Friday, 28 September 2018

Giller Light Bash 2018


It's that time of year again where the Giller Light Bash is quickly approaching. For those of you who don't know what the GLB is, it is a fun bookish night where people come together celebrate Canadian literature and the Giller Nominees and Winner. The special night works to raise money for the Frontier College which promotes and offers literacy support. So not only are you participating in some bookish fun, you are supporting a great cause!

This year is also the 25th Giller so they will be celebrating in style with a Literary Masquerade! There will be tarot card readings, lollipop draws, and a mask-making station. All of this comes with amazing raffle prizes, swag bags, delicious food, and much more. Included in each ticket is one free Guess the Giller entry for a chance to win a signed set of the Giller Prize shortlisted books.

I've already got my ticket and I'm counting down the days, so I wanted to share with you all the EARLY BIRD special pricing of $35.00 - You can buy tickets here! The price will go up October 1st, so if you want to take advantage of this special pricing, do so soon! 

I''ll have a post discussing the Giller shortlist once that's out so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that ;) Let me know in the comments if you are attending this special literary night! I'd love to see some familiar faces :)

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with GLB. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, 24 September 2018

Batch Reviews #7

Hard Sell by Lauren Layne (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing - Montlake Romance
Pages: 252

My Review: I read the first book in this series: Hot Asset last month and I knew I instantly wanted to read the other books in the series. The next story is the haters to lovers trope and I'm always a sucker for that trope. This story follows Matt, who is also in the same Wall Street firm as Ian from the previously book. It was clear from the previous book that Matt and Ian's other best friend, Sabrina, had some tension between them. They are thrown together when Sabrina takes on Matt as a PR client and she has to fix his image. She is able to do this by pretending to be his girlfriend. However, not everything is for pretend. I loved seeing them come to terms with what was happening with their feelings, and just learning more about both characters. I loved seeing how they slowly began to fall in love with each other despite their rocky start. Again, the secondary characters made a big impact in the book and we got to see Ian and Lara again! I'm so excited for the next book because I definitely want more of this friendship and this world. I loved Hot Asset, but I loved Hard Sell so much more. *heart eyes*

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. 

Up In Flames by Jennifer Blackwood  (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing - Montlake Romance
Pages: 300

My Review: This is also a second book in a series! Clearly.. I like series that focus on multiple friend groups ;) When I finished Burning Up last month, I liked it but I didn't love it. I found the ending quite rushed and all of the protagonist's constant back and forth really annoyed me in some aspects. This book was totally what I wanted though! This story follows Erin's best friend, Sloane, and her relationship with Erin's brother, Reece. You got to see a bit of them in the previous book. You knew that Reece was protective of both his sister, and his bestfriend, Jake.. but you didn't really learn a lot about him. I loved learning his back story in this one, and learning that he is an awesome older brother to both Reece and Andie. He was able to support Andie in her difficult time of figuring out what to do in terms of college. You also see Reece having a difficult time at work, despite working with his bestfriends. The chief of their department clearly has it out for Reece and one of the many ways he has to make amends is volunteer to be auctioned off. The person that ends up bidding on him and winning is, Sloane. Sloane has always had an attraction to Reece, but something happens one night which makes her absolutely hate him. Again, here I am loving the haters to lovers trope. I loved their back and forth so much, because despite everything, you know that they deeply care for one another underneath it all. I especially loved their text message exchanges. There's also a few funny moments seeing Sloane navigate the online app dating world, and seeing what crazy tasks she gets Reece to do because of the auction. There is also a super awesome character named Peaches! She's a cute dog that Reece fosters for a bit and she made their story so much more special. Overall, I loved this book and I could not put it down. I loved their relationship so much that I didn't want the book to end. Again, if you like firefighters, a good friendship group, and some swoooony moments mixed with banter, definitely check this one out!

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

Intercepted by Alexa Martin (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: September 11, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Pages: 320

My Review: This is Alexa Martin's debut novel and one of the books I read with my #supersexybookclub gals this past month. I'm definitely growing to love contemporary sports romances a lot and this one follows Marlee, who has been with long time boyfriend, Chris. She's been waiting for him to finally pop the question, and she's been with him through thick and thin. However, she learns that Chris has actually been cheating on her. They've had rough patches in the past, and they actually broke up at one point (this point also coincides with a hot night she had with Gavin Pope), but there's really no coming back from it this time. Things become more complicated when Gavin (yes, the one she had the hot one night stand with), ends up being drafted to be on the same team as her ex, Chris. I liked seeing their relationship grow, but certain things about Gavin definitely bothered me. There are so many great moments where he stands up for Marlee, but he sometimes doesn't let her fight her own battles. Those moments came across as controlling in my opinion, and it felt like he didn't truly learn his lesson after everything was said and done. That being said, it was quite nice seeing how a relationship functioned over the course of a few months, since some romance novels often end once the couple finally gets together. Also as funny as some moments were, I found the hashtags to be a bit much. I get that they can be sprinkled throughout and it's definitely something that's part of Marlee's personality, but I found them to be quite annoying and I ended up trying my best to ignore the hashtags. Despite that, like I said, for a debut novel, it's definitely a strong one. I look forward to the next book in the series!

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

Cooper's Charm by Lori Foster (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: HQN
Pages: 352

My Review: Another one of the books we read last month for #supersexybookclub and it's actually my second Lori Foster read ever. My good friend, Patty, is a big fan of hers and I honestly didn't realize how many books she had out. I really enjoyed Under Pressure - I love books with strong alpha male types and just by the description, Cooper sounded just like that. I'll admit too that the cover definitely drew me in because I am a big dog lover and I'm all for a dog being part of the story somehow ;) Anyways, back to the review. The story follows Phoenix Rose, who is trying to start her life over again after being attacked during a burglary. She finds solace at Cooper's Charm, a resort where people can also camp and RV. She takes on the job of groundskeeper and finds herself instantly attracted to Cooper, the owner of the resort. Cooper is also dealing with something dark from his past with the recent loss of his wife. I love that they both came together and were able to 'live' again after their tragic experiences. The definitely take front and center stage in the story. What is unique about this story is that there's two love stories at the same time. You also follow Ridley Rose, Phoenix's sister, who out of concern of her sister's well-being comes to Cooper's Charm and ends up taking the position of the housekeeper. There she's there to support her sister, but also find reprieve from her recent divorce. She finds herself drawn to the scuba instructor, Baxter. Their relationship seems purely sexual at first, but it's clear they've grown to care for one another. I loved seeing how they met and I instantly liked their dynamic. I will say that they didn't have as much in the book, since it was a lot about Phoenix and Cooper, so I kind of wish we got more of Ridley and Baxter. I also felt things were quite rushed towards the end and the pacing felt a bit off with how fast things resolved. I'm happy for HEA, but I guess, I would've liked more, especially for Ridley and Baxter. All in all, it was a good book! It had TWO swoony male leads and it definitely made me want to go away to a resort to just relax. I think there will be more in this series and I can't wait to read the next story! I hope it's about Maris and Daron ;)

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

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

DH_BLOG TOUR.jpg

"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 http://bit.ly/SadiePodcast 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.