Thursday, 31 August 2017

Sundays in the 6ix | August 27, 2017

This past Sunday after work, I headed downtown with Jeremy for a little stroll around Graffiti Alley and we visited Kensington Market to check out Dough.TO since it was their last weekend there. I will always be grateful that we live in such an amazing city and I love that we are constantly discovering new parts of the city. 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

How to Survive Your First Convention

So if you've been following me on social media, you will know that I'm on a big romance kick at the moment. I am loving romance reads and I've even looked into various romance conventions I'd like to attend. There is a lovely States side convention that happens annually called Love N Books and this October they will be having a convention in Las Vegas! I've decided to share some of my tips for surviving your first convention in anticipation for the event in October. Even if you aren't attending the LNB event, I feel like convention season is all year around, so these tips can definitely be applicable to any convention that you decide to attend (I'm attending Fan Expo later this week and I wish someone gave me some tips my first time going a few years back!). So yeah, onto some Do's and Don'ts for your first convention & my suggestions on what you should pack! 

1. Programs! Use them! - I think it's a given that you should plan in advance what panels you want to attend and signings you want to go to. But sometimes, people do forget about the programs. Some conventions have started putting their programs on phone apps like Guidebook. It helps you stay organized and ensures you see everything you want to see.

2. Cash is a MUST! - Cash just makes your life AND the vendor's life easier. Especially if you are in Artist Alley. Remember that with a big crowd, the data service isn't exactly great and sometimes, cash just ensures your purchase is completed in a timely manner. Cash also comes in handy when you want to grab something from a vending machine as well. You can budget more accordingly with cash. Set a certain amount you will spend that particular day, that way you don't go over your budget.

3. Stay hydrated! Some conventions do allow food and drink inside, so be sure to check with the rules ahead of time. I always bring some snack bars and a water bottle. There is tons of walking and sitting around and you must keep your energy levels high. There will most likely be water fountains around as well so be sure to fill up and stay hydrated!

4. Have your passes (lanyards or wristbands) visible - sometimes the staff will be checking as you go in and out of certain halls or rooms. Make their life easier and have your pass visible at all times. This will ensure that you move more efficiently throughout the convention.

5. Dress comfortably - I can't say this enough, but good shoes is an absolute MUST. With how much you are walking around, you want to be comfortable. Wear clothes that are comfy because convention days are long days and nothing sucks more than being uncomfortable in something. My go-to outfits for cons are usually comfy leggings, good shoes, and a fandom shirt.

6. Respect Authors, Celebrities, and Cosplayers - Another given but cosplay is not consent. ALWAYS ASK. Whether it be cosplayers, authors, and/or celebrities, if you want something signed, a photo, or even a hug, always ask. And respect them if they happen to decline you. They could be on a time crunch, lord knows, but if they say no, they don't need to justify their reasons to you. Be a decent human and respect that!

7. Backpacks! A backpack is seriously a godsend at conventions. You can put all your essentials in there and with all the walking around, you want something that can be good for your back. I also love it to carry stuff and I always pack an extra tote bag in case my backpack fills up from convention goodies. It also helps if you are with a friend, and they can spot you easily by your backpack ;)

8. Bring something to pass the time - If you are going to a book convention, chances are you will get books there, so you don't need to bring a ton of books to pass the time. I bring my portable phone charger so that I can check social media and I also bring my Nintendo DS to conventions for street passes. I feel like conventions are mostly waiting in lines a lot of the time, and having something to help you pass the time really makes it a lot more enjoyable. You aren't focusing so much on being in lines all day which can get frustrating and you don't want to feel that way that a convention!

9. Bring a camera! Or use your camera on your phone. Take pictures! You will definitely want to document your adventures and there is no easier way than photos. I remember my first year my phone ran out of battery and without a portable charger, I was incredibly grateful I packed my camera with me since I got to get some pretty cool photos. (TIP: if you are bringing a camera, bring an extra battery that you've charged the night before AND always ask before you take a picture of someone).

