Saturday, May 13, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han | Rating: ★★★★★  

“I guess that's part of growing up, too--saying goodbye to the things you used to love.”

Saying goodbye is hard to do: this is one of the biggest themes of Always and Forever, Lara Jean. As per usual, Jenny Han gracefully tells us a story of love and coming of age.

One of the things that always hits me about Han's writing is how true-to-life the tone is. It's fluffy and simple, but still reminds us the complexities of life. Whether that be our first loves, first heartbreaks, family, graduation, loss or something else entirely--Jenny Han knows exactly what to do to tug at our heartstrings in a way that's realistic and stunning. Lara Jean is a character I will not soon forget... ever. And there were a lot of loose ends to tie up after P.S., I Still Love You, so I am glad to see Lara Jean and Peter's story continue onto the next chapter and reach their conclusion in a way that will be satisfying and bittersweet to their fans.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean sees Lara Jean reaching through her final days of high school and her questions of where life will take her. After her well laid plans go differently than she'd hoped, she is faced with the one question all college bound students face: where am I going? Jenny Han knows how to express a young adult characters voice perfectly and in that she provides a voice for all the girls who are reading the novel and growing up side-by-side with Lara Jean.

Wonder Woman, Volume 1: The Lies (Rebirth) by Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, Laura Martin | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

A massive improvement from the last issue I read from the DC Universe Rebirth sets. Oh, fine--I'm a total cliche and a sucker for anything Wonder Woman. I love my bad-ass leading ladies and am here for the dramatic and action packed issues that comics are known for. This is one of my favourite spins on Wonder Woman in terms of the graphics. I loved flipping through the pages and seeing the glorious drawings come to life in real colours. I cannot praise it enough for the artwork.

You know the type of work that makes you swoon? That's what you will find in this little guy. I am 98% sure I spent the entire time consumed by the desire to swoon at every page. Which would be awkward if it wasn't understanding, right? Right?! Just nod along with me, okay? Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: The Lies wasn't the strongest in terms of the actual story telling but it was definitely better than the last DC release I picked up (Justice League, Volume 1: The Extinction Machines) and a quick read that is worthy of admiration.

Bad Neighbor by Molly O'Keefe | Rating: ★★★☆☆

"You're soft, Charlotte. You're part real, part dream. You're half here and half... someplace else." 

Oh, boy. I have a lot to say about this novel that will be very conflicting in terms of my review. First of all... the biggest thing you need to know about Bad Neighbor is that, despite its flaws, it's hot. We are talking the lovely Molly O'Keefe may as well set the entire novel on fire once we've finished it. Phew. Phew. Phew. Is that steam I see rising from my Kindle? I swear, it's caught fire from the damned novel.

At its very core, Bad Neighbor is a stereotypical bad-boy fueled love interest. In fact, it's chop full of cliches and a series of vague details about the characters. Despite the fact that it is told in dual narration, I feel like I know so little of the characters. A lot of the times, the backstories felt like an afterthought. We're told, and we are maybe even shown on occasion, but I didn't feel some sort of intimate connection to the characters or their families.

Bad Neighbor has the perfect formula for a sexually tense read. When I got past the otherwise lacking plot lines, I found myself enjoying it deeply. It's just so sexy and steamy that I couldn't put it down. I can't say many novels accomplish that in the overcrowded genre but this is one that will keep you pulled in when it comes to the chemistry between Jesse and Charlotte.

Justice League, Volume 1: The Extinction Machines (Rebirth) by Bryan Hitch, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tomey Morey | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Real quick question: is it just me or are the DC Universe Rebirth issues getting more and more... lackluster? Surely I can't be the only one with lukewarm feelings towards it. What started off solid took a serious turn towards dull and forgettable. While the artwork is still some of the best--I couldn't finish it thoroughly but I did look at the artwork like a child devouring a picture book--it doesn't save the rest of it. I made it further in this installment of Justice League than I predicted (entirely due to the artwork) and, when I put it down, I felt so underwhelmed.

Perhaps I am in a rut when it comes to what I'm reading lately but in my honest opinion I feel as if this rebirth was actually as dead as a door nail. The biggest issue I had with it was the wasted potential it had from the start and how it had its moments where it looked like it would breathe some new life into the plots, it just didn't. Over and over again it left me feeling strongly about the questions of, "IS THAT IT?' and I really can't get past it.

Whiskey Words & A Shovel III by R.H. Sin | Rating: ★★★★☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

After picking up Whiskey Words & a Shovel III, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the way so many readers are expressing their dislike of modern poetry. I have to start my review by saying that I can't really understand people who can't grasp the fact that poetry comes in different formats and has always, at the end of the day, been about the author expressing themselves. What strikes me about modern poetry most is not its length nor its format, it's about how we all have gone about ourselves and what words mean to us. R.H. Sin captures the audience perfectly as we tangle our words with what is printed.

Like so many modern day writers, this is poetry that proves not everything comes in a big package. Collections come and go through the decades but as of recently, so much has been released and explored in the best possible ways. Sin's work is amongst the greats of today and I cannot stress that enough. Above and beyond all of if, this is the sort of poetry that feels like home to our thoughts. One of the greatest things an author can do is relate to their audience and my generation--I am proud to say--is doing so damn well with it.

Naughty by Nature by Addison Moore | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

How do I write a review of this one without sounding dull or mean? Cheesy cover aside, Naughty by Nature is neither the cheesiest nor the worst romance novel I've read in recent weeks. Addison Moore manages to weave and craft a series of sexual tension that will leave fans groveling at her feet, begging for more. More Moore. Ha-ha-ha... oops. I'm procrastinating and getting off topic already.

Let's just start with the basics: two former best friends, one a moderate good girl, who has been away from her home-town for years, the other a stereotypical and definite bad boy (hullo, man-whore extraordinaire!) who decide to pair up and plan the ultimate prank against their mother's. For all their lives, Jax and Poppy have dealt with their fair share of embarrassment from the dynamic duo that is their mother's, who happen to be best friends, and upon Poppy's return they stir up plans to give the pair a taste of their own medicine. Only, things don't go according to plan and it just may be that these two former friends have bitten off more than they can chew.

Family dynamics are prominent in this one. You're not going to like everyone at first glance and that is a good thing. As far as fleshing out the characters goes, this is Moore's biggest source of praise. Her characters are flawed and developed to a certain degree. For the most part, there's a blatant archetype to everyone.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham by Tom King, David Finch, Scott Snyder, Mikel Janin, Matt Banning, Danny Miki, June Chung, Jordi Bellaire, Deron Bennett, John Workman  | Rating: ★★★☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I'm going to be upfront about it all: I enjoy a lot of works from DC. Batman is not, typically, one of them. So my review may be--a bit--biased on the matter of whether or not this release is good or bad. I thought the summary of it all seemed promising; a good mismatch of various runs for Batman and had hoped it would be something bigger, better than it was. The truth is that despite the artwork and solid dialogue, the tone was vastly underwhelming for me and I just felt it could have done so much more than what it did.

This isn't to say it lacked action or that gritty tone that it promises. It was neither here nor there in my opinion and by the end I felt rather indifferent toward the volume. For the most part, it had that familiar DC/Batman vibe to it but then there were moments where it took a turn into something that just didn't feel quite right. Again, this could perhaps be due to my relative indifference towards Batman. But the indifference felt even stronger than usual--very nearly at dislike--as I couldn't help but to feel this wasn't, well, right. 

The Flash, Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice by Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia, Steve Wands, Karl Kerschl | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

When I first saw the descriptions on these rebirth issues of the DC universe I was both a bit skeptical and a little hopeful. Taking on iconic characters, keeping what makes them beloved and maybe a little timeