Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Review: Black Apple by Joan Crate

Black Apple by Joan Crate

Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 336 pages
Historical Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "Set during the Second World War and the 1950s, Black Apple is an unforgettable, vividly rendered novel about two very different women whose worlds collide: an irrepressible young Blackfoot girl whose spirit cannot be destroyed, and an aging yet powerful nun who increasingly doubts the value of her life. It captures brilliantly the strange mix of cruelty and compassion in the residential schools, where young children are forbidden to speak their own languages and given Christian names. As Rose Marie matures, she finds increasingly that she knows only the life of the nuns, with its piety, hard work and self-denial. Why is it, then, that she is haunted by secret visions—of past crimes in the school that terrify her, of her dead mother, of the Indigenous life on the plains that has long vanished? Even the kind-hearted Sister Cilla is unable to calm her fears. And then, there is a miracle, or so Mother Grace says. Now Rose is thrust back into the outside world with only her wits to save her" (SSC). 

My overall thoughts and review: When I was first emailed about this book, I was definitely curious about it because at the time, I was on the executive of an academic conference at my university. One of the panels was focusing on Indigenous Studies, and I thought this book would fit perfectly with it. We were able to get the event sponsored with a few arcs of Black Apple and I even had the opportunity to meet Joan in person. I was over the moon because Joan is an incredibly sweet person and she is writing about something that is so important. I've been finding that historical fiction that focuses on Indigenous Studies and the residential schools in Canada, often focus on a male protagonist and it was such a nice change that Joan wrote a book with such a strong-willed female protagonist: Sinopaki (Rose Marie). Joan also does something really unique and that is fuse two narratives into one. You get Sinopaki's perspective, but you also get Mother Grace's perspective. The story is told in three sections: Part 1, is when Sinopaki is taken from her family and has to adjust to the life at the residential school. This section had me on the verge of tears at times because Joan describes the cruelty that often happened at residential schools. My heart broke when the girls were forced to have new names and forget their previous life. Part 2 takes the reader into the "middle years" for Rose Marie: "womanhood" and the reader sees how Rose Marie is progressing at the school and how her relationship with Mother Grace forms. Part 3 is the final part, and it follows Rose Marie on a different journey. Essentially, the book tackles the very important theme of "coming of age" and what happens when your journey is essentially chosen for you. She was forced into the residential school, she was forced into the Church-life, and it seems mostly throughout the narrative that Rose Marie complied with what was asked of her, even if she did not want to. I loved seeing how she progressed as a character and became the independent and strong-willed character that she is. This is a beautifully written book that definitely tackles the cruel reality of the harshness that existed in residential schools to girls like Sinopaki. It is often not spoken about because it brings up the dark past, but I think this is a wonderful read that needs more exposure especially in the education system. The text looks at a female protagonist which most history texts don't. Joan offers a realistic depiction of what happened then, and I think this text would be extremely important and informing to not only adult readers like myself, but also to young adult readers. Joan also put a lot of research into the text and travelled to Alberta and British Columbia and I think that Joan not only offers the reader a powerful story, but her book does justice for individuals like Sinopaki. 

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

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

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Publishing Date: July 30, 2013 (Paperback)
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Pages: 400 pages
Contemporary/Romance Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . . Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our StarsMe Before Youbrings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?" (PPG). 

