Saturday, April 29, 2017

BOY21 BY MATTHEW QUICK - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Boy21 by Matthew Quick!


This book was my third by Quick, and after being meh about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and loving Every Exquisite Thing, I wasn't sure how it would go. I think this one is the middle of the previous books I've read of his.

The story follows 17-year-old Finley in his last year of high school. He lives in a rough town; everything is run by the Irish mob, violence, and racial tensions. But for Finley, basketball is his reprieve. He's the starting point guard (I really don't know what that means, from what I got in the book, he's good but not like the guy who gets baskets?) until one day when Coach asks him to befriend a new kid, Russell Allen. Russ is dealing with the murder of his parents and after moving from California takes on the name Boy21 and talks incessantly about outer space, the one tie he has left to his father.

This book had Quick's signature quirkiness to it that makes people either love it or hate it. I liked Russ's character, I think it was pretty clear he was using this obsession with space to create a new reality for himself where his parents weren't dead. It was his way of coping. Finley, similarly, doesn't like to talk sometimes so he doesn't. He's dealing with his own issues and we don't find out where his mother is until closer to the end of the book.

It's a short book, only about 250 pages but I wish there was a little bit more on the background information or on the mental illness/coping side of things. The story focuses on the present mostly but I think there were opportunities for more.

The story touched on some racial tensions but not as much as I was expecting.

I think the weirdest thing for me was that this book felt a little dated. I'm not sure if it was because I knew it had come out 5 years ago or maybe because in my occasionally optimistic mindset I don't want to believe that this is the life some people still live. There is nothing in the book that makes me think it didn't come out recently but at the same time, I feel like social tensions have shifted? I don't really know.

I would say that even though the main character is at the top end of the age range for YA, this book felt a little young to me. The book starts off with a preface of Finley being a little boy and it took me a long time to shake that age. The subject matter definitely matchings older readers but Finley and some parts of the story felt a little juvenile.

Overall, not as good as other works by Quick but I enjoyed it nonetheless.


Friday, April 28, 2017

A CONJURING OF LIGHT BY V.E. SCHWAB - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, I am finishing off the Shades of Magic series with the last book A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab.


When I first started this series, I was immediately drawn into Schwab's writing and world-building. As the series progressed, I enjoyed each book even more than the last, so you can see why I was a little nervous to start this finale. And at over 600-pages, I knew it was going to be intense.

The story picks up around where book two left off. The darkness, Osaron, was rising and wants to take over the kingdom. The group struggles to overcome obstacles and take back what is theirs. I won't get too much into the plot because there is just so much that happens in this book.

This book was so full of action, I couldn't put it down. There were countless battles and each one with a different set of consequences.

The whole series was great but I think that Schwab really took it home with this finale. Everything that happens, all the people who die, it was just so well done.

Schwab also has the uncanny ability to create sympathy for those characters who had been hated for so much of the trilogy. We see more to Holland's backstory and even though I didn't like him in the previous books, I couldn't help but feel for him in this one. He is humanized and we are better able to understand him. I wasn't a huge fan of the king and queen of Arnes in the previous books, but in this one, they felt so much more real and broken.

The pacing of the book was really well done, despite the fact that it is such a gigantic book, I read it fairly quickly. It's divided into parts like the last books and by the time you get to the end of one part, you are ready for another one.

I would highly recommend this series to everyone, not just fantasy lovers. I don't love fantasy but I loved this series!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ALONE BY SCOTT SIGLER - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is the last book in the Generations Trilogy, Alone by Scott Sigler.


Do you ever finish a series and just look back at all the progress that was made? I've never really thought of it before, but after finishing this book, all I can think about is how much the characters have grown and how much has changed since the series started with Em waking up in a coffin.

The story picks up around where it left off, Em and the gang are leading the humans, Barkah is leading the Springers. Recently, there have been some issues with groups of Springers who decided to fight against the group. The Birthday Children are becoming more and more aggressive as the days go on. Em starts to wonder what is really going on, surely her friends don't actually want to kill each other? Soon the group spots several spaceships coming towards the planet. Torn between figuring out the issues on the ground and protecting their home, Em has some difficult choices to make.

This book has been on my TBR list since the pre-order arrived because I had recently finished book two and was excited to finish the series. But I was a little nervous for a couple reasons: 1) The book is massive! It clocks in at just under 550 pages. I don't mind long books, but I was worried that things would unnecessarily be drawn out, and 2) After Alive, the series took a more sci-fi turn than I was expecting. I was a little nervous that things would go over my head because I'm not usually super into sci-fi.