10. Have fun! Remember why you are there and don't sweat the small stuff - enjoy yourself and make the most out of the time that you are there, because it goes by quickly and you'll miss it when its all over and gone. 

That's it for tips from me folks. I hope you have an amazing time at whatever convention you attend. Have fun and stay safe. If you want to share in the comments below other convention tips, let me know! I'd love to hear from you and I'd love to hear what some of your favorite conventions are to attend. I've mostly attended Popular Culture ones and I really hope I can attend some bookish ones in the future. 

Love N Books holds 3 events yearly - be sure to check out their main website for more details: Love N Books & if you are attending the one in October in Las Vegas, be sure to check out for some Packages to save on Flights & Hotels! Will you be attending a Love N Books event? If so, let me know in the comments which author you are most excited to see (I am so jelly of those of you  getting to meet the Queen that is L.J. Shen in October)!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Blog Tour: Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast - Review & Author Post

Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions #1) by G.S. Prendergast 

Publishing Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 496
Young Adult Supernatural & Science Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "The 5th Wave meets Beauty and the Beast in this fast-paced and heart-stopping novel about an invasion of murderous creatures and one girl fighting for her life at the end of the world. He has no voice or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind. Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall. His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting. Until a human kills her… Sixteen-year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her fellow campers can only stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless, but what choice does she have? Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend. Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…" (SS).

My overall thoughts and review: I can't even remember the last time I read a YA novel with supernatural/sci-fi/dystopian elements, but this was one that got me right back into loving the genre. The story was pitched as The 5th Wave meets Beauty and the Beast, and I loved that combination. It was also pitched with a Canadian backdrop, with Calgary as the setting. I was instantly intrigued because it is told from duo-perspectives: Raven & Eighth. In this world, the Nahx (dark shadowy figures... I kind of imagined strong armored dementors while reading it) have begun invading and Raven is at summer camp when things start to change. Her boyfriend, Tucker, is murdered by one of the Knax, and she is forced to leave the confines of the camp to seek others and find shelter. You meet Topher, who is Tucker's twin brother and shows his disdain openly for Raven. I really liked their relationship dynamic. Topher felt that Tucker was changing to please Raven and therefore did not approve of their relationship. It was nice to see how their relationship changed over time as they became dependent on one another with the memory of Tucker tethering them together. It was interesting to see the whole "will they/won't they" with them since it is the end of the world, but with the presence of Tucker still lingering over them made things awkward. Raven is such an interesting character because she comes from a troubled past and a mixed family. She's stubborn and strong, but also incredibly emotional at her core. You can see that she attempts to be strong but things do shift and she is often so conflicted with her feelings. There are videos of Knax executions where humans have found a way to post to show that the Knax can be killed. Raven finds it incredibly hard to watch and I really liked that ~human~ part of her. Even though they are the enemies, she attempts to understand what is going on, rather than simply a revenge path like Topher. I will say I wish there was more explanation for the Knax and their take-over and what their end game was. I felt the ending explained a tiny bit, but this first book in the series was really laying the foundation for the relationship between Raven & Eighth, and less so on world building, which I wanted more of. I know this is mostly because Eighth is defective and actually doesn't have any of the answers, but I'm hoping the next book in the series will explain more of the Knax's agenda and motivations. As for Eighth, I really enjoyed reading his chapters. Even though he experiences a bit of "insta-love" with Raven, I feel like he does come to terms of learning what love is and his own meaning of love. It definitely hurt to see Raven fight with him, and goodness, he apologizes so much. I feel like at the end of the day, Eighth only means well, but with the difficulty in communication, that isn't always clear to Raven. Eighth cannot speak and can only sign things. I liked seeing their relationship grow and I started with shipping Raven and Topher, but by the end of it, I was totally team Raven and Eighth. I will say the pacing was quite slow in the beginning; it does pick up at some action-y parts, and the ending definitely felt a bit rushed. It ends on a massive cliffhanger and I will definitely be picking up the next book to find out what happens. I really enjoyed this because it made me like the genre of supernatural/sci-fi/dystopian YA reads again. I've always had a fascination with ~aliens~ and this was the perfect read to bring me back to reading those YA books again. Also, I LOVE the cover so much and when you learn what the cover refers to, it makes it all the more special.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Author Post: Inspiration for Zero Repeat Forever
Zero Repeat Forever was inspired by a dream initially, which became the opening scene of part III in the book. When I had the dream I knew nothing about the actual premise or genre, only the broad themes of enemies and imprisonment and trust. I must have mulled that dream idea around for a while but eventually I landed on the idea of doing it as an alien invasion story. It took a few tries to get the exact circumstances of the story right. In the first draft the story takes place decades after the invasion. Then I tried setting it five years after the invasion. Eventually I realized the best way to tell the story was to start it with the invasion and go from there. I think I've always been very interested in the idea of enemies coming face to face so I thought a lot about movies and books that explore this theme - everything from How to Train Your Dragon to Enemy Mine to Dances with Wolves to Frankenstein (of course!). I've also always loved sci-fi armour and cyborgs such as the Stormtroopers and C-3P0 in Star Wars, The Terminator, Data and the holographic doctor in Star Trek, and Robocop so when I was dreaming up the Nahx those were all in my mind. 
Thanks so much for dropping by on this blog tour and sharing the inspiration for the text. I can definitely see the sci-fi armour and cyborg stuff come to life while I was reading the text. ;) 