My overall thoughts and review: I feel like I am one of the last people on earth to read this.. but I read it recently so I'm reviewing it. I also think a review would be helpful for the other few who haven't read it to hear my thoughts on it. I used to see Jojo Moyes books every time I went into a Chapters, but I didn't pick them up for some reason. What a mistake that was! I loved this book so much that I immediately went out and bought a few of her other books. Her writing just immediately draws you in and I was able to finish this book in a whole sitting. I will say, having seen the trailer, I envisioned Sam Claflin the entire time as Will ;) But yes, I'm rambling.. this is a love story that you know right away, won't end will. There are only a few scenarios for how the story is to end, but that shouldn't stop you from reading it. Moyes writes such loveable characters that whether or not the love story is at the centre of the book, you end up reading for your love of the characters. To begin with, Louisa is a perfect protagonist. She often reminds me of myself, wanting the ordinary life and her strong ties to her family. I really enjoyed reading the sections between her and her family because it felt so realistic and similar to my interactions with my family. Also, her scenes with the Traynors were something else. I loved how strong-willed and brave Louisa was and standing up for what she thought right. Ok, the love story? Seriously swoon-worthy. Never have I ever been so starry-eyed while reading a book. I loved the build up to their relationship and seeing how they both opened up to one another. You learn more about Will and Louisa individually via their interactions together. For example, Will is a big Miyazaki fan which made me so happy to learn! I loved how they both brought out the best in each other, and Will inspired Louisa to want more in life, and to live life to the fullest. I will admit, their relationship reminded me a lot of my relationship and that made me very happy. I won't spoil it, but this is seriously a beautiful book about love, friendship and family and I would highly recommend it! I have downloaded the sequel for my kobo, and I plan on reading that very soon, so expect a review for that soon too ;)

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

If you haven't heard.. the movie version is coming out fairly soon and I'm beyond excited for it. I get chills every time I watch the trailer and I know I will need boxes of tissues for the tears. But Sam Claflin is Will! :D I'm so so excited!! Thoughts on the trailer? 

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

Friday, 25 March 2016

Review: Dear Emma by Katie Heaney

Dear Emma by Katie Heaney

Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 320 ages
Young Adult / New Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Harriet, the author of her college newspaper's pseudonymous student advice column "Dear Emma," is great at telling others what to do, dispensing wisdom for the lovelorn and lonely on her Midwestern campus. Somehow, though, she can't take her own advice, especially after Keith, the guy she's dating, blows her off completely. When Harriet discovers that Keith has started seeing the beautiful and intimidating Remy, she wants to hate her. But she can't help warming to Remy, who soon writes to "Dear Emma" asking for romantic advice. Now Harriet has the perfect opportunity to take revenge on the person who broke her heart. But as she begins to doubt her own motivations and presumably faultless guidance, she's forced to question how much she really knows about love, friendship and well-meaning advice" (GCP). 

My overall thoughts and review: To begin with, just let me mention that I'm going to place this book under new adult, because it takes place in a college setting. I love that some books are branching out and taking place in a college setting which I feel more comfortable with. I love the idea of anonymous student advice columns! Immediately, I loved Harriet. She is so strong-willed and she reminds me a lot of myself. She makes mistakes yes and overthinks things at times, but I guess I see that in myself as well. I also really liked her friendship with Mel and Logan. Although the love story/triangle between Harriet, Keith and Remy takes centre stage for this narrative, there is a lot more than just the love story. It is about friendship and communication with loved ones. Heaney points out the important fact that friendships, or relationships in general, take work, and they require communication on both parts. It is definitely tricky at times, and Heaney even touches on the anxiety one might have when communicating with another person (I really related with that part). I really liked see how Harriet's friendship with Remy blossomed and how things were more or less, resolved with Keith. I thought this was a wonderful book that touched on themes of dating, friendships, but also college life in general. Heaney spoke about finding a part-time job (library work), studying for midterms and how college classes were too. I think this is a great read for those who are fans of Rainbow Rowell, because Heaney's book definitely reminded me of Fangirl.

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was sent to be by Hachette Book Group Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Review: Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better: Alkalize Your Delicious Recipe At A Time by Julie Cove

Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better: Alkalize Your Delicious Recipe At A Time by Julie Cove

Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
Pages: 304 pages

The Premise from the Publisher: "Eat your way to better health! In Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better, Julie Cove explains how having too many acid-forming foods in your body creates an environment that can cause inflammation, resulting in everything from headaches to muscle pain to chronic illness. But, she argues, by adapting to an alkaline-based lifestyle you can ward off ill health, aid digestion, eliminate acid reflux and increase your energy. In this beautiful book, Julie gives you everything you need to quickly feel the benefits of the alkaline way of life. Julie's personal story of overcoming illness is behind the writing of this book. Now a holistic nutritionist and certified plant-based cook, she is the picture of an energetic, healthy and balanced lifestyle, and she wants to give you the tools to get there, too. Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better is a book that will help balance your body and revitalize your life, and will be your blueprint for improved good health for years to come" (Appetite by Random House). 

My overall thoughts and review: So in the past few months, my household recently got a "juicer" and I've been drinking a ton of juices lately. However, my recipes seem pretty bland and boring, utilizing the same fruits and vegetables over and over again. When I saw this book come out, I was instantly intrigued because I wanted to incorporate more recipes and really learn more about the "Alkaline" lifestyle. Julie Cove begins the book by introducing the reader to what the Alkaline lifestyle means and a 4-step program to ease people into it. She talks about the benefits of how it cleanses and detoxifies your body. She also explains deep-tissue acids and toxins in depth. My aunt suffers from overacidity and this book really helped me understand the situation a lot better. The acidity food chart is extremely helpful and has been super helpful in determining what items are considered "alkaline" foods and "acidic" foods. She also offers a substitution chart which outlines if you enjoy certain acidic foods, what would be a good substitute. For example, I've been adding lemon juice and lime juice to my water more frequently lately and I feel it is a nice alternative to having pop with my meals. Cove also has a section about cleanses which is really big at the moment and how to prepare your body for a cleanse. She also offers how to cleanse on your own which is a really great inexpensive way to do it, since all the fad cleanses are super expensive and I'm quite scared to take the plunge into them. Also, Cove has a section on supplements which is super helpful for someone like me wanting to incorporate more supplements in my everyday life, but I get super overwhelmed in the supplement sections of stores.

I haven't even gotten to the main chunk of the book and that is the recipe section. Cove has put together a selection of alkaline recipes for juices, smoothies, nourishing drinks, breakfast, salads, soups, wraps, vegetables, and treats. I've mostly tried the juice recipes so far and I plan on making the chia hemp milk soon! I'm actually moving very soon and this will definitely be a staple in my new home and helping me incorporate a more healthy lifestyle. This book is beautifully made with pictures for every recipe, and beautiful charts outlining everything. I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking to take the plunge into a more healthy lifestyle. I don't think I will officially make the plunge completely into an alkaline lifestyle, but this book has been helpful in informing me about it and I've been able to adjust my lifestyle slowly bit by bit with it!

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

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

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Review: The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Publishing Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 384 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault. Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes. What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be. Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart" (MKMB). 

My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise for this book, I knew I had to read it. The premise sounded similar to All The Rage by Courtney Summers, which I reviewed in the past and really enjoyed how it tackled the narrative of a rape victim (You can read my review here!) It is such a dark topic, but I definitely think that there needs to be more books about it and more discussion about it. That being said, it is a dark topic, and needs to be written in a way that doesn't devalue the victim's experience at all. It is a tricky topic to navigate but these narratives matter. What Amber Smith does is create a narrative told in four parts which track the change in Eden following the incident of her rape. It begins in freshman year and her brother's best friend rapes her. I was quite distraught reading this in the beginning parts because the language that Smith uses is so powerful. It broke my heart that Eden felt that she was silenced by this, and the morning after when she couldn't speak about it. You can see how her character changes and her trust in others changes drastically. Through the years, you do see Eden trying to keep relationships and friendships, but it eats away at her having this secret and never speaking about it. You see the shift in how she regards her parents and her brother. Similar to the Summers book, it tackles the issue that a lot of these victims have to face this alone, because they feel shame/guilt associated to it. I'm really glad that Smith chose to tackle this topic. I will say, however, that the four parts works and doesn't work. I felt that some instances, I was getting a completely different version of Eden, when the previous page, she was something else and that got a bit confusing. I think if certain sections were expanded a bit more, I would've really liked that. I will say though, the end does not wrap up nicely, and I really liked that. It bothers me a bit when books wrap up nicely in a bow, and Smith challenges that by offering a realistic ending. There isn't a solution to this, but there is living after what Eden experiences. What Smith demonstrates that victims of rape can do just that.

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

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

Review: This is Where The World Ends by Amy Zhang

This is Where The World Ends by Amy Zhang

Publishing Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 304
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "A heart-wrenching novel about best friends on a collision course with the real world from Amy Zhang, the critically acclaimed Indies Introduce and Indie Next author of Falling into PlaceJanie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivien moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship—as long as no one finds out about it. But then Janie goes missing and everything Micah thought he knew about his best friend is colored with doubt" (HarperCollins). 

My overall thoughts and review: I've heard so many good things about Zhang's previous book (which I plan on purchasing very soon) and when HCCFrenzy presented this book at their Frenzy Presents event, I was really intrigued. The premise sounded like a mixture of Paper Towns and The Perks of Being a Wallflower coming together. Zhang utilizes the dual-perspective really well and the transition was seamless from Janie's perspective to Micah's. I did brace myself for a dark ending because of the title and I was constantly on the edge of my seat wanting to know more about everything. I really enjoyed Janie's perspectives especially because of how much of Virginia Woolf was included (I wrote my MA on Woolf, so I'm a big fan). I liked that the novel tackled issues of friendship, unrequited love, anxiety and more. Zhang included "journal entries" from Janie's POV which moved alongside the narrative and worked nicely for the reader to learn more about Janie. I will say, I wish there was more developed regarding Dewey and his relationship with Micah. Overall, I think that this is a chilling and dark young adult contemporary novel that allows the reader to contemplate questions of life or death. I think fans of Ned Vizzini would particularly enjoy this book!

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

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

Monday, 21 March 2016

Blog Tour: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn - Review and Giveaway!

Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn

Publishing Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Pages: 416 pages
Young Adult/Supernatural/Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Prepare to be blown away—or rather, carried away on huge muscular wings—by this blissfully outlandish, bracingly-smart, tour de force about a teen who has to come to terms with relinquishing control for the first time as she falls for the hot new…pterodactyl…at school. After all, everybody wants him! Hilarious and relatable (despite the dinosaur), Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is about a teen who must come to terms with not being in control of all things at all times, break free of her mundane life, discover who her true self is, and, oh, finding out that going primal isn’t always a bad thing" (A/CDB). 

My overall thoughts and review: When I was first messaged about this book, I had to re-read the email because I was honestly like "A PTERODACTYL? Now I've heard it all!" I was instantly intrigued. I first fell in love with YA via supernatural elements such as Vampires, Werewolves, etc.. but never was there a book (that I had come across) that included dinosaurs. I was a little bit intrigued and also a bit skeptical. I will admit, I was thinking that the Pyke character (the pterodactyl) was going to be a regular teenage boy that has the ability to turn into a pterodactyl, but Cumyn takes the narrative in a different direction. He is a teenage pterodactyl that appears one day at Vista View High and becomes a student. Pyke shows up and in a way disrupts Shiels' life, or rather, she allows him to occupy her thoughts. She is known as a "control freak" character and although her intentions are good, wanting to make sure that as the student body chair, there is a seamless transition for Pyke, she ends up getting sidetracked and her relationship with her boyfriend and friends are affected. While I had my reservations going into the text, and some moments throughout the text, I was quite frustrated with the characters, like Shiels and Pyke, you really have to look at what Cumyn is attempting to do (or at least what I think he is trying to do), underneath the regular narrative. Cumyn also speaks about how highschool relationships can sometimes end up, and how we can let another person completely consume our life which is problematic.

Yes, it is about a pterodactyl boy, as strange as that might sound and yes, Shiels makes the mistake of letting him consume her life, but I think Cumyn is speaking to a different message and that is about how "Othering/The Other" takes place in the narrative. You don't really get to know much about Pyke and what you do know is through Shiels perspective, so the reader has to remember that. Also, what Cumyn speaks to is what most highschool students who are transitioning to a new school, new environment face and feel daily. It may be race, gender, class, sexual orientation.. or it can simply be how a person chooses to dress or wear their hair. Pyke is a representation of something "Different" and "outside of the norm" and sometimes, that isn't well-received. I'm not saying, and I don't think Cumyn is saying that, that type of behaviour is ok, and it never is, but that isn't to say that it doesn't happen because it does. I honestly think that what Cumyn attempts to do is to bring about a discussion on an important topic such as discrimination that happens in a highschool setting, but this can unfortunately be veiled by the "Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend" title. I think this is definitely a book worth checking out and reading past the surface level; there is an important message there in my opinion, but you have to be willing to stick it out to find it.


And now.. the lovely folks at Simon and Schuster have very kindly offered to give away a FINISHED copy of the book to one lucky reader at Padfoot's Library. All you have to do is follow the blog via one of the following options: Google Friend Connector, Google+, Email or Bloglovin' AND leave me a comment telling me WHY you want to win this book. There are options to win extra entries by following the listed accounts on twitter. When the giveaway ends, I will contact the winner and S&S Canada will mail the finished copy over. 

Be sure to check out the other stops on the book blog tour!

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Simon and Schuster Canada for consideration/review. The Finished Giveaway Copy will be sponsored by Simon and Schuster Canada and mailed directly to the selected recipient. This participation in the blog tour does not affect my review. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Review: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter 

Publishing Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Pages: 352 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "The beautiful struggle of a girl desperate for the one relationship that has caused her the most pain. Cassie O'Malley has spent the past two and a half years in a mental institution—dumped there by her mother, against her will. Now, at 18, Cassie emancipates herself, determined to start over. She attends college, forms new friendships, and even attempts to start fresh with her mother. But before long, their unhealthy relationship threatens to pull Cassie under once again. As Cassie struggles to reclaim her life, childhood memories persist and confuse, and Cassie must consider whose version of history is real, and more important, whose life she must save. A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward" (PYRG). 

My overall thoughts and review: On the back of this book some of my favorite authors blurbed about how amazing this book was: Jennifer Niven and Nicola Yoon. I was walking into this with high expectations and Kletter did not disappoint. The topic of this book resonates with me on a personal level and although, I won't get into the nitty gritty details of my personal life, I don't think there are enough narratives out there that simply focus on the relationship between young adults and their parents. Yes, parents are often included in the narrative, but they are merely secondary characters. I'm seeing with a lot of YA contemporary novels that the focal point is the love relationship and how parents can affect that. Kletter does something quite interesting where she looks at it from the perspective of how Cassie's relationship with her mother (and her father and siblings) have altered how she interacts with friends. Cassie being locked up in a mental institution for two and a half years has tore her away from her family. Mostly because it was her family that put her there. In the institution, Cassie finds a friend in James. As Cassie prepares to get out, James talks about meeting her on the outside when he can and although she leaves, he is her anchor and someone that keeps her grounded. When Cassie arrives at the college, she meets Zoey, who attempts to be her friend and new roommate. But there is a lot holding Cassie back from attending classes and making friends. 

The narrative moves in and out from the present and to flashbacks of Cassie and her childhood. In the flashbacks, the reader learns how poorly Cassie was treated by her mother. Her mother was manipulative and always chose her brother over her. Some of the dialogue scenes between Cassie and her mother in the flashbacks broke my heart and turned me into a rage monster. I must admit, I wished I was able to reach in and grab childhood Cassie's hand and say, "It is going to be alright!" since no one else was doing that. Overall, Cassie does begin to heal from her past and learns how damaging her relationship with her mother is to her mental health. I really enjoyed how Cassie's relationship with the therapist developed and some of the revelations. I don't want to mention too much to spoil the book, but the text did a really great job at not making Cassie "heal" vis a vis a love relationship. I find narratives that paint the damsel in distress plot super problematic and Kletter goes beyond that. I will say though, my one criticism is that the text didn't really feel like it took place at a "college" for me. It felt like it took place in a highschool/boarding school setting. I guess that could also be a sign that I've been in university waaaay too long ;) Anyways, overall, I really enjoyed this read and how it offered a different look into relationships with parents. I think fans of Winger, The Perks of Being a Wallflower & Everything, Everything will definitely enjoy this read! 

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

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

Monday, 14 March 2016

Blog Tour: Gena/Finn by Kat Helgeson & Hannah Moskowitz - Review and Authors Q&A

Gena/Finn by Kat Helgeson & Hannah Moskowitz

Publishing Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Pages: 308 pages
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Gena and Finn would have never met but for their mutual love for the popular show Up Below. Regardless of their differences-Gena is a recent high school graduate whose social life largely takes place online, while Finn is in her early twenties, job hunting and contemplating marriage with her longtime boyfriend-the two girls realize that the bond between them transcends fanfiction. When disaster strikes and Gena's world turns upside down, only Finn can save her, and that, too, comes witha price. Told through emails, text messages, journal entries, and blog posts, Gena/Finn is a story of friendship and love in the digital age" (Chronicle Books). 

My overall thoughts and review: It has been a while since I've finished a book in one sitting. I knew instantly from the first few pages of the book that I would not be able to put it down. Moskowitz and Helgeson present this book through a series of "blog posts (tumblr style), emails, private messages, and chat logs" and I just love that style! It keeps me engaged and I loved how easy it was to move from different perspectives. The notion of "fandom" in the book really resonated with me and my undergraduate years when I was immersed in the world of harry potter fanfiction. I loved it so much and I even tried my hand at writing a few stories. I was able to meet some lovely people via that and some I am able to call my good friends today (yay livejournal!). The connection that you form with someone online can be scary because of all the horror stories you hear about, but in a way, it is quite freeing. I found it quite interesting how easy it was for me to open up about myself in an online forum, kind of like how Gena and Finn opened up to each other. I loved how their relationship grew over the course of the book, and how difficult it can be for certain people in your life to coincide with your online life. Also being super immersed in a fandom, and having your significant other not be entirely into it, is something I can definitely empathize with. My boyfriend isn't as into some fandoms as I am, but the good thing is, we're both ok with that. I really liked that the book demonstrated that, it is ok if your significant other doesn't enjoy the same fandoms as you. It happens. The important thing is that your significant other does not try to control what you like and don't like. I really liked how much Finn's boyfriend grew over the course of the book as well. He was super supportive of Finn! Anyways, I feel like I'm on a bit of a tangent, but I loved how this friendship/relationship blossomed over the course of the book. I loved how they spoke about Fandom in such a relatable way (Did anyone else think about Supernatural or Teen Wolf, whenever they spoke about Up Below?) All in all, this was a wonderful read that touched on many themes of relationships, friendship, overcoming loss, dealing with change and more. I loved that Moskowitz and Helgeson put together a narrative that shows the positives of online "relationships" and how they can move to RL. I think anyone that is an avid user of Tumblr, Twitter and other online platforms will love this! This was my first introduction to Moskowitz and Helgeson and I can't wait to read what they write next :) 

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Authors Question & Answer

1. Do you identify more with Gena or Finn?
HANNAH: Gena, of course.
KAT: Finn, except for the part where Gena is writing on everything but paper, because I do that. Also, I can't draw.

Many thanks to the lovely folks at Raincoast Books for organizing this awesome book tour and featuring some of my favorite book bloggers. I also want to thank Hannah and Kat for taking the time to answer my question! Please be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour :)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Winner's Kiss Blog Tour Stop!

Hi everyone! In anticipation of Marie Rutkoski's final book The Winner's Kiss, the lovely folks over at Fierce Reads have put together this awesome Blog Tour which allows various book bloggers to talk about their favourite literary kisses! I'm so excited to be apart of this because I really enjoy this series and I can't wait for the third book's release! 

Onto the questions!

What book is your favorite literary kiss in? I'm going to mention a recently read book because I can't really choose a "favorite" overall.. :P So, please brace yourself for spoilers since my favorite kiss comes from V.E. Schwab's A Gathering of Shadows (#2 in the Shades of Magic series) 

"Kell's free hand drifted up her bare arm to the nape of her neck. He tipped his head and rested his forehead against hers. 'You could just...' he whispered, 'stay.''Or you could go...' she countered, 'with me.'The words were a breath of fog against his lips, and Kell found himself leaning in to her warmth, her words. 'Lila,' he said, the name aching in his chest. He wanted to kiss her. But she kissed him first. The last time--the only time--it had been nothing but a ghost of lips against his, there and gone, so little to it, a kiss stolen for luck. This was different.They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn't know which of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. [....] He kissed her until the fire burned up the panic and the anger and the weight in his chest, until he could breathe again, and until they were both breathless.And when they broke free, he could feel her smile on his lips." (Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows, 454-455). 

Who is kissing? Kell and Lila 

Why is it your favorite? It is my favorite kiss because they kind of just reunited after being apart and thinking about each other and I just love the build up to this scene as well. 

Bonus Question: what kiss do you hope will occur in Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Kiss? Obviously Kestrel and Arin! I can't wait for them to reunite and just be together. I want it to signify that they are finally together, with nothing standing in their way. 

The Winner's Kiss hits shelves March 29, 2016!
If you haven't started this series yet, what are you waiting for!! 
You have plenty of time to read the first two novels ;) 

Also, check out the other Blog Tour Stops and read other blogger's favorite literary kisses: here! 

Disclaimer: I was offered an opportunity to join this Blog Tour by Raincoast Books and FSG. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Blog Tour: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab - Review and Author Q&A!

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab 
(Book #2 in the Shades of Magic series)

Publishing Date: February 26, 2016
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Pages: 512 pages

**NOTE: This is a second book in a series. The rest of this review will include spoilers regarding the first book. If you want to read the review for the first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, you can find it here** 

The Premise from the Publisher: "Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift, and into Black London. In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagent international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port. But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again-and so to keep magic's balance, another London must fall" (TDA). 

My overall thoughts and review: When Raincoast Books reached out and asked me to join the AGOS Blog tour, I was so excited!! As you know, I'm a massive fan of Victoria Schwab, so the opportunity to ask her a question was super awesome. I also got to read AGOS a bit early ;) Immediately, you are thrown back into the world of ADSOM with the many various Londons. The story picks up shortly after where the first one ended where Rhy and Kell are adjusting to life "tied" to one another. It's interesting to see the dynamic between the two, because as Rhy describes it, Kell now treats the world like glass, and Rhy can sometimes forget the fact that Kell feels his pain. The theme of life/death really comes through with these two, and I really enjoy the brotherly banter that continues in this book. The big event of the book is a magical tournament, a competition of sorts for magic. Delilah Bard, determined as ever, is going to find a way to sneak her way into the competition and Kell is disguised and joining the competition as well. I loved seeing the two of them again in this book. The scenes when they cross paths (somewhat) in the Night Market was one of my favorite scenes in the entire book. I also really enjoyed the introduction of new characters such as Alucard Emery and seeing old faces again (I'm sorry, I might be the only one in the universe to kind of like Holland)! Overall, I really enjoyed this second book and I have to say, I loved it even more than the first one (if that is even possible)! If you haven't started this series yet, what are you waiting for? There is magic, pirates, princes, Londons, masks, coats and more! ;)

My rating of the book:  (5/5 stars) 

Author Question & Answer

1. You always approach each project in such a unique way and offer readers such well-rounded characters (ex: Kell and Rhy, Victor and Eli in Vicious and Mac and Wes in~The Archived series). What advice can you offer for aspiring writers like myself when creating characters? 

Why thank you! So, I go about things in a rather reverse way. While characters start to whisper early on, the first part I usually develop isn’t the cast, or the plot, but the world. With the ARCHIVED books, it was the library of the dead. With VICIOUS, it was a world in which near-death experiences could lead to powers. And with ADSOM, it was the multiple Londons. Once I have an idea of the worlds, I can start working on the people who naturally populate them. From there, I come to my main characters, who are outsiders in some way, either because they don’t belong, or because they truly aren’t from there. This gives me a sense not only of my characters, but of their context, their motivations, their fears. Everything that makes them similar, and everything that makes them other. This isn’t to say it’s the right way to do things. It’s just the right way for ME.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour! Victoria is answering a question for each blogger and it would be a good way to hear more about the book! :D

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.