Friday, July 29, 2016

IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT BY JUDY BLUME - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book in their Blockbuster Books Binge Box. A review was not requested, however I am providing one as a complimentary copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


My fairly short history with Judy Blume starts in elementary school. It was in grade 4 or 5 that I distinctly remember picking up her children's books, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Freckle Juice, and Blubber, most memorably. I remember them all fondly, but I couldn't remember if I LIKED them. At the age of 10, I pretty much read all I could get my hands on. So when I was sent this, her newest adult book, I was intrigued.

The premise sounded interesting, and I knew, once I was about 50 pages in, I would love this book.

We start the book in "present" day, in 1987. A woman is on a plane, and after reading the character guide on the pages earlier, it could have easily been one of about a dozen women. Then the story jumps to 1952, where the majority of the book is set. We get many perspectives within the book, Miri, is kind of the main one, although we do get her mother, Rusty, grandmother, Irene, best friend, Natalie, as well as a handful of others. Each "chapter" starts off with an article from the community paper, some pertaining to the incidents, some not. Some written by Miri's uncle, Henry, other's anonymous.

I was happy to find that Miri wasn't one of the passengers on the plane that fell, I think the whole situation was handled quite well. We got firsthand details, without making it too gruesome that you'll never want to fly again, although there were a few times when I got the chills reading the passages.

This book just had so many amazing aspects to it, Miri's first love, that was so sweet, I was heartbroken for her, the role of women in the 50s, the background threat of the Korean War, still looming in the background. If I didn't already know that Blume had lived in Elizabeth, in this time, I would have thought she did, the details were so much more than just facts from someone who did some research. There's something to be said about this kind of book, where you get lost in the world around the story. I really felt like I was in Elizabeth when everything was happening.

When the story starts in November/December and its winter, almost Christmas, I got nostalgic for Christmas, and it's only July!

I haven't read a book like this in a long time, one where I found no faults, and loved everything about this book. I most appreciated the timeline. It jumps ahead 35 years earlier for the first chapter, goes throughout 1952 and a bit of 1053 and then jumps back to 'present' day, 35 years later. It felt so well rounded, and I loved seeing what happened to everyone almost four decades later. They all got together to remember the plane crashes, and it was fun seeing who married who, how many kids soandso had. I appreciated the update, because I was so invested in the characters throughout the story.

What I loved most about this book though, was that it was totally unexpected. I went into it, firstly thinking the main character was going to be on the plane when it crashed, and that it would be her story of survival/death afterward. What I got was so much more. First love, hardships, drama, mental illness, war, all with the worry that a second, third, plane would come crashing down.

Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough! One of my new faves!


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SUMMER TBR - TOP 5

Hello everyone!

I am writing a slightly different blog post today, a welcome break from the avalanche of reviews, a post where I share some of the books on my to-be-read shelf that I want to read before summer ends, and school starts up again. I am only including books that I currently own, not ones I was sent for review, or ones that I haven't bought but might.

Between trying to save some money for school, and the fact that I have 68 books on my TBR, I have been on a bit of a book buying ban. I do have some preorders coming in a little later, but I bought those with a gift card.

Anyways, let's get into the books! This was so hard to choose, because I knew I wouldn't have much down time from review books, so I wanted to pick shorter books, but I also knew that I would be too busy when school started to pick up the larger books on my list. In the end, I just went with five books that I WANTED to read!

In no particular order:

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater 


I've heard such amazing things about this series and I just recently picked up the first two books, so I'm looking forward to experiencing these books!

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer


I finished Winter back in February and I just didn't want this series to be officially over, so I kept putting these short stories off. But I think it is finally time to read this and but this series to rest.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


I got this book for my birthday back in May and I've been gawking at the cover since. I read The Importance of Being Earnest in school and was intrigued by Wilde. I don't want to read it during the school year, I feel like I'll need lighter reading then.

Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn


This one just sounds really good. I've been meaning to pick it up, but just haven't had the time! It sounds like a great summer read, light but still with some mystery and possibly magical realism.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas 


I know, I KNOW, I haven't read QoS yet. I just haven't had the time to sit down and read a 600+ page book. Yes, I know it came out almost a year ago... but I will hopefully be tackling this one before the end of summer because I preordered Empire of Storms which comes out THIS September, and I will be caught up!

So that's it for my summer TBR! I'm hoping it is reasonable enough to accomplish!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

HEROES OF THE FRONTIER BY DAVE EGGERS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, this time of a new release that comes out today, Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a, advanced copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I don't even know where to start with this book. I enjoyed it, but at the same time, I'm conflicted as to how I feel now that everything is over. If you've been reading my reviews for awhile, you will know that the only reason I don't give a book a star rating is when I either DNF'd it, or if I was so enthrallingly confused by it. In the case of this book, it is the latter.

In it's bare bones, this is the story of a woman, a dentist, who has just recently been sued by a patient, lost her practice in the process, and has decided to take her two children and drive around Alaska, avoiding the children's father who wants to introduce them to his new fiancee's family. Basically, life isn't going too great for Josie.

This story was told in third person limited, which, as it normally does, created a bit of a riff between reader and character. I found I had a hard time relating to Josie, her situation, sure, but herself as a person, as a character, not as much. She was judgemental and a little bit pessimistic. While I am in no position to comment, I found her style of parenting quite odd, but realistic. She would calculate what part of something her youngest, Ana would break, i.e. the chains on a play structure, but made no move to ensure that she didn't hurt herself. This is more of the parenting style I am used to, not this helicopter parenting/bubble-wrapped kid style we see more and more today. She was also a borderline alcoholic, if there is such a thing, and I found myself skimming her drunken observations.

Paul and Ana, the children were decent enough characters, but we didn't really see much from their perspective, only Josie's interpretations. They are cute kids who have learned to lean on one another, almost to Josie's dislike.

I do think this was a good book, despite the issues I have with the character(s). And I believe part of that enjoyment came from the writing style. It was so lyrical, so well thought out. It did take some getting used to, the writing was a little jarring at first, when I first started it later at night, I couldn't keep myself awake enough to full absorb the writing. Very much like the old saying, the journey is the destination, this book was more about the writing and diction, than it was the story itself and characters.

I mean, realistically, there wasn't a lot of craziness going on. Sure the ex-husband/boyfriend was a little abrasive, and there was some tension there, but it wasn't like Josie was dealing with a guy who was hunting down his kids to free them from their alcoholic mother. Everything was just so normal. Josie's issues with the parents at school, normal, running into trouble with her dentist practice, hopefully not common, but fairly normal.

There were even points where I almost DNF'd this book, because of the lack of plot development, but the writing kept me sucked in, and I found myself just wanting to see what happened day-to-day, not worrying whether or not their was a major plot development.

Sure, there was a bit of tension towards the end, would Carl come and hunt them down? How would they survive with the $84 Josie had left? How far behind would her children fall without being in school? Like the Alaskan forest fires that threatened from a distance, these were not immediate issues the rag-tag group faced. This story very much emphasized a live in the moment attitude, both to direct and indirect threats.

Overall, despite my minor issues, I did enjoy this book. It is definitely unlike any other book I have ever read.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

THE ART OF REBELLION BY BRENDA JOYCE LEAHY - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone,

Today, I am back with another book review, The Art of Rebellion by Brenda Joyce Leahy. Thanks so much to the author for giving me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Even though this book is set in the early 1900s and is considered a historical fiction, it still had some themes and views that are very much still prevalent in today's society. I think that this aspect helps to keep people who aren't necessarily regular readers of historical fiction, such as myself, interested in the story.

At it's basic level, this is a book of a girl, Gabrielle, who is promised to an old man three times her age, but she doesn't want to be a mother or wife, at her age, or really, at any point. She considers herself a "modern woman," one who can have a career outside family life and running a household, and runs away from her family to live with her grandmother in Paris and to pursue her dream of being an artist. Once she gets to the capital, she finds her grandmother is missing and she has nowhere to go. Soon, she meets a fellow artist and lives with her as she searches for her grandmother and tries to get enrolled in one of the only art schools that allows women students.

One of the major themes in this book was feminism, or really just treating women like people. It is horrifying to see Gabrielle's mother selling her off to this man, just to help secure their family name. Even when Gabrielle begs her not to allow it, she refuses. Even when she gets to the city, Gabrielle is faced with both men AND women who oppose women's rights. At this point in time, the women of society weren't even asking for a right to vote yet. They just wanted to be allowed to choose, or at least deny who they were to marry, and to be able to have their own bank accounts. Nothing too crazy.

And the part that terrified me the most about this book, is that when you get down to it, not a lot has changed from 1900 to 2016. Sure, women have the vote and can work for a living outside the home, but there are more modern issues women face, like the corporate glass ceiling, the wage gap, or the fact that America, in all its almost 240 years, has never had a female president, and is now almost at the point where they would rather have a xenophobic, misogynistic, lunatic lead their country, just because that person is male, than have a women as their president. But I digress, this is a debate for another time.

What I enjoyed most about the book was at the end, when Gabrielle eventually goes back to her home and is forced to marry the baron, after she has met someone else, she still sticks to her guns and doesn't just give up her dream of being an artist because a man she likes tells her to. She is strong enough to chose her own path and not care about the affect it has on her gentleman friend.

There is just so much character development within Gabbi; she starts out her journey a naive girl trying to escape marry and pursue her dream, but through her experiences in Paris, she grows and becomes more conscious of the world around her. Besides living a fairly sheltered live, she was never 'trained' for life in the big city. She was too trusting, too quickly and it cost her dearly. In the end, however, she knows what she has to do to save her family, and is willing to make that sacrifice. She becomes a mature young woman who still wants to follow her dreams, but has a more realistic expectation of what that will look like.

I did find that this book was just a little heavy on the art references. There was a lot of comment on famous artists and paintings, some of which I knew, but most I didn't. They kind of went right over my head, but I was expecting these allusions because quite a large part of this book is about Gabbi's love of art and being set in Paris where there is so much art.

My only other small, tiny little tweak I would have been when the wedding announcements go out, and they are only in the initials, well, I won't spoil it, but I just felt like a little too much was given away here. I knew how it was going to end right then and I just wish I would have been kept in suspense just a little bit longer.

Overall, this is a historical fiction that reads as a modern day novel. There were points where I forgot it was a historical fiction because so many of the issues are still prevalent today.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

GLEN FALLS: BOOK TWO BY MALYNDA SCHLEGEL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, this time it's Glen Falls: Book Two by Malynda Schlegel. Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


This book, obviously, is the second book to the series, so I won't get into too many details that might spoil book one.

As with the first book, it took me some time to re-adjust to the writing style. The chapters are broken up into little snapshots of different characters, usually for a page or two and then it switches to a new character. I did, of course, get used to the writing style quite quickly and everything was better.

The story of the book picks up fairly soon after things ended in book one. We are back with the Amherst's, the parents, Sophia and Grant, who are still working on fixing their relationship, Wesley gets a surprise visitor and ends up in the hospital, and Alexa struggles with her feelings for someone she could never be in a relationship with.

Of course, we also see Alexa's best friend, Breanne and her mother Virginia try to mend their relationship, as well as the relationships they have built with others.

Connor and Travis are pretty much officially roommates, much to Connor's chagrin.

One thing I found with this book, and maybe it's just because I wasn't in the best mood when I read it, but the character's annoyed me more than they did in the first book. Not enough to make me put it down and give up, but enough for me to notice. Alexa especially. She played with people's emotions, didn't discuss anything with people she should have and then got upset when they didn't understand.

