Wednesday, November 30, 2016

KIDS OF APPETITE BY DAVID ARNOLD - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

Today I am back with another book review, this time it is Kids of Appetite by David Arnold.


Much like Arnold's debut novel Mosquitoland, this is a quirky book that you will finish and not be sure how you feel about it.

I read this book in the span of approximately 3 and a half hours, but really I'm not sure if that is because of the book itself, or the fact that I wanted to have read it.

Now don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book, but I also felt it was a little, I guess the best word that comes to mind is pretentious. It is very aware of itself, and I think that takes away from the story.

Ok, so the basic synopsis is the story opening up with our main character Victor "Vic." He has recently lost his father and while he is still trying to cope with everything, one night at dinner, his mom's boyfriend proposes. And Vic freaks out, grabbing his father's urn and heads for the door. He meets Madeline "Mad" (you'll notice that almost no one in this story goes by their full, given name) and she takes him to the butcher shop where he spends the night. The next morning, Mad comes back with the "leader" of their group Baz (not his real name), Zuz (also not his real name) and Coco (pretty sure that's her real name) and they go to their 'home,' a greenhouse in the local orchard.

Basically they spend a week together, Vic falls in love with Mad, Mad's uncle is killed, and on the eighth day, Vic, Mad and Baz waltz into the police station with the answer to Uncle Lester's murder.

Premise wise, I think this book is spot on. It was an interesting story of modern day homelessness and the characters were (at least racially) a little bit diverse.

Baz and Zuz are brothers, outgrown from the foster system and trying to make it on their own after the death of their mother, father and sister during the war in the Congo. We get glimpses of their past, mostly towards the end, and obviously you feel bad for them, but their relationship within the group feels almost forced. Baz is 27, and Zuz, 22, and while I get they are helping out so much with people who need it, their current group of two 16 year olds and an 11 year old is a bit odd.

We get both perspectives from Vic and Mad throughout the story. Mad's parents died in a drunk driving accident and she lives with her Uncle (dad's brother - that's important) and her maternal grandmother who has dementia. Mad offers commentary throughout the storyline, and while I enjoyed her notes on The Outsiders, I didn't find her character narration to be extremely necessary, especially at the beginning of the book.

I think my biggest problem with this book was the fact that Vic ran away and was immediately adopted into the group. Not because he shouldn't have been accepted, but because I felt like compared to the other characters, he needed that group the least. He had (at least one) parent who, while maybe wasn't really listening to him, wasn't abusive or an alcoholic. I suppose this just shows how much worse off the others are, but I think for me it made his problems seem petty. Baz and Zuz survived and are still haunted by the war in Africa, Coco is an orphan with no one else to turn to, and Mad lives with her alcoholic uncle because she doesn't want her grandmother to suffer in her place. While Vic definitely does not have it easy, I felt like his place in the Kids of Appetite could have been given to someone worse off.

I also wasn't really a fan of the relationship between Mad and Vic. I mean I get they've seen each other around before, but they fell in love in a week. Maybe I'm a pessimistic, jaded, realist, but I have a hard time believing that.

While I did appreciate the fact that Vic suffered from a rare neurological disorder, something like this physical disorder you don't see a lot of in fiction, especially YA fiction, I feel like it wasn't really a major part of the story. I mean it was fairly well fleshed out, and there were countless sentences where Vic "wipes his leaky mug," I just felt like the story would have been pretty much the same without it. I guess it connects Vic with his father, he was always telling him that there is beauty in asymmetry, and I suppose it makes Vic's life seem less "picture perfect."

Overall, I guess I didn't really love this book. I mean I enjoyed the mystery of figuring out who killed Mad's uncle, but I think in general I had too many issues with it.


Monday, November 28, 2016

I SEE YOU BY CLARE MACKINTOSH - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, this time it is of Clare Mackintosh's newest novel, I See You. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Oh. My. Gosh. Mackintosh has done it again folks. Just when you thought you figured out who was behind everything, she turns the world upside down.

This story follows two characters, Zoe Walker and Kelly Swift. Zoe is your average forty-something. She has two kids, a son who's 22 and a daughter who's nineteen. She's been divorced for 7 years after finding out about her husband's affair, and fairly shortly thereafter met Simon, who moved into the family home. Life is pretty normal, she works Monday through Friday as a secretary/bookkeeper at a real estate firm in London, taking the train in every day and back home again at night. Except one day, while flipping through the paper on the train, Zoe finds a picture of herself in an advertisement for FindTheOne.com, what appears to be some sort of dating site.

Zoe is obviously freaked out, but brushes it off as someone who looks like her. However, a few days later, Zoe finds the picture of another woman in the same ad, except this time she recognizes her as the woman she just saw in the headlines as brutally murdered just outside her apartment. Terrified, Zoe contacts the police where no one really takes her too seriously, and ends up talking with PC Kelly Swift, in the Dip Squad - the division dealing with pickpocketing and theft, who's just had a woman come forward about someone stealing her keys while on the train.

