book, as is the betrayal that facilitates it. It resonates in a way that ensures you feel it, and allows it to linger. It is, perhaps, one of my favourite parts of this well crafted read.

Jenni L Walsh weaves a heart tugging, gripping, and realistic portrait of two people who become criminals out of circumstance. It  is a perfect follow up to Becoming Bonnie and a must read for anyone interested in Bonnie and Clyde, or just wants a really great historical read. It, once again, boasts a strong character voice and ensures that I'll be reading anything else Jenni L Walsh writes next. 

Sunday, June 10, 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)

I have had some amazing books show up this week in my mailbox (and other goodies). First up are two books that I preordered and had arrived.

Save The Date by Morgan Matson (goodreads)
Legendary by Stephanie Garber (goodreads)

I have read both of these and they are both wonderful. Morgan's newest is perfect for the summer and beach reading. Stephanie's newest is magical and whimsical and such a great sequel. Be sure to look for both of my reviews that were posted on the blog.

Next up is something I was really excited to get. I had joined the My Favorite Murder fan cult and it comes with this awesome t-shirt and pin!

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

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 9, 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.

I am going to apologize in advance because literally the only thing I care about this week is the trailer for A Star Is Born. I am obsessed. OBSESSED. With that said, here is everything that made me excited this week.


A Star Is Born Trailer

As mentioned above this movie trailer has basically taken my attention from everthing else this week. It's so freaking good. I get goosebumps everytime I watch it.


Whatever Bradly Cooper is doing in this trailer really works for me. I love every single thing about this and cannot wait to see it on Oct 5th and get super emotional. There has been some Oscar nomination talk just from the trailer so it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Side note that should also surprise nobody who knows me: I melt when he says "I just wanted to take another look at you". The chemistry is OFF THE CHARTS. The spark is totally there and I am here for it. Expect me to be obnoxious about this one as it gets closer.

A Star Is Born Movie Poster

Some official posters were released along with the amazing trailer. I specifically love this one.

The other posters are just single shots of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. It is going to be interesting to follow this one and see which film festivals it appears at.

Cover of Slayer by Kiersten White (goodreads)

I am a huge fan of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer television series. I was pretty excited when it was announced that Kiersten White was going to be writing a series about a new vampire slayer. The cover was recently unveiled and I really like it!

It screams Buffy to me and immediately makes it clear that it is part of that same word, but still obviously not Buffy herself. I am so excited to meet this new slayer and follow her on her own journey.

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

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Save The Date by Morgan Matson

Save The Date by Morgan Matson
Release Date - June 5, 2018
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  432 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.
There are a few things that will happen after finishing Save The Date. You'll immediately want to call your family, blast Make Me Lose Control by Eric Carmen, and eat some donuts. You'll also probably want to instantly start reading it again. This cute, wedding season read about a girl discovering that the saying about life being what happens when your busy making other plans is absolutely true.

Morgan Matson's novels always feel like a warm hug. They have a nostalgia factor built into them. They are synonyms with summer for me. This feels especially true in this novel. Anyone who has read and loved the For Better Or For Worse cartoon strip will see the inspiration for Grant Central Station (the comic that exists in this novel). It invokes a particular feeling, even if you're not familiar with the comic strip, that weaves itself into the other elements of the story. You connect with the characters because it is so easy to. The way the story unfolds through memories, comic strip sections, and input from those outside of the family all come together to create a real sense of not just the characters but of the tone of the story.

The family relationships, instead of the romance, are what will cause you to have a ton of feelings while reading this one. The romance typically shine brightly in Morgan's books, but it takes a backseat to the family dynamics for this one. The time frame doesn't lend itself to a properly fleshed out romance, and Charlie is dealing with so much family drama that it feels really natural to have it be only a minor subplot. The Grants are a family you will love, and probably wish to be part of, even if they don't always get along. I appreciated how developed all of the family members felt. They each had their own distinct personalities. There were relationships that existed between certain members that existed outside of the one that existed between the whole family.

There is romance within the story for those looking for it. The theme of this one would definitely be potential. There is a spark that could ignite into something more. There are plenty of great moments between her and the two potential boys who have caught her attention. For those needing those romance swoon I promise that you'll find them in here. Some of my favourites include the spontaneity of dancing in grocery story, and the dizzying feeling of a boy you like finally noticing you back. The romance is framed more in reference of Charlie, and I think that fits really well with the rest of the story.

A large part of the story revolves around Charlie wanting everything to be perfect for the wedding. It, of course, goes comically wrong at every opportunity. Her expectations are so high that there is no way that the reality could ever live up to it. Part of her story arc is learning that those moments you don't expect can be the ones that are most rewarding. They can be the ones that sear themselves into the fabric of who you are and be exactly what you needed. She also has to struggle with the reality that everything is not necessarily as she perceives it to be. She has to grow a lot as she discovers things about her family and reconcile the fact that she may have seen things how she thought they were instead of how they really are.

If you're a fan of Morgan's previous novels you'll delight in a few cameos that are within these pages. I was so charmed by one in particular. It is basically the example for why I love novels that are set within the same world like these are. These cameos also added to the nostalgia factor and immediately made it feel like something included for the fans. It's nice to check in on these characters we already love and just hammers home that family feeling.

Morgan Matson, once again, nails that summer book feeling with this feel good contemporary read. It is one I think people will want to read multiple times because of how connected they'll feel to the characters. I highly recommend saving a spot in your summer reading schedule for this one and it is the perfect accessory for the upcoming wedding season.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday ... The Proposal

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 Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn't turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own...

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise--or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part--they've only been dating for five months, and he can't even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans...

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik's rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up--in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...
I really enjoyed The Wedding Date and was excited to discover that Jasmine Guillory had another book coming out so soon. I was equally happy to discover that it sounds adorable!
If you're a fan of rom-com style reads I highly recommend picking up The Wedding Date and adding this one to your list of books to pick up in the Fall season. 
Expected release date - September 4, 2018

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