Be sure to stop by the other stops on the blog tour for more Zero Repeat Forever content! 

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Review: Checkmate: This is Effortless (Drew & Courtney, #2) by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate:  This is Effortless (Drew & Courtney, #2) of the Checkmate Duet Series by Kennedy Fox 

Publishing Date: April 12, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 402
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Author: "Courtney Bishop is as sugary sweet as her famous blueberry muffins. Southern belle at heart, Cali girl by choice. She barged into my life and easily became my best friend. All was great as roommates and just friends, but then I fell for the girl who could chop firewood, deliver baby calves, and bail hay without breaking a sweat. She’s the perfect mixture of sugar and spice, and I love her. Being more than friends and trying to build our future isn't as easy as it sounds. Moving forward and creating memories is all I want for us, but when the past continues to come back and haunt me, I'm not so sure she’ll stay for the ride. Loving her is easy, but losing her will break me. Burning passion combined with an undeniable chemistry constantly pushes and pulls us together. In the end, I'll prove we’re worth the fight, even when the game is far from over. Checkmate, sweetheart" (Fox).

*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.* **This is book 2 in the Checkmate Duet Series--a friends to lovers romance. You must read book 1, Checkmate: This is Reckless first. Highly recommended to read the Checkmate Duet, This is War and This is Love first, but not necessary. This can read as a standalone duet.**

My overall thoughts and review: So before I get into this review.. if you'd like to see my review for the first book in this duet: This is Reckless, you can find it here! Also, you can now get both books as a boxed set collection (with a beautiful new cover of Drew & Courtney), and you can see more details for that here! Ok, to the review! The cliffhanger of the last book legit had me RAGING (MIA EFFIN MONTGOMERY)! Similar to the previous duet, the cliffhangers are quite questionable in a sense that it tests the male character's loyalty and you really see the strength in them and what they are willing to do for their relationship. This entire book was testing both Drew and Courtney's strength with all the crazy antics that Mia gets up to. She threatens Courtney directly for being with Drew, and is constantly coming onto Drew. It becomes so intense that they fill the need to file a police report and even install security cameras. Regardless of how difficult it gets, you don't see the love between Drew and Courtney wavering in the slightest. You see them growing as a couple and really moving forward. For example, they both fell in love as friends/roommates and they learn that perhaps they need a new fresh start (in terms of housing and where they live), to move on from the "roommate" life and really start a future together. It was so nice seeing them tackle the next steps in their relationship. I love how Kayla and Logan played such a big role in the text and you definitely got to see more of Travis and Viola as well. Can we just take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness that is Kayla who constantly brings puppies into these couples' lives? It was nice seeing the 'set up' for the next duet as you can see Courtney with her matchmaking ways. I also really liked how we got to see more of Courtney's family again in the text. Courtney's dad is seriously the best dad. The thing I love most about KF books is how much they stress the importance of family and friendship. You really see that this couple has a great support group. I loved seeing them grow as a couple and as individuals. There are of course, the sexy and swoony moments, and goodness, Drew is so sweet sometimes I just can't even handle it. The book does nicely wrap up all the drama with Mia, and honestly, their happy ending is so precious and sweet. I love this couple so much and I was a little sad to see their duet come to a close, but I know I will be seeing more of them in the final duet series. If you haven't read any KF books, what are you waiting for? You must check out this duet in particular, because I absolutely adore Drew & Courtney together. It is a beautiful friends to lovers story that will make you laugh, cry, and swoon!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
KennedyFoxBooks, Kobo Books, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Monday, 21 August 2017

Checkmate Duet Series Boxed Set Cover Reveal & Release Blitz

Titles Included: Checkmate: This is Reckless & Checkmate: This is Effortless
Series: Checkmate Duet Series (Drew & Courtney)
Author: Kennedy Fox
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Trope: Friends to Lovers Romance
Photographer & Designer: Sara Eirew
Release Date: August 21, 2017

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon

Publishing Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 384
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways" (Simon Pulse).

My overall thoughts and review: I opted for the Audible version of the book and I need to take a moment to applaud Sneha Mathan & Vikas Adam. They did an amazing job bringing the characters to life and I honestly felt as if I was sitting right next to the characters listening to the story unfold. I absolutely LOVED this book. I couldn't stop smiling the entire time I was listening to it and it made me laugh and cry on multiple occasions. If I could describe this book in a few words it would be: adorable & cute. Seriously, these characters are just adorable. To begin with, Dimple is not your typical female protagonist in a YA contemporary. She has ambitions and wants to pursue coding and web developing. It would seem that the pressure to find a husband (because of her parents) is the last thing on her mind. This was such a nice contrast to Rishi, whose parents fell in love through an arranged marriage definitely feels like meeting Dimple could be the game changer in his life. He believes in love at first sight and it was so adorable seeing him swoon over Rishi. They had a hilarious beginning and I love how the cover of the book makes so much more sense now ;) They end up as partners in this summer program and actually forming a beautiful friendship. Rishi helps Dimple overcome her fears and pursue what she wants and helps her form stronger relationships with her parents. Dimple on the other hand, helps Rishi pursue what he really loves and not what he is expected to. I also just loved their families so much. They may have been traditional in some moments but you could see how much they loved their children and only wanted the best for them. I know in some YA contemporary reads, the parents are either completely absent, or even the catalyst to the problems, but this was such a nice change. They weren't the perfect but they were such an integral part of the narrative and I really appreciated that. Dimple and Rishi's relationship was simply beautiful and I loved how it developed. It was seriously incredibly romantic and I can't think of many YA couples I love as much as them. I also really liked how they both handled the Aberzombies together and didn't stand for petty bs. I just loved this book so much. It had everything I love and more. I also really appreciated all the manga and anime references. Overall, if you are looking for a YA contemporary that will make you smile from ear to ear, this is definitely the read for you. Please read it because it will make your summer. Definitely one of my favorite books from 2017! I can't wait to see what Menon writes next because I will be over here impatiently waiting  ;)

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Audible, Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Review: Pushing the Limits by Brooke Cumberland