Kelly is having troubles of her own, she was moved to the theft unit after assaulting a prisoner. He had sexually assaulted a young girl, and after years of anger brewing from her own sister's unsolved sexual assault while in school, she snapped. Determined not to brush Zoe's concerns off, she works with the Murder Investigations to help figure out if the cases are linked, and if Zoe is in danger.

Obviously I'm not going to get into specifics, but I will say that this book was phenomenal. If you are familiar with Mackintosh's writing, you know that she likes to give you a million red herrings, make you think you have it all figured out, and then right at the verylastsecond completely blow you away.

The book itself touches on some very real issues, not only within assault, theft, more common crimes, but also those that are newer, that nobody really talks about, cyber crime. Zoe quickly finds out that the picture used in the ad is taken directly from her Facebook page, which as her daughter's boyfriend is quick to point out, is wide open on the privacy settings. The fact that no matter how secure you think your online presence is, it may very well be extremely public, is terrifying.

I also really loved having a book with a female police officer who wasn't making a big deal out of being a female police officer. There have been many crime novels I've read that are half about the crime and half complaints about how no one takes them seriously. It was refreshing to focus on the main crime plot.

If you've read Caroline Kepnes' book YOU, this book is like that but even more terrifying. In this book, you don't know who is doing the stalking, you don't know who is setting up these profiles, and for what purposes. Maybe they started out as a way to help people meet someone, but things have turned much more nefarious. Between Zoe and Kelly's alternative perspectives, you get snippet's of the creator's thoughts, what they have to say. And I feel like, mentally, they don't see anything wrong with what they are doing.

I won't say anything else, because you really do need to read this book. If I could, I would give it all the stars!

Overall, highly, highly recommend!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR BY E.K. JOHNSTON - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston.


Hmmm... this book.

Alright, I guess I'll start with an overview first and then get into my thoughts.

This is the story of Hermione Winters, a popular, but also friendly cheerleader. The cheer team goes to a summer camp retreat to scope out the competition, have some fun, and build team spirit for the coming year. Except it's not all fun and games, one night at a party, Hermione's drink is drugged, she is raped and left in the lake until she is found unconscious the next day. Yup.

The story continues on with the aftermath, nobody knows who did it; she remembers nothing. As she awaits the results of her pregnancy test, Hermione goes back to school, meeting stares, whispers and little support from her boyfriend, who thinks she had it coming, she was flirting with *all* the guys at the camp.

Many parts of this story were very raw and in your face. Hermione's best friend Polly is unapologetically honest and is Hermione's rock throughout the whole thing.

I did, however, have some problems with this book. I have never been in Hermione's shoes, and hopefully never will be, but something just felt off about how she was reacting. And she brings that up in the book, in conversations with a therapist, they both see that she is reacting as if this happened to a best friend, not herself. In that situation, I know there are a million ways to react, and no right or (necessarily) wrong reactions, but something about how she was handling it rubbed me weird.

I think the whole story itself was just so atypical of the tradition sexual assault books I've read, that it just seem, I don't want to say romanticized, because it definitely isn't, but it just seems like it's a part of Hermione's life and she's pretty much moved on. Maybe it's because she doesn't remember anything. Maybe it's because she has an amazing support system; in the authors note, it is mentioned that this was important to the author, that the parents are supportive, of having a good experience with police, of having a best friend willing to do anything for you, because so many cases like this don't have those supports in place.

I would argue that it becomes less real, and more of a story because of these people. You might get the cop who blames you, or doesn't really care; you might get the best friend who thinks you brought it on yourself. Of course none of these are true, and I suppose that is what the story is getting at. No two cases are ever the same, and no amount of blame can or should be placed on the victim.

I think by blacking out the rape itself, the author is saving both the narrator and the reader from living that experience, but I think in that, the story loses some of it's rawness. That may also be because I am basically comparing all books about sexual assault to the likes of The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, a book so raw and gritty I cannot stop thinking about it MONTHS after finishing it.

I did like this book, it talks about an issue that is never really talked about, and if it is, it is examined on a very surface level and swept under the rug. This book in and of itself sheds light on the issue of sexual assault and how it is treated. Hermione is strong and she fights back. She definitely has moments where she falls apart, but she picks herself back up again.

I don't really know what else to say. I'd been putting off this review because I had to collect my thoughts, but I think I will leave you with this. For better or for worse, this is not you "typical" story about a rape. Some people will appreciate the different perspective it gives, others will wish there was a bit more depth. I think I am in the latter camp.


Friday, November 25, 2016

THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER BY TIM FEDERLE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle. 



I always love a mixed media kind of book, and with the combination of regular text and film script, this book did not disappoint.

This is the story of 16 year old Quinn. He is struggling to live his life after the sudden death of his older sister and the loss of his father, after he walked out. Quinn has kind of been living in a bubble, not leaving his house, and he's ordered so many pizzas and take out, the delivery guys just let themselves in and bring it to his room. One day, Quinn's best friend Geoff comes over to help get Quinn out of his funk. They go to Geoff's older sister's college party, where Quinn meets Amir. Even though Quinn isn't out yet, it is clear to those close to him that he feels something with Amir. Something he hasn't felt since his sister died.

I am a sucker for a good coming of age story, and so I immediately enjoyed this book. Quinn struggles with his own self, as well as grieving his sister, but he is able to work through his pain.

I appreciated that LGBT+ elements within this story, we really need more books with these aspects in them. I also really liked how Quinn wasn't victimized for his sexuality. Having a gay main character, you can usually assume things will go one of two ways; the character will belabour their sexuality to the point of agony, or the character will recognize it as a part of themselves and move on from there. Quinn isn't a victim of his sexuality, and although he has many questions for himself, this element of his character never becomes a cutch to place the blame of his downfalls.

I do think there were a few things that were a little randomly placed, we don't learn a lot about Annabeth, his sister, and what we do learn is very disjointed and not really helpful or essential. I thought that the interactions between Geoff and Annabeth were unnecessary, and they are not really fleshed out so I guess I don't see the significance.

I really liked Quinn's voice, we get a first-person perspective, so we are in his head. He is sarcastic and snarky, I was laughing quite a bit throughout this book.

While I enjoyed the book overall, I can only give it 4 stars because it felt a little, I guess vanilla. There wasn't really any conflicts, the negative moments were resolved quickly and when things got intense, Quinn shut it down. I feel like this is a great story, but it could have been pushed a little bit further.

Overall, a great coming of age story.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ BY L. FRANK BAUM - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, this time it is the classic story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I read this story in the gorgeous Rock Paper Books edition from a previous LitJoy Crate.


I am so excited to have finally read the original story of the Wizard of Oz!

Of course, I knew the basics, I watched the movie staring Judy Garland, and later the retelling with James Franco (which I did NOT enjoy, let me tell you). But I had never sat down and read the story. So today, finding a few spare hours, I sat down and read all 167 pages of Oz.

And I feel like some of the magic was lost.

Don't get me wrong, I loved getting the backstories of the characters, and it's been so long since I'd seen the movie, I've forgotten why the Scarecrow needed brains, or why the Tinman didn't have a heart. I enjoyed that aspect of it, and finding out that the Great Wizard was just a random guy, parading around as a ruler. That part was all great. But I just felt like the story itself lacked much development.

I suppose it is hard to compare to today's standards, and it is technically a children's story, but I felt like a few things could have been fleshed out a bit more and the characters could have been more developed.

Part of my problem may also be that I am reading this story as a primarily mature YA/Adult reader, so the simplicity and basic storyline was a bit too mundane.

I do seem to recall a number of differences from the movie, particularly in the flow of events. I am pretty sure Dorothy has to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West before making it to Oz, not once she gets there has to leave, kill her and then come back. There were just a few small scenes placed in different orders in the book than in the movie that seemed a little too choppy to me.

This book definitely was good, it hasn't become a cult-classic because it's terrible, but I just don't think it did that much for me personally. I was disappointed by some things that have become icons of this story: the colour change of the shoes, in the movie they are red, the iconic Dorothy has a blue and white dress with ruby red slippers, these shoes are silver; and the loss of the iconic line "There's no place like home." along with the easily recognizable Dorothy monologue at the end. These small little details that were different than the classic (movie) I know threw me off and shook my concentration.

Overall, a classic story that is definitely different from the movie, and depending on your perspective, dare I say, maybe not better.


Monday, November 21, 2016

IT ENDS WITH US BY COLLEEN HOOVER - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover.



It's been a long time since I've read a book by Colleen Hoover. Not that I have been putting this one off, it's just how things have worked out. And now that I read it, I get it. I get the Instagram posts of the open heart tattoo; I get the comments from people say this book ripped them apart. Hoover usually does this in her novels anyway, but this one was different because it was so real. And it didn't have as many of those steamy scenes to counteract, that new romance to forget the painful past. The new romance is the pain.

I won't really talk too much about the plot because as with all CoHo books, it is best to go in knowing very little, I think especially this one.

I will say that I absolutely loved Lily. She was brave and bold. She knew what she didn't want. There were times when she made decisions I wasn't sure I agreed with, but at the same time, she gave me the perspective to understand her actions. My stomach was in knots for her, but somehow she made it through.

This book truly makes you feel the entire range of emotions. The happiness of falling in love with the characters of the story, the joy of seeing them interact, but also you see the pain they feel. The regret, the disappointment, the rage. This book does not try to hid it's feelings, it lays everything out there for you.

I briefly touched on it earlier, but the perspective this book gives is incredible. I have been fortunate to not be in situations that Lily has, but that also clouds my judgement. Not being able to fully understand what is going through people's minds in these situations. And I am so grateful to this book and to Colleen for opening my eyes. People are not good OR bad. Things are not black OR white. Those lines are blurred, there are grey areas that you never know exist until you are in that situation.

This book will be hard for many people. It will hit too close to home; it will go against everything they believed in; it will hurt. But hopefully it will cause change. Understanding that things don't have to be the way they are, that there is hope, that they are not alone.

Like Colleen says in her authors note, every story like this is different. And I think that is what makes this such a hard read. There are some similar situations where the decision might be clearer, but like Lily's it might be a little harder to find.

I cannot recommend this book enough.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

THE NERDY AND THE DIRTY BY B.T. GOTTFRED - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review. Today it is The Nerdy and the Dirty by B.T. Gottfred. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Well, I wasn't expecting that!

This is the story of Penelope/Pen and Benedict. Pen comes from a very Catholic family and is dating a very Catholic boy, Paul. And sometimes they do some very non-Catholic things together. For Pen, this is a deeper issue. She's conflicted, is this something she should want regularly? As the synopsis states, do other girls have the urges she does? Benedict comes from a wealthy family, his father is bestselling author of a book on being perfect, something Benedict is constantly striving towards. But his is almost seventeen and wants his first girlfriend. The novel doesn't directly come out and say it, but I would suspect that Benedict has some form of high functioning autism - just based on my (very little) knowledge and his social interactions.

Before the main storyline gets going, we get a glimpse of Pen's relationship with Paul. It's one of those 'we've been together so long, we might as well be married' situations (except that they are 16), and Pen hides not only her sexual urges, but also her opinions and true feelings with Paul. I think he is up there with my least favourite characters in this book. He's verbally abusive, is on the verge of sexually assaulting Pen a few times (there's no clear part where she says no, but he pretty much forces himself on her), and at one point is physically violent with her. These are small pieces of a greater novel, but they are still there, so be weary of these triggers, and for younger readers.

I feel like I can't really say too much about Pen and Benedict's relationship, because it was super short. It is a little insta-lovey, but I was kind of expecting it to be. They are two polar opposites and the switch just flipped. Their relationship is much more sexual than I was thinking it would be, but I don't think that was a bad thing. Benedict tells Pen to be herself, no matter what, and I think that is a great message. I'm not sure if hearing it from one person makes it true, but she feels better about her desires.

I will say that there are a few things that really turned me off to this novel. There was a lot of shaming going on. Fat-shaming and slut-shaming. There is one character who was once thin, beautiful and popular, and now she is mean, bigger and semi-popular by extension. Ok, fine, whatever. But there are countless jokes made about her size and how that makes her undesirable. I'm not sure if it was just because most of the people making these comments were from a small town, and that's just the stereotypical way that they are, or if they were just that mean, but these comments made it hard to read. There was also a bit of slut-shaming, again, maybe it's just the small town, Catholic atmosphere, but words like "whore" were thrown around way too much. And often by males to justify actions - "Oh well we only did x because she's a whore." These comments really made it hard for me to get through the book.

I think the thing that bothered me the most was the repeated use of the r-word. I feel like in this day and age there has got to be a better word to use. And when someone's parent comes out and says it, I'm done. I don't remember where Riverbend is, but I definitely do not want to live there. These people are so critical and rude.

So yeah, the storyline was good, I liked that aspect, just some of the other elements and the language used didn't work for me.

Overall, I would say pick this one up at your own risk, and only if you are a mature teen and up.

My rating: ★★/5


Friday, November 11, 2016

THE HOPE THAT KILLS BY ED JAMES - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Hope That Kills by Ed James. Thanks so much to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


This story ended up being a lot darker and more gruesome than I had originally envisioned, so just beware going in.

Basically, this is the story of DI Fenchurch investigating the brutal murder of a girl in a seedier part of London. She was found stabed and left in an abandoned building. The woman has no ID and hasn't been reported missing; no now knows who she is. The case is gruesome enough until Fenchurch is put on it and reminded of his own daughter, Chloe, who went missing 10 years ago and has yet to be found. She would be 18 years old, about the same age as the girl that was murdered.

I won't really say much about plot, because that is a major part of the book, but I do want to talk about the characters briefly, mainly Fenchurch. When I first started the book, I somehow missed the detail that Chloe was his daughter. I read it as an unsolved case that haunts him a decade later. Once you know that it was his daughter, you keep questioning, like he does. Is this next girl Chloe? As they begin to uncover what is really going on, he is desperate to find her.

I really liked how this series has a male detective. I'm all for female detectives but more often than not it is done poorly, so all you see are the struggles of being a female DI in a world of males. I find it will often take away from the story, but not in this case. There are a lot of details that aren't given to you outright, Abi is his ex-wife, but she could have easily been an old flame that he turned against him. Eventually you find out their relationship but some parts made me feel like I was just jumping into the middle of a series, and not the first book of one.

I was all set to give this book four stars, until the ending. I get that it is a series, but we have just barely figured out one small piece of the puzzle and it was the end. I still have no idea who's behind what's going on, or why they're doing it, or where Chloe is, or if she will ever be found. The ending left me with so many questions and no answers, which greatly took away from my overall experience.

Overall, a good start to the series; I'm just not sure if I'll continue on with it myself.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

THE LOST PROPERTY OFFICE BY JAMES R. HANNIBAL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Hmm, you know, I find middle grades are hit-or-miss for me lately. Sometimes I love them, other times, not so much. I think this one falls somewhere in the middle. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it.

The premise itself was interesting, Jack, a boy who can find things that are lost goes on an adventure to find his lost father. Eventually Jack finds out that his father is part of a long line of Trackers, and he was working on a mission when he disappeared. An evil man named The Clockmaker claims to be holding his father hostage and won't release him until Jack finds and brings him the Ember, a magical object that holds the secret of The Great Fire of London in 1666.

I really liked the historical elements of this story, I don't personally know about the history of England but I had heard a little about the Fire. I always really enjoy when historical events are explained and shown with magical elements, they make history so much fun, adding this element of explanation that may not have previously been known. The addition of the Ember and magic as possibly the cause of the Fire adds an interesting spin.

I really liked how real Jack was. He meets Gwen, who knows all about this mysterious Ministry his father works with, and is constantly giving him new information. His reaction to her is very realistic and typical, he is skeptical at first, and for most of the first part as to what she was saying to him. He doesn't immediately assume everything makes sense, he questions things. Gwen is very crazy, like to the point of her wanting them to be partners forever, like real Trackers and Quartermasters, even though they are thirteen years old. I didn't really love her character too much, especially at the end.

I appreciated how this kept true to a middle grade in terms of Gwen and Jack's relationship, nothing gets out of hand, although she does kiss him on the cheek once like out of the blue. But there wasn't any PG-13 stuff going on, and really the story is about Jack finding his dad, not finding a girlfriend.

Overall, this was an interesting read, but not one that I absolutely loved.


Monday, November 7, 2016

HEARTLESS BY MARISSA MEYER - REVIEW + BLOG TOUR

Hello everyone!

I am BEYOND excited to be sharing today's post with you. I was extremely lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in the Heartless Blog Tour. I will be sharing a character and my review with you today.



First, I will share my character with you! I am introducing Mary Ann, Catherine's maid and best friend. For the most part, I really liked Mary Ann, but there was one part where I can see where she was coming from, but at the same time I think she made the wrong decision. Either way, Meyer once again is able to write an amazing dynamic between two friends. And without further adieu, Mary Ann:


Before I get to my review, a quick synopsis on the book to remind you what it is about!




And now, finally, my review of Heartless!

OH. MY. GOSH. YOU. GUYS. This book is phenomenal.

Ok, so just be fore-warned that this review is basically just going to be me gushing.

Ah ok, I don't even know where to start with this book.

Plot wise, it is kind of an Alice in Wonderland retelling, except the story is all about the Queen of Hearts and how she became this heartless (get it), beheading tyrant.

Before she was the Queen, she was Lady Catherine Pinkerton, daughter of a Marquis and Marquess. (for those of you, like myself who are not versed in noble ranks, they are essentially above a Count/Countess, but below a Baron/Baroness - I'm not sure that matters a whole lot, but I wanted to look it up). Anyways, from very early on in the story, it becomes quite clear that the King of Hearts has chosen Catherine to be his queen. Except she is a baker and dreams of opening the best bakery in all of Hearts. Naturally, her parents would disprove of such a laborious occupation, especially of a woman of her stature in society - even more so with the King's intentions looming. At a ball, Catherine meets the newest Joker, a wondrous fool named Jest. There is just enough chemistry between them to get the ball rolling, but not too much to over do it. Cath is determined to do things her own way, be that find true happiness in baking or fall in love with who she wants, not who her parents choose.

I won't say too much more about the plot, because it really is best to go into it not knowing much of what is going to happen.

I really loved how Meyer portrays Catherine. She starts out this sort of naive girl who thinks she knows what she wants, mainly anything that will go against her family's intentions. She is sweet and kind, being cordial because she has to be, but mostly because she wants to be. She isn't the mean and angry ruler we see in the original story. Her transformation from this innocent girl to a tyrant is truly breath-taking.

Meyer, as in the case of Levana from the Lunar Chronicles and her story Fairest, has the brilliant ability to make the reader sympathize with even the cruelest of villains. She humanizes them, showing us how they've become the person they are, the wicked bad guy that everyone remembers from the story. No one bothers to look at their past, they must have just been born evil. I won't get into specifics as to what happens to make Cath's transformation complete, but I will say that when she commands that most famous line at the end of the book, I was right along with her: "Off with his head!"

Not only was this transformation a major part of the story, but we also get glimpses of important characters in AIW; the Mad Hatter and his tea party, complete with the March Hare (Haigha, pronounced Hare, rhyming with mayor) and the Dormouse. We get the origin story of the Mock Turtle, references to the Caterpillar, and of course, the courtiers, the one-eyed Jack, the suits. All the favourite and iconic characters from the original are here, giving this story a dose of nostalgia and whimsicality.

My only complaint about this book is that its a standalone. The story is finished by the end of the book, but this was just one of those ones where it was so good you didn't want it to end.

I truly could go on and on about this story, but I think I will end my review before I give too much away. But I want to leave you with one final thought. Whether or not you liked The Lunar Chronicles, and whether or not you liked the original Alice in Wonderland story; you will like this book. Because even though it is based on a tale old and altered, it still drives home the same message; no one is born evil. Circumstances change the way we see the world and the way we react to it, some may choose patience and kindness, others may choose vengeance and violence. But if you just take the time to look and see peoples' pasts, often you will find they look much similar to your own. We are all a lot more alike than we wish to admit, for better or for worse.

Also, just a quick note, when you pick this book up, you definitely need to make sure you have some baked goods around. Catherine makes some amazingly tasty sounding treats; the way that the lemon tarts are described in the book, I could see Catherine making them and taste their tart custard centre.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

WHAT LIGHT BY JAY ASHER - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is What Light by Jay Asher. Thank you so much to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Gahhhh this book was everything I wanted it to be and more!

If you've been following me for a while, you will know of my constant and unending love of Jay Asher's debut novel Thirteen Reasons Why. This is the one book I've re-read more times than I can remember, and will always be my all-time favourite, despite its minor flaws. Needless to say, when I found out Asher was writing another book, I was first thrilled, and also terrified that it wouldn't live up to the exceedingly high expectations I had set for it based on its predecessor.

Let me tell you, I cannot stop smiling.

This book follows Sierra who's family owns a Christmas tree farm in Oregon but every year, on the day before Thanksgiving, they load the all up and drive out to California to sell them. Sierra's life has been like this since she was born, two sets of friends, two 'homes,' a constant tradition. Except this year might be their last, and Sierra is ready to make the most of it. Everything goes smoothly until she meets Caleb, the cute guy with a killer dimple and a dark past. Soon she's falling fast, but her friends and parents are worried. But they're only in California for a month and it's just a holiday fling, right?

Ironically, I think Caleb was my favourite character in this book. He's so broken from what happened in the past, and puts a lot of that guilt on himself. He struggles with accepting what is good in his life but is quick to help others. I would have loved to see a bit more of his backstory and his character development, I think there was a lot to work with there that wasn't necessarily fully fleshed out. Sierra definitely sees that goodness in him, but I found her a little to quick to trust some of the time. For the most part I liked Sierra, but there were a couple times where she didn't really think about anyone but herself. Some of the stuff she did just rubbed me the wrong way; I know she was just doing what she thought was best, but realistically, I'm not sure she had the right to butt into some of the situations she does.

The romance itself was super cute and a little bit cheesy, but in the best way possible. I really liked how there wasn't much beating around the bush, we weren't waiting until the very end of the book for them to get together, but at the same time, it wasn't insta-lovey. It was that perfect in between where things happened at just the right pace. I think that worked well too, because of the expiration date the relationship had; one month. It made everything seem fulfilling, but also bittersweet as well.

There were some things I didn't love, but didn't really take away that much from the story. Mostly it was the interactions with Andrew and a couple of times with Sierra's dad. Andrew had made the mistake of working for the farm and asking Sierra out, and when she wasn't interested, took it upon himself to share some things that he shouldn't have shared. The way he talked to Sierra, and just reacted around her made him a very unlikable character.

Sierra's dad was all over the place. Sierra's parents met at his families Christmas tree lot in California and I get that he was concerned she was taking things too quickly, especially considering the fact the he ended up marrying the girl he fell for, but I just couldn't get a good read on him. One minute he is basically building a fortress around Sierra, the next he's chatting Caleb up and telling Sierra he'll let things be, and then he's basically breaking them up, I just thought he was so indecisive. And I get it's hard, I've never been in his position, but I think he just needed to pick a side and stick with it.

This is a great book to get you in the Christmas spirit, make sure you read it with a nice big mug of hot chocolate (there are a lot of mugs in the story)! But even as the weather cools off, it's a great holiday read any time of the year.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it!


Saturday, November 5, 2016

THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER BY E. KATHERINE KOTTARAS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras. 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.


Well ladies and gentlemen, I have a new favourite book. Here it is!

This book follows Viviana, a 16 year old stressing about everything. Doing well on her AP exams, going to an engineering academy for the summer to hone her skills to be accepted into Stanford for engineering, like her father, just being perfect in general. But when she collapses from exhaustion, coupled with her less than perfect behaviour, including sending a scandalous photo to her then-now-ex boyfriend, who decided he wasn't the only one fit to see it, her parents decide to cancel the engineering academy. So Viviana is stuck, trying to forget what happened at school and stave off the next panic attack. Her best friend Sammie gets her a job at the pool by their apartment building and she meets Evan for the second time (the first was four years ago, playing seven minutes in heaven (more like 15 seconds) at a party; although they both kind of forgot about the other). Viviana is not looking for anything, so when Sammie expresses interest in Evan, she tells her to go for it.

There is a lot of stuff happening at home too. Viviana's parents are getting divorced, her father has been in "Singapore" on business for 6 months and her mother's gone back to school to try and get a degree to help support Viviana and her little sister, Mila. I won't say anything else about the plot because there is a twist that you just need to experience yourself.

I really loved Viviana's character, she was so convinced she had to do everything a certain way, and when something bad happened, even if it wasn't, she would constantly convince herself it was her fault. The author depicts her panic attacks very real and raw, and I was really intrigued by the way Mila reacted to Viviana. She was her role model, and there was one heartbreaking part where Mila drew a family portrait, but was so upset she couldn't get Viviana's arms right, she erased and re-drew it many times, before finally ripping it up because it wasn't perfect. This really showed how obsessive their family life had become. I think being the child of a first generation immigrant also had an effect on Viviana and her sister, their mother came to Chicago from the former Soviet Union when she was a teenager to make a better life for herself.

The twist threw me for such a loop - I was not expecting that. It was hard for me personally to read, because it brought up a lot of stuff from my past, but I cannot even begin to imagine how that must have felt for Viviana and her family, especially her mother. While I don't necessarily agree with her choices getting to that point, I do think she is making the right decisions now.

I will say that this isn't the romance I was expecting. Yes, there is a little bit, mainly towards the end, but this story as a whole is about Viviana accepting who she is and figuring out what to do with her life. It's much deeper than falling for a cute lifeguard. As the saying goes, she has to learn to love herself before she can let others in.

It is set in the summer time, and most of the events take place at the pool where the girls work for the summer, but I still think it is a good read any time of the year, especially if your winters are anything like mine, and you need some metaphorical sunshine in your life.

There were just so many little things that were so well thought out and worked beautifully in this story. Viviana and Sammie having Binocular and Braiding Sessions, I could just see them sitting together, braiding each others hair, making up stories about their neighbours, what they're lives are life, what they're eating for dinner. Just little seemingly insignificant parts of the book that really round things out.

Overall, if it wasn't clear already, I loved this book and highly recommend you pick it up!


Friday, November 4, 2016

LOVE LITERARY STYLE BY KARIN GILLESPIE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie. Thanks so much to the author for sending me a copy of her book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I went into this book knowing that it was going to be about two writers who are from very different areas of literature and their relationship that develops. I suppose that is essentially it, but there is much more to the story.

The story is told in alternating third person perspectives, starting with Aaron Mite, a college professor who has been working on his novel for 5 years. He believes that cliches are a sign of poor writing, and that true literature lies in that of high brow pieces that make you think, not *gasp* steamy romances or 'genre fiction' as he so lovingly refers to it. Our other character is Laurie Lee, a self-pubbed author of such love stories who gets mistakingly invited to a writers colony, instead of the astute Laura T. Leer. While at the conference, the two find they are rooming next to each other and hit it off. Admittedly, Laurie is looking for a fling, and Aaron still thinks she's Laura T. Leer.

Eventually, things get cleared up and the two leave the conference still a couple.

Back home, Aaron tries desperately to get his novel published and win the approval of his father, an acclaimed critic and Laurie gains more momentum as an indie author.

I won't say too much more about the plot, because I don't want to give much more away.

I really enjoyed the publishing and editorial elements of this book; I have little knowledge of those areas professionally myself, so it was really interesting to get a glimpse into (what I'm assuming is an accurate portrayal of) the publishing world.

In terms of characters, I really liked Laurie, she was super sweet, down to Earth, and trying to do what's best for her. I did think that she let herself get pushed around a bit too much, but I think character flaws like these make for more realistic characters. I didn't love Aaron as much. The blurb mentions something about The Rosie Project, and if you've read that book, Aaron is much like the main character in that book. He doesn't really, I guess, understand the social world around him. He tries his hand at social media and the examples in the book had me laughing out loud it was so bad. Yes, he is this extremely book smart, well-read individual, but make him emotionally connect with someone else, and he's got nothing. At times I found this endearing, but other times I found it painful to read.

I didn't really love Laurie and Aaron's relationship, just because I didn't really feel that chemistry between them. They were so vastly different; while sometimes opposites attract, I didn't really feel that in this case. I think part of my problem was I couldn't figure out their ages. Aaron is a prof, five years out of grad school, so I suppose he would be late twenties-early thirties maybe, and I don't think Laurie was over thirty, but in my mind, Aaron was just so much older, and Laurie was early twenties. I think that kind of messed up my accepting their relationship. It also felt a little instalove-y for me, the story was not even 100 pages in and they were already declaring their love for one another.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book, I just don't think I loved it as much as all the other reviewers I've read. If you are looking for some quirky characters and an inside look at the publishing world, definitely check this one out!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

WE ARE STILL TORNADOES BY MICHAEL KUN AND SUSAN MULLEN - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is a review of We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending a copy of this book my way for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Ok, this book. Technically, its more a collection of letters than a book, so yeah... I did really enjoy this one, it's been a while since I read a non-traditionally designed book. And I have to say, I missed it.

This story follows two teens, Catherine and Scott after graduation of high school. Cath is off at university out of state, juggling the workload and family issues, and Scott is still in the backwoods town in Maryland where they grew up. He didn't do well in school and is now thinking he'll be working at his fathers clothing store for the rest of his life.

Oh, and its set in the 80s. You know what that means! They are sending each other actual letters in the mail, making references to Farrah Fawcett's hair, and talking about the best music of the time, and up and coming artists like Peter Gabriel (who, nowadays, everyone knows about, if not for the TFiOS reference).

At first, I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story. The letters only include so many details about what's going on in their lives, and sometimes they'd talk on the phone, and we wouldn't get what they were saying just "It was good to talk to you on the phone last night." For the most part everything was accessible through the letters.

Character-wise, I'm a little uncertain. I think I liked Scott a lot more than I did Cath. She just kind of came across as a bit mean in her letters. I mean, I guess that was just their banter, but at the same time, it was a bit much at times and she overreacted all. The. Time. Scott might not have gone to college, but he's still a human being with feelings. For the first couple letters, they are still getting the hang of being apart, but I think they take that frustration out on each other unnecessarily.

I did relate very much to Cath's struggles of being away from home for the first time. Being in my second year of university, I could easily recall those feelings of homesickness, and I'm only a few hours from home, let alone out of province.

Even though this is just a fluffier contemporary, they talk about a lot of serious issues. Both have family problems, which I think might have aligned a little too closely for my taste, but they were still dealing with that struggle.

The one thing I didn't love was the ending. I think maybe if we had gotten some inside thoughts as to what was happening in the characters heads, it wouldn't have been so abrupt as it appeared to me, but I think it was a little bit out of the blue. I won't say what "it" is, but you can probably guess. Everything was great, and then boom, ok that's new. I don't know, it just felt a little too forced to me. I appreciate that it wraps everything up, but at the same time, I just didn't see it.

Overall a really cute story about friendship and being away from home for the first time.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

HER NIGHTLY EMBRACE BY ADI TANTIMEDH - BOOK REVIEW AND BLOG TOUR

Hi everyone!

I am back with another blog tour and book review, this time it is Her Nightly Embrace by Adi Tantimedh. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Ok, so premise wise, this book sounded really interesting. Some private investigators doing some maybe not super legal things but giving bad people what they deserve. There was also snippet's of the main character, Ravi's, personal life; his parents, his sister, etc. and the fact that he sees Hindu gods. Like Vishnu and Kali. Yup.

I was enjoying the story, things were good, I had just finished the first part and something just changed.

I can't really describe or put my finger on what specifically I was having problems with. I put it down for the night, and the next time I picked it up, I just couldn't get back into it. The narrator was getting annoying, there was so much going on, things were getting confusing, I don't really know if there was one specific element that bothered me.

I did enjoy the crime solving elements, I liked figuring out the puzzle and seeing who was actually the culprit. I didn't love the method of justice this group served. A lot of it was physical punishments, breaking peoples bones, etc. but most of it was psychological. They would phone people and tell them they knew what they were doing, they threatened to tell, etc. I mean, I'm all about justice, but there's something about a rag tag group doling out karma that just rubs me the wrong way.

I think that a lot of people will really love this book. There are many interesting elements and with a few things done a bit differently, I could see myself enjoying this book. But I just think as it stands now, it wasn't for me.

I'm not sure how it works, but there is also supposed to be TV series that goes along with the book and podcasts and stuff, to make it a really interactive, multimedia series, which sounds really cool. Like I said, I'm not really sure how any of the works, but I think it would add a lot to the story and show a more in depth view. I would love to see things like Ravi seeing the gods around.

One element which I think is integral to the story, but I didn't really understand was the connection to the CIA and "Interzone" (truthfully, I'm not sure if Interzone is a real thing or not). I just couldn't see how this fit with the story, at the end there was so many people working for other organizations, and then that organization hired people to work for another organization that was actually a part of the original organization, I still don't even know what happened.

Overall, this was a very unique and interesting book, I'm just not sure it was my thing.