Monday, 17 September 2018

Blog Tour: Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll - Review & Excerpt

Body Swap by Sylvia McNicoll

Publishing Date: September 15, 2018
Publisher: Dundurn
Pages: 248
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "A fatal collision - who's to blame? Two bodies, two souls switch in search of justice. When fifteen-year-old Hallie gets knocked flying by a Hurricane SUV, her life ends without her ever having kissed a boy. At an otherworldly carnival, she meets and argues with the eighty-two-year-old driver, Susan. Both return to life, only with one catch - they've swapped bodies. Now Hallie has wrinkled skin and achy joints while Susan deals with a forehead zit and a crush on a guy who's a player. Hallie faces a life in a long-term care residence. Susan gets picked up for shoplifting. As they struggle with technology, medications, and each other's fashion foibles, they start to understand and maybe even like each other. But can they work together to prove that a defect in the Hurricane caused the deadly crash? Or will their time run out?" (Dundurn).

My overall thoughts and review: From the beginning of the book, I liked Susan's character. She was instantly likable and she really felt young at heart which I appreciated. I wasn't completely over the moon with Hallie to begin with because she felt a bit annoying and superficial since her concerns were solely getting a boyfriend and texting. Also her first concern after the near death experience wasn't about how she had so much to do, but she would've died not having kissed a boy. She felt incredibly vapid and self involved but I'm happy to say that through the concept of the #BodySwap, things change for Hallie. She was much more likable towards the second half of the book and I liked seeing her grow as a character. It takes place in Burlington and I liked seeing how they both came to help one another out. Susan wanted to help Hallie get a boyfriend and Hallie wanted to make sure that Susan was able to keep her freedom and not end up in a retirement home. There's a mystery/investigative aspect of the book involving what really led to the accident that happened in terms of the defect on the car. There's also an unexpected twist in regards to Hallie's quest for a boyfriend. The book is on the shorter side but it deals with body image and ageism, and overall, I really enjoyed it. It also has a Christmas/winter setting which was nice too. I really liked the idea of Freaky Friday but with a complete stranger, and it just goes to show how putting yourself in another person's shoes (quite literally) can alter your perspective on many things.

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

Available for purchase at:
DundurnChapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository

Excerpt from the Author - Carpe Diem

Be sure to drop by the other stops on the tour for more content about #BodySwap! 

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

Monday, 10 September 2018

Blog Tour: Dirty Headlines by L.J. Shen - Excerpt


"Dirty Headlines is a fantastic enemies to lovers office romance with a perfect filthy asshole hero that I wish I'd written myself." - Laurelin Paige, New York Times bestselling author

Dirty Headlines, an all-new sexy, enemies-to-lovers romance from bestselling author L.J. Shen is available NOW!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Blog Tour: Sadie by Courtney Summers - Review and Author Q&A

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 320
Young Adult

The Premise from the Publisher: "A missing girl on a journey of revenge and a Serial-like podcast following the clues she's left behind. Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him. When West McCray-a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America-overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late" (SMP).

My overall thoughts and review: I had read a book by Courtney Summers a few years back and even participated in the blog tour for it, and I really loved it! If you want to see my review for All the Rage, click here! I stand by what I wrote many moons ago about Summers writing. She writes about dark subject matter in a way that angers you, but also fuels a fire in you. She makes you "feel" about the subject matter. I was really interested to see how this book would play out because it's written in two ways: there is the main podcast script and then there's the story told from Sadie's perspective. I love podcasts and it was actually Serial that got me into podcasts to begin with. The thing with podcasts though, especially ones like Serial, as you listen, you have more questions than you have answers. I think that was especially frustrating and I definitely felt that while reading this book. But what I liked were the chapters from Sadie's perspectives. I found you got the answers you were missing in those parts. Sadie's story is completely gut-wrenching and she was definitely a protagonist that had your heart breaking each time her chapter came around. She is someone who has been through so much and dealt a bad hand, and the one thing in her life that she gave all her energy for was her sister Mattie. Mattie's disappearance and death completely altered her. You really feel her loneliness and her grief in her chapters. Without spoiling the main points of the plot, I really enjoyed this book. It was slow to begin with and it takes some getting used to the format, but once the story picks up about 1/5 of the way in, you'll find yourself having a hard time putting it down.

There was one part of the text that really resonated with me and that was when West (who is the host of the podcasts) sits down with Claire (Sadie's mom), and she gets mad at him because he uses his own daughter "as a reason to see the pain and suffering in her world, and as an excuse in attempt to fix it" (309). We listen to these podcasts, watch these documentaries, and read articles about cases like Mattie and Sadie's, and we look for answers in hopes that somehow we can 'fix' things. I'll admit to getting personally-invested with certain cases, and I know I do because I feel heartache over it, but in a way, my personal investment isn't really for the case itself or the victims, is it? Summers reminds us that we can never really know the full story, but that doesn't mean stories like Mattie and Sadie should simply be swept under the rug once they are "solved" or once they reach a dead end. These kind of stories deserve and need to be told, and not only once.

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

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

Author Question and Answer
Q: What message do you hope your readers take away from the book?
That’s entirely up to them. I think that’s one of the most wonderful things about books; that they can mean different things to different readers, and I wouldn’t want to impose my feelings on that at all. 
Podcast Alert!
The first episode of THE GIRLS: FIND SADIE, an original (fake) true crime podcast series based on Courtney Summer’s novel Sadie, is available exclusively on Paste Magazine!  You can also visit to subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts and listen to a teaser now.

The trailer for the show is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and all the major podcast platforms. Episode 1 will be available beginning August 1st, and the six-part series will air weekly.

Listen, subscribe, leave a review, and tell your friends!

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.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Blog Tour: The Lost Queen by Signe Pike - Review and Excerpt

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 544
Fantasy Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "I write because I have seen the darkness that will come. Already there are those who seek to tell a new history... In a land of mountains and mist, tradition and superstition, Languoreth and her brother Lailoken are raised in the Old Way of their ancestors. But in Scotland, a new religion is rising, one that brings disruption, bloodshed, and riot. And even as her family faces the burgeoning forces of Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons, bent on colonization, are encroaching from the east. When conflict brings the hero Emrys Pendragon to her father’s door, Languoreth finds love with one of his warriors. Her deep connection to Maelgwn is forged by enchantment, but she is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a Christian king. As Languoreth is catapulted into a world of violence and political intrigue, she must learn to adapt. Together with her brother—a warrior and druid known to history as Myrddin—Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way and the survival of her kingdom, or risk the loss of them both forever. Based on new scholarship, this tale of bravery and conflicted love brings a lost queen back to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of one of the most enduring legends of all time" (Touchstone).

My overall thoughts and review: When I read that the comp for this book was The Mists of Avalon meets Philippa Gregory, I was instantly sold. This story is based on new scholarship and focuses on the sister of Merlin/Lailoken, Languoreth. She was married Rhydderch, and in a lot of popular culture, the emphasis is more on her brother and his connection with the Pendragons. I had no idea Merlin even had a sister to begin with, so I was intrigued. I know that with historical fiction, certain liberties are taken and I'm ok with that. I don't think I've read a historical fiction that takes place during the sixth century, but after finishing this, I'm already awaiting more books from Signe Pike, and I want to read everything I can about the sixth century.

This book is divided into four sections and it's quite a big book, but the way Pike writes does a wonderful job at world building. I felt I could easily envision Cadzow, Patrick, and Strathclyde. Everything was so vivid in Pike's descriptions. I definitely got some Game of Thrones vibes from the book. Languoreth's father, Morken, was a Northern King, and while Lailoken was able to go forth and become a Wisdom Keeper, Languoreth was to be wedded to someone who would one day become King to strengthen the alliance between the Northern King and the High King. Languoreth finds herself attracted to a warrior in Emrys Pendragon's group named Maelgwn. As a romance reader, I loved these parts of the book so much. There were some swoony moments, but I will say, I wanted so much more. Give me more Languoreth and Maelgwn please!! Things change in the second part of the book though, when Languoreth is wedded to Rhydderch to strengthen the alliance. Though Rhydderch was a good husband to her, there wasn't the passion and love that was present with Maelgwn. I loved how this was more than a love story, because it focused on court politics, what one does to protect one's family, and the way women were treated during this time period. Langoureth is placed in such a unique position, because she must be careful in her new home and adjusting to the new rules, while her heart is firmly still set upon the Old Ways. I don't want to give away too much of the plot points, but there were quite a few twists and turns I did not see coming. There is a lot in this novel.. and I really loved Langoureth as a character. She's incredibly strong and there's so much that she went through. The final two parts of the book focus more so on Langoureth's marriage to Rhydderch, and then finally, her role as a mother. So I'm guessing now that the future books in the trilogy will focus on another character instead of Langoureth. But I do hope to see more of her in the future books again. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the world building and just how strong of a female protagonist Langoureth was. I've read and watched many adaptations of the Merlin and King Arthur lore, but never has there been one that focuses on a female during the sixth century and their struggles. This book is incredibly unique and even if you aren't particularly interested in the history of this time period, it's a beautiful book about love and family.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮½ (4.5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository

Chapter Excerpt
A “Knowing,” or so the Wisdom Keepers called them. At night, and even in waking, Lail told me, he dreamt of such things: salmon circling the bottom of a forest pool, or the speckled eggs of a faraway falcon’s nest. It had been Lail who had woken from sleep that first morning after Mother died and heeded the call to the river. There he’d found the red stag standing in the shallows as if it were waiting. My brother had a gift for reading such signs from the Gods. We were only ten winters—Lailoken was young to have such skill. Yet Lail could not make sense of why the great deer had come. Even so, I could sense now that my brother’s gift was growing. Messengers came often to Cadzow with news for our father, but never before had Lailoken foreseen one. 
I shifted on the stones, straining to hear the sound of hoofbeats I knew were not yet approaching. A rider was coming—it was only a matter of when—and soon our nursemaid Crowan would wake to find our beds empty. I knew we should hurry, yet I could not take my eyes from the water. 
“Was that truly Mother we saw?” I asked. “Is that what it’s like when you see someone from Spirit?” 
“Don’t know.” Lailoken squinted. “I’ve never seen a spirit before.” 
“She looked just as real as anyone. Do you think if we stayed . . . we might see her again?” 
Lail’s blue eyes trailed to the water almost hopefully. But then he shook his head and wiped his nose on the back of his hand. I felt the small stab as he shut me out again and looked to the cliff top, where a yolky sun was filtering through the forest. The spell of dawn had broken. In the current, the stag shifted and meandered toward the opposite bank. I wanted to rest my head on his smooth flanks, make my mother reappear so she could chase away the emptiness. But we moved instead to climb the trail, turning our backs on the water. 
As we reached the little gully where our mother had so often sat by our side, I heard the echo of her voice rising up from the depths of my longing. She had called out my name in the darkness of my dream. But her voice had not been tender or full of love.
Her voice had been full of warning.

Disclaimer: An advanced e-reader's copy of the book was provided by Simon and Schuster Canada for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Batch Reviews #6

Shimmy Bang Sparkle by Nicola Rendell - (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing - Montlake Romance
Pages: 320

My Review: This cover and the title of the book *heart emojis all around* - This story follows the leader of master jewel thieves, Stella of the Shimmy Shimmy Bangs, and Nick Norton, who has recently been released from jail. Nick wants to stay on the straight and narrow road, but finds himself drawn to Stella. Stella also is planning a heist that will set her and her team up for life, but with her team out of commission, she has to turn to Nick. I loved seeing them fall in love with another and seeing the risks they were willing to take for each other. Nick is totally alpha male and seeing him put everything on the line for Stella was so, so, sweet! A very cute dog also makes a special appearance in the book so I was all for that. This book was so much fun, it had lots of laugh out loud moments, and ton of moments that had me swooning. This is my first time reading anything by Nicola Rendell, and she officially has a fan for life!

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

International Guy: Paris, New York, Copenhagen (International Guy #1-3) by Audrey Carlin -  (✮✮✮ - 3/5)
Publishing Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing - Montlake Romance
Pages: 400

My Review: So this is a collection of novellas that Carlin has put together. The series is actually quite big spanning 12 novellas. I was interested in the premise because each novella takes place in a different city, and of course, with my strong love with Paris and New York, I was sold. Unfortunately, the story definitely fell short for me. I found a lot of moments cringe worthy and hard for me to suspend my disbelief. I just couldn't get on board with Parker. There are sexy moments, but something about him definitely bugged me. I also was disappointed to learn that as the novellas went on, the focus remained on Parker, and didn't really focus on the other two guys in the business as well. It's definitely readable and I read this pretty quickly, but I'm not sure if I'll pick up the next novellas in the series.

Available for purchase: 
Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, and Kindle
Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Hot Asset by Lauren Layne (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: May 22, 2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing - Montlake Romance
Pages: 270

My Review: I've always loved a good business man/CEO type male lead in romance stories. I haven't read a book that takes place on Wall Street though, so I was immediately drawn to this one. I absolutely LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down. It follows Ian Bradley who exudes the Wall Street persona and an investigator, Lara, who is investigating him on a tip of insider trading. Lara is the first to not fall for Ian's charms and I just loved seeing their interactions going toe-to-toe, but also finding it hard to deny their attraction to one another. I loved seeing them fall for each other, but I think what I loved most is all the secondary characters in the book as well. Ian has two best friends who he works with, there's also his old friend Sabrina, and of course, their awesome assistant who manages their day to day life. I feel like the next few stories will focus on the other people in his life which is nice. It reminds me of the large friend group that is reminiscent of Christina Lauren's books. I loved Ian and Lara's story and I can't wait to read the others in the series to see everyone else's HEA.

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Burning Up by Jennifer Blackwood (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing - Montlake Romance
Pages: 256

My Review: I've read a firefighter romance a while back by Karina Halle called Hot Shot, and I really enjoyed it, so I'm all for more firefighter stories ;) When I read the premise for this one, I was definitely intrigued because it's also a single father romance. What was refreshing about this book was that the child was not a baby or a toddler. Jake's daughter, Bailey, was a preteen. It was quite nice to see the change in dynamic and see how their relationship worked. I really like stories that have the trope of bestfriend's sister, or brother's bestfriend. Erin and Jake's attraction was clear from the get-go and I just loved seeing them find their pacing and what worked for them. There was a lot of back and forth, and doubting what was right, but I liked seeing Erin fall back in love with her home in the process as well. I'm excited for the next book because it follows Erin's brother Reece, and I really hope we get more about their sister, Andie! If you like firefighters, a quirky protagonist, and a heavy emphasis on family, this is the read for you!

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Review: Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart 

Publishing Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Young Adult Fantasy

The Premise from the Publisher: "Serina Tessaro has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace--someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. It's her chance to secure a better life for her family, and to keep her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, out of trouble. But when Nomi catches the Heir's eye instead, Serina is the one who takes the fall for the dangerous secret her sister has been hiding. Trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one option: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to save Serina. But this is easier said than done.... A traitor walks the halls of the palazzo, and deception lurks in every corner. Meanwhile Serina is running out of time. Imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive, surrounded by women stronger than she is, one wrong move could cost her everything. There is no room for weakness on Mount Ruin, especially weaknesses of the heart. Thrilling and captivating, Grace and Fury is a story of fierce sisterhood, and of survival in a world that's determined to break you" (LB).

My overall thoughts and review: As some of you may know now, I'm not a huge fantasy reader. I like fantasy books, but I don't read them so often because it takes a lot to immerse yourself into the world, and it's hard for me to jump into a new world so soon after that. And because I haven't read a ton of fantasy, it's not very often that I read one and it completely blows me away. That was the case with Indigo's August Staff Pick of the Month, Grace and Fury! The last fantasy YA book that I read also happens to be an Indigo Staff Pick of the Month - Everless by Sara Holland - the Indigo SPOTMs have been really good with picking their fantasy picks! ;)

I had heard good reviews from my fellow staff members and bookish friends about how feminist this book was and I'm all for that. I read a bit on my trip away and once I got home, I absolutely devoured this book and could not put it down. The book follows two perspectives: Serina and Nomi. Serina has been prepared to become a Grace, and her sister Nomi, her handmaiden. This is the future that would've been best for them and their family, but things don't go that way, when Nomi is chosen as a Grace and Serina is sent off to Mount Ruin, a prison essentially for women. In this world that Banghart has created, women are to be submissive and aren't allowed to read. They essentially have no rights and are meant to simply play the role that the men in this world have created for them. The sad part is that some men in this world take pleasure in breaking the will of women. Despite that, I loved seeing how both sisters adapted to their new roles and were able to find ways they could stand up to the patriarchy. Although apart, every action one did, they thought of the other. They were able to find likely allies in their new surroundings and I loved that Banghart demonstrated sisterhood is possible even if it isn't blood related. I did see a couple of the twists and turns coming, and in some cases, that would deter me since I figured it out, but in this case, it just made me happy that Banghart went a certain direction instead. In cases where sisterhood and family are involved, some stories can often portray such a volatile relationship that gets caught up in selfishness and betrayal, and I loved that Banghart demonstrated something that can overcome that, something more. Despite not knowing where the other is, and how they are doing in their new surroundings, Serina and Nomi, both loved one another deeply, and they both really demonstrated the importance of family. The book definitely ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I hope that means that there are many more books in this series to come. I LOVED this and I would highly recommend this for fans of Sarah J. Maas!