Thankfully, my concerns weren't necessary. Despite the book's size, each part goes by quickly. I liked how it wasn't just one big battle at the end of the book, but a series of action throughout. I had to keep reading to see what would happen next. There are quite a few science-y moments throughout the book, but Sigler did a good job of explaining things that were important to the story but not necessarily common knowledge.

I wasn't a huge fan of the romance element of the book, I think Em is fine on her own, she doesn't need 'a man' as she so often liked to refer to him as. I almost felt like we had too much going on, that a romance and a convoluted love triangle weren't really necessary. I don't think it took away from the story, I'm just not sure it added anything either.

I appreciated the depth into Matilda's backstory, the reasoning behind why the Birthday Children were created, everything with the Founder, etc. but it almost felt too little, too late. I was past the point of sympathy for Matilda and her backstory felt like a random grab at the heartstrings. Of course, I am sympathetic, and what happened to her was horrible, but it just felt like that didn't justify what she had done for centuries.

I liked the little epilogue, some of it was a bit shocking - um BISHOP?! But I liked how things were wrapped up and I could definitely see a spin-off series from this one.

I think, overall, this was a good conclusion to the story but I just feel like it's missing something.


Monday, April 24, 2017

I FOUND YOU BY LISA JEWELL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, I Found You by Lisa Jewell. Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I've been reading a lot of thrillers recently so I was worried I wouldn't enjoy this one as much, but I was pleasantly surprised. I read Jewell's previous release, The Girls in the Garden, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. This book, however, did it for me.

The basic idea of the story centers around three storylines. The first is Alice, living in seaside Britain. One night, she sees a man outside by the water. After introducing herself, Alice finds out the man has no idea where he is or more importantly, who he is. Meanwhile, newlywed Lily is living in the city. When her husband doesn't come home from work one night, she begins to worry. But she knows very little about his personal life, they've only been married three weeks and barely know each other. The third storyline is from twenty-two years earlier, a family vacation to the idyllic seaside. Gray and his sister Kirsty meet Mark, a moody teen who rubs Gray the wrong way. As the story unfolds, the three stories weave together to tell the tale of who the man is and what is really going on.

I think Jewell did a great job of intertwining these stories. As things become clearer, you start to feel like you know who the mysterious man, who Alice's daughter dubbs "Frank," really is and how this story from two decades ago fits in. I kept going back and forth between who he was, if he was the same man that Lily was married to, if he wasn't, etc. I didn't find it glaringly obvious and I appreciated that.

I thought the pacing was well done, I finished it in two sittings. It was definitely better paced than The Girls, which I found dragged on a bit. But I thought this was well organized into four parts that kept me engaged. There were a couple moments of monotony that I thought could have been shortened, but in the end, I didn't find that they took away from the story.

I think this is an engaging mystery but I hesitate to call it a full-blown thriller. If it is, it's definitely a slow burn and layered. If you are looking for a break-neck paced book with a dark, terrifying undertone, this book likely isn't going to work for you. If you are looking for a good mystery that makes you think, go for it!

I felt like the relationship between Alice and "Frank" was a bit much - personally, I think the story would have been just as good without a romantic angle, but it didn't bother me too much. I just felt like I was more concerned with who "Frank" was over who "Frank" was dating.

Overall, I would recommend this one to anyone looking for a break from the "missing girl" trope and some dark past elements.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY BY OSCAR WILDE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today it is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.



I'm trying to read more classics these days and after reading The Importance of Being Earnest for a course this semester, I figured it was time to pick up this beauty.

I won't really get into the details too much because I think by now, the plot is fairly well known, Dorian gets his portrait done and after seeing the value in youth wishes that he will stay young and the painting will bear his age and wrongdoings. He begins to see the error of his ways by the end, which have driven him half mad.

I thought it was interesting reading this book on my own as opposed to in a class setting as required reading. Being so used to analysing texts such as this, I found it hard to 'turn off' my analytical thought process. Additionally, because I'd studied Wilde's previous work, I am familiar with his personal life, which I think lent itself to some of the commentaries in the book.

The writing was quite well done, I found it was just on the line of the 'old' English that make students loathe classics and more modern writing. I thought it was easy enough to read and I didn't have to worry about picking apart every sentence and trying to understand it on a deep level.

I will say that despite the interesting plotline, the pacing in this book was a little slow for my tastes. Even though it is a 200-page novel, it still took me about the same length of time as a 350+ page book would. I think it's a combination of the language used and the pacing of the story itself. There were a couple speeches and dinner parties I skimmed, and one chapter talking about jewels and embroidery or something that I just skipped altogether.

