Friday, 26 June 2015

"A Book of Spirits and Thieves" by Morgan Rhodes Book Launch at Bakka Phoenix Books | June 23, 2015

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. I have another event recap for you all today. :) I recently got to attend the book launch in Toronto for Morgan Rhodes' newest novel A Book of Spirits and Thieves at Bakka Phoenix Books. The newest novel is a spin-off series from the Falling Kingdom series and it takes place in Mythica AND in Toronto in the Annex. So.. the book store location was quite fitting actually! :D
The bookstore set up the entire book for Morgan's launch which was awesome!
Morgan did a small reading from the book which was awesome! She also very kindly came by and spoke to a bunch of us who are book bloggers and booktubers! She even took a selfie with all of us which you can find on her Facebook page and instagram. She was so incredibly sweet and lovely and I just really appreciated that she took the time to say hello! She even recognized a few people from their youtube channel which was super sweet :)
They also had a WONDERFUL chocolate fudge cake. It was AMAZING. Still dreaming about it if I'm being honest. It was so good!

Here is a sneaky photo of Morgan cutting the cake!
After we all had a slice of cake, the signing started! I had my big pile of books and Morgan was so sweet and took her time signing everything and chatting. She also had a lot of swag with her which was awesome. I got a signed Falling Kingdoms poster *squee*
Here are some more photos of all my lovely books signed :D

It was such a fun evening meeting Morgan and meeting fellow bookish lovers! :D Thank you to Morgan, the lovely people at Razorbill Canada and Bakka Phoenix Books for a lovely evening!
A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes is NOW available - my full review will be up for it soon. I never got around to reviewing the three books in the Falling Kingdom series so far, so let me know in the comments below if that is something that would interest you :)
Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Kevin Kwan Author Talk at North York Central Library | June 22, 2015

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. Today I want to share with you an event recap of an author talk I recently attended. It was this past Monday at the North York Central Library and it was an author talk for Kevin Kwan. For those of you that don't know, Kevin is the author of Crazy Rich Asians and his newly released sequel, China Rich Girlfriend.  Elaine Lui also joined the conversation and was our host for the evening so that was a lot of fun as well!
 Before the event began, Kevin gave Lainey a gift in a massive Cartier bag and it ended up being a Tiara~! Kevin said that it was fitting and that the Queen needed a crown. It was so cute! Lainey ended up wearing it for the entire duration of the event.
The event will be uploaded in full to youtube soon, but I thought I'd give you the coles notes of the event and some fascinating tidbits about Kevin and the book series!
- A lot of the younger generation reached out to Kevin to let him know they enjoyed the book and Kevin stated that it was quite "galvanizing" to hear them say that.
- Kevin and Lainey talked about the change in Chinese culture and consumerism and how those old traditional values are being eroded, so to speak, by this "new China" (the new book explores the wealthy and exclusive lifestyle of Hong Kong)
- Kevin talked about his upbringing in Houston, Texas and refers to it as a more "innocent" time
- The question of whether the irony of what Kevin is writing is received in Asia? The stories Kevin is writing is filtered through the lens of an American (being there in the East and then being away from it in the West) - they concluded that the younger generation are able to connect with it more than the old generation.
- Kevin and Lainey talked about real life examples that influenced the new character, Carlton Bao.
- Comparisons were made between Kevin and Truman Capote, as "observers"
- Kevin's writing exposes a darker side to Chinese culture, such as the sinister aspects of fame and wealth in Hong Kong society. Questions of what drives this society?
- Kevin stated that he is trying to create new stereotypes because he is trying to give a new voice to Asian Americans, a more contemporary voice.
- The same old trope of the villainized rich Chinese kept appearing in narratives and he wanted to go beyond that with a more sexy and empowered character.
- The titles about his books are solely about wealth. Not to be read as Crazy, Rich Asians. ;)
- His books can be read as style guides AND travel guides. (All the food he mentions is so enticing!)
- He has files on his computer for dresses, cars, apartments and more. He is a very visual person and therefore has every character planned down to what shoes they are wearing.
- The film version has been optioned and is in pre-production. It has been a very collaborative process so far. He is excited for the project and trying to let the experts do what they do best.
- He has always intended this series to be a trilogy. The 3rd book is completed, but in his head. And Kevin writes chronologically completely because for him, it unfolds like a movie.
Some questions about the series in general:
Question: Who would you say you are most emotionally drawn to?
Kevin's Answer: "It is a character that you will find out more about in Book 3, which you haven't seen much of yet."
Question: Which character's perspective was the easiest to write from?
Kevin's Answer: "Eddie's. Those chapters come so easy and it just flowed. Eddie is such a fascinating character to write from."
Question: Which character do you worry the most about?
Kevin's Answer: "Astrid."
Question: Who is the opposite of Eddie? More difficult to write from, if you had to say?
Kevin's Answer: "Nick."
Kevin concluded the talk that he did not write with any audience in mind but more so, simply the intention to make people laugh. It is really the reader's experience and he doesn't want to put any parameters on what the reader is experiencing what is reading and told the audience, "So Enjoy!" :)
I got to meet Kevin afterwards which was a big fan-girl moment for me! He was so nice and charming and I'm so happy I got my books signed. We talked about classics for a bit and how I didn't see the influences before so it warrants a reading of Anthony Trollope! ;) It was an awesome evening and meeting Kevin as only made me more excited for the third book in the series! :)
For my full review of Crazy Rich Asians, you can click here and for China Rich Girlfriend, you can click here

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Review: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan 
(Book #2 in The Crazy Rich Asians series) 

Publishing Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 400 pages
Asian American Fiction / Contemporary

** This is the sequel to the first book Crazy Rich Asians, which you can read my review for here. You can read this book, China Rich Girlfriend, as a stand-alone if you wish, but I recommend reading the first one before hand to have more context and background to certain characters **

The Premise: In the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan once again brings the reader into the contemporary world of Asia, and this time taking us from Singapore to Hong Kong and more. Kwan still focuses on the characters we met and fell in love with from the first book, such as Nick and Rachel, Astrid and even the hilarious Eddie. But Kwan also introduces a whole bench of new characters. There is Carlton Bao who is known for his Prince-Harry antics, Colette, his celebrity girlfriend and for those of you who are familiar, Kitty Pong returns and she is trying to make a name for herself. There also is some development in as to who Rachel's father is. There is more scandal, more fashion and more food!

My overall thoughts and review: It is very rare for me to say I enjoy a sequel more than the first book. This was one of those cases. To all of those looking for a BIGGER and BETTER sequel, Kevin Kwan knows how to write them. When I first read the first book, I loved it so much and to hear that Kevin was going to explore more of this world, I was over the moon excited. I took my time reading this book because as always, Kevin is sure to include a lot of details, such as footnotes and I wanted to get every detail. Kevin also introduced some emails, newspaper clippings and tabloid articles which really added to the story in a unique way. I loved how there wasn't one set protagonist and that every character, you got an insider look into. You may not like certain characters, but what I appreciate that Kevin does is that, you still get the opportunity to understand them, even when you dislike them. You get to learn about where their ambitions have lead them and why they are the way they are. I loved seeing old favorites in this new book and seeing their storylines develop even further, like Astrid! She is by far my favorite and it was so great to see more of her story. I can't say too much without spoiling the plot of course, but know that you are in for a wonderful ride with this sequel. I loved it so much and it was SO. MUCH. FUN. I highly recommend you pick it up because you will not be disappointed. It is absolutely the best summer read! And after finishing it, I didn't want to leave the world and it has only made me more anxious waiting for the next book! Well done, Kevin!

P.S. I recently attended a library author talk with Kevin Kwan and Elaine Lui, so a full recap for that will be up soon. Definitely keep your eyes peeled for that because I have a lot of answers for some questions about the series! ;)

My rating of the book:   (5/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.  

Monday, 22 June 2015

Review: The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark

The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark

Publishing Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pages: 272 pages
Literary Fiction / Family Life / Psychological

The Premise: The story takes place during a week where a family tragedy hits. On Lily's birthday, her husband Hal and her sister Laverne, both compete to take her out for her birthday lunch. They are not on the best terms and because they live in the same house, they tolerate one another. Laverne has always thought Hal wasn't good enough for Lily and Hal has always known that. On that day, a truck driver driving beyond the speed limit hits Lily and she passes away. The story follows how her family comes to terms with her death and follows them for the week after the events of Lily's passing.

My overall thoughts and review: I will be honest that when selecting this book, I was immediately intrigued by the beautiful cover. That aside, the premise of the book that deals with how a family deals with an unexpected and tragic death sounded really interesting. It resonates with me on a personal level and I found myself getting quite emotional at some moments in the book. When an accident happens and the person is killed, there is the feeling that someone or something must be blamed for what occurred. The family goes through the motions of trying to figure out who is at blame for Lily's death and it really fascinated me how different every character approached the problem. It was interesting to see the dynamic between Laverne and Hal. They are both frustrating characters, Laverne more than Hal. But I think that difficulty between them strengthens the tension within the story and that tension can be read as an instigating factor as well. Overall, I think this is a wonderful Canadian literature piece that tackles questions of death, accidents, and family tensions. I really appreciated that Clark wrote the story offering perspectives for all the characters, such as Hal, Lily, Laverne, Claudia and Matt and even including the minor ones, like those who witnessed the accident. The ending definitely left me feeling uncomfortable, but I think that it is quite fitting with the theme of the story, and that there is no definitive solution when it comes to a death like Lily's.

My rating of the book:   (4/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was sent to me by Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Blogger Event with Paula McLain and Elizabeth Hay at Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill | June 16, 2015

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. I have an event recap for you all today for a Blogger Event I recently attended. The lovely gals at Random House Canada put together a blogger reception for the wonderful authors Paula McLain and Elizabeth Hay. It was held at the lovely Oliver and Bonacini Café Grill on Yonge/Front. I have never been there before now, but I've been to some restaurants before from the O&B Brand and I loved their food and setting. This Café Grill was no different. There was lovely pizza dishes and lots of wine which makes the perfect and intimate setting for talking about books.
 Both authors have new releases coming up. Paula McLain, author The Paris Wife (I loved this book so much), has a new book titled Circling the Sun and Elizabeth Hay has His Whole Life. I am in the midst of finishing these books so expect a full review from me soon on both of these titles! ;)
Both authors were so sweet and charming and from the minute they came into the restaurant, they took their time to speak to each of the bloggers. They asked us questions about how we started blogging, why we blog and basically, how our online presence works. Paula McLain talked about writing reviews and how we felt about negative reviews and I was able to express that I personally prefer to write positive reviews because there is a person on the other side reading these reviews. Elizabeth Hay mentioned that she doesn't particularly read bad reviews in general.

We also got to talk about some writing. Paula McLain stated that she just loves writing in the 1920s time period and for her, the dialogue just comes easy. Elizabeth Hay mentioned that with writing, there is a lot of rewriting but the process definitely pays off in the end. I got to speak about my research as a graduate student to both of them and they both very kindly wished me luck with my future studies which I thought was incredibly sweet (I was definitely beaming afterwards)!
It was such a wonderful opportunity meeting two incredibly inspiring authors. After talking to them you definitely want to sit down and start writing. Thanks for such a lovely Tuesday afternoon, Random House! I had a blast!
I will see you all in my next post and keep your eyes peeled for the reviews of both books soon! ;)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Books You Read in One Sitting | Top 5 Wednesday

Hi everyone! So I'm back with a Top 5 Wednesday post for you all today. The topic is "Books You Read in One Sitting" (or close to). This is a really exciting topic because every so often, I completely DEVOUR a book in one sitting and it just goes to show how much I really enjoyed that read. I am going to pick books that I've reviewed on the blog, so you can read my full review to get more of my thoughts on the book. 

1. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
I really enjoyed this book so much! 
It was such a cute and lovely contemporary young adult romance novel! 
Review: Here! 

2. I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Another really great contemporary young adult novel that brings two individuals from different parts together. It tackles the experiences one has with war which really brought another dimension to the YA genre imo. 
Review: Here!

3. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
I seriously could not put this book down. It was such an intriguing book and I found myself just devouring it! 
Review: Here!

4.  At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
This one wasn't one complete sitting but close enough since I had only read a few chapters and finished the rest of the book one evening. I loved this story so much and it is definitely one of my favorite reads from this year! I highly recommend it. 
Review: Here!

5. We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
I LOVED this book. This was such an incredibly cute and adorable story. 
It is one that will make you feel all "fuzzy" inside. 
Review: Here!

Well that is all from me for this Top 5 Wednesday Post! Let me know in the comments below which books you were able to read in one sitting, I would love to know! Happy reading! 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Managing Stress and Anxiety: Books That Have Helped.

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. Today's post will be something a little bit different. Think of it was a semi-book review but also along with personal bookish thoughts. I wanted to talk to you all about managing stress and anxiety with the help of books. Dealing with stress and anxiety is quite a personal topic for me and while I can write blog posts that go on forever about my personal issues, I'd rather share with you all some books that have really helped me. 

Photo from weheartit. 

I've learned that reading just simply "self-help" books about how to remove stress and anxiety from your life were not particular helpful (in my case). Anxiety, more particularly, is an on-going process. There will be days where it seems easier and some days where it is a downright uphill climb. I've found books that help "soothe" the mind in a way have been really helpful. It helps change perspective and offers a more positive outlook. So as opposed to finding one-set-cure that will end all stress and anxiety, I've found books that are helpful in managing stress and anxiety in the moments that they appear and slowly overtime, I've found that the stress panic moments have been a little less frequent and easier to manage. 

One of the first books that I picked up that has been really helpful with shifting perspectives when some days feel quite negative is Barbara Ann Kipfer's 14,000 Things to be Happy About. This book literally lists 14,000 things to be happy about. It is written in a simplistic style of lists of things that make one happy in the moment. I found that going with a highlighter and working on 2-3 pages daily have really been helpful. I started to highlight the things that I know personally make me happy and the ones that are left blank, I will eventually discover. Another book that has been just a treat daily is Demi Lovato's Staying Strong - 365 Days a Year. I'm not a big Demi fan myself, not really knowing much about her music. But a friend of mine had picked this book up and I decided to take a look. It includes daily affirmations and mini little challenges or tips that you can take up. I really enjoy reading each of these each morning before I start my day. It honestly makes a world of a difference. Lastly, with getting into yoga, I've started to get into the practice of mindfulness. I honestly used to think that it was a gimmick and that is mainly because I simply did not understand it at all. Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of Mindfulness has been a great introductory book into understanding mindfulness. 

Another thing that I want to quickly touch on is how the current trend of Adult colouring books has really been helpful. I ended up buying a bunch of adult coloring books because I found it to be incredibly soothing to take some time during stressful moments to just focus on coloring and kind of take your mind away from the situation. I've found that these two colouring books in particular have been super helpful. Lisa Currie's The Scribble Diary is more than a coloring book and is organized as a type of diary that has questions and you can adapt to it daily. You can literally turn to any page of the book and work on it. I've been loving using it. The Mindfulness Coloring book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People is just a perfect book with really calming images that you can focus on. I've been working on this one slowly, but the good thing about it is, it is quite small that it can fit in your bag so that you can work on it on the go. I have quite a few more coloring books and I've been thinking about reviewing them more frequently on the blog, so please let me know if you'd like to see that. 

This isn't all the tools that I've been using to help manage stress and anxiety, but this is a small look into what books have been really helping me as of late. I wanted to share this all with you and if you'd like this to become a regular series on the blog, please let me know because I would love to keep talking about and sharing things that have been helpful when it comes to managing stress and anxiety. It is easy enough to turn to a fiction/non-fiction read that will let you escape for a few hours, but I've found that turning to these books in particular have shaped my perspective as of late to be a more positive outlook on things. It is less "escapism" from stress and anxiety, and more so, ways to cope and change. I hope that you will give these books a look next time you are perusing the book store, they might be helpful :) 

Please let me know in the comments what books help you manage stress and anxiety. 
Be well - xx. 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Review: In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Publishing Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 416 pages
Coming of Age/Family Life Fiction

The Premise: The story is based on the true events of a series of plane crashes that occurred in Elizabeth, NJ within a three-month period in 1951-1952. Judy Blume grew up in Elizabeth and these events have been on her mind for a while because they struck fear in the lives of many and the fact that they were all happening was quite “incomprehensible” at the time. Blume utilizes this setting to deliver a story that follows a wide range of characters and how they were affected by the events of the plane crash. The story tackles a wide range of issues such as family, friendships, love relationships while showing perspectives of many generations.

My overall thoughts and review: Growing up, I was a big fan of Judy Blume, I loved Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I found her writing so easy to follow and the story immediately invites you in. I also remember browsing my high-school library in grade 9 and coming across a beautiful cover with a flower on it and that was my second Blume book ever: Forever. And again, I had the same feelings of what I felt with the first book. These past few weeks, I've had that experience again: falling in love with Judy Blume's writing. I was away on conference so it took me some time to finish this book, but every page is wrapped up in so much detail that it was hard to put down. The story covers a wide range of characters and it is so wonderful the way Blume has set up the chapters with a newspaper piece to preface the chapter and then the book weaves into the many perspectives of different characters. I will have to say that my favorite perspective of all to read from was definitely Miri. I loved Miri so much and just seeing her grow and change as time progressed in the book, it felt like seeing a sister grow up. I also really loved how self-aware she was when it came to relationships with her mother and estranged father. She was an incredibly caring individual and she definitely reminded me of the characters I loved so much in Blume's other books.

I think tackling the subject of these plane crashes was so special because 1) I did not even know that these plane crashes had occurred (this informs those who did not know) and 2) and what Blume does is not memorialize the event, but rather draws attention to it and offers perspectives for those who may or may not have been affected by the events directly. She offers such a wide range in the book when it comes to characters, that it is easy to find someone that you can empathize with. There wasn't any one-dimensional character and every one had so much growth to them and it felt like they all had their voices within the novel and they were so distinct. This book was an easy five stars and I finished the book wanting more of everyone's story. I would highly recommend this for fans of Judy Blume, this is another to add to your favorites shelf. But also, I would highly recommend this to anyone that would like a book, so inviting, that tackles a difficult subject of plane crashes, but ultimately leaves you feeling like you've just met a bunch of good friends.

My rating of the book:   (5/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella 

Publishing Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 304 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise: The story follows Audrey who has developed an anxiety disorder due to an unfortunate event. Despite the circumstances, Audrey has her family for support. Her brother who is a little-too-addicted to a video game, her eccentric mother and father understand what she is going through. She has been making good progress with her therapist Dr. Sarah. One day, when her brother announces that he is joining a gaming team, he has a friend of his come over (also part of the team), named Linus. Audrey is immediately intrigued by Linus and she finds herself being comfortable with him and opening up. And as the story would have it, the relationship does blossom into a really sweet and charming love story.

My overall thoughts and review: I have been a big fan of Sophie Kinsella for quite some time. I've read most of her books and I remember just loving them at the beginning of my undergrad. I was over-the-moon excited when I heard that Kinsella was coming out with a YA release and the premise sounded amazing. I love reading about characters that are able to find something (or in this case, someone) that helps bring them out of their shell. I really enjoyed the love story between Audrey and Linus. It was nicely paced and I just loved how much Linus supported Audrey through everything. What I enjoyed most was Audrey's interactions with her family. For a part in the story, Dr. Sarah has Audrey video-record her going about her life on a daily-basis and some scenes with her mom catching her brother playing video games instead of doing homework just made me laugh out loud. I especially enjoyed the scene: "Dickens!" haha. It was so much fun seeing that all unravel. I think what I really appreciated from this book was that Kinsella was sure to depict to the reader that there is no one-set cure to anxiety disorders and that they do take time. There are ups and downs that chart the progress of anxiety disorders and although moments in the book, where Audrey felt frustrated at her progress, I was glad to see that characters like Dr. Sarah and her mother were there to reassure her that it is a part of the progress and that it IS progress nonetheless. All in all, this was a wonderful young adult contemporary read that had comedy, romance, family relationships and more which I really enjoyed. I devoured it in one sitting. I would highly recommend this for fans of Sophie Kinsella! I really hope that Kinsella will write more YA in the future because this read was fantastic! :D

My rating of the book:   (4/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han 
(Book #2 in the To All The Boys I've Loved Before Series) 

Publishing Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

** This is a review for the second book in the duology by Jenny Han. If you want to read the review for the FIRST book: To All The Boys I've Loved Before, you can read my full review here ** 

The Premise: The story picks up where the first one left off. Lara Jean did not plan to fall for Peter because they were just pretending, but now she knows her feelings are real and she tries to work things out with Peter again after the events at the end of last book. However, things get more complicated for Lara Jean, when the recipient of the final letter returns from her past. Is it possible to love two people at the same time? The story follows Lara Jean as she figures out her feelings for both boys.

My overall thoughts and review: So as you can tell from my review of the previous book, I loved that book so much. I think it was definitely one of my favorite reads from last year and I was over the moon excited to hear that the book was getting the sequel. I was a bit uncertain about how I was to feel about another boy coming into the picture because I ADORE Peter so much. He made the book for me and I just love how wonderful he was for Lara Jean. What I did not expect was to really love John Ambrose McClaren as well. Seriously, what a PERFECT character. I was constantly torn between him and Peter throughout the second part of the book. Ultimately, when I finished the book, I was more satisfied with how things ended in the first novel and I thought things could've just ended there for me. I feel so ~torn~ when things are really good, and somehow, the author decides to switch gears a little bit to make it a bit complicated. I do see why Han felt a second book was necessary because it demonstrated that Lara Jean needed to get over certain things and had to fully experience certain things to know for sure what her feelings were. I really am happy with how things ended in this book. Spoilers (I won't say who she ends up with.. but I mean you can do the math if you read that I LOVED Peter ;)). It was another really enjoyable read by Han because it focused not only on the relationships which were definitely swoon-worthy, but also the family relationship between Lara Jean and her sisters. It was bittersweet seeing Kitty grow up in this book, but it was also good to see both sisters stick together. Ultimately, it was a good read from Han that takes place after a book I really loved. I have to say, it was not as good as the first one, but it was still really good and I think that if you were a fan of the first book, you will definitely enjoy this one!

My rating of the book:   (4/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
(Broken Hearts & Revenge Book 1)

Publishing Date: May 5, 2015 (Trade Paperback)
Publisher: Square Fish
Pages: 368 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise: The story follows Gemma, who had her summer all planned out to go away with her boyfriend, until he decides to break up with her one day in Target. This puts her in the Hamptons after being away for five years. She's been away because in the Hamptons, something happened with her former best friend Hallie. She is hoping to make amends for her actions and hopes that Hallie does not hold a grudge against her, but a case of mistaken identity happens and Hallie and her brother, Josh (potential love interest for Gemma) believes that Gemma is someone else to make things even more complicated.

My overall thoughts and review: To begin with, for those of you that don't know who Katie Finn is, she is actually Morgan Matson. If you remember this time last year, I read Morgan Matson's Since You've Been Gone (full review here) and I LOVED it, so I was incredibly excited to read another book by her and I picked up this one. For those of you that know the old cover, there has been a cover change with the release of the trade paperback this year which makes me a bit sad since I really loved the original cover. Anyways, onto the story. I do enjoy some revenge stories every now and then, but I found this plot dragging on quite a lot. It got to the point where I just couldn't believe that Gemma AND Hallie were still going about with this case of "mistaken identity" and I think because Gemma wasn't really Gemma, I didn't feel like the relationship that was blossoming between her and Josh, to be quite genuine at all. It was a decent story and it obviously ends on a cliffhanger to lead into the next book, but I wasn't blown away with it. There was not as much emphasis on friendship, which I really loved in Since You've Been Gone, which is ironic since the story is about Gemma trying to make amends for her actions in a friendship. I felt like she neglected her already current friend Sophie and I was hoping to see more of Sophie and Gemma in this book which would also be a nice way to depict Gemma's growth as a character. All in all, like I said, it was a decent story, but not something I would recommend you rush out to buy. I much prefer her other books to this one. I am reading the sequel to it now, so I will definitely have a review up for that. I hope that the next book focuses more on Gemma and Sophie and less on this revenge-plot with Hallie and Gemma. It would also be nice to get more of Hallie's perspective as well.

My rating of the book:   (3/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Review: Like It Never Happened By Emily Adrian

Like It Never Happened By Emily Adrian

Publishing Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Pages: 368 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise: The story follows Rebecca Rivers, who is recently casted as the lead in her school's play. This new change changes everything for Rebecca socially. Along with her other four castmates, they form the "Essential Five" - all vowing to not date one another because that would ruin things. Things change when Rebecca kisses Charlie on stage and actually begins to have feelings for him. The story takes a turn when a horrible rumor and lie about Rebecca is spread around school that affects the entire group.

My overall thoughts and review: When I was first pitched this book, the description and premise stated that it would be for fans of E. Lockhart, who, as some of you may know, I am a fan of. I was incredibly excited about this book. It was definitely "a whole lot of drama" like the description states. This book definitely reminded me of the TV series Glee, because the school production lifted all of these five individuals out of their shells (somewhat) and also the teacher, Mr. McFadden plays a significant role in the book as well, like the teachers did in the glee series. I really enjoyed Rebecca as a character because she was incredibly self-aware. She often made bad choices and decisions, knowingly, but the fact that she admitted to them and did not try to kind of change how she was being perceived really surprised me. I loved seeing her growth as a character and it really drove me insane at times seeing her plunged into a world of drama. The book also focuses a lot on Rebecca's relationship with her parents and also her sister, Mary. Mary was a side character, but I really enjoyed the scenes when Rebecca was spending time with her sister Mary. All in all, I think that this was quite a good young adult contemporary "scandal/revenge" type read. It deals with all the clique problems of high-school and also demonstrates good character progression which is always a requirement in my books. This is my first time reading something by Emily Adrian and I can't wait to read what she writes next!

My rating of the book:   (4/5 stars) 

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Penguin Canada (RazorbillCA) for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.