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

Available for purchase at:

Disclaimer: *I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review.* #IndigoEmployee 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Book Club Reads Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Earlier this year, my best friends and I got together to start a book club. I've been wanting to start one for ages and it's always a scary process starting something and worrying about how it will keep it's momentum. You also want to ensure people genuinely have a good time after every meeting and that you are reading books that are interesting. There also needs to be a good dynamic among your group to foster good discussion. After almost 5 months of doing it, I can say adding a book club to my life is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Not only do I get to read books I didn't think I would read, I get to do that with my best friends and get together once a month to discuss them. Reading is such a solitary act, and to come together having read the same book each month brings a social aspect to reading that is quite nice. We don't always agree on if we liked the book or not, but it's great to get various perspectives and to hear everyone's thoughts. 

I also went camping not too long ago, hence the photo here, but book club has brought some firsts for me too. While camping, I read one of the stories out loud to my boyfriend and it was such an awesome experience. We read Big Driver by the camp fire and I think having read the story out loud, it really stuck with me the most out of all the stories. It reminded me of reading out assignments or sharing creative writing in school, but of course, in a fun way. As a fast reader, I feel like reading out loud allows me to slow down and take a step back, and really absorb the text. I won't be able to read every book out loud, but short story collections make moments like that possible. 

This past month we all read Stephen King's Full Dark, No Stars, which is a short story collection of four stories: 1922, Big Driver, Fair Extension, and A Good Marriage. Vik and Liane hosted book club at their place this month since King's book was one of Liane's picks. We designate a month to a person and their book pick! We had lots of great discussion about the themes of family and children that link the four stories together, the narrator's voice and the constructions of self, and the nature of human behavior when in dire circumstances. Everyone was in agreement that the strongest stories of the collection were definitely Big Driver and A Good Marriage

Our hosts went all out and even made themed food items for the event and then we all sat around afterwards and watched the trailers for the various movies. We had some mini pizzas that looked like rats (from 1922), Arlette's Lemonade (from 1922), Spotted Hen Microbrew (from Fair Extension), and Perrier and Lime (from A Good Marriage). The creativity!! *heart eyes emojis galore* Three of the books have been made into movie adaptations. 1922 is the most recent one having come out last year on Netflix. 

I've also gathered some book club members thoughts on the book to share with you all: 
Michelle: “I really loved reading a King book starring a few female protagonists that struggled with dynamic women’s issues. Big Diver was a personal favourite! A story in the horror genre from the female perspective about sexual assault really had me thinking about this and related issues in a new way." 
Niki: "Full Dark, No Stars was endlessly captivating. Each story being more horrific than the last. It wasn't the frightening events that made it as harrowing, but rather the idea that these events were common events, each becoming more and more likely a situation that could exist in our own lives. It was the unexpected  human conscience that was within each story that made it most enjoyable, and the slow collapse in the aftermath of the events. Definitely one of the best books I've read all year."
Liane: "Full Dark, No Stars (a title that is also a warning for what lies ahead) is a collection of stories with a strong theme that threads through each of the four novellas - retributive justice and what that means to each narrator. The stories left me disgusted, unable to sleep, annoyed, and questioning my own actions as well as those of the people around me. Typical Stephen King. 
Jeremy: "I'm not usually a big reader, but I really enjoyed all these stories with Big Driver being my favorite. They kept me wanting to read more and more. I'm definitely becoming a Stephen King fan."  
Brandon: "King’s decision to write from perspectives different than his usual style was refreshing and displays his growth as a writer. I enjoyed that the collection of short stories featured protagonists with varying levels of involvement in the horror that takes place."
I would like to thank the lovely folks at Simon and Schuster Canada for sponsoring the book club this month and sending over copies of the book for us. It's definitely something that will have a special spot on all of our shelves. If you like more book club recaps like this, I'll be sure to post more in the future. I hope that by the end of this post, you will feel inspired to join or start up your own book club. Reading is already rewarding because you get to immerse yourself into new worlds, but reading with a book club ensures you aren't going it alone ;) 

Friday, 27 July 2018

Blog Tour: Sanctuary by Caryn Lix - Review and Author Q&A

Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

Publishing Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 480
Young Adult Sci-Fi

The Premise from the Publisher: "Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything. As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward. But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners. At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely. As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows" (Simon Pulse).

My overall thoughts and review: This book was pitched as The Darkest Minds meets Alien, and I'd like to push it one further and mention that it also has similar components to the CW's The 100 tv show. I don't often read a ton of sci-fi even though I enjoy the genre quite a lot. I find a lot of it can seem similar and repetitive, and it really needs to be written in a way that is accessible. I knew I instantly liked this book when the first chapter opened with the main character, Kenzie, reading manga before bed. For Kenzie, her life has been consumed by Sanctuary, which is essentially a prison for superpowered teenagers. Her entire family works with her on Sanctuary and she is training to be a junior guard. The story opens with what seems to be drills that set up the story. However, the novel moves quite quickly that Kenzie is taken hostage by some prisoners that have planned a prison break. Through this tricky situation, Kenzie learns where her alliances lie, and what freedom actually looks like. Kenzie finds herself bonding with the prisoners and seeing that she connects with them on a much more deeper level. I had to remind myself a couple of times how quickly the novel moved because it was so action-packed. I liked that each chapter ended on a bit of a cliffhanger which had me turning the pages quite quickly. I also liked how the secondary characters were nicely developed, like Rune, Mia, Alexei, Tyler, and Anya. But the people that take center stage of the whole novel is definitely Kenzie and Cage. Both really strong characters that brought up a lot of questions about morality and freedom. I'm not usually a fan of insta-love, and it really isn't insta-love, but rather insta-attraction, but I immediately shipped them. I'm also all for a Mandarin Chinese love interest (kudos to Lix for all the diversity in characters). Overall, if you are looking for a fast-paced prison-break style sci-fi novel with a dash of aliens, this is the read for you. I look forward to seeing what Lix writes next for this group of teens and seeing where the story goes. Lix writes in a really digestible manner that even if you aren't a sci-fi reader regularly, you can definitely find something in this to enjoy!