Pushing the Limits by Brooke Cumberland 

Publishing Date: September 16, 2015
Publisher: BC Books
Pages: 566

The Premise by the Author: "He's my art professor. I'm his student. With an electric connection and undeniable chemistry, I know it won't be long until one of us cracks. When the opportunity arises to pose naked for the entire art class, I can't help the thrill of knowing he'll be watching me. While they all look past me with their eyes narrowed and concentrated, drawing only the lines and angles of my body, he sees right through me down to my vulnerability. He sees more than just the physical aspects--he sees me. That's when I see the struggle in his features as he tries to stay in control. How do we keep our distance when everything seems to be pulling us together? What feels so right can only go wrong if we keep pushing the limits" (Cumberland).

**Recommended for 18 & above due to explicit sexual content, language, and adult content.**

My overall thoughts and review: So if you follow me on Goodreads, you will see that I've been working my way through Cumberland's backlist recently and that is because she came out of the literary closet and it's been revealed she is one part of the duo of Kennedy Fox (books that I absolutely LOVE!). I was so excited to learn of this literary reveal since that meant more books for me to read. I have two more serials of Cumberland's to read but I wanted to stop and write a review for a book I recently finished and just LOVED. To begin with, both characters: Morgan and Aspen come together with very dark and traumatic pasts. They've both experienced lost in a big way and this has affected their life completely. They also come together over their passion for art and creating art. As someone who has dabbled a bit in art history and art in my undergraduate days, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book because Cumberland was incredibly detailed with how the characters viewed art and created their own art works. It is definitely a taboo topic to touch on since it is Professor and Student relationship, but I feel like Cumberland handled it in a very nice way. There was a touch of drama added with another fellow professor involved but overall, it worked out quite nicely. I love that although their relationship was incredibly sweet and sexy, they stood on their own as very strong characters and I really loved and admired that. Aspen, who has been dealing with the death of her twin all her life, you really see her vulnerabilities and how she handles being a student and getting out of her comfort zone. Before meeting Morgan, she would only hold her friendships at an arm's length and it was nice to see her grow out of that. Morgan, on the other hand, is left to be his late brother's daughter's guardian, really handled being a single parent really well. He had a great relationship with his aunt as well and you could really see him grow into the "father/guardian" role. I loved seeing Morgan and Aspen come together through all the hardships thrown at them and become stronger for it. Overall, it was a really romantic and sweet contemporary romance that I really enjoyed. There were of course some pretty swoon-worthy sexy moments, but it was more than just a romance book in my opinion. There were so many layers to this book and I loved the character development! It touched on areas of grief/mourning, the world of academic, and family/friendship. This one definitely brought on the feels and I have to say it is my favorite Brooke Cumberland book yet! I can't wait to see what else she writes next.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Audible, Amazon, and Kindle

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Review: Checkmate: This is Reckless (Drew & Courtney, #1) by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is Reckless (Drew & Courtney, #1) of the Checkmate Duet Series by Kennedy Fox 

Publishing Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 402
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Author: "Are you ready to play the game? Drew Fisher is the type of guy every girl wants. Noble police officer by day, charming prince by night. He has no idea the effect he has on women, especially me--his little sister's best friend. I'm the blonde Southern belle who lives up to the cliché, except I have my own quirks. I'm smart as a whip, can change my own oil, and recite The Pledge of Allegiance backward, but he doesn't see that girl. It'd be easier to forget him if he wasn't my roommate and if the first thing I saw in the morning wasn't his shirtless body covered in tattoos. I've crushed on him since the day we met, but he's made it perfectly clear where we stand. Just friends. I know I need to move on and accept that his feelings will never be mutual, but every day he smiles at me, I'm left dreaming of what if. He has girl issues, and I've got a crush I can't deny. We're friends, but I want more. One drunken hookup leaves us with much more than a platonic friendship. Pretending it never happened proves to be more difficult than anticipated. A crazy ex-girlfriend, a dangerous war of stolen glances, and passionate kisses leads to the most reckless battle yet. I won't be a pawn in his game, but I'll play by his rules if it will show him I'm the one worth breaking them for. Checkmate, Prince Charming" (Fox).

*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.* **This is book 1 of 2 in the Checkmate Duet Series--a friends to lovers romance. Highly recommended to read the Checkmate Duet, This is War and This is Love first, but not necessary. This can read as a standalone duet.**

My overall thoughts and review: I am seriously falling in love with Kennedy Fox books. This one is definitely up there as one of my favorites now. It follows Courtney (Viola's bestfriend who is known for her blueberry muffins, LOL I was craving blueberry muffins the entire time reading this) and Drew (Viola's brother). They became roommates after Travis and Viola got together and Courtney has always had a thing for Drew. Unfortunately "Mia Effin Montgomery" complicates things and she was seriously a psychopath that added some drama to the mix. It is pitched as a friends to romance story and I'm seriously a sucker for those. I think personally, good relationships are first built on good friendships and I really liked seeing that develop with Drew & Courtney. You get to see other couples interacting like Viola & Travis, which was nice if you as a reader came to this book after reading their duet. It was like a continuation of their story since their wedding takes place in the book and their honeymoon. You also get to see Courtney and Drew with Viola & Travis' kids: Ginny and James, which was really cute so a huge factor of family. I really liked that KF touched on Drew's worklife - the dangers of being a policeman, working with his partner Logan (AHH!).You see the risks of it really towards the end of the book. A huge step in their relationship was when Drew visited Courtney's family with her and it was really sweet. He got to see her upbringing and meet her family (she has four brothers who clearly love her!) Some of my favorite swoonworthy moments include: their texting which is adorable and just how Drew falls so hard for her. Again, I love that they were friends first which makes their relationship all the more special. They also have traditions together like drinks on Ladies Night, and watching two films on Halloween (so cute)! Like the previous Duet series, this first book does end on a cliffhanger and had me raging, so I really hope my OTP #Drewtney are ok in the next book or else I will not be pleased. I just really love both as characters. Courtney, like Viola, is incredibly strong and independent and when she loves, she loves hard.  Drew was frustrating in the beginning not seeing Mia for the manipulative person she was, really grows as an individual. He loves hard as well, but he just stands up for himself and takes such good care of Courtney and his sister, Viola.Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I didn't think I'd be swooning over Viola's brother tbh (especially after Travis King lololol), but goodness, I love this couple so much and I can't wait to see their relationship grow even further in the next book.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
KennedyFoxBooks, Kobo Books, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Review: Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci

Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Ryan Kelly, & Kelly Fitzpatrick. 

Publishing Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: DC Comics / Young Animal
Pages: 144

The Premise from the Publisher: "Far away on the planet Meta, Loma's going nowhere fast. She's dropped out of school, dumped her boyfriend and is bored out of her mind. She longs to feel things. That's where her idol, the lunatic poet Rac Shade, and his infamous madness coat come in. Loma steals the garment and makes a break across galaxies to take up residence in a new body: Earth girl Megan Boyer. Surely everything will be better on this passionate, primitive planet with a dash of madness on her side and this human girl's easy life. Only now that she's here, Loma discovers being a teenaged Earth girl comes with its own challenges and Earth may not be everything she thought it'd be. Megan Boyer was a bully who everyone was glad was almost dead, and now Loma has to survive high school and navigate the consequences of the life she didn't live with the ever-growing and uncontrollable madness at her side. Not to mention that there are people back on her homeworld who might just want Shade's coat back" (DC).

"SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL is a part of DC's Young Animal--a four-book grassroots mature-reader imprint, creatively spearheaded by Gerard Way, bridging the gap between the DC Universe and Vertigo, and focusing on the juxtaposition between visual and thematic storytelling" (DC).

My overall thoughts and review: I'm not familiar with the previous presentation of Shade, so I went into this graphic novel with no prior history. Apparently, previously, Shade was the Changing Man and in Castellucci's iteration, Shade is re-imagined as a teenage girl. It was quite confusing when it first started off because Shade steals this coat that allows her to travel across galaxies and take residence in a new body. Shade chooses the body of Megan Boyer, who is brain dead but miraculously wakes up. The reader soon learns that Megan was actually a horrible bully and now Shade is facing those consequences. She is trying to learn about what really happened the night of Megan's accident that landed her in a coma, how she was on the swim team, and who her true friends are. The art can be quite beautiful at times but I'm not a big fan of the art style to begin with. I found it really confusing to follow at times and that really slowed down my entire reading process for this graphic novel. The flip flop between earth and Shade's planet back home was incredibly confusing and it didn't take until the second issue/chapter to really learn about the jacket and how Shade stole it. The collected series, which follows issues #1-6, does resolve the mystery of the Megan arc somewhat (but what really happened that night and who did it?!?) and it appears that Shade is trying to make amends for what Megan had done which is nice since its technically not her mess to clean up. But it was incredibly unbelievable how other humans just simply accepted that Shade was now an alien in Megan's body (her parents for example) and it was hard to distinguish memories at times. Overall, I really tried to enjoy this read, but with the art style really not hooking me and the narrative confusing me more than ever, I don't think I'll continue on with this series.

My rating of the book: ✮✮ (2/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Review: Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Sparrow by L.J. Shen

Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 310

The Premise from the Author: "Troy Brennan. Every Southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart-throb with steel-blue eyes. "The Fixer" who can make or break you in this city. Oh, and my new husband. Sparrow Raynes. That's me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life. But then he caged me. Kidnapped me. And killed every chance I had to run away from the place where we grew up. Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings. I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he'll ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all" (Shen).

My overall thoughts and review: So I first started my love with L.J. Shen's writing with her book Vicious, I absolutely loved it and I'm slowly working my way through her backlist. I always have such a hard time writing reviews for books I really love because I feel like all I say is, it's good, it's good, it's good. But I really want to write a review promoting L.J. Shen's books because she is slowly becoming one of my favorite romance authors ever. I'm going to slowly write reviews for all of her books, and this one is one that I've read recently and literally devoured in a day. I had a day off and spent the entire day in bed reading this. I could not put it down and when it ended, I was pretty sad that there wasn't more. There is something about her writing that is so captivating and I'm immediately drawn into the world and the characters. The story of Sparrow has the premise of an arranged marriage between a mob boss' son. Sparrow is forced into marrying Troy, who she barely knows and has only heard some rumors about. Those rumors she heard also weren't really good and they were about Troy murdering some people. Immediately, Troy is definitely a hard-to-love character, but you can't help falling for him. Everything he even says to Sparrow, makes you as the reader, fall for him. He is so mysterious, charming, and cutthroat. He doesn't make excuses and gets right to the point which I like. I also really liked how Sparrow was because she was his equal. She didn't stand for any of his crap, and anything that he dished out to her, she was able to throw it right back. They had a slow-burn romance that I am a big fan of. I love seeing relationships develop and do a complete 180 and surprise the reader. I absolutely loved watching their story unfold and how much of their relationship began with their family and their mistakes. I will say that this story does not get a full five stars from me simply because of some questionable things that happened with Troy and also with another character, Catalina (who I absolutely hated!). Some things simply didn't sit well with me, regardless of technicalities (Sparrow and Troy weren't a 'real' couple yet, but still). Besides that, I really enjoyed this read and it is my second favorite of her books after Vicious. There are so many layers to Troy & Sparrow, and I loved that it was more than simply a relationship between a girl and a mobster's son. Shen does an amazing job at world building and making sure that her characters actually live in the narrative as opposed to simply relying on dialogue. I was definitely surprised to with a few revelations so the story is always keeping you on your toes. If you haven't been introduced to L.J. Shen yet, what are you waiting for? She mixes romance perfectly with crime and suspense.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

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