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

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Blog Tour: Save the Date by Morgan Matson - Review and Author Q&A

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Publishing Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 432
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect. Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future" (SS).

My overall thoughts and review: If there's one book that I always recommend without fail in YA.. it is Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson. It was the first book that I read by Matson and the first book that has made me absolutely fall in love with her writing. When I learned another book was coming out by her, I actually squealed. This time, for this book, the setting is a wedding and it also tackles the anxieties of senior year, graduation, and deciding which post-secondary school to choose afterwards. Similar to the other books Matson has written, there is an aspect of romance, but the emphasis lies primarily on friendship and family. I really like this because it feels more authentic, and also makes the character more likable and down-to-earth. I really liked the idea of a big family coming together for a wedding, but also they've had a comic strip loosely based off them that they were celebrating the end of. Charlie, our protagonist, wants this weekend to be absolutely perfect for her sister, Linnie. She is so excited to see her brothers J.J. and Danny again, and to have everyone in the same place. Obviously what you think could go wrong goes wrong for a wedding, and even more side stuff that is out of their control (like two evil neighbors causing grief, a dog that is on loan and barking non-stop, and more). On top of that, her estranged brother, Mike, who distanced himself from the family, shows up and brings Charlie's crush, Jesse, as a plus one. It all seems to be a super stressful moment for the Grant family, but they are able to come together and make the most of certain circumstances. I loved that it focused on strained family relationships and how to work through those, that isn't addressed often and if it is, I find it is used as a plot device, rather than showing how to work through strained family relationships. The book also touched on love relationships and not settling for something just because it's there, but also what happens when we see those we like through rose-tinted glasses only. So many themes were included in the book, and overall, it was just a feel-good sweet and funny contemporary novel. I loved it a lot and I especially loved the little comic strip drawings that were included as well. If you loved Matson's other books, this one will not disappoint!

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

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

Author Question and Answer
1. What was your favorite scene to write in the book and why?
I feel I can’t share my favorite scene in the book without spoilers, since it takes place toward the end! But there was one scene I absolutely loved to write, and that was the Capture the Flag scene. I loved any scene that was all the Grant siblings together, with all their banter and inside jokes.  And that scene was just that vibe, but turned way up.  It reminded me a little of writing one of my favorite scenes in The Unexpected Everything, the scavenger hunt scene. The Capture the Flag scene was such a blast to write – so much so that the early versions of it were way too long – but I just wanted to keep hanging out with these characters!
2. What was the inspiration for Save the Date?
The original idea came from a number of things.  I was thinking about writing a book that didn’t take place over a whole summer, as the last three of my books have – but over a shorter time period.  I wanted to write a book that didn’t end with a kiss, as a number of my other books have done, but began with one. I wanted to write a book about a big family. And finally, I was inspired by the newspaper comics I’d grown up reading, like FoxTrot and For Better or For Worse.  All these things coming together helped form the initial idea for Save the Date.
3. What message do you hope your readers take away from the book?
I feel like one of the biggest messages is about learning to let go of things – that you can’t move into the future if you’re clinging tightly to the past.  But in addition, letting go of views of people that might not actually be true.  Whether this is an idealized version of your family history, or of a person – or maybe you’ve just judged someone wrong, and too quickly.  I feel like so many of the lessons that Charlie learns in this book are about rethinking and re-examining views of people and things that might not be accurate.
4. What are your working on Post-Save The Date? 
I’m working on something new, and I’m so excited about it…but I’m not quite ready to share details about it just yet.  It’s going to be a bit of a departure for me, which is scary, but also a really great challenge. 
5. I love that you always have a dog in your stories as a dog lover myself. This is a silly question, but can you share a cute and funny tidbit about your dog? 
Not a silly question at all! Ever since I got my dog, Murphy, dogs have been playing a more and more central role in my books – because I have so much inspiration right there in front of me! I put a lot of Murph’s personality into Waffles the dog in Save the Date. Like Waffles, Murph has a total poker face. He never lets you know what he’s thinking – until his tale starts wagging! 
Thank you so much, Morgan, for stopping by and answering these questions! I look forward to seeing your next project with much excitement! <3 


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.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang 

Publishing Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Pages: 336
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Publisher: "Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position... Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic..." (Penguin).