Of course, knowing some of Wilde's personal life was an asset to reading this book. There were definitely some homosocial elements, especially in the relationship with the three main men. Knowing the background helps see a deeper meaning in this novel, not just the story of a crazy murderer.

I found myself going against a lot of the things that Lord Henry said, I'm not sure if it was just his misogynist views at the time or if I genuinely didn't like his character, but I found myself skipping some of his monologues. He started the whole mess in the first place with his talk about youth and doesn't seem to understand what he is saying. I found I enjoyed the later parts of the book where Dorian decided to stand up and disagree with him. I think this book has a lot of great themes and ideas: sin, morality, reality, etc. And depending on the character, you will get a speech going for or against the ideas. For the most part, these ideas came from Lord Henry and I disagreed with most of his POV, but I could see where he was coming from.

Overall, I didn't hate this classic, so I'm calling that a win!


Friday, April 21, 2017

THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS BY CATHERINE LOWELL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. Thanks so much to Book Spark for sending me a copy 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 - however, I was fairly pleasantly surprised with what I got.

This story follows Samantha who has just enrolled at Oxford and is quickly becoming a campus celebrity since she is the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family. Her father was an eccentric man who recently passed away but devoted his life to studying the sisters and their works. Sam soon learns that her father has set up a sort of scavenger hunt to find her inheritance, using clues in the books and she tries to unravel that mystery while also going to school. With the help of her professor, Orville, she begins to understand the Brontë sisters more than she ever did while battling those in the academic community who are convinced that her family has been hiding possessions that would help readers better understand the novels.

There are a lot more layers to this story than I initially thought. Sam's learning is all one-on-one with her teacher and he expects a lot from her. I found their discussions fascinating, and while I don't have a great knowledge of classic authors over the years, I was able to appreciate the analysis Orville offered. The way the story is written, it's almost as though the reader is a part of these sessions along with Sam, learning about the various authors and their works. I can see how this may bore some people, but I found it quite interesting.

A major issue in this story centres around how to read a text, or specifically in this book, how to read the Brontë canon. There are three main 'camps' discussed in the book, the authorial intent reading, where you look at what the author wanted the reader to take away from the book, typically using the text and clues within it, the historical/personal reading, where you take into account the author's personal life and how that shaped the story, and the literal reading, where you look at what the author has written and take it in the literal sense. Regardless of a reader's personal opinion, I found these concepts fascinating. Each has its own pros and cons, and there are characters who support and disagree with each.

I really liked how the book went into the theoretical aspect of literature, how to figure it out, that sort of thing. I've never read a book like it before and I found the concept fascinating.

In between the literary analysis, we also saw Sam's fairly simple day-to-day life. I found her life to be interesting at points, but I found myself more interested in the moments where she was learning with Orville.

This book is unlike any I have read before. There is a plot, but the story is very loosely reliant on the plot. Yes, Sam is trying to find her inheritance and solve the puzzle her father left, but that is often left on the back burner, at least for most of the book. If you are going into this book expecting an action packed scavenger hunt, you won't find it. This book is not that, but still good in other ways.

I haven't read anything by the Brontë sisters, so I cannot comment too much on the accuracy of the critiques or the ideas Lowell puts forth about their novels, but I am inspired to pick up some of them for myself.

Overall, a great book that looks at literary theory and criticism.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

RIDERS BY VERONICA ROSSI - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, Riders by Veronica Rossi.


Going into this book, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had read the chapter sampler a couple years ago when the book was first released and it sounded interesting, but there's only so much you can get in 14 pages. I am happy to say that after reading the entire thing, I enjoyed this book!

This story mainly follows Gideon Blake, fresh out of high school and into the training program to become a U.S. Army Ranger like his dad. On one day, when Gideon is doing a practice skydive, his parachute doesn't open. Neither does his backup chute. He eventually gets the chute to open but by that point, it's too late. He bounces the landing and wakes up in the hospital having broken pretty much everything. Doesn't seem too crazy, except, a couple days later, he is literally running from a dog. He heals at a rate that isn't normal or even human. He is eventually found by Daryn, a seeker sent to collect him and the others, the Four Horsemen.

The story is told in a frame narrative, we begin the book at the end of Gideon's story, being interviewed by some sort of official. He tells her the story of what happened, and every now and then we get a bit of the interview. I haven't read many stories that are set up this way, but I think it was interesting to see a first-hand account, as well as the reactions of people who don't really believe the whole Horseman thing.

I don't have a lot of knowledge of the Four Horsemen, I mean I watched Supernatural and they did a bit with the Horsemen for a couple episodes but my knowledge is fairly general. I liked the way Rossi explained them, they weren't the Horsemen specifically, just incarnations with the same powers. Perhaps we'll see the 'real' Horsemen in book two? Either way, I thought she portrayed the story well. My only issue was that when I think "Four Horsemen," I think End of Days. There was a great battle going on, but it didn't feel as apocalyptic as I thought it would.

I thought the pacing of the story was good, the beginning hooked me in and it really picked up towards the end of the book, I couldn't believe what was going on in the last few chapters! It sets things up nicely for book two, but I didn't feel like it was trying to force it on me. The writing style was pretty to the point and it made for a quick read, quicker than I thought a 350+ page book normally goes.

I wasn't a huge fan of the romance in the book, I didn't really think it lent anything to the story. The relationship between Daryn and Gideon just seemed to cause more problems than it was worth and it felt a little forced at times. That being said, I didn't hate it - it just didn't add anything.

This book is very male dominated if nothing other than the fact that there are four MALE HorseMEN and one female seeker. I didn't really feel like this book was lacking a female presence, Daryn was pretty strong and the boys knew who was in charge. I would love to see more of her in book two, and more of her development. Even though the book had a lot of maleness, Gideon was respectful of Daryn and had no problems taking orders from a woman.

There was a bit of a road trip situation - which, if you know me, always scores a couple extra points.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to book two.


Monday, April 17, 2017

BANG BY BARRY LYGA - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review: Bang by Barry Lyga. Thanks so much to Hachette Canada for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Since I've started keeping track of my reading on Goodreads, in the last 3 years almost to the day, I have read 652 books. This is the first book I have cried in. Not just tears welling up in my eyes, but literal tears on my face. And for that, I applaud you, Barry Lyga.

The story follows 14-year-old Sebastian. Ten years before the story takes place, when he was 4-years-old, he took his father's gun and shot his 4-month-old sister in the head at point-blank range. Now, ten years later, he's struggling with his emotions; his parents are divorced, his one and only friend is leaving for the entire summer, and he isn't sure how he will get through. Then, one day, while he is out riding his bike, he spots some new neighbours moving in, including a girl, Aneesa, about his age. Sebastian tries to forge a new friendship while struggling with his feelings and whether or not he should tell her what he did all those years ago.

Going into this story, I knew the basic premise and I knew it was going to be a difficult, serious read. What I didn't know was just how deep it was going to be.

I'm going to avoid most of the controversial discussion as to guns and when/if they are acceptable, etc. and focus rather on Lyga's portrayal of them within the story. For Sebastian, that gun changed the course of his life, and he struggles throughout the book trying to navigate his past. His father blames himself for leaving the gun out to answer the door and Sebastian blames himself for not listening when his father told him to stay away. Sebastian's mother struggles with loving her son because he is her son, but also hating him because of what he did. Part of her knows that it isn't his fault, but part of her needs someone to blame.

Lyga's writing style and Sebastian's voice are unlike any others I think I have read. The conversations between Sebastian and his mom are heartbreaking, whenever he is ready to talk about it, she shuts him down, and vice versa. These moments felt so realistic and raw, I could see them happening right in front of me.

I was also pleasantly pleased with Aneesa. I am ashamed to say I'm not sure I've read a book with a Muslim character before, at least not one that was so prominent in the book. This book tackles not only the issue of gun safety but also Islamophobia. I am by no means an expert, but I think that Lyga did a good job with Aneesa's character. Her parents are a mixed race couple as well, something that shouldn't matter but does where they live. Her father is Muslim and her mother is not religious; Aneesa wears a hijab. The inclusion of a Muslim family was unexpected but I am so glad it was included and, from my outsider perspective, was well done.

This book was phenomenal, I think it might be a new favourite, and I will definitely be picking up a finished copy. I devoured the whole thing in less than two hours and one sitting, I just couldn't put it down.

Despite the sadness in this book, there was a lot of good. Sebastian makes a mean pizza and he and Aneesa create a YouTube channel where they make pizza. What's not to like about pizza?!

Overall, I loved this book and cannot recommend it enough. No matter who you are or what you normally read, you need to read this book.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

SUMMER READING GUIDE - 2017

Hello everyone!

Today I am doing something a little bit different, I will be sharing my summer reading guide to help get you in the spirit of summer!

Each recommendation is set up for a different 'type' of summer read, depending on what your summer reading plans! I tried to keep the choices limited to recent-ish releases or ones that are releasing soon, but I've also included some older faves! Let's get into the books!


Bang by Barry Lyga
This is the first book I have cried in. Not just tears welling up in my eyes, but literal tears on my face. The story follows 14-year-old Sebastian who, when he was 4-years-old shot and killed his 4-month-old sister. Not only does this book deal with gun violence but also includes a Muslim family and explores some of the social tensions surrounding both issues.


Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
I haven't had a chance to read this one yet but I've heard some great things about it! I loved Bennett's debut, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart and am excited for this book as well.


Alone in Paris by Ashley Earley
Right off the bat, don't let this cute, kissing couple cover fool you. This book is dark and it is definitely not just a cutesy romance. The story follows 17-year-old Taylor, who, after the tragic death of her parents, is living in an abandoned apartment building alone in Paris. There is definitely romantic elements but the book focuses on Taylor's depression and personal issues first.


The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
This is just a classic series that you have to read. There's a little apocalypse, a little romance, a road trip, all the makings of a great book. Now that the series is completed, you can marathon the whole thing over the summer. Plus, you can read the book before the movie comes out in the fall!


Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
I just loved everything about this book. The storyline, the narrative, it was beautifully bittersweet. This was my first Zentner novel and it was absolutely phenomenal, I adored it! I'm planning on picking up his debut, The Serpant King soon.


The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
Even though this book came out in the winter, it is set in the summer time, and most of the events take place at the pool where the characters work for the summer. This is a really great book to read if you are looking for something to help ease the stress of school in the fall and expectations of what to do with your life, I found myself easily relating to Viviana.


Boys of Summer by Jessica Brody
I haven't read this one yet either, but based on the title alone, I think it fits! I'm getting a sort of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart vibe. Either way, it sounds like it'd be a great summer read.


And there you have it, my 2017 Summer Reading List! I hope you are able to find a couple of books that pique your interest!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

RADIO BY SOPHIA ELAINE HANSON - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Radio by Sophia Elaine Hanson. Thanks so much to the author for providing me with a copy of her book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I got the opportunity to read the first book in this series, Vinyl, around this time last year and I really enjoyed. This series is dystopian, but I found it was different from other dystopias I have read. The genre is so bogged down but I think Hanson is able to make this series stand apart.

I will just quickly say, while this review will be spoiler-free-ish for book two, there may be some spoilers for book one, just with plot and characters and stuff.

As with book one, Hanson continues to write succinctly. Despite the fact that it is an almost 350-page book, I flew through it. I think that's a combination of the writing style, the story itself, and the pacing of the book.

I was happy to see the relationship between Roark and Ronja develop, I know it was something that was worked in but not really the main focus - rightly so in that book. But in this case, there was some down time between events and having their relationship move forward filled the gaps. I think Hanson wove it in quite well, it wasn't just randomly thrown in because ROMANCE but because it made sense within the story.

As I mentioned in my previous review for book one, this series really is just a classic dystopian. It has everything I want in the genre and I really appreciated that. For a while, it felt like all I was reading was dystopian, but after taking a step back from the genre, I can really appreciate what Hanson has created. We got to see a bit more of the world around Revenia, into other nations. I liked this aspect because so often, in books like these, we see what is happening in one nation, but not how it affects or is seen by other nations in the world. I think about something like The Hunger Games and wonder, is there life outside the districts? What about other nations? What happened to them? Hanson weaves a history trying to answer some of these questions and I think, helps add an even more refreshing spin on the genre.

I liked how the story didn't drag on, something that is often a problem with the second book in a series. I think this book has a lot going for it and helps develop the series. And don't even get me started on that ending! How on Earth was that pulled off!? I am hotly anticipating book three so we can get some details!

Overall, great second book to a refreshing series; highly recommend.


Friday, April 14, 2017

KISS OF BROKEN GLASS BY MADELEINE KUDERICK - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today it is Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick.


This is only my second time reading a novel that is written in verse, and both times they have been about serious issues.

Before I even start talking about this book, I just want to make a serious trigger known, as it is discussed in both the book and perhaps in my review, and that is cutting and self-harm. This book was extremely difficult for me to read, so please, if it will be a trigger for you, do not chance it.

The story is told over the course of 72 hours, all of which the main character, Kenna, spends in a psych ward. Upon arriving, she meets some people who are struggling like herself.