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

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository

Author Question and Answer
1. Which character do you identify with most? 
I think I identify with all of them to one extent or another: Kenzie’s journey of exploration, Cage’s quiet exasperation that people don’t just do what he says, Mia’s frustrations, Rune’s desire for everything to work out well. Everyone in the book is a little bit of me!
2. What other other books, film, and/or television that take place in deep space inspire you? 
I am a huge Firefly fan, but there are a lot of deep space stories I love: the Expanse series, Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course Aliens. If it takes place in space, I’m pretty much there for it, all the way back to the original Star Trek series. 
3. What do you hope your readers take away from the book? 
I hope readers have a great time with this story. I think it’s a fast-paced thrill ride, and that’s most of what I hope they get from it: the allure of adventure and the rush of near misses. On a slightly deeper level, there are a lot of messages in Sanctuary about questioning what you’ve grown up believing, being open to other perspectives, and looking beyond the surface. I hope that makes it through too!
4. Is there more to come in the world of Omnistellar & Sanctuary? 
Absolutely! There is a sequel planned for next summer, and beyond that… who knows? 
5. Also, because I'm a big manga fan and you basically had me from the first page where Kenzie is reading manga way past her bedtime, what are some of your favorite manga titles? 
I have an unhealthy obsession with Attack on Titan. I will take any opportunity to dress up as Hange and run around town in my ODM gear. I’m also a big fan of Sword Art Online. But the anime that really caught my attention WAAAAY back in the day was Ranma ½!
Thank you so much, Caryn, for stopping by and answering some questions! I look forward to the next installment of Sanctuary next summer!  

Disclaimer: An advanced e-reader's copy of the book was provided by Simon and Schuster Canada for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Review: Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah Maclean

Wicked and the Wallflower (The Bareknuckle Bastards Book 1) by Sarah Maclean 

Publishing Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Avon Books / HarperCollins
Pages: 416
Historical Romance

The Premise from the Publisher: "When Wicked Comes Calling . . . When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it. The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain . . . Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy. For the Promise of Passion . . .But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos and he must choose between everything he's ever wanted . . . and the only thing he's ever desired" (Avon).

My overall thoughts and review: So I have to admit something. This book was my first ever historical romance. :O I legit don't know why I waited so long to read historical romance. I think it's honestly feeling overwhelmed by where to start and who to read. I'm so glad that I decided to start with this one by Sarah Maclean, because 1) it's the start of a new series and 2) my good friend, Eden, recommended this and loved it. Since finishing this, I've been absolutely tearing through historical romance reads and I'm hooked! To begin with, I absolutely loved the premise of the book and how it takes place in a much darker part of London, and before Covent Garden is what it is today. We follow Felicity, who is witty, quick, strong, and brave. She agrees to make a bargain with the Devil, who promises to help her land the guy she wants, but she finds herself falling for him the process. They have an undeniable attraction and I just loved what they brought out in each other. They both saw more in each other and I loved that they were able to show the other why they loved one another.  Other things besides a beautiful and sexy relationship between the two leads that I really enjoyed about the story, was the secondary characters. I immediately liked Grace and Whit, and I just loved learning about their family and what led them to where they are today. I'm falling in love with historical romance reads because yes, it does take the reader to another time and place in history, but it deals with a lot of things that are relate-able to contemporary times. Felicity was once part of a popular friend group, and then she was an outcast. It looks at how others shape our identity, and what happens when that changes. I will say that Maclean also writes dialogue between characters really well. I feel immediately immersed into the conversation and I just love some of her quick-witted lines. All in all, I loved this book. I legit hugged it when I finished it. I've already went back to read some her backlist, but I totally see myself rereading this for years to come. Already counting down the days until the next book in the series! ;)

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

Available for purchase at:
Indigo, Kobo, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Review: Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken

Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken

Publishing Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Pages: 304
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Publisher: "Blaire has never quite gotten over Jessie Beckett, the ex–NFL star whose kisses were hot enough to ignite the entire Eastern Seaboard. When he chose work over her, Blaire was left brokenhearted. Why else would she have married a skeezy two-timer, just to divorce him less than a year later? Now Blaire is getting even by becoming one half of Dirty Exes, a PI firm fully committed to humiliating cheating jerks. If only the new jerk she’s been hired to uncover wasn’t Jessie Beckett himself. Exposing Jessie isn’t going to be easy, especially when she still daydreams about his sexy smile. Further complicating matters is Colin, Jessie’s best friend. He’s gorgeous, a little bit cunning, and willing to help Blaire get the inside scoop on Jessie—for a price. Now caught between two men—one totally right and the other totally wrong—Blaire will need to decide just how much she’s willing to risk…and whom she’s willing to risk it for" (Amazon).