My overall thoughts and review: Earlier last week, one of my co-workers came up to me and mentioned that she was going to lend me a book that I would love. She mentioned it being an #ownvoices narrative and representation of Vietnamese in a contemporary romance novel. Just from that alone, I was sold. I immediately started reading the book when I got home that day, and I could not put it down. I stayed up into the early hours of the night reading it and I'm still thinking about it now. As someone who mostly reads contemporary romance novels, I find at times, it can be quite formulaic, and although it's predictable that there will be a HEA, what really stuck with me was the Vietnamese cultural references and Stella's Asperger's. I haven't read much in terms of Asperger's representation in novels, but I feel like I have a bit of a better understanding after reading this. I liked that it kind of educates the reader as you read along. As for the Vietnamese cultural references, as someone who is part-Vietnamese, this made my heart swell. I loved learning about Michael's family and how much it closely resembled my own. Mẹ was such a lovely character as well and reminded me a lot of my mom. All the food references was great too... I've already told my mom that the next time I visit I want her to cook me Bún ;) This book was everything I could ever want in a romance novel and more. It was sexy, but sweet. It delved into deeper aspects such as anxieties of certain societal expectations: when you should get married, what job you should have, how you should behave, etc. I finished this book with a bit of sadness because I really loved Michael and Stella, as a couple, but also as individuals. Hoang's writing is enticing and this is definitely something unique and inspiring for the romance genre. I would highly recommend it, even if you aren't regularly a romance reader, this is just a lovely story. I'm already counting down the days until Hoang's next book comes out!

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

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

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Review: Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell

Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell

Publishing Date: March 13, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Pages: 336
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: The autumn morning after sixteen-year-old Audrey Harper loses her virginity, she wakes to a loud, persistent knocking at her front door. Waiting for her are two firemen, there to let her know that the moment she's been dreading has arrived: the enormous wildfire sweeping through Orange County, California, is now dangerously close to her idyllic gated community of Coto de Caza, and it's time to evacuate. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, as Audrey wrestles with the possibility of losing her family home, she also recalls her early, easy summer days with Brooks, the charming, passionate, but troubled volunteer firefighter who enchants Audrey--and who is just as enthralled by her. But as secrets from Brooks's dark past come to light, Audrey can't help but wonder if there's danger in the pull she feels--both toward this boy, and toward the fire burning in the distance (Penguin).

My overall thoughts and review: I just finished reading this a book about an hour ago now and when I closed the book, I sat there for a few moments trying to process and digest it all. I knew I wanted to write my review shortly after that while everything is still fresh in my mind, but damn, I`m still having a time trying to wrap my head around everything. I feel like I will be thinking about this book for a while. I will say one thing and if you have been following me on twitter you`ll know.. this book surprised me. I thought I knew where the story was going and it completely pulled the rug out from under me. From the premise alone, I thought this would be following Audrey and her life, as she comes to terms with possibly losing her home to a wildfire. What you get in addition to that is the intensity of first love and a destructive first love at that. It reminded me a lot of Roz Nay`s Our Little Secret in some ways and gosh, I really loved that book as well. The book is told in two timelines: one with flashbacks and learning more about Audrey and her relationship with Brooks, and then the really current time of the morning when firefighters knock on her door asking her to evacuate. Ezell writes in a really unique way where there is a heavier emphasis on dialogue, but she gives you just the right amount of information you require to follow along the story, but also want to turn the pages quicker and quicker to find out what really happened. This book covers so many topics such as family relationships, first loves, death of a loved one, and grieving. It surprised me in many ways and if you are looking for a fast-paced interesting YA book, this is definitely the one for you.

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

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

Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Penguin Teen Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.