This story is a little bit different because not a lot happens. I think some people wouldn't enjoy it as much because there isn't really a plot line, it's just like we are getting a quick glimpse into Kenna's life and then leaving it. There isn't much backstory and by the time the book is over, you don't really know what Kenna is going to do. But I liked it for just this reason. The story was driven by Kenna's action of self-harm and that is all the story was about. There were hints of relationships within the ward, but Kenna wasn't there to make friends. I found it refreshing that the author focused so clearly on Kenna's struggle and didn't worry about appeasing the romantics.

Despite the fact that the story is written in verse, Kuderick is able to give quite a bit of information about why Kenna started cutting. I don't know if there are similar situations going on in reality; I've never known such groups to exist, but then again I wasn't looking for them. I went back and forth between heartbreak for Kenna and disgust at what these girls had turned into a game.

I think the author handled a difficult topic very well. In the author's note, she mentioned that she drew a lot of this book from her personal life with her daughter and you can really tell there is personal feeling attached to this book. Kuderick didn't just use the self-harm as a plot point in a romance, like so many other books I've seen. She made it the central issue and focused solely on it.

I think some people will dislike this book because of a lack of plot and the fact that it is short to the point where we don't really know the characters. But for me, I think the focus was spot on and we don't need to know the deep dark depths of the characters to feel for them.

Overall, I enjoyed this little book and would recommend it.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

THE MIDNIGHT STAR BY MARIE LU - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Midnight Star by Marie Lu. In keeping with my 2017 Reading Resolution, I am finishing off as many started series as I can. The latest achievement on that list was finishing the Young Elites series.


I don't really want to get too into a synopsis/overview for this one because it is the third and final book in the series and I want to keep this fairly spoiler free, so I will just say this: In this conclusion, we see a new side of Adelina, a side maybe not as dark as she has been in the previous books, and an unlikely group of allies working together.

There is definitely a lot of character development, especially on the part of Adelina. She begins to see that darkness may not be the answer to her problems and that she may have made some mistakes along the way. As much as I loved Adelina in the previous books, especially The Rose Society, I was glad that she found some peace in this final book. While her darkness was intriguing and I enjoyed her character immensely in the other books, she is able to see the consequences of her actions a little clearer. Lu does a great job of shaping Adelina's character, particularly coming from such a dark place in the last book. She creates a believable development in Adelina that I was able to appreciate.

I won't get into plot specifics, but I felt like not a lot happened in this book plot wise. Everything just kind of centred around one goal. This book is very character driven, and while I don't always love books like that, I think Lu was able to focus on the characters and pull it off.

I found the ending to be satisfying - I wasn't able to predict what was going to happen. I know some people don't like those kinds of endings, but for me, it made sense. Adelina made her choice because of the person she had become, and she has to live with that choice.

One thing that I found myself really enjoying in this book, that I don't know if I noticed as much in the previous ones was the mythology Lu creates. It was reminiscent of the few Greek myths that I know, but with a different, darker twist. I would love to see a collection of the myths or something to go along with the series.

Overall, I enjoyed this book not necessarily for plot, but for Adelina's character development.


Monday, April 10, 2017

THE PERFECT STRANGER BY MEGAN MIRANDA - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone,

I am back with another book review: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. Thanks so much to NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


After Miranda's amazing All the Missing Girls, I had high hopes for this book but I'm just not sure that the mystery stuck the landing in this one.

The story follows Leah Stevens, a Boston journalist turned rural Pennsylvania high school teacher after publishing a controversial story in the news. Leah needed to get away - luckily, so did her friend from college, Emmy Grey - and the two set off to the small town as roommates. Soon after she starts teaching, a woman's body is found down by the river. The attempted murder shakes the entire town, but especially Leah, because the woman looks just like her. Then, when Emmy doesn't come home for days, Leah reports her missing. Upon investigating, she soon finds out that there is no trace of Emmy anywhere, and that she may not even exist.

I'll leave the plot at that because there is a lot more to the story but I don't want to spoil it.

This book had all the makings of a great thriller. Small town cops, shady gym teacher that everyone thought was great until he was questioned, etc. The storyline is so complex that it reels you in, you want to know ever detail and figure out what is really going on. But I think that is where this story starts to fall apart for me.

The plot is just too complex.

Usually, I can handle something like that because, in the end, everything is explained. But I just felt like, in this book, you never knew what was going on even as things were being explained. And I don' think that's Miranda's fault in writing style or anything, I just think the plot was so ambitious it was extremely difficult for anyone to pull off.

I think another part of the problem I had with this book was there was literally no one to trust. In most cases, that's not a big deal and doesn't matter with the story, but I feel like in this book, there was no one to verify information and you never knew what was true.

Part of me feels like I didn't like this book because I am comparing it to ATMG, and maybe I shouldn't - after all, they are two very different thrillers. But I think my larger issue with this book is the over-ambitious plot that just doesn't wrap up well.

Overall, as much as I wanted to love this book, I just don't think it worked for me.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

THE BIG LIFE BY ANN SHOKET - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review today, this one is the non-fiction, self-help book, The Big Life by Ann Shoket. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


This book was a little outside my usual realm of reading - it's a collection of essays about life, mostly as a millennial, in today's world, both professionally and personally.

I can definitely see where this book would be really insightful for fellow young women to help guide and reassure. I think my problem with it was it was just a little bit too old for me. I'm still in university and most of the book dealt with getting that first Big Job or finding the One. I definitely thought the information given was interesting, and the stories and anecdotes were great, but I'm just not quite at that point in my life yet.

One thing I did find a little, I guess odd, was the fact that the author was in her forties. Don't get me wrong, she had some great insight on a senior professional level, especially within the magazine/editor world, which interests me. But something just felt a little off about taking advice on how to get somewhere as a millennial from someone who wasn't a millennial.

Some of the essays were really interesting, and I enjoyed the book as a whole, but I just didn't take away as much from it as I had hoped.

Overall, insightful, but not for me.


Friday, April 7, 2017

BUT THEN I CAME BACK BY ESTELLE LAURE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure. Thanks so much to NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I'm not quite sure how I feel about this book. I liked it, but I don't know if I understood it.

Basically, the story follows a girl named Eden. After slipping and almost drowning, Eden was left in a coma. But she eventually wakes up. While she is in something she calls the In Between, she sees another girl with her. She awakens to find that that girl, named Jaz, is with her in the hospital, also in a coma. She can't figure out why they are linked or why she keeps seeing these black flowers all over the place. As Eden tries to re-integrate herself into the world, she struggles to open up and figure out what is really going on.

Like I said, I did enjoy this book. Eden's character and backstory become well-developed and I found myself invested in her story. I read the book in one sitting, so there must have been something to grab me.

I also liked the romance between Eden and Jaz's friend Joe. I thought it was a good, slow burn that was complicated enough to keep things interesting. I can't put my finger on it, but something about Joe felt off. I don't know if that's just me or what.

Now comes the part where I get a little unclear in my idea of the story. Part of me wants to say that this is all a delusion of comatose-Eden. The other part of me wants to say that Joe and Jaz didn't exist, but then how would you explain the hospital staff talking about them? For a while, I thought maybe Jaz was a dissociative personality of Eden, but I'm not sure on the logistics about that either.

Something about this story just screamed unreliable narrator (she does, after all, have a brain injury). But I couldn't tell you I have any real proof of that. All I know is that things felt off.

Laure's writing style is brilliant, it drew me in right away and I didn't put it down until I was done.

I was not aware this was the companion novel to This Raging Light, so maybe some of my concerns are cleared up in book one. I think this book stands alone fine on its own, not having read TRL, I can't say if it would be better to read them "in order" but I think this one is complete by itself.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I just felt like there was something a little deeper I was missing.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

THE CUTAWAY BY CHRISTINA KOVAC - BLOG TOUR + BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am so excited to be a part of The Cutaway Blog Tour! Today, I will be sharing my review of the book, as well as the author's dream cast for the main character of the book! Make sure you check out the other blog tour stops for more content and a special prize pack!


First, I want to share my review; thank you 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.


I went into this book not knowing the synopsis, I wanted to go in blind. The only thing I knew about this book was that it was a thriller.

The story follows Virginia Knightly, a news producer whose latest story is the disappearance of Evelyn Carney. Evelyn was last seen leaving a restaurant where she was having dinner with her husband. Virginia quickly becomes deeply involved in the case, following leads in her professional life and calling in old favours in her personal life. As Virginia begins to unravel this seemingly unsolvable mystery, new details emerge about those closest to the case and she begins to wonder if she can trust anyone.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the fact that the main character was a news producer, someone of the press. Typically, with these types of thrillers, you get the story of the police investigation. Of course, Virginia works with the police to get information, but her perspective is a lot different than that of a cop. She, of course, still has to deal with office politics and a side romance, but the way she gets her information is drastically different from that of the usual crime thriller. I found this a refreshing take in a world of thrillers bogged down by the police investigation and enjoyed the unique challenges she faced. Virginia had to worry about sources - their credibility, their information - and she had to worry about clearances and hitting road blocks of people with "no comment."

The author draws on personal experience to introduce the inner workings of the news world and I thought it worked well.

I thought the pacing of the book was well done. I find thrillers are often way too fast or drag on but this was a good in between pace. There were a couple of parts that I didn't think were super important or relevant, mainly a lot of the background info on Virginia and her visit with her father. Some of these moments made it seem like this book was a part of a series where this info could expand into a plot point later, but nothing really came of it. There were a few minor connections, but not enough to make all the questionable scenes worth it.

The reasoning behind everything was very believable and fairly intricate. I'm still not 100% sure of all the details but generally speaking, it makes sense.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a fresh take on a thriller.

Next up, the dream cast. The television rights have been sold, so we may be seeing a TV adaptation in the future! I'm terrible at picturing people for roles, but Kovac has an idea for Virginia:
I hope you will pick up this novel and check out the other stops on the tour!


Monday, April 3, 2017

ALONE IN PARIS BY ASHLEY EARLEY - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Alone in Paris by Ashley Earley. Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy of her book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.


This book was everything I wanted it to be and more!

The story follows 17-year-old Taylor, who, after the tragic death of her parents, is living in an abandoned apartment building alone in Paris. One day, she arrives 'home' to find some men discussing plans to tear the building down. Taylor struggles to make it day to day, battling her depression and worrying about where she will live next. The son of one of the men, Nathan, happens to pop back into the old building when Taylor is there. After some tense conversation, Taylor makes it known that she would rather be alone, but Nathan is adamant on helping her.

Right off the bat, don't let this cute, kissing couple cover fool you. This book is dark and it is definitely not just a cutesy romance.

I really loved Taylor's character, I think Earley did a great job of writing her. She is quick to distrust and seems very in touch with herself. I also really appreciated that she wasn't all hard and defensive. She had her moments where she broke down, anyone would after the trauma she experienced. I think there was a great balance within her character.

I also appreciated Earley's handling of the romance. Despite the dark nature of this book, the romance was done very well. I was worried it would be another insta-love, they would meet and Taylor would be 'cured.' Luckily, I was proven wrong. Taylor was able to stand up for herself and definitely did not let Nathan push her around. On the same note, I think the Nathan side of the romance was well done as well. He wanted to help Taylor, but you never get a damsel in distress/Prince Charming situation.

The main plot of the story was very well done as well. There were flashback/nightmares that Taylor endured that filled in any missing background information that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise since the story takes place after the accident. The story itself was extremely bittersweet, you read it knowing that at some point, it will all end. She can't live like this forever. And that tone was well-kept throughout the story, even with the romantic elements.

Oh, and that ending! I was all set to go, and I flip the page and get hit with a "2 Years Later" epilogue, I wasn't sure I could handle it.

Having read both this book and Earley's debut, The Darkest Light, I think Earley has grown tremendously as an author. The caliber of the writing is much higher, I felt like I was reading something by someone twice her age.

Overall, this book was very well done and I highly recommend it!


Saturday, April 1, 2017

THE WHOLE ART OF DETECTION BY LYNDSAY FAYE - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye. Thank you so much to Mysterious Press for sending me a finished copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Before I really get into this review, I just want to preface it by saying that I've never read or watched any Sherlock books/movies/television shows. My knowledge is pretty much just based on the few pop culture references I've come to know. Because of this, I can't really vouch for the "authenticity" of the characters as compared to the original book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Basically, this book is set up in four parts and is filled with a collection of short stories written by Faye about Sherlock and Watson's crime solving. Each story was able to stand on its own fairly well, they didn't really need to be read in any order, they didn't really build on the previous.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. Each story more or less followed the basic plot: Watson writing about something, someone comes to them with a crime, Sherlock solves it in about 5 pages and everything is explained to the reader/Watson who may not have figured everything out yet. The formula was pretty much given through each story, and as the book went on, I was able, not to solve the mystery, but to figure out when Sherlock was close.

That being said, I felt like after a certain point, the book was a little repetitive. Not so much in the content of the stories, but it was the same formula for each case. I don't feel like I learned much about the world of Sherlock and Watson, but was a kind of passerby who was told the story knowing that it would be solved in the end.

I think that the concept of this book was really great, but I almost feel like there are too many stories and they don't do much to explore the personalities of Sherlock and Watson. As someone who has zero background information on these people, I thought this book would be a great way to learn more about them.

I would say that if you are an avid Sherlockian, you will enjoy this book. It has mystery, snappy commentary between Sherlock and Watson which I imagine to be accurate in other representations. But for someone with little background info, I lost interest early. I really loved the first couple of parts, but after a while, it went downhill for me.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but some of the stories dragged at the end.