Monday, August 29, 2016

ONCE, IN A TOWN CALLED MOTH BY TRILBY KENT - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review today, this time it is Once, In a Town Called Moth by Trilby Kent. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book for participating in a book club discussion. 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.


This was such a strange, wonderful little book.

It follows Anneli, or Ana now, and her father after they abruptly move to Canada from their small Mennonite community in Bolivia. I don't have much experience with stories on religious sects, but I did enjoy this one. There was a great mix of their 'new' life in Toronto as well as the 'flashbacks' to their lives in Bolivia.

Some perspectives are written in third person, and others are in Ana's perspective, so things jumped around a bit. The Toronto chapter's were third person and the flashbacks to Bolivia were in Ana's perspective, as her own little memories.

I found myself fascinated with the flashbacks, learning of a culture so different from my own. I know a little bit about Mennonites, living in Alberta there are some Hutterite colonies nearby, but I don't know much. There was, of course, the mystery of why they came to Canada, especially so quickly, and where Ana's mother was. She had left the colony ten years before, but no one knew why or where she went, other than probably somewhere in Canada.

I will say that, at first, I wasn't sure I would like this book. The only other book I had read that was similar was The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude and that book was about a cult, so it wasn't quite the same as the religious sect that Ana and her family lived in. But anyways, I was expecting something similar, and I wasn't sure how much of the book would focus on the religion aspects. I was pleasantly surprised that there were only smaller snippets of her old live on the colony.

Even though this book deals with something that not many people experience, leaving a religious group and travelling to a different country, the messages of starting over, and finding your way are ones in which everyone can use. No matter who you are, where you live, what you do, your life will have change, like it or not. Like Ana, you will have to start over in uncharted territory and learn to adapt.

I enjoyed Ana's voice and the writing style portrayed. The story was enchanting in a way that kept me reading. From what I know of Mennonite colonies and more structured religions, I think the interactions between Ana and her father were well done, especially towards the end when she finds herself and stands up to him. He is loving, but not overly-affectionate, very much portraying standard male/female roles, especially without Ana's mother around. She is responsible for cooking, shopping, cleaning, etc. while he goes out and works. I didn't love Ana's father, but he did the best he could, and always thought of her first.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and think it is a really great read if you are looking for a coming of age story that is a little bit different.


Friday, August 26, 2016

BEEN HERE ALL ALONG BY SANDY HALL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


This was a quick little cute romance between two neighbours who have known each other since they were five years old and finally realize that their friendship is more than just platonic.

While I didn't love every aspect of this book, I did enjoy it and read it pretty quickly, in about an hour and a half.

We have four different perspectives telling the story throughout the book, Gideon; who is just discovering he is gay, Kyle; who just came out to his girlfriend as bisexual, Ruby; who's life is falling apart and has just found out her boyfriend is not who she thought he was, and Ezra; Gideon's older brother who adds a little extra insight to the storyline. For the most part, the perspectives were easy enough to tell who was who, but there were a couple of times, especially with Gideon and Kyle, where I had to go back and check to see who was telling the story because they sounded different. Ezra sounded different because he was in a different situation than the others, older, with regrets, back living at home, etc. and you could tell it was Ruby because of her family and friends. Kyle and Gideon both had loving parents and siblings. Their worlds were similar, and therefore their perspectives were harder to differentiate.

The major conflict in this story is that in Gideon's attempt to decipher if he is gay or, as he puts it, "Kyle-sexual," he creates a series of lists, including a list of things he likes about Kyle, and things he thinks are wrong with Kyle. One day when they are all hanging out together, Ruby discovers these lists, and takes photos of them, to look over later, or possibly even blackmail Gideon with.

While it's pretty clear the romance is working out, the main concern is whether or not Ruby will do something malicious with the lists. She keeps saying she will delete the photos, but then she doesn't. At the same time, she seems like a fairly decent individual, who wouldn't send them around.

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it. I felt like the whole conflict with Ruby and the lists was unnecessary, it created a weird climax that wasn't really needed, and I felt it took away from the romance itself.

This book was a very, very light read. There are hints of socio-economic conflict, but those are never really flushed out, as well as other academic concerns that just kind of get thrown to the wayside. Ezra comes home unexpectedly, and no one really wonders why he's there. I think there are just a lot of loose ends that don't necessarily need to be there, just to beef up the story a little bit. It was a quick read, but I feel like some of these plot lines could have been a little more fleshed out, especially with Ezra. While he wasn't he main character, and he didn't prove to be too important in the story itself, I really enjoyed his character, and would definitely love a spin-off book on him.

I mean, this was a sweet, adorable story, and maybe if that is what you are looking for, this is the book for you, but I would have preferred something a little deeper. Ever the major issue gets resolved pretty quickly.

I also didn't think this book did spectacular with the whole sexuality situation. Gideon comes out to his parents and they are ecstatic, only one person at school vocalizes their dislike for their relationship and sexual preferences. I mean, there was a lot of positive reinforcement, Ruby didn't really care when Kyle came out as bi, the supporting characters see sexuality as something that isn't their business, but there isn't much negativity. And I'm not saying there should be, I'm just not sure it would be super realistic. I absolutely think we need to be at the point where a persons sexuality is no ones business but their own, but this book makes it look like they are in a magical land of acceptance and support. Maybe I'm just a cynic, but life's not that easy. It should be, but it's not.

Overall, this was a good book. I got through it. But, unfortunately, I'm not running out to preorder it anytime soon.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

HOLDING SMOKE BY ELLE COSIMANO - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a eARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Going into this book, I wasn't really too sure what to expect. I knew that it was about a boy who was living out his sentence in a juvenile detention centre, called the Y, for the murder of his English teacher, and the boy who witnessed the murder. However, the main character John "Smoke" tries desperately to prove he didn't kill his teacher, and the other murder was in self defence.

John has the ability to leave his body, temporarily, and ghost around. It's how he gets his intel at the Y without a source, and how he got sent there in the first place. Now, before you start thinking this is a little nutty, you need to understand the backstory. A few years ago, John was killed by his father. He was an abusive alcoholic and was demanding money that John didn't have, so he hit John in the head with a plumbers wrench. John was declared dead for 6 minutes. During this time, his soul/spirit left his body, but there were too many threads. Threads pulling him up and away, mostly, but also some threads pulling him back to his body. In the end, he went back to his body and lived. So basically, because of this experience, he learned how to step out of his body, temporarily.

On one of his nights collecting info, John stumbles across a girl from his days in school, Candace, or as she's known because if her wig, Pink. Except, instead of just passing through him like everyone else, Pink can see him.

Soon, they start working together to try and find the hooded man who actually killed the teacher, because John be a lot of things, but one of them isn't crazy. He didn't make up the hooded figure to relieve himself of the guilt, like his psychologist says, he's real and he's running free.

I really enjoyed this story, it was fast paced and very unique to what I usually read. I don't know if I've read many books that take place in a detention centre, and it was really interesting to see the inner workings of the inmates minds, and how the social hierarchy was constructed. Everyone was constantly worrying about favours and who owed someone something. Nothing was free in their world.

I did really like the portrayal of the inmates, however. They were convicted of anything from breaking and entering, assault, arson all the way up to murder. But you could see that while they were considered criminals, most of them were just boys who were stuck in a bad spot. Stealing to help pay to get their mom away from the alcoholic boyfriend, finally snapping one night and setting their house on fire with their abusive stepdad inside. While some were cold-blooded killers, many were just decent human beings who just made a mistake. I really appreciated the authors portrayal, in the author's note, she mentions that she herself was the daughter of a warden, and was able to see people like the boys in this book in a different light.

I was trying to figure out who the hooded man was for most of the novel. There were points, at the beginning, where there wasn't really any suspects to go on. But as things progressed, you could narrow it down a bit more. I did think though, once we got the suspect, that was him. He was such a perfect suspect, I definitely thought it was him. I was shocked at first, but then everything started clicking. Next thing we know, it's someone completely different!

The ending definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, I had no clue what was going on, and how things would turn out. Was John going to go to a retrial? Would his final threads snap, leaving him stuck in the in-between? So many questions.

A couple things I didn't like in the story, Vivian trying help John, I just felt like that was a weird thing to add in, Pink was already helping him so we didn't really need Vivian, and the epilogue. Most times, I'm all for the epilogue, even asking for it at the end of a book, and maybe I would have with this one too, but I just felt like it was a little unnecessary. John made his decision at the end of the book, I didn't think we needed to see how that was playing out a few months later.

Overall, however, I did really enjoy this book. It offered some insight into the world of places like the Y and the minds of those who are in them.


Monday, August 22, 2016

BY GASLIGHT BY STEVEN PRICE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is By Gaslight by Steven Price. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.


Before I get too far into this review, I will just kind of preface this with saying that I don't really read a lot of historical fiction. Or just a lot of books set in pre 1900s. Most books I read are set in fairly recent times. That being said, I do enjoy the occasional historical fiction. And this book has a murder mystery in it as well so I figured that would help entice me.

Basically, this is the story of two-ish main characters, William Pinkerton and Adam Foole and their time in London in the late 1880s.

William is an American detective who has come to London in search of a man known as Edward Shade. Shade was supposedly killed during the Civil War, but William's father, Allan, was sure he was still alive. After Allan's sudden passing, William discovers notes and writings by his father, leads to where to find Shade. He is able to trace Shade to London, more specifically an old accomplice, Charlotte Reckitt. However, as the chase with Charlotte heats up, she catches on to William and jumps over a bridge, later found in pieces floating the Thames river. The detective works with the local police force to try and solve the mystery of finding Charlotte's killer.

Adam is a crafty thief who never gets caught. He runs a legitimate emporium and lives with Molly, a young girl he rescued from squalor, and Fludd, an ex-con he freed from prison. He was once working a job with Charlotte in Africa, smuggling diamonds, and the two grew quite close on the mission. Despite the fact that he hasn't seen her for years, Charlotte sends him a letter asking for his help, and he decides to meet her at her home. However, when he arrives, he is quickly told that the woman in question is, regretfully, deceased.

As Adam and William work together to try and solve the murder, old secrets emerge and new alliances are shattered. William thinks that Adam knows more than he's letting on, especially about Shade. And Adam finds that William doesn't have the purest of intentions.

In terms of writing, I enjoyed this book. It was written by someone who is known as a poet, and you can definitely tell. The story flows seamlessly, even though there are countless flashbacks throughout. There were a few times when things were a little unclear, but I think that was just part of the story, to try and confuse the reader as to who is who.

My biggest issue with this book is the length. It says 600 pages on Goodreads, and maybe my ARC is a little bit off, but my copy clocked in at 731 pages, all in with the epilogue. And that's a lot. I do feel like there were some things that could have been shortened, and maybe they were cut out in the final book, but this length almost made it feel like reading it was a chore. The only way I was able to finish it in four days was because I forced myself to get to a certain point each day. If I didn't, I would have been reading for at least a week. It did take a while to get into, but once I did, I started to like the story more and get more invested in it.

While I enjoyed this book very much, I didn't love it. And I think that may have been because I was expecting too much. This book was very much hyped, not necessarily in my world previously, but in the letter from the editor, as well as the fact that at the publishing house, it was meant to be the one of the most acclaimed and well-talked about books of the year. I just didn't get that vibe. Its a good book, but I'm not sure it is for everyone. Its a lot to read, its a lot to focus on and frankly, the story is not one that everyone will seek out. It was a good book, but the hype was too much, leading me to believe that perhaps I am not the target audience.

There was a lot in this story to follow. Things jumped from present day (at least, for the characters), to the Civil War, to diamond smuggling in South Africa, to the formation of the Pinkerton detective agency. However, not all these are true accounts. I loved the authors note at the very end:
... There are many excellent non-fiction accounts of the early Pinkerton Agency, the Civil War, and the lives of criminals in Victorian London. This is not one of them...
It just kind of summed everything up, because I was definitely curious if these things happened, was there a real Pinkerton Agency? (there was). Was Edward Shade a real man who escaped the clutches of those who wished to capture him? (there was not).

Overall, I did really enjoy the content of this book, regardless of the length. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for that kind of 1800s police crime, or even just for a change of pace.


Friday, August 19, 2016

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR BY SHARI LAPENA - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am here with another book review, another thriller, The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


To be honest, I'm not sure where to start with this book. I was so intense, and as everything was unfolding, I couldn't believe what was going on.

The whole story starts when Marco and Anne reluctantly leave their six-month old daughter at home while they go to a dinner party at the house next door. The sitter cancelled last minute, and their hostess insisted on a baby-free evening, so they brought over the baby monitor and go check on her every half hour. They live in a good part of town, and surely, half an hour isn't enough time for anything bad to happen, right? I won't say exactly what happens, but you can pretty much assume it is nothing pretty.

The police come in and soon Marco and Anne's united front starts to crumble. Anne is resentful of Marco for allowing their neighbour Cynthia to flirt with him all night, and blames him for what happened, he insisted that they go without Cora. Marco sees his wife after giving birth, wracked with postpartum depression, along with a childhood history of 'troubles,' and is concerned of what may have truly happened. The lead detective, a cynical man, is sure the parents had something to do with it, he sees these cases all the time.