My overall thoughts and review: So I do this thing, when I finish a book and I love it so much, I sit there for a few moments afterwards just hugging it. This was definitely one of those books. I've been a fan of RVD's writing for a while now, and when I heard she was coming out with a new series, I was all for it. In many ways, this reminded me of her Fraternize book, because the lead is torn between two guys, and honestly, it could go either way. This book constantly surprised me and honestly had me smiling from ear to ear. To begin with, you follow Blaire, who has been dealt a horrible hand. She caught her husband Jason, cheating on her with her ex-bestfriend. From there, she forms a type of PI firm with her new friend, Isla. Their job is essentially to catch people cheating and expose them. Unfortunately one day, her new case involves the one that got away, Jessie Beckett. They both find themselves drawn to one another again, but also add Jessie's bestfriend, Colin to the mix (who also happens to have an interest in Blaire). The reader can easily see that Blaire never fully came to terms with what happened, and she didn't really process all her anger from before with Jason, and with Jessie. I was honestly so impressed with how much growth Blaire demonstrated in the book and how she was willing to take a chance on love again. I don't want to spoil it and mention which guy she ends up picking, but let me say, I was like half-way through and I was so torn. I really liked both the guys. It's also hard because RVD gave us their perspectives as well, along with Blaire's. I will say that the ending does set it up nicely for the next book in the series, Dangerous Exes, so I'm already counting down the days for that release so I can see Blaire/The-Guy-She-Chose again, but also because Isla's HEA!! The guy Blaire does choose though, might seriously be my favorite book boyfriend yet. Overall this was a super fun and sexy book with lots of adorable and laugh out loud moments. If you love RVD, you will love this one! Before, I end the review.. I want to share a passage from the book when I decided I was definitely Team-??? (I refuse to spoil it) - I just loved how comfortable Blaire felt with this person, and that's whats really important in a relationship, finding your equal, your partner <3
"Want some cereal?"
My heart almost leaped out of my chest. "What kinds do you have?"
"Amateur." He smirked. "At least fifteen, pick your poison, then we can talk trash about your ex the rest of the night while I contemplate the positions I'm going to get you in later this week--I'm thinking we could really make a great team in the shower...naked."
"Naturally." I bit down on my lip and went with it even though I was already looking forward to the adventure. "But it all rests on this one question."
He braced his body against the kitchen table, looking so sexy I wanted to throw something at him. "Do you have Cocoa Puffs?"
My answer was a box flying at my face and a question about spoon preference.
I smiled.
A real smile.
And when we clinked our empty bowls together fifteen minutes later, I genuinely felt...happy.
(Page 179-180)  
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository

Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Blog Tour: Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather - Review & Author Guest Post

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

Publishing Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Sixteen-year-old Indy struggles to conceal her pregnancy while searching for a place to belong in this stunning debut novel. Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules—to study hard in school, be respectful, and to never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow. When Indy is sent to live with distant relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth. Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if perhaps she’s found the place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof—it’s about the people she chooses to share it with" (S&S).

My overall thoughts and review: Before I begin, I just want to state some trigger warnings related to the book: rape, sexual assault, and abuse. Despite the dark subject matter, I find books like this incredibly important and needed, especially in our current time. I was really drawn to the book to begin with because I haven't read a book in a Bahamian setting before, and the premise of Indy trying to find a place called home, really resonated with me. From the very beginning, I was drawn to Indy's voice. She's one of those characters that you just want to reach out and give a big hug to. She finds herself trying to conceal a pregnancy in a home where her aunt really doesn't like her, and where her abuser lurks quite nearby. Indy happens upon a yoga retreat one day, and from there builds relationships with those that run the retreat: Joe and Dion. Despite the rocky beginnings of their meeting, they both grow to become really important figures for Indy. They are both kind of the rough around the edges, but with a heart of gold kind of characters.

As someone who started yoga a few years back, I loved seeing Indy learn about yoga, and how it was able to give her some semblance of peace during her dark times. There's one particular scene where Indy is talking to a fellow yogi about breathing during yoga, and Susan says to her: "If something's that bad, don't breathe to pretend you're not there. Breathe to make the right moves to get out" (209). I love that quotation so much because it's the turning point for Indy. It's in that moment, she is able to find her voice and agency again, and to do what she thinks is best for herself.

I don't want to say too much more without spoiling the book, but this book definitely packs a punch. In addition to writing a strong protagonist voice, Mather also does a wonderful job of writing secondary characters. Some other characters I didn't mention, but I really enjoyed reading about were Smiley (she drove me crazy at times, but she is a good cousin through and through), Churchy (he is seriously one of the good ones), and Grammy (I loved hearing Grammy talk about Indy's mother). Mather focuses on the concept of a blended family for Indy and that's really important because it emphasizes a strong support group for survivors like Indy. This is timely read that speaks to not only the #MeToo movement, but it reminds us readers that we are not confined by our past, and that we always have the option to make choices that we believe is right and that we want.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮½ (4.5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository

Author Guest Post
TOPIC: If you could choose which actresses, and actors could bring your characters to life on the big screen who would they be, and why?
For Indy, I see an actress along the lines of Amber Riley.  A lot of what would make the right person to play that part is the look.  It irks me when a character is supposed to have a full-figured build, but someone who’s barely past slender is cast in the role.  The same goes for details like complexion—Indy’s got a darker skin tone, so that would have to be reflected in whoever portrayed her, and reflected accurately—not by clumsy use of foundation.  The same goes for Smiley’s character; she’s lighter in complexion, and pretty spindly, so I’d want to see that reflected in a choice of actress.  
When I think of an actor playing Churchy’s character, I could see someone like Caleb McLaughlin—a few years older, and a lot taller, playing his part.  I’d pick someone who could capture Churchy’s ordinary, gangly, and sweetly awkward ways. 
Across the board, one of the most important things is voice: all the actors and actresses should to be able to accurately and authentically speak Bahamian dialect.  I’ll be a regional spokesperson and say that all of us Caribbean folks are sick in our own mouths when we hear our accents being butchered or when we’re depicted as ever-smiling hospitality industry robots or exotic and oversimplified beach trinkets that just happen to knock about the islands as part of a wider cultural experience.  Regardless of region, we all want to see ourselves, our communities, our people depicted accurately.  If I had any say at all, that would be my biggest must-have, across the board.
Thank you so much, Janice, for swinging by the blog and offering some insight on who you think would be good in a film or tv version of your book. I really hope that it can come to life in the big screen one day!