I think the character I liked the most was Connor. He was open with his feelings, but also kept in mind others' as well. He gets irritated with Travis as a roommate but doesn't bail on his friend. Overall, he's just a great guy.

This was a good book. Don't let my three stars deter you. I just thought that some things could be tweaked and that the first book was better. We do see more development of the characters in this book, and I look forward to seeing what happens in book three.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

HIDDEN BODIES BY CAROLINE KEPNES - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!


I've been promising myself I would pick up Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes when I got a break in my review books. And I've been pushing it off, picking up other books instead. Then, the other day, I found myself in the situation where I had a break and I picked it up, and I am absolutely KICKING myself that I didn't pick it up sooner.

This is the sequel to You by Caroline Kepnes and first of all, if you haven't read that book, what are you doing with your life?! Anyways, this is a sequel, not a companion novel, so you definitely need to read that book before this one.

Also, just to pre-warn, this review may contain some spoilers for You, as it is the review for the sequel. It's pretty much spoiler free in terms of this book though.

Again with this book, we get the typical slightly sociopathic tendencies of everyone's favourite murderer, Joe Goldberg. I read You as a physical book first, and then listened to the audio book and it was really great to hear Joe, and get a feel for the pacing of his narrative. It's very much a run-on sentence, running out of breath writing style, and the audio book exemplifies the pacing perfectly.

This story follows Joe and his journey through Los Angeles, specifically Hollywood. I won't say too much on how he ends up in LA, other than the fact that it doesn't exactly have a happy reason. Anyways, he gets there and ends up getting a job at a bookstore, and befriends an actress named Love Quinn. Joe is pretty much accepted as one of the Quinn's own.

All the while however, links to Joe's past are bringing him down. New investigations are ordered on the deaths he caused, and of course, the infamous Mug of Urine he left behind haunts him. As much as he's trying to move forward with his new life, he is constantly dragged down by his old one.

In a twisted sort of way, I actually felt bad for Joe. I mean, yes, he's a murderer, but at the same time, he's been "clean" for a while and is trying to be better for Love and their relationship. I felt like in this book, his relationship with Love was better than with Beck's, more genuine. He had to kind of corner Beck, while Love came willingly.

I think compared to You, I liked You better. While it was great to see Joe again, and what he's been up to, I just think that the first book has so much more power because you don't really know what Joe is capable of. In this book, you know he has killed before, that he is capable and willing, if the occasion arises where it is necessary. So once you get to this book, it's pretty much expected that he would kill anyone who crosses him. And I think that took away a little from the story. There were definitely some times where he questions whether or not it is necessary to eliminate a person, once he gets more involved in his relationship with Love, so I suppose it gets a little more uncertain as the story progresses.

The whole time I was reading this book, I was thinking that he was going to get caught. A couple of one off murders, of people who were depressed, or there was some sort of possible motive for another person, he pulled those killings off easily, and, for the most part, cleanly. Once he gets to LA, he starts to get sloppy. He makes stuff up, he is new, and automatically people are suspicious of the New Yorker. I also found he was more remorseful. In You, all the murders were almost clinical. These had more emotion in them. And I think this was part of the reason why I was so sure he would get caught this time around. Obviously, I am not going to say what happens, but it's definitely what I expected and not what I expected, if that makes sense.

Overall, I am really loving this series and I hope that Caroline Kepnes has at least one more book planned for Joe because I cannot have it end this way!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD BY RUTH WARE - BLOG TOUR AND BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

Today, I am partnering with Simon and Schuster and some other bloggers in the Summer Fiction Blog Tour to bring you all a bunch of highly anticipated books of the year, over the course of 5 weeks with 5 different bloggers!


This is the last week, of the tour and we are all sharing our reviews of In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.



In a Dark, Dark Wood is one of the most atmospheric books I've read in a long time. After reading blurbs on the back of the book about not starting it before bed, and prepare to be afraid, I went into it a little weary. I started it before bed after reading all these "warnings" and was just bracing myself.

I felt on edge the whole time because it starts out so normal. Leonora is invited to her old best friend, Clare's hen do, or bachelorette party. It's more of a bachelorette weekend, really, in Clare's new best friend Flo's aunt's summer house in the country. This all sounds great, but then you find out Clare and Leonora haven't spoken in 10 years, the house is in the middle of nowhere with no phone reception, the getaway weekend is in November, AND Clare is marrying, unannounced to Nora, Nora's childhood sweetheart, James, who dumbed her over text ten years ago when they were sixteen. Needless to say, there's a lot of skeletons in the closet for everyone, and its a bit of a tense situation.

Obviously there was quite a bit of drama, and as a reader, you are just kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. The group goes on an outing to a shooting range, all organized by the slightly neurotic perfectionist Flo who NEEDS this weekend to go well. She's obsessed with Clare, to the point of wearing the same clothes she does. Anyways, this is clearly a weird activity for a bachelorette party, at least in my mind.

After a couple of days, Nora and one of the other friends she came up with Nina, have had enough and want to leave. They promise each other they will go the next morning, but the events of that night change everything. I will stop with the plot summary because I really think you need to experience this all first hand.

Anyways, the rest of the story is told from Nora, in her hospital bed, trying to remember what happened and being questioned by the police. I really liked that even though Nora is a suspect, they are all suspects in the murder, she fights her brain to try and remember, not just to clear her own name but to know what happened. A lot of time with unreliable "amnesiac" narrators, they don't want to remember. They fear they may be guilty (there's always a crime committed) and they would rather forget than remember. Nora wants to remember, NEEDS to remember. She goes to crazy extremes to jog her memory, because this is personal to her, but not in the way you might think.

As with 99% of thrillers these days, this book has been compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. I've yet to read Gone Girl, but I read TGOTT and I feel like the only comparisons are that they are told by unreliable narrators and are set in England. To me, each thriller is kind of it's own. This one is a fairly slow burn, but as previously mentioned, it kept me on the edge of my seat. Even when I finished it, I was thoroughly creeped out. It really goes to show that you have no idea what anyone, even your closest friend is capable of.

Overall, this was a crazy book that really put you in the story. The writing was lyrical and sucked you in. I definitely recommend!

This is the last week of the blog tour but don't forget to check out the Simon and Schuster's Read Chill Repeat website for more info on previous books, and to enter for a chance to win a set of books + one year of free coffee from Aroma Espresso Bar, the contest ends on July 16!SaveSaveSave


Monday, July 11, 2016

FIRST COMES LOVE BY EMILY GIFFIN - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, First Comes Love by Emily Giffin. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in their Blockbuster Books Binge Box. A review was not requested, however I am providing one as a complimentary copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


While Emily Giffin is not an unknown author to me, this is the first book of her's that I have read. And I have to say, I can definitely see why she is such well-loved author.

This story follows two sister, Josie and Meredith as they reflect on their lives thus far while preparing to face the fifteen-year anniversary of their older brother's death. The sisters are in their late thirties, and Daniel would have been turning 40 years old.

Told in alternating perspectives, Josie struggles with being thirty-seven, and while she has a career she loves, a first grade teacher, she is missing that traditional husband and children that she always anticipated. She pretty much swears off dating and starts researching sperm banks, to fulfill her dream of motherhood.

Very much the opposite of Josie, Meredith is married (to her brother's best friend) and has an adorable four year old daughter. She juggles the stresses of home life with being a pretty decent attorney. However, she begins to wonder if she was ever really in love with her husband, as opposed to just the idea of making a bad situation good.

One of the aspects in this book that I struggled with was the dynamic between Josie and Meredith. They were pretty much always bickering about something and most of the time, it was just little things. I think, just because personally, I have a close relationship with my sister, I just couldn't, or I guess, didn't want to picture them fighting so much. At one point, Meredith even says that she doesn't want another baby, one of the reasons being that it might be another girl, and she doesn't want Harper to have that relationship with a sibling. This made me quite sad, but also really brought to life how bad their relationship is.

I did, however, mostly really enjoy this book. I found the plot to be interesting, it was just the family's normal life, with a little bit of tension because of the anniversary.

Obviously, this book deals with some really heavy topics, death and grief, divorce, and just general unhappiness in the structured life one has come to know. Part of Meredith's issues are that she didn't really choose this life, one thing just kind of led to another. She was just at the right, or wrong, depending on how you look at it, place at the right time.

Even as a reader, there are so many "what if's" going on in my mind, regarding all the characters. "What if he went to the bathroom before leaving the house?" "What if she didn't come home that weekend?" "What if she told the truth?" There were a lot of different scenarios that could have played out, but of course, they didn't, so this is the story we got. It kind of puts everything in perspective and reminds you of that old adage, everything happens for a reason. There are a million different variables in every situation and you can't control what happens, no matter how hard you try. I think that is one of the big life lessons in this book. No matter how much planning or stressing or whatever you do, everything can change in a split second, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

I think that the main issue I had with this book was that I am not the right audience for it. At my age, marriage and kids are way, way, WAY off in the very distant future, and I think that's part of the reason why I didn't really connect as well with the characters. The marital issues and feelings of being a "spinster" are not ones I deal with so I felt a little out of place. These characters are late thirties, and I just think I'm about twenty years too young for this story.

Also, for those of you who have read some of Giffin's other books, Ellen and Andy from Love the One You're With are in this book a little bit, Ellen is Meredith's best friend and closest confidante.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book. I'm not sure if I'll be picking up more books by Giffin soon, not because I didn't like the writing, I did, it was very good, but I just think that I'm TOO young for these storylines.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

THE UNWANTED BY JEAN NICOLE RIVERS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Unwanted by Jean Nicole Rivers. Thank you so much to the author for sending me an e-copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Before I get too far into this review, or even start it really, I will say that I am new to the horror genre. I've pretty much steered clear, mainly because I'm a bit of a scaredy cat. That I because I'm working throughout the summer, most of the time I get to read is from about 8pm to whenever I fall asleep, around midnight. So I'm sitting by myself, in my room, sometimes with the lights off (if I'm reading an ebook), reading. It's not exactly prime conditions to read books that keep you awake at night, i.e. horror. I've just recently decided to broaden my horizons, step outside my comfort zone, and read some horror books.

On that note, for the most part, this book wasn't too scary for me to handle. I was reading in the above conditions, and I was doing good, and then I got to a point where I couldn't read it at night anymore so I put it down. Once I picked it up again the next day though (a little earlier), I was good to go. If you are looking for a creepy book where you never really know what's going on, this is the book for you.

I don't know if I would say that the narrative of this book is unreliable, its third person, but limited to Blaire, an American teacher's POV. Both she and a fellow American, a nurse named Travis have travelled to a tiny European town to help volunteer at an orphanage of sorts. This is where things get a little bit hazy. Everyone in the town kind of feels weird about the orphanage, where the "unwanted" children are sent, but no one really knows what happens there, or why it's so widely rumoured. The workers themselves are mysterious, you as a reader, as well as Blaire and Travis never really know who to trust.

There's just a lot of weird stuff happening with the kids at this place. They are considered "unwanted" by their families, instead of being orphaned 'traditionally,' so to speak. One girls father blindfolded her and dropped her off after he became worried of her mental instability. Many of the children have some sort of mental illness, or have developed one from being in the house. Some have physical illnesses, brittle bone disease, amplified by the underfunded home's lack of nutritious meals or real medical care, aside from a few bandages and some 'mild tranquilizers,' cerebral palsy, as well as just basic malnutrition. As a result, especially of the mental illnesses, the children are quite strange. Once I got more into the story, the kids were kind of what I was expecting of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children before I read it. Like if Peregrine and the kids went off the deep end, that would be this book.

As details got clearer, everything got creepier. They wanted to leave, but a snow storm snowed them in for at least a couple of days. The townies were getting upset with Blaire for snooping around in the home's history. This book just overall, creeped me out. I could really see what was happening in the story, and I really felt for the characters.

I will also say that even though this book is technically book number two in the series, you can definitely read it as a standalone. I had no prior knowledge of the story before, in book one, and I was able to follow it very easily. I'm not too sure, but I think it might be more about Blaire's past.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had just enough creepiness to get my feet wet in the horror genre, while still keeping me interested in the story.


Friday, July 8, 2016

LILY AND THE OCTOPUS BY STEVEN ROWLEY - BLOG TOUR + BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

Today, I am partnering with Simon and Schuster and some other bloggers in the Summer Fiction Blog Tour to bring you all a bunch of highly anticipated books of the year, over the course of 5 weeks with 5 different bloggers!


This week, we are all sharing our reviews of Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Going into this book, I really had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that this book was about a guy and his dog, and the person, or dog, you can't live without. The synopsis is very vague, and in truth, the in book synopsis was little more than a few sentences of the same ideas.

What you end up getting in this book is something so much deeper.

Right off the bat, you are introduced to the main character Ted, and his dachshund, Lily. Their relationship is very different, and Lily, it appears, talks to Ted. I wasn't sure if this was a magical realism element, or just a Valium induced hallucination (we find out later Ted has fears of substance addiction). Still, the story was cute and interesting, so I stuck it out. From pretty much the 6th page of the book, we learn that Lily has an "octopus" on her head; quite clearly, a tumour on her brain.

A lot of this book is spent with Ted trying to make the most of his numbered days with Lily. As with all grieving, he doesn't accept the tumour for what it is. He sees it as a separate creature that he can get to remove itself from Lily and they can go back to normal life.

In the midst of Lily's medical issues, Ted also deals with the issues of regular, every day life. The fact that he hasn't had a serious relationship for over a year, that he's forty-two and just kind of lives in this made-up world where everything is sunshine and talking dogs. His tense relationship with his mother, a flashback chapter where he deals with another one of Lily's medical scares while simultaneously attending his sister's city hall wedding across the country, playing photographer, witness, family of the bride, and "man of honour."

This book had an almost dream-like quality to it. It sucked you in and didn't let go. I read it in one sitting of about 4 hours. I kept waiting for the end when everything was just a horrible Wizard of Oz dream and Ted would wake up and Lily would be okay.

I think the most important part of this book is that it is so relatable. Firstly, if you have a dog, or any pet really, this book will shatter you. Like Marley and Me: The Movie shatter you. No spoilers. Anyways, you can't read this book without getting emotional. I don't want to spoil whether or not Lily dies in the end, but there are just so many close calls and nostalgic moments that will make you want to cuddle your pooch a little more.

I wasn't surprised when I read the author's note at the end saying this story was inspired by his dog Lily and their life together. I could just tell from the way he described the heart wrenching events, that he had been through this experience first hand.

Even if you don't have a pet, you can still relate to this book. It talks about losing the one person who has always been there for you. It doesn't matter if this person is your best friend, your mom, your husband or your dog; they made an impact on your life, and it would be significantly different without them in it. The author touches on this loss in a very open and honest way, never sugar-coating Ted's feelings about losing Lily.

The seriousness of these topics are juxtaposed with the fun elements of magical realism throughout the book, Ted playing Monopoly with Lily every Friday night, Thursday walks sitting on benches talking about which one of the Chrises is cuter, Hemsworth, Evans or Pratt. Even just the way Lily "talked" to Ted, WITH! SHOUTY! CAPS! AND! LOTS! OF! EXCLAMATION! POINTS! I could almost see her little body jumping up and down with excitement.

A couple things I wasn't a fan of, the whole boat/octopus/fisherman section. I just was really confused as to what was going on and how much time was passing. Part of me feels like they did go on the boat and just kind of fell into a heat stroke hallucination for three weeks? The lines between reality and illusion were so blurred at some points, I had a hard time just generally deciding what was really going on.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book. I was just a little skeptical of some stuff going on...

Stay tuned for the next week, the last one of the tour, with the reviews of In a Dark, Dark Wood! And don't forget to check out the Simon and Schuster's Read Chill Repeat website for more info and to enter for a chance to win a set of books + one year of free coffee from Aroma Espresso Bar!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

YOU KNOW ME WELL BY NINA LaCOUR AND DAVID LEVITHAN - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it's You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review! As always, all opinions are my own.



Right away, this book surprised me. In a good way. I had only previously read separate books by these authors, Every Day by David Levithan and The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour. And while I liked those books, they didn't blow me away. This book, however, was really, really good.

There's no beating around the bush here, this is a true LGBTQA novel. Both the POVs are of a gay or lesbian person and this book takes place over the span of Pride week in San Francisco. And it was great! LGBT fiction isn't one I normally pick up, I don't avoid it, but I usually pick up stories about straight people, but if this is the caliber in which it is at, I will definitely pick up more of it.

The story follows Mark and Kate. After sitting together all year in Calculus, the two accidentally bump into each other at a gay bar and form a quick friendship, mainly out of desperation, for him avoiding his best-friend-who-he-loves-but-the-feeling-isn't-mutual and for her, avoiding her friends after running away from the girl she's been longing after for a year. They meet up and devise a plan to have a crazy night to show their friends how much fun they can have without them.

I really loved the characters in this book. Mark was great, he was shy and a little bit self-conscious but really sweet. He's willing to fight for what he wants, even if that means getting his heart broken and losing his best friend. I also enjoyed Kate's character. She was an amazing artist and everyone assumed that would be the career choice she wanted to follow, without asking her what she wanted. I definitely felt that, especially when I was unsure of what I wanted to take and where I wanted to go. Some people expected me to do one thing, and I think I wanted to do it because that was what everyone expected of me. Like Kate, I was unsure and I think she portrayed that uncertainty well.

The writing style was good, I think I preferred Levithan/Mark's POV the most, I don't know if it was the writing or if it was his storyline. LaCour/Kate's POV was good, but I found it a little lacking.

I also really enjoyed how real this book was. The romance wasn't insta-love and this book really shows that its not always a happy ending for everyone. It's not a depressing ending, but it's realistic. I also really loved how in terms of love interests, Violet and Ryan were fairly normal. Violet was a little bit romanticized for a bit in Kate's head, but I think that was mainly because of what Lehna had said about her. Other than that, they weren't this mysterious, unattainable goal that Kate and Mark were trying to achieve.

One of the other things I liked about this book was that they didn't force anything on you as a reader. That was part of my problem with Every Day, I just felt like the concept of ambiguity, sexuality and no gender assignment was pushed way to hard. It kept coming up every chapter and I felt overwhelmed. This book deals with those issues, and the characters sit down and have a conversation about progress that is being made and what being gay in today's world is like, and I really enjoyed that. But they didn't shove it down your throat. It was very here's the topic we are talking about, let's talk. I think a lot of people will appreciate this. Love is love, no matter who you are.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story, very well done.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

JUNE LITJOY CRATE BOOK SUBSCRIPTION BOX - REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I think it's beyond time I share the June LitJoy Crate's contents! In case you don't know, LitJoy Crate is a book subscription service that offers 3 types of book boxes: board books (ages 0-2), picture books (ages 3-7), and young adult books (ages 14+). Each of their boxes come curated with 2-4 book themed products that go along with a book.

The ladies over at LitJoy Crate were awesome enough to send me a second box, the June young adult box, for review!



The June YA box was themed 'Prehistoric Fantasy,' and it included:

  • Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh, with a signed bookplate and little note from the author
  • A Pride and Prejudice book locket key chain from Crafting Call! This is so adorable, and you can even put some photos inside! Plus the packaging on this is just SPECTULAR!
  • A package of Bee Local Honey Sticks, which I've heard once you read the story, you will understand, but I couldn't resist and tried some, delicious!
  • A soy Campfire candle from The Tiny Collection that smells EXACTLY like a campfire! It still blows me away how people can get such true scents into candles! And I love that it's a little tea light instead of a big candle, perfect to burn while reading the book! 
  • And finally, a gorgeous white jade ring from Unforgettable Jules! Apparently there's an ivory family heirloom pendant in the book, but I think this is so much better and more versatile! My only issue is that it's a little small for my big hands, but my mom loved it, so I'll be passing it on to her! 



The book that is in each box has a new release of the month, so June's box has a June new release, that way you don't have to worry about getting a book you already have.

I haven't had a chance to pick up the book included, Ivory and Bone but I've heard really great things, its kind of a forbidden romance! Here is the synopsis:


With the book there were some really awesome goodies. Each box typically comes with 2-4 and this box had a stunning locket keychain, a beautiful jade ring, a tea light candle and a package of honey sticks!

All of these items were picked because they related to the book and you can tell that they weren't just thrown together. The boxes were curated by someone who read the book and picked up on the little details. I love how they actually relate to the book included!

I think a lot of times, some of these types of boxes are filled with bookish things, but they aren't necessarily related to the book included, or they aren't the highest quality. I was beyond impressed with this box and its contents!

Here is a close up of the white jade ring, is it not beautiful?? It's so simple and easy to pair with anything! I love it!



And here's a closer look at the locket keychain, so stunning!


In addition to the amazing boxes these ladies put together, for every box sold, they donate a book to people who don't have access to books or to local libraries! The boxes have such amazing products and the one-for-one initiative makes splurging on a subscription box worth it!

LitJoy Crate has 4 different subscription options, 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month subscriptions. The month to month subscription starts at $29.99 + shipping a box, and if you select a longer-term, you save more money per box!

They are currently shipping to the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Ireland for anywhere from $14.99 - $24.99, depending on the location! These ladies are super kind and address a bunch of other questions on their FAQ page.

Every month, the boxes are shipped out around the 20th. I'm in Canada (so international for them) and I got it within a week!

If you don't want to commit to a subscription, or you want to give a fellow book nerd a subscription gift, you can do a one month gift subscription, or send a gift card with a value of $50+ to put towards a box of their choosing! I know I would love to get a subscription to LitJoy Crate for my birthday or other holiday!


I cannot recommend this box enough! If you are thinking about subscribing to a book box, LitJoy Crate is the one to get! Check them out on Instagram to see some more photos of their gorgeous boxes and their website for more info!

Overall, if you are looking for a great book box, of the ones I've seen, LitJoy Crate takes the cake in terms of coordination and quality!

The lovely ladies at LitJoy Crate just announced on Instgram that their July boxes are all sold out, they have a few picture books left, but they are now taking preorders for their August box! Make sure you subscribe, you DO NOT want to miss out on this box!


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HOW IT ENDS BY CATHERINE LO - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am here with another book review, How It Ends by Catherine Lo. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.



This book was nothing like I expected, in such an amazing way. I went into it thinking that it was going to be your typical bullied girl, who makes friends with the new girl and everything is sunshine and rainbows. Yes, some of these happened, but there was so much more depth and elements that make this story so great.

Firstly, we have the main characters, both of whom's perspectives we read from, Jessica and Annie.

Jessica/Jessie/Jess is a shy girl who was bullied in middle school and has pretty bad anxiety. After a bad haircut that left her hair a little too short, she is dupped "Lezzie Longbottom," a lesbian who has the hair of Neville Longbottom. As someone who also had a bad, 'boy' cut as a kid, I definitely felt for Jessica in this situation. Eventually the bullying fades a little bit, but with Jessica's anxiety, she never really feels like she belongs.

Flashforward to the start of tenth grade, Annie is trying to survive suburbia. Her mother was killed six years before, and her new stepmother insisted that they move out of the city and into the more family friendly suburbs, where everyone, Annie, her father, her stepmother and her gorgeous older stepsister, can become a family. Annie is immediately drawn to Jessica and her easy 'unloosens.' The two become fast friends and the story moves on.

There are quite a lot of ups and downs for Jessica and Annie's friendship, Jessica's crush falls hard for Annie, but ends up being a bit of a player. Jessica's mom, in all her good-hearted mothering ways, tells Annie a secret about Jessica that eventually gets out. In retaliation, Jessica sends a message to Annie's boyfriend, making him question everything. Throughout all this, Annie is battling her grief, as the anniversary of her mother death looms, and Jessica falls into a dangerous habit.

I really loved how REAL this book and the characters were. No friendship is without fights, and life can and definitely will throw you some curveballs. These girls experience these things together, and apart. This book takes a close look at friendship and the limitations and inclusions of that friendship. This book also talks about friends being forced apart, either by your own actions, or external forces. Annie and Jessica weren't best friends throughout the whole book. They annoyed one another, they lied to each other, they did things that real friends do.

This book also had a very honest portrayal of mental illness and anxiety. Annie struggles with understanding Jessica's anxiety and depression, but still does what she can to help her friend. This book also deals with other serious issues like death, grief, and having to make unbelievably hard decisions.

Overall, I really loved this book. It was so real and dealt with some really important issues that I think sometimes get glossed over in YA. This is definitely a book for more mature audiences.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

TBR TUESDAY - JULY 5

Hello everyone!

I am here with another TBR Tuesday, where I share the new releases of the week! There are quite a few books coming out this week, and I have read and really enjoyed a couple of them.

Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan

This book is described as a YA version of How To Get Away With Murder. I haven't seen that show, but this book still sounds super intriguing! It's supposedly a fast paced thriller that you cannot put down.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Personally, Schwab's books are hit and miss for me. I don't typically love the YA books she writes under her full name, but I absolutely adored her adult fantasy she writes as V.E. Schwab. Hopefully this one is better than her other YA's, there's monsters and it sounds interesting, but the reviews seem to be fairly mixed.

The Lost and Found by Katrina Leno

This book has all the makings of a great story, hidden identities, a road trip, possible some illness or other life altering aspect, I am very excited about this one!

The Memory Book by Lara Avery

This is another book that sounds amazing! It has great reviews on Goodreads and it seems like it might be told in different elements, journals, photos, etc. that I have been really loving as a way to tell a story but haven't be reading enough of lately!

Twisted by Hannah Jayne

I actually read and reviewed this book the other day, it was a crazy thriller where you really don't know who to trust. My full review is here if you want to take a peek!

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

And this is the other from this week that I had a chance to read and review. It was quite the adventure, but it was definitely terrifying enough to make me - someone who isn't afraid of spiders - get the chills. You can read my full review here.

And that's it for this week! See you next week for more new releases!


Monday, July 4, 2016

STATIC BY ERIC LASTER

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today I am reviewing Static by Eric Laster. Thanks so much to Net Galley for sending me an eARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own!


This book was a riot, I really enjoyed it!

Basically, the story follows Curtis, who starts to get these weird phone calls from his dead brother, Wilt. Apparently he's in some sort of afterlife Walmart, Aftermart, where he has to see a therapist and as part of that therapy, talked to those he left behind. Upon getting these phone calls, Curtis decides that this is Wilt's way of telling him he was murdered, and that he should investigate.

I loved how, even though this book death with death and loss, there was still funny moments. Curtis refers to his mom as 'the parental' and the sort of adopted, not really adopted brothers and sister she brings home as 'pseudo-siblings.' There's lots of humour in this book, and not that annoying-okay-let's-get-this-over-with-it's-getting-old humour, good ol' fashioned, humour that I was actually laughing out loud to. I haven't read a book with this great a sense of humour in a long time.

Writing wise, this book actually reminded me a little of John Green's writing. To the point and witty, while still dealing with serious issues (i.e. death). However the story had that sort of magical realism that A.S. King is known for, with the talking on the phone to dead people.

I really liked Curtis, he was quite honest and blunt, but it was fun seeing him interacting with his two best friends. You really don't see a lot of all male POV in YA writing, and I found his voice refreshing and unique, compared to the typical female POVs. I also really loved his and Wilt's relationship, especially as it developed after Wilt's death. They weren't very close before he died, but through the phone calls, Wilt was able to pass on some of his "brotherly wisdom" to Curtis.

There were some things I didn't love about this book, and that was, unfortunately, a fairly major part of the book, which is why I am giving it perhaps a slightly lower rating than it could have received. And that was the whole dog fighting operation. This may be a bit of a spoiler, but it comes up fairly quickly in the story so I wouldn't really consider it one. Anyways, I just felt like it was an unnecessary element. Sure, Wilt needed to be going somewhere that night, but it could have been anything, anywhere. I think there was just a lot of details and build up for something that, in the end, had very little, if anything to do with Wilt's death.

I also felt like some of the details and things with Curtis's parents were unnecessary. We didn't really need that background info to have the story.

I will say, though, this book isn't a thriller. And maybe that's where my issues lie, I was expecting a murder mystery investigative, revenge plot, and that's just not what this book is. It is just a contemporary novel about a boy learning to come to grips with his brother's death, and maybe find out who killed him. It's not a psychological thriller where we see clues to the killer's motives at every corner. I think my obsession with those types of books made me want this book to be something more, something it just wasn't meant to be.

Overall, however, I did enjoy this book. It was hilarious and dealt with serious issues, while also teaching valuable lessons on life.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

TWISTED BY HANNAH JAYNE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am here with another review today, Twisted by Hannah Jayne. Thanks so much to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Starting off this book, I was excited, but a little bit nervous. I've been reading a lot of thrillers lately, and they've all been wonderful, but I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It wasn't just this book, it's been the last couple thrillers I read. But I was just hoping that it was going to be great, and I have to say, this book did not disappoint!

The story follows Bex Andrews, AKA Beth Anne Reimer, AKA "The Wife Collector's Daughter." After her grandmother dies, Beth Anne changes her name to Bex and is sent to live with foster parents, because her biological mother has been missing since Bex was six years old, and is presumed dead, and well, her dad is kind of on the run after being accused of being a serial killer who's signature is leaving the bodies in dumpsters and cutting off the left ring fingers. EEP! Talk about less than stellar parents.

Anyways, Bex starts her new life in Kill Devil Hills with her new parents, Denise and Michael. I really loved the way their relationship started off, a really positive experience in the face of so many bad foster and adoptive stories. Things went down hill, but I'll get to that later.

So Bex is settling in, she meets a cute boy, her foster parents are great, she gets some really amazing friends right away, but she just can't shake the feeling that something isn't right. She starts getting mysterious calls from her old city, she feels like she's being followed, and she is so paranoid that her father or something worse is trying to get her, she can't talk about any of this with anyone. Her first boyfriend will surely run for the hills when he finds out about Bex's past, and her foster parents are oblivious to their new daughter's biological father, other than that they heard of him back in the day when they lived in Raleigh, where everything started.

One thing the author did really well was building suspense and making you feel like you were in the moment with Bex. She kept having flashbacks in the middle of a conversation with someone, and you could feel her anxiety and the tension in the room. When she was paranoid or scared, you could feel her terror. On top of all that, you felt pity for her because you knew that no matter if her father was innocent or guilty, she deserved a life where she didn't have to change her name for fear of rejection or even threats. Where she wasn't accused of being just like him, in online chat rooms, dedicated to "serial killer enthusiasts." There was just a lot of emotion within this book and the author did a great job of putting you in that emotion.

Neither the reader nor Bex really knows who "The Wife Collector" is, until the end of the book. There's definitely some speculation about others, not necessarily in Bex's mind, at this point her main suspect is her father, but she is more scared for herself, will she "catch" the psychopathy. But in my mind, I had a ton of different suspects. The detectives that first worked the case, somehow trying to cover up their own murders, of course, that it actually was the father, and at one point, I even had a theory that it was the adoptive parents, they lived in the same city when everything happened, and they couldn't have kids so they picked out Beth Anne as an easy target with no mother and an absent trucker father who would be better off in their home and framed Bex's dad while somehow orchestrating her adoption ten years later. It made more sense in my head...

There were, however, a few kinks in the story that lost some stars for me. Firstly, the whole adoptive parents not knowing who Bex was. I get that she has a right to her privacy, but I think the caseworker should have at least told them that her father was an, at that point presumed criminal. Not that Bex would be a criminal herself, but that she could get therapy or something and they would understand what was going on.

I also felt like the ending was a bit of a let down. It may have just been that I was reading an eARC and couldn't really judge how far I was into the book, and how little there was left, but it felt a little too quick for me. It was pretty much a steady stream of paranoia, some action, major event and end, no questions asked. For the most part, things were tied up, we found out who The Wife Collector was, if Denise and Michael still wanted Bex as their daughter, etc. but it just felt too abrupt.

Overall, this was a good solid book, with some great bones, there were just a couple of issues I had with it.


Friday, July 1, 2016

THE HATCHING BY EZEKIEL BOONE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone. Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an ARC of this book for review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I went into this book not really knowing what to expect. I knew there as going to be killer spiders, but other than that, I didn't really know what I was in for.

I don't know if I would really call this horror, but I'm not sure what else I would call it. According to my good friend Wikipedia, horror just has to shock or frighten the reader, so I guess it's horror. I think though, this book fits many categories of fiction, horror, apocalyptic, political, sci-fi, just to name a few.

What I enjoyed about this book, and appreciated, based on the story itself, was that it's not character driven. I would say that about 95% of the books I read are character driven, I think that's just because that's how most of the story are told. But this book, while there was a bunch of "side" characters, was driven by plot and really, by the spiders and the fear people generally felt regarding them.

We get a plethora of perspectives telling the story, some die off (not a joke) and the others come together in the end, puzzle pieces fitting into place with one another. There's a tour guide in Peru, a billionaire who is on that tour, a jogger, a Northern Chinese civilian, a reporter for CNN, a special agent, a seismologist and her assistant in India, the president of the United States (who's a woman, GASP), her chief of staff, the chief's ex-wife who happens to be a scientist who studies spiders, her grad students, along with a handful of dooms-day preppers and some Marines deployed on American soil, just to name a few!

We get glimpses of their lives, not in the past, but in the present. When first introduced to these characters, the author doesn't talk about what happened 5, 10, 15 years ago in each of their lives, because in this moment, with millions of spiders killing people at an unstoppable rate, none of that matters. All that matters is right now. Who will escape? Who will survive? And I think that is what adds to the horror, the terror that these people are feeling, and which the reader feels second hand.

These spiders are essentially a bio-mechanical weapon that have been released seemingly accidentally for no apparent reason. No one knows why and more importantly, no one knows how to stop them.

They aren't a group of terrorists targeting specific people or groups of people, and they aren't a bomb that blows up one part of the world and leaves the rest unscathed. They are killers who don't discriminate, moving from China to Peru to India to America. Four very densely populated countries, killing millions for no other reason than that they need to eat.

If you aren't a fan of loose ends, be warned. You may think that they will have everything figured out by the end, but they only know one thing. A week after scavenging the planet, millions of spiders drop dead. Everything stops. But the good scientist knows this can only mean one thing. This was only the first wave. More spiders are coming, these ones were just to eliminate as much of the competition, humans, as possible before the second batch of even more powerful spiders come, based on her calculations, in may two weeks, three if they're lucky. And they have no idea how to stop them.

Overall, this book was crazy. It kept me on edge the whole time, and, as someone who is the resident "spider killer," I'm a little more weary of those little eight-legged creatures.