As the story unfolds, you see that not everyone is who they seem, and some people are will to go to extremes to protect those they love.

This story shocked me. I was not expecting how things ended, after so much scrambling, everything just fell into place. I kept going back on forth as to why everything was happening. We find out fairly early who actually did it, but there is so much depth, its more than one person and for more than one reason. I still cannot believe who it was in the end, that just killed me.

I spoiled myself a little bit, I flipped to the last page to see how many there were left, and I just read it briefly. So I knew this person had SOMETHING to do with it, but it could have been something else. That actually just added another layer of suspense to the story that I wasn't expecting.

I will say that writing wise, this book wasn't spectacular. And that's part of the reason I didn't give it full five stars. The story is told in alternating third person but was limited to the perspective it was telling. So if it was Anne's chapter, we got what other people were saying, doing, etc. but we only got Anne's thoughts. Then in Marco's chapter, the same thing. It was a little bit jarring at first, but you get more used to it. I did find, however, that this style made it hard to connect with the characters. It's a crazy story and I feel bad about what happened, but I didn't really feel much emotion for the characters themselves, it was mainly just the situation.

As time goes on, the focus of the investigation shifts from "where is she?" to "who did this?" Some other reviews I've seen thought that was a fault, but I think it makes the story more realistic. Everyone knows the longer these things drag on, the less likely a positive outcome for the victim is. So it makes sense that the police would be thinking long-term, not really expecting everything to be alright.

This book had a few twists and turns and I read it in one two-hour sitting. I'm not sure if it was because I couldn't put it down because of suspense, or because I just wanted to finish it.

I do want to talk a little bit about the ending. I've seen other reviews saying that it was bizarre and not something that character would have done. I disagree. I wasn't sure they had it in them, but it makes sense. She was, essentially, the root of the problem. She was the reason, indirectly, for what happened, even if she didn't know it. And this character knew that. So they took matters into their own hands. The timing maybe wasn't the greatest, but it was justice for them. However, if this book is meant to be a standalone, I am feeling a little lost. Will we find out what happened after? There really isn't a way to cover that up.

Overall, this book was crazy, I was just bewildered by all that was plotted and schemed. I cannot believe what some people will do for something so minor. Be sure to check this book out on its release, August 23.


Friday, August 12, 2016

BEAUTIFUL SCARS BY KILEE BROOKBANK AND LORI HIGHLANDER - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I have a bit of a different book review for you today, its a non-fiction book called Beautiful Scars by Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander. Thank you to KiCam Projects for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review, as always all opinions are my own.


This is a hard review for me to write. I don't really read lot of non-fiction, and this is such an emotional, inspiring story, it is hard for me to put into words how I feel about this book.

I am hesitant to call this a memoir, but I suppose it fits the definition. Basically, this is the story of sixteen year old Kilee and how her life is changed after her house explodes. In this story of survival, Kilee and her family come together after Kilee suffers extensive burns to forty-five percent of her body and has to have multiple surgeries to repair and heal. While the book does go into detail on the recovery process in the hospital, we also see her life when she gets home. She fights to regain her movement and the use of her body, all while she and her family heal mentally as well.

This story is told in alternative perspectives from Kilee and her mother Lori. I really liked having the two perspectives, you got the story from Kilee as she was living it, her thoughts, her feelings, but you also got Lori's perspective as well. Lori focuses on Kilee's recovery, but also adds insight to family matters, watching Kilee and her brother Cameron grow closer, cherishing every moment even more.

Over the course of nine months, Kilee regains the use of her hands, meets Justin Bieber, goes to prom, lives her life again. Towards the end of the book, Lori mentions that one of the reasons they wrote this book was to share Kilee's story with others who are experiencing what Kilee has been through, to help support them.

In terms of writing, I think everything flowed well, I liked the alternative perspectives, and I really loved the parts where Cameron added his thoughts. He carried a lot of guilt over what happened, and from what is mentioned, has become quite anxious over what has happened to his sister.

Storywise, I can't really say too much. Because this book is a retelling of events that actually happened, I can't say I want to change this, this, and this. Things are how they are.

Overall, this is an inspiring story about a girl and her family who overcame a great adversity and have become stronger because of it.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

WARRIORS BY HEATHER TODD - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is, Warrior by Heather Todd. Thank you to the author for giving me a copy of this book. I received it at BookCon and while a review was not solicited, I felt I should still write one as this is an advanced readers copy.


Having taken a little bit of a break from dystopian, post-apocalyptic novels, I found this book to be a welcome reintroduction to the genre.

Basically, this story mainly follows a girl, Mary Houston in a world where WWIII is going on. After a failed peace treaty with Russia, the citizens of the United States finds themselves without a president - either he has been captured or is dead - and are essentially at the mercy of a guy who calls himself The Master, who is trying to restore the planet to its glory and save it from the human race. The Master has created an army of soldiers, called Warriors, who are basically Humans 2.0. They are people that have been captured from the streets and injected to become killing machines, all in order to save the planet.

I liked the ideas in this book, and I think there is a lot of promise here in both the writing and the premise, but I just thought things felt a little too rushed, 230 pages is not a lot to squeeze back story, invasion, capture, transformation, deception, and victory. And I think that is the part of this book I struggled most with. This is supposed to be a series, so maybe things will be worked out, but I'm left with so many questions.

Why now, is the Master acting? Who is he? What are his real motives? Is he really just that passionate about the planet? What is in the injection? How does it work? Why are so many of these people willingly a part of the Master's plan? Why cause more destruction? Is there really a safe haven? Why hasn't the Master found it? He seems to know everything else.

I could go on and on. There is just so much of the story that wasn't fleshed out. And even the story itself, technically it takes place over the course of a week, maybe more, but in my head, and in the book, it seems to be at the most over three days. I don't really feel like I got a sense of Mary either. She just wanted to find her family, but then in the span of a week falls for a boy.

That's another thing I didn't love, its so insta-lovey. Literally four days into knowing each other, Xavier and Mary are declaring love. I get its the end of the world and all, but come on. You've just met, she's shy but courageous and he's cocky but handsome, boom match made in heaven.

I just think that if this book is going to be the series that is promise in the About the Author section, I'm not sure what else could happen. This book needed to be about three, and then everything would have been adequately explained. There was no anticipation because the solution to the problem comes in the next ten pages. So much is jammed into this book, that I think it takes away from the story.

That being said, there is a great story here. It's not the most original in the world, but there are so many dystopians these days its understandable. The characters are solid, and the story could be really great, but I think because everything was so abrupt, you get a very shallow look at the story and characters. The bones are good, but the story needs to be fleshed out more.

I was getting lots of Divergent vibes from this one, but also, with the ending, a little but of The Walking Dead (although to be honest, I don't know much more than that there are zombies). This book is definitely different than Divergent, but with the romance with the trainer, heroine trying to save her family/world, etc. it was reminiscent.

Overall, this book has good bones and the writing is good, but things just felt a bit too rushed and I think it could have been broken down into multiple books to help flesh out the story.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS BY B.A. PARIS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. Thank you so much to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


OH. MY. GOSH. I CANNOT EVEN BELIEVE WHAT I JUST READ! This book was spectacular, so creepily atmospheric, I only put it down once to eat dinner, and still managed to read all 304 glorious pages in less than three and a half hours.

So basically, this story revolves around a couple, Jack and Grace Angel, and their seemingly perfect lives. Jack is a major lawyer, specializing in domestic abuse cases, helping bring justice to those who have been able to escape horrific circumstances, and Grace quit her job as a grocery buyer, after marrying Jack eighteen months ago, in order to maintain their dream home and work in their perfect garden. They seem great, right? Wrong!

The couples' friends start to grow concerned, Grace never seems to be able to make it to lunch dates with the girls, and if she does, Jack is always glued to her hip. She can't even answer the phone without Jack intercepting. But I won't say much about the plot, because I don't want to ruin this book for you.

The writing was great and the pacing was intense. Despite the fact that this book is a thriller, it is driven by its storyline, and not the thrilling, suspense we typically see of these novels. We know that the situation is, there is not a lot of 'before' build up. We get two perspectives, past and present and while some of the past gets you up to speed on why things are the way they are, for the most part, this book is about what is happening in that moment. I did love however, that the story would get going, you would not necessarily predict, but figure out what was going to happen, and then just have to sit back and watch. There were a couple times when I thought everything would get better, and things just got so much worse.

With all this suspense, there is also Grace's sister, Millie, who has Down's syndrome. I'm not very familiar with Down's, but I thought that Millie was portrayed well, and Grace's love for her was unending, even if it was her biggest weak spot. I'll just leave it at that.

I just can't get over the emotions in this book. I was right there in the story, going from hopeful to helpless within one scene. It was emotionally draining but so well written. The whole situation was definitely something from a nightmare, no one believing what was going on and being stuck, this weight over your head dictating all of your actions.

Additionally, I definitely do not recommend reading this one at night, you will be looking over your shoulder constantly! Even after I finished, some of the scenes were so creepy, I can't help but be a little freaked out.

I think part of the terror comes from the fact that even though someone looks perfect on the outside, doesn't mean that they actually are. You can never know anyone as well as you know yourself, and that is a terrifying thought.

The ending, oh the ending! I couldn't believe it in the end, I was waiting for the "PSYCH!" moment to happen, but thankfully it never did. Even though every thing fit together so neatly in the end, I couldn't help feel relieved and a bit of triumph. But then again, the student often times does become the master.

Before I end this review, I do want to address the whole comparison of this book to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Those books are thrillers, yes, but this one is so much different. In those books, we are waiting to see the ending, the big reveal. In this book, we are waiting to see what happens at the end, yes, but the journey to the end is so much more than just setting up the story for the ending. In other thrillers, each little piece adds up to keep you guessing who the killer was, or why they did it.

In this book, we know who is who, and why they do what they do. The real question is will they succeed in their horrendous plan? This story is not about the journey, it's about the destination. Of course, both at important, in all three of these books, but one is just more important than the other, and that is what makes them different. We are not focused on the little details in this book, because everything is laid out for you. There is no guessing or predicting, it is predictable, but in a way that is terrifying. Because you know, and the characters know what is going to happen, but there is no way to stop it.

Overall, I loved this book and highly, highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, especially if you want a thriller that is great, but different from The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

JULY 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 wonderful ladies over at LitJoy Crate were awesome enough to send me a third box, the July young adult box, for review!



The July YA box was themed 'Magic and Madness,' and it included:

  • Riverkeep by Martin Stewart, with a signed bookplate and little note from the author.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz designed by Rock Paper Books, I have been drooling over these gorgeous editions of classics, especially the Shakespeare collection, and I am so excited to have one to start my collection.
  • A Moby Dick inspired temporary tattoo from Litographs, I actually DIY-ed this into a cute wall hanging piece, but I love the ties to an exciting high-seas adventure.
  • A button with a quote from Riverkeep, "Come on, little boat" designed by Evie Seo, who you may have seen on Instagram via her spectacular designs.
  • A fish hook leather bracelet, with the word HOPE engraved on it.
  • And finally, the map from Riverkeep that the ladies all burned individually, by hand. Not only are maps in books amazing, but the dedication, to burn the edges of each one by itself, no two alike, is amazing.



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

I haven't really heard too much about the 'main' book included, Riverkeep but I'm excited to read it, it sounds really interesting and unique! 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 beautiful bracelet, a button, a temporary tattoo, a second book, and the burned map!

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 leather fish hook bracelet. It's stunning and I love how no matter how big or small your wrist is, it will still fit (I have pretty big wrists lol)! 



And to make the reading experience even more special, the ladies mark their favourite page in the book with a sticky note. I love this interactive experience, it feels like I am reading the book right alongside everyone else!


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 have announced on Instgram that the August YA box is themed Gothic Murder Mystery and I believe they still have some spots left but trust me, they will sell out quick! Make sure you subscribe, you DO NOT want to miss out on this box!


Monday, August 8, 2016

COLOR ME YOURS BY DIANA T. SCOTT - BLOG TOUR AND BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another blog tour! I am so excited to be a part of the Half of Me blog tour, if you've been following me for a while, you will know I read and reviewed the first two books in this series Our Demons, Best Friends and Love Me While I'm Gone a little while ago, and have been loving this series.


Today, I am bring you a review of the third and final book Color Me Yours by Diana T. Scott. Thank you to the author for sending me an electronic copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Ok, so I did enjoy this final book, but I didn't love it as much as the others.

This story centres around Paige and Miles, who are both working at the same hospital in Chicago. Paige is quiet, shy, and has become pretty good at doing what other people want, as a result of her previous relationship. Miles is an all-around good guy, helping out his sister when he can, and even though his father is rich, he resolves to support himself.

Because this series has three books that are set along the same timeline, just with different couples, there was some of this book that was repetitive to the first two. The same could be said for LMWIG but I found it more prominent here and I think the reason for that was, a) it was the THIRD time some things were happening, and b) we didn't really have a huge, major issue keeping the couple apart. In ODBF, Ava and Sebastian have serious issues, Sebastian especially, that they need to work through as a couple and as individuals. In LMWIG, Emily and Collin have to reconnect after a time apart, and the drama that caused. In this book, we get a small snippet of Miles' "issue" at the beginning but other than that, this book is mainly just their day-to-day lives. In that sense, we got more of the 'normal' life leaking through that we kind of saw in the first two books. Obviously some stuff was new, the things only Miles and Paige did, but I definitely found it more noticeable.

I also think part of my issue with this book was that we already knew Paige and Miles were going to get together in the end. I don't have my copy of ODBF in front of me, but if memory serves, they are a couple at the end of book one. This book just goes back and fills in the gaps. However, I just felt like some of the chemistry wasn't there, there was less anticipation, because I knew how it was going to end. Even with the curveball with Ellie near the end, I still knew they would work things out.

Now, don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book, and as a series it is fantastic! A New Adult series that has more than just steamy scenes, it was a nice change. I'm just not sure I loved this book.

I did like Miles better than I did Paige, I just found Paige a little bit, much, at times. I don't really know how to describe it. She was kind of all over the place, some days she was down, other days she was joyful. She developed feelings for Miles, and then for some weird reason, when he tried to step things up, she rejected him because she thought he needed a friend. I preferred Miles, he was a great guy, helped everyone out, even when he didn't necessarily need to. He had his head on a little bit better than Paige did as well.

I do feel a little bad that I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to, and for not making this book sound spectacular, but this is my honest review and even though I didn't love it doesn't mean you won't. I think I just had such high expectations for it because of the first two, and looking at the reviews, I am a bit of a black sheep. I still love this series, and definitely recommend you read these books if you are interested, the first two books especially.

If you are interested in picking up books one and two, you can do so here!


Also, definitely check out Diana's Instagram, she is hosting a giveaway with three winners where you can win a signed, personalized copy of Our Demons, Best Friends and some awesome goodies! Open internationally!

A photo posted by Diana (@dianatscott) on


Make sure you check out the other stops along the tour for more reviews, giveaways and excerpts!


Friday, August 5, 2016

RESULTS MAY VARY BY BETHANY CHASE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am here again with another book review, this time it is Results May Vary by Bethany Chase! Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.


This book was phenomenal! The writing was spot-on, and I loved the voice that the main character, Caroline, had in the story. And I loved that it was a contemporary I just didn't want to put down!

Ok, so let's start with the story itself. Pretty much at the very beginning of the book, Caroline finds out her husband has been having an affair with a man. This development forces her to look at their entire marriage, starting when they were high school sweethearts, their relationship starting back when they were in their senior year of high school. They were each other's one and only, or so Caroline thought. Caroline shows an array of emotions from betrayal to anger as she learns of her husband's infidelity and probable bisexuality.

I think this story is unique because we, of course, see the cheating, but we also see the LGBT elements as well. I think Chase portrays wonderfully the struggles Caroline goes through dealing with Adam's affair. As a society trying to be more accepting of the LGBT community, I think it is hard for some people to be angry with someone who has an affair with someone of the same sex. You want to be angry, but at the same time, you don't want to stifle their courage to be who they really are. At the same time, that individual still had an affair. I loved that Caroline didn't dwell on Adam's sexuality. Yes, she was upset that she wasn't enough for him, but at the same time, she didn't go easy on him because he was exploring his sexuality. For me, cheating is still cheating, no matter who it is with.

I also loved Caroline's courage. Adam kept pushing her to work things out, make amends and go back to their 'happy' marriage. But Caroline couldn't accept that. She kept going back and forth trying to decide what to do, and in the end, I think she made the best decision for everyone.

The writing style of this book was so great as well, everything flowed beautifully and the way Caroline told the story, almost as a narrative to someone, reliving and relaying the story, kept me fully enthralled. I would have stayed up all night to finish it if I didn't have to go to work the next morning! However, even broken into two days, I couldn't get enough. There is a review from Kirkus on the back of the book that calls this book "An altogether addictive read..." and I think that describes this book perfectly!

I really enjoyed Caroline and her sister, Ruby's time together. They spend a period of time living together after Caroline kicks Adam out and I just really loved their sisterly bond. They address some underlying issues that have always caused problems, the five year age gap between the two, and the fact that ever since Caroline was 17, she had been CarolineAndAdam. Even though Caroline was the main character of the story, I still loved the parts with Ruby, her boy drama, the progression of her new blog, she was just a fun addition to the story.

I think the part I loved the most about this book was the character development. At the beginning of the book, Caroline was still CarolineAndAdam, angry with Adam, but maybe willing to work things out. I don't think she realized the extent of his lies at that moment, because he didn't want her to. As things progressed, more secrets were unveiled, Caroline grew. She became stronger, more aware of the fact that talking wasn't going to fix this. And to his credit, Adam grew too. He became sure of his choices, standing up to his father about his sexuality and being the person he always knew he was deep down. When I look back to the beginning, and then at the characters at the end of the novel, they are two completely different pairs of people. And I loved that.

Overall, I loved this book. If the number of times I've said "loved" in this review is any indicator, I really loved it. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone, I promise, you won't regret it! This book comes out August 9, so get ready!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES BY SARAH MAINE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I really don't even know where to start with this review, it was such an unusual book.

This story basically follows two timelines, one of which is Harriet "Hetty" Deveraux, who has just inherited her great-grandfather's house (technically her great-grandmother's half-brother's house). Theodore Blake was a fairly well established artist in his time, but became a bit of a recluse towards the end of his life, hiding secrets that no one in Hetty's family knew. This timeline follows events occurring in present day, 2010.

The other timeline is that of mainly Beatrice Blake, Theodore's wife, along with the occasional insight from Theo himself. This timeline starts in 1910, soon after the wedding when Theo convinces Beatrice to spend the summer at his family home in Scotland, promising calm and much inspiration for his art.

The story alternates between the two timelines, filling in the gaps to the questions Hetty poses, while unraveling secrets that no one saw coming.

I had originally marked this book as a thriller, perhaps optimistically thinking that the body found in the basement of the decrepit house would allude to a greater mystery. However, upon finishing this, I would say it is leaning more towards historical fiction than anything else. There is, of course, some excitement to discover who the body was, but it didn't really take precedent. This was more of a story of history and seeing what happened on the island so many years ago. If you are looking for a book about solving a murder, this isn't really it.

Initially, I found this book a little hard to get in to. The writing style took a little to get used to, it was a bit more jarring switching time periods than I am normally used to, so that may have been a problem. The other part that made it hard to keep reading was at the beginning, there are, I think, too many chapters on Beatrice. Hetty had just made it to the house, and then it was like three chapters of random, mundane things happening in 1910. Looking back, it makes sense, but at the time, it made it hard to get in to the story. Once I got the hang of the perspectives, I did find it easier to read.

This book was kind of two halves, but woven together, and I feel like the book dealt a lot with that duality. In the 1910 chapters, you see Beatrice and Theo, and initially, you feel sorry for Beatrice, and kind of dislike Theo. It was an arranged marriage, but the pair seem to enjoy each other enough. However, I felt like in the beginning, Beatrice was new to the whole situation and Theo was emotionally unavailable and detached. He had another art project to work on, couldn't do things with her. He did neglect her. But at the end, when you see all that has happened, I understand where Beatrice is coming from, but I felt immense pity for Theo. His life had not turned out anyway like he thought it would and to top it all off, Beatrice does what she does, it's no wonder he became a recluse.

In the present day chapters, you see Hetty grow more and more fond of James Cameron, but I also felt weary of James. He seemed to have a hidden agenda, and was always poking his nose in everyones business. In the end, I think he was still searching for answers.

I did like Hetty, just not as much at first. She was very naive about the whole concept of converting the old house into a hotel, but she was aware of her naivety. At the same time, I found she only stood up for her ideas if it was with James. With Giles and the others, she just sat silently, while they talked for her. By the end, she does grow and is able to stand up to them, but I just wish she was better with that at the beginning.

One thing I find myself wishing for in this book is some graphics. The story is about art, as well as a house on some amazing land. I just wish there were some of Theo's paintings and sketches, floor plans for the hotel, heck, I would have settled for a notebook page with a partially filled in family tree, that just kept getting added to, if you've read this book, you know you need one! The book was good without the graphics, but I really think it could have benefitted from them as well.

I will say that I really enjoyed the journey this book took me on. Following the dual timelines, seeing history unravel, it was really interesting. I've always been interested in genealogy, and just multi-generational family stories in general, this one was really great at showing what was going on over time, without giving too much away. There were a couple times where I thought I knew what Theo's secret was, or who the body was, but each time I was proved wrong. I really was guessing until the very end.

Overall, I enjoyed this story very much, and definitely recommend it if you are looking for something a little bit different.