Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Blog Tour, Review + Q&A: The Raging Ones by Krista and Becca Ritchie

If there's one thing you should know of me, by now, it's that I have a massive amount of love for the duo of writers, and twins, Krista and Becca Ritchie. They are to my twenties what J.K. Rowling was to my childhood, which is to say that they have shaped my love of literature in different ways. When I first heard that the two were releasing a new series in the young adult world, I knew I had to jump at any chance that may come my way.

Their latest offering, The Raging Ones, was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. The novel, out August 14th, is their first published YA novel and, well, can you guys feel my excitement? Yes? No? Maybe?

Regardless, I am so excited to be participating in the official blog tour celebrating the novels release.

Spoiler alert, guys: it's probably definitely one of my favourite (!!!!) YA books of the year. #BUTWHOSSHOCKED

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday (#16): Books With Sensory Memories

 Happy Tuesday, everyone!

For those of you who are new to my blog, or the book blogging community, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Artsy Reader Girl, originating over at the Broke and the Bookish, and is exactly what its title hints at. Each week we're given a topic to explore in our entries. This week's prompt was one that definitely stood out to me--Books With Sensory Memories.

Memory is a very complicated thing, which is what most intrigued me about this topic.

Do I remember the outfit I wore on my first day of Kindergarten? Yes. Do I remember what I had for lunch two days ago? Not at all. The easiest memories for me to hold onto or identify are typically one with music and literature.

If they involve one of these things, I have an easier time remembering.

Let's do this!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert | Rating:  ★★★★☆

“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.” 

Wow, this book was breath-taking and full of so much darkness and whimsy. Going into The Hazel Wood was one of those blind experiences. I'd heard good and bad things about the book, virtually no inbetweens. The hype was there and so, too, was the negativity. But, I managed to avoid actual spoilers and even in depth explanations of what its plot actually was. I think this fact may be what made the contents of The Hazel Wood so effective and absorbing--me, going into it with so little knowledge as to what it was truly about.

What's certain is that Melissa Albert crafted something so darkly fascinating, it appealed to all of my senses and hit so many of the right marks. I love stories like this, so it's only natural that I was a fan of Albert's mysterious fairy-tale world. I can think of two recent releases that had the same ambition and effects on readers: Splintered by A.G. Howard and Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I believe that fans of the two previously mentioned series will flock to The Hazel Wood, as it features the same sort of darkness tangled with whimsical fantasy.

Review: I Hope My Voice Doesn't Skip by Alicia Cook

I Hope My Voice Doesn't Skip by Alicia Cook |  Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I've said it once, I'll say it a billion times: Alicia Cook is one of the best voices in modern poetry. She never fails in moving me with simple prose and the ties between her poems and music make reading her work an even better experience. I Hope My Voice Doesn't Skip had a lot to live up to. Alicia Cook's first published collection, Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately, was/is one of my all-time favourite releases in poetry.

Cook has a way about her prose that feels so alight with everything that makes us human. There's strength and vulnerability. There's loss and love. Everything that a person can feel. My favourite part about Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately was its connection to music; the intimacy behind a poet's words is not unlike the expressions musicians use in their lyrics. I've always had this theory that the quickest way to knowing a person's soul is in the music they adore. So many of us find ourselves in music and poetry and Alicia Cook captures the essence of that statement beautifully. We know what Cook allows us, as readers, to know--both in her prose and in the music listed in every poem.

Review: Sisters' Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud

Sisters' Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud | Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Sisters' Entrance is a modern, poetic triumph. Simply breathtaking. Where to begin, where to begin, where to begin? I could not put down this collection by beloved slam-poet Emtithal Mahmoud. I just couldn't. Sisters' Entrance is packed with honest topics, expression and a voice that demands to be heard--and so many of us are listening. If you're looking for prose to move you, prose you feel aching in your bones for weeks after reading, this is the collection for you.

It's brutally honest. Thought-provoking. Every word hits you differently. Mahmoud has a voice unlike many in modern poetry and there's something utterly stunning about it. Sisters' Entrance reads like all good poetry should--with feeling, with intimacy, with connection. It is one of the best releases this year, both in poetry and in literature as a general scene.

Review: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

After reading Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren last summer, I have to admit, I was curious about the rest of their publications. Imagine my surprise upon realizing that I had read Beautiful Bastard, the first of their highly popular series, in its original form: Twilight fanfiction sensation The Office. It's no secret that my mid-to-late teenage years were spent tucked between the pages of books like Gossip Girl, Harry Potter and Twilight, and that I read basically every fanfiction set in one of those worlds I could get my hands on. My motto, back in the day? The smuttier, the better.

Teenage hormones are fun! Not. But, in all seriousness, I am stunned. Beautiful Bastard marks the third or fourth Twilight-based FF that I obsessed over in high school to be published. Which is thrilling in its own right, even if the finished product isn't adult!me's cup of tea. While I have only the fondest of memories of this book's original form, and it was thrilling to see the author's success in mainstream publishing, Beautiful Bastard just didn't work for me as its own book.

What made it work as a smutty fanfiction, was that we didn't need a full-blown plotline to enjoy its massively steamy love scenes. We knew the characters to a degree already. It was pure smut and pure smut leads to no substance. Beautiful Bastard desperately needed something to add to it, however, because in this form we are unfamiliar with its characters and they end up feeling like they are just... there.

Review: Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

 “Women have to live so much of their life in the in-betweens.” 

In case you didn't know: Megan Abbott is one of my all-time favourite authors. I adore her prose so much and the way she is able to portray the complexities of humanity and the relationships between women. It's fairly obvious why I'd been looking forward to Give Me Your Hand since it was announced. Abbott could write out the contents of a phone-book from 1975 and I'd be pretty much guaranteed to admire it. There is no other author out there like her and very few authors have made me feel to the degree that she has in prior releases.

Give Me Your Hand had a simple enough premise to it. As per usual, it followed the friendship between two young women. Armed with her brutal honesty and frank under-standing of being women, and the all-consuming friend-ships that can bloom in our youth, Abbott compels her audience into a chilling sort of captivation. While Give Me Your Hand is a solid release, and has its fair share of stellar moments, it is far from her best novel. There were moments where it seemed to pause and lack growth; perhaps this is due to its topic nature and inclusion of science (something I was never altogether great with in the past) and more of a personal preference.

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty | Rating: ★★★★☆

“It’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.”

Big Little Lies is an impossible to put down read. An indulgent thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. A stylish tale of mystery that centers around friendships between women and the woes of motherhood. It is purely fun and intriguing, while still being thought-provoking on occasion. And it reminds us that we don't always know what is happening in the homes of our friends.

Liane Moriarty's writing is smooth, honest and to the point. It's not overly sweet, but it's not overly serious. Big Little Lies takes place in a standard setting, exploring various topics and friendships, but maintains this feeling of being in the gray area in life. I liked the overall tone of the novel, because it's reminiscent of real life while still holding onto that indulgent tone I mentioned earlier; Moriarty portrays the relationship between a group of women, who's children all go to the same school. In many ways, Moriarty zeroes in on the complications of adulthood friendships and how they can, at times, be as youthfully mysterious as the ones that their children are forming at school.

Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a physical copy of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

Wow. Where to begin with this novel? I've been trying to gather my thoughts on it for nearly a week. I guess the first word that comes to mind is: WILD. I can honestly say that I've never read a thriller quite like Baby Teeth. The only problem is, I can't figure out if that's a good or a bad thing. My mind was unable to process fully what was happening sometimes--I had so many questions and so many more theories. The term mind f*ck was essentially made for books like Baby Teeth--and I mean that.

Unexpected, and confusing, as many parts of Baby Teeth were, there was also a familiarity of the novel. It's not as if we've never read a book where a child is so... troubled. I can name a few characters similar to young Hanna. What makes Zoje Stage's work standout is not because of the various parallels between this book and others, it's the way that she executes every plot turn in Baby Teeth. I found myself disturbed and chilled during many moments and the narration of Hanna was a real treat--because it made me feel A LOT. How can a child's mind be so dark? I was shocked. There was that childlike naivity that you'd expect of someone her age, but then she'd turn the reader around and frighten you.

Review: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote | Rating: ★★★★☆

“Once a thing is set to happen, all you can do is hope it won't. Or will-depending. As long as you live, there’s always something waiting, and even if it’s bad, and you know it's bad, what can you do? You can’t stop living.” 

If you were to ask any reader of True Crime, a good portion of them would tell you that the first book they ever read in the genre would be In Cold Blood. Artful and chilling, it is easy to see why Truman Capote's novel shaped the way we, as readers, explore non-fiction. In Cold Blood is a classic for many reasons--viewed as the original True Crime novel--but it is not without its very obvious flaws. Like many readers, I got my start in True Crime with this book.

In this regard, In Cold Blood will always have a special place in my heart. I remember the first time I read it, a way to pass the time during a three-hour detention in high school. At the time, I wasn't much of a classic literature reader--but I had recently picked up an interest in Capote's prose due to my having read Breakfast at Tiffany's earlier that year. Something about Capote compelled me from the get-go and In Cold Blood really stuck with me. The way that he wrote the novel was stunning and full of something I, even now, can't put my finger on.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton | Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

If you loved the hilarity that was My Lady Jane, the first installment of The Lady Janies, you're going to adore stepping into this quirky and utterly charming retelling of beloved classic Jane Eyre. While retellings can be tricky to both navigate and get into, the authors behind My Lady Jane move effortlessly and humorously through the story of this particular Jane.

They already established their humorous prose previously ad My Plain Jane solidifies their comedic timing. They, in short, work together beautifully. What I liked most about My Plain Jane is the fact that it weaves together may familiar aspects of the original story, and the face behind it,  and turning it into something new. The one thing readers should do while picking up My Plain Jane? Not take it too seriously and just roll with the punches--you'll automatically have a good time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday (#15): Best of 2018 So Far

Happy Tuesday, everyone! You know what that means! Time for this week's Top Ten Tuesday entry.

I am super excited for this weeks theme--BEST OF 2018, SO FAR! Colour me stoked. For those of you who are new to my blog, or the book blogging community, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Artsy Reader Girl, originating over at the Broke and the Bookish, and is exactly what its title hints at.

Each week, we receive a new topic to discuss on Tuesdays. It serves as a fun way to get to know one another in the book blogging community and is by far one of my favourite parts about blogging.

This year has been an incredible year for literature once more and so many books have hit the right spot for me. Narrowing down the list to ten was quite difficult, but I put on my big girl pants; chugged a massive cup of coffee and managed to pick ten of my favourites in between my rereading of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Review: A Dark Eternity by Nissa Leder

A Dark Eternity by Nissa Leder | Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me by the author in exchange for my review. This does not effect my opinion.

Holy crap, you guys. This. Book. Was. Wild. Although, if you've read the explosive, fantastical Whims of Fae series you know that everything usually is. A Dark Eternity was so brilliant, fast paced and thrilling, I almost couldn't catch my breath. Describing it one word? Fiery. Once again, Nissa Leder enthralled from the first chapter and as the story unraveled, the more wrapped up in the story I became. (Insert obligatory: hello, hey, hi, Nissa Leder is SO UNDERRATED, buy her work, remark here.)

Also, can we take a moment to swoon over the delicious makeover the cover art was given recently? I'm still not over how beautiful they are. Can I marry a book based on its cover-art? And, *Magnus Bane voice* I'm back. Got a little distracted looking at its cover, again. Word of advice? Add pretty cover art to your review after writing it, or else you'll* get too distracted.

*Just me? 

Anyways, where to begin with A Dark Eternity? First of all: this series just keeps getting better and I am probably forever yelling about how good it is. I felt like, after the previous books conclusion, this was going to be darker than the first three books and I was totally right. It has such a fitting name. So. Much. Has. Happened. So much will continue to happen. Scarlett's world, and powers, keep getting bigger and honestly? I am here for it.

Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo | Rating: ★★★★★

“You can always control how hard you fight.” 

YOU GUYS, HELP! This book was so cute. I've fallen. How can something be so freaking cute? Not only is the cover-art dreamy, I Believe in a Thing Called Love is, too. And it's definitely one of my favourite contemporary releases since To All the Boys I've Loved Before, You Know Me Well and Anna and the French Kiss. Needless to say, if you are a fan of any of the others who penned the above releases: you NEED to pick up this book.

First things first--I have only watched one K-drama in my life (entirely because most days I cannot for the life of me sit still during television or films, for whatever reason) but I definitely see the appeal. Once you get roped into something, you're glued--and that's exactly how to describe Desi's love of K-dramas. And this little attachment (see: addiction) of hers sparks some massive changes in her life--I.E., a list of ways to snag the cute boy she has her eyes on, that may only be better in theory. Desi is willing to take that risk, as her love life up to this point was non-existent.

You see, Desi is not just bad at love, she is practically hopeless when it comes to flirting with anyone. It's so endearing and definitely something anyone can relate to--if you've dated someone or had a simple crush, it is likely that you've had embarrassing moments.