Be sure to stop by other stops on the tour for more content! ;) 

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

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Review: One and Only by Jenny Holiday

One and Only (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #1) by Jenny Holiday

Publishing Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 368
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Publisher: "Miss Responsibility meets Mr. Reckless. With her bridezilla friend on a DIY project rampage, bridesmaid Jane Denning will do anything to escape - even if it means babysitting the groom's troublemaker brother before the wedding. It should be a piece of cake, except the "cake" is a sarcastic former soldier who is 100% wicked hotness and absolutely off-limits. Cameron MacKinnon is ready to let loose after returning from his deployment. But first he'll have to sweet talk the ultra-responsible Jane into taking a walk on the wild side. Turns out, riling her up is the best time he's had in years. But what happens when the fun and games start to turn into something real?"

My overall thoughts and review: My co-worker who introduced me to The Kiss Quotient (which I read and loved: review here!) also recommended this book to me. I picked it up from the library and I was so excited to learn that it took place in Ontario (lots of awesome references to the CN tower and Niagara Falls). This is my first time reading something by Jenny Holiday, and I just love the idea of the series focusing on the bridesmaid finding their HEA. I was instantly drawn to Jane as a character because I see a lot of myself in her, with her love for all things nerdy (she cosplays Xena for Comic Con!) and how she loves to write. She is definitely the responsible one of her friend group, and when her bestfriend/bridezilla, Elise, asks her to babysit her future brother-in-law, she doesn't hesitate. I love that despite their awkward meeting in the beginning, Jane and Cameron have such amazing chemistry. I loved learning about their backgrounds: Jane and her life as a writer, and Cameron's history of being in the army. There's also a strong focus on family and friendship as well. This book definitely emphasizes seeing people beyond what they appear to be, and also to jump fearlessly and take chances. I loved how they were able to save one another in some way, but they also demonstrated a lot of strength and growth on their own as characters. This book was simply the perfect RomCom book. It was sexy, sweet, and had a lot of LOL moments. I also loved seeing the other bridesmaids as well because it makes me excited for the next two books in the series. Overall, I really loved this book and I can't wait to read the next one (I've already picked it up.. so I will be starting it A.S.A.P)!

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

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository

Monday, 25 June 2018

Review: Rough & Tumble by Rhenna Morgan

Rough & Tumble (Men of Haven #1) by Rhenna Morgan

Publishing Date: May 29, 2018 (MMP)
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: 432

The Premise from the Publisher: "Live hard, love harder and make your own rules. Those are the cornerstones the Men of Haven bleed by. Heaven help the poor bastards who get between them and the women they’ve claimed as their own. Jace Kennedy lives for the challenge. He sees Vivienne Moore’s hidden wild side and knows she’s his perfect match, if only he can break it free. Earning her trust is a task unlike any he’s faced so far, but Jace didn’t get where he is by giving up.Vivienne’s determined to ditch her past, even if that means hiding her true self behind a bland socialite veneer. Dragging her party-hound sister out of a club was not how she wanted to ring in the New Year, but Viv knows the drill. Get in, get her sister and get back to the safe, stable life she’s built for herself as fast as humanly possible. Those plans are derailed when she meets the club’s seriously sexy owner. Jace is everything Vivienne swore she never wanted, but he loves just as fiercely as he fights. He’s proud of who he is and where he came from, and he’ll be damned if he lets Vivienne go before showing her the safest place of all is in his arms" (Carina Press).

My overall thoughts and review: I've been on a huge romance kick lately, and I remember seeing the IndigoTeen twitter mention a contemporary romance with a bit of an edge. I instantly added the first two books of this series to my cart. I didn't know what to expect when I first jumped into the book. It's clear from the beginning that Jace Kennedy lives by a certain code and shows extreme loyalty to his brothers of the Haven. On the flip side, you have Viv, who is down on her luck trying to land a good job for her event planning, while juggling calls from her drunken sister, Callie, who is always begging for a ride home from some place sketchy. They meet in a sort of an interesting way because Jace owns a club that Viv is hired to do some promotional work for. Jace is immediately drawn to Viv and I really liked seeing her let loose and open up more. She's definitely hidden because of her past, and it was nice to see her relax around Jace. I will say when I first started reading it, it was driving me a bit crazy with Jace and him constantly having a toothpick and the author drawing attention to that. But by the end, I was like "Yup! I'm on board. Can Jace also call me Sugar?" :D I got over my qualms about his toothpick thing. They both have rough pasts and despite it all, you really see them value the importance of family and friendship. I loved seeing Jace bring Viv into his world, and how he just took care of her. I also loved seeing the other brothers interact with Viv, and I honestly can't wait to keep reading the series to learn more about each of them. Overall, I really enjoyed the first book to the series. It's a contemporary romance, with a hint of mystery, and characters that are rough around the edges - Definitely check it out! ;)

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮½ (4.5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo, Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Review: All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

Publishing Date: May 29, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Pages: 444
Contemporary New Adult

The Premise: "The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town. Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship...and her heart. Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left." 

My overall thoughts and review: This is my first time reading a book by Jamie McGuire and after finishing this, I'm definitely keen on picking up her other books. This story follows Elliott and Catherine who meet one summer and instantly become fast friends. However, a horrible tragedy happens one day to Catherine and her family, and at the same time, Elliott is forced to leave town without an explanation. He returns their senior year, trying to earn back Catherine's trust and to rekindle their relationship. However, things have drastically changed for Catherine. She is now helping her mother run the Juniper, a bed and breakfast, with strange guests. She also has distanced herself from her old friends, and sadly, she is still the target of some school bullies. I liked that it focused on more than just Elliott and Catherine's relationship. We see aspects of family dynamics, grief, bullying, racism, and small town practices. There were a few twists and turns, which I was excited to see because my friend, Ambur (@ Burning Impossibly Bright) pitched it to me as a mystery as well. I finished the book and texted Ambur because I did not see one of the twists coming! (As someone who reads a turn of mysteries and thrillers, this does not happen very often haha ;)) Overall, I really enjoyed it! I had a hard time putting the book down since it's quite accessible and addictive in the writing. I loved both characters very much, but goodness, Elliott is the absolute sweetest. He is the epitome of good high-school boyfriends. If you are looking for a new adult with a bit of mystery and suspense, this is one to  definitely check out!

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

Available for purchase at:
Amazon, Kindle, and Book Depository

Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

Review: Shacking Up by Helena Hunting

Shacking Up by Helena Hunting

Publishing Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 480
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Publisher: "Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can't seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed-and then coughed on-her at a party the night before. Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he's out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick. Seeing his role in Ruby's dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet." 

My overall thoughts and review: So I definitely read these books out of order. It's not necessary to since they are technically standalones. They just occupy the same world and you'll see familiar faces pop up. This is the first one from the get-go and I quite liked seeing Amie from Hooking Up in it.. and seeing the beginning of her relationship with Armstrong (despite it driving me nuts and wanting as much Lex as possible). This story follows Ruby Scott, who is Amie's best friend, who finds herself a pet-sitter to Bancroft Mills, who also happens to be the guy that randomly kissed her one night and made her sick, LOL. In true Helena Hunting fashion, this book brought on all the LOLs while providing the perfect amount of sexy and swoony scenes. What I really loved about this book was the fact that they weren't physically around each other for almost five weeks and a lot of their relationship blossomed during phone calls, video chats, and text messages. You got to see them really fall for one another, but also learn to be comfortable around each other. I also find a lot of the time in romances where the male protagonist is more financially stable than the female protagonist, that the female just ends up depending on the male. That isn't the case at all with Ruby and Bancroft and I feel like Ruby really demonstrated what her worth when it came to things money and career related. She's such a badass female character and she inspires you to pursue your dreams despite the roadblocks along the way. I also loved how supportive Bancroft was of her, no matter what the situation was. There are so many awesome moments in the book and I also just loved learning more about the Mills family in general. I'm definitely part of the Mills brothers fanclub because they are such both lovely male leads. I would definitely recommend picking this one up first and reading the series in order unlike me. Also, if you end up loving this book like I did, you should also check out the Getting Down e-book which features a fun halloween short story that features Ruby and Bancroft! ;)

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

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Review: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo 

Publishing Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Pages: 336
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad's business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?" 

My overall thoughts and review: I've been dying to read a book by Maurene Goo for a while now and when I saw this was available at my local library, I decided to pick it up. Clara is such a hilarious character and from the very first page, she is already getting up to some trouble. She lives for pranks and she's encouraged by her two friends, Felix and Patrick. Her hi-jinks are often directed at her arch-enemy,  Rose. Unfortunately on the night of prom, one of Clara's pranks goes to far and she finds herself having to work the summer on her dad's food truck with Rose, when she has plans to visit her mom/social media-influencer in Tulum. I really like that despite their rocky start, Rose and Clara end up becoming really good friends with one another. I love stories of unexpected friendships and I really liked how they still had their bickering, but it moved towards a more friendly tone. There's also a sweet love interest, Hamlet. Clara isn't often serious about boys but Hamlet is able to push down her boundaries. Most of all though, I really liked Clara's relationship with her father, Pai. They definitely have some rocky moments but Pai is a really wonderful dad to her. I won't give too much away, but I really liked how the story included not only friendship, but how families work and the diverse range of families (We get insight into Clara's family, but also Rose's and Hamlet's). Some things I will say of why this doesn't get the full five stars for me is that Clara was incredibly frustrating at times (I seriously wanted to yank her through the book and shake her!) and I would've liked to see some resolution with Felix and Patrick in the story. Overall though, I really enjoyed this book and I honestly couldn't put it down. It had me laughing, swooning, and also grinning a lot! If you are looking for something similar to Gloria Chao's American Panda, definitely check this book out! In the meantime... I'm going to go check out other books by Goo! ;)

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮½ (4.5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Review: I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting

I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting

Publishing Date: May 29, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 320
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Publisher: "Rian Sutter grew up with the finer things in life. Spending summers in the Hamptons was a normal occurrence for her until her parents lost everything years ago. Now Rian and her sister are getting their life, and finances, back on track through real estate. Not only do they buy and sell houses to the rich and famous but they finally have the capital to flip their very own beachfront property. But when she catches the attention of a sexy stranger who snaps up every house from under her, all bets are off. Pierce Whitfield doesn't normally demo kitchens, install dry wall, or tear apart a beautiful woman's dreams. He's just a down-on-his-luck lawyer who needed a break from the city and agreed to help his brother work on a few homes in the Hamptons. When he first meets Rian, the attraction is undeniable. But when they start competing for the same pieces of prime real estate, the early sparks turn into full-blown fireworks. Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance-without burning down the house?" 

My overall thoughts and review: Helena Hunting is definitely one of my favorite romance authors. I read Hooking Up by her last fall and I still go back and read it from time to time. I just love how funny and down-to-earth her stories are, but also super steamy! When I learned that she was writing another one that took place in the same world, but now it follows Amie's brother, I immediately picked up a copy. For starters, I love the title and with how much HGTV my partner and I watch, I'm all for a book about flipping houses ;) Hunting gives us two very charismatic leads. We have Rian who has a twin sister and she is the more level-headed numbers one between the two. We also have Pierce, who is a lawyer, but just wants to spend his time working on something more hands on and decides to work with his brother in real estate in the Hamptons. They meet in the most hilarious of circumstances and they keep meeting. They are obviously unable to deny their attraction to one another and sparks fly immediately. I loved all the cute and swoony moments, but I also loved the hilarious moments like the incident with the gnomes. It goes deeper with issues of family and trust, and I loved learning more about their backstories. Overall, I loved this book and I finished it in about two sittings. I couldn't put it down! If you haven't read Helena Hunting before, you definitely need to because she writes amazing contemporary romances. I've also read Shacking Up recently by her so expect a review on that very soon! ;)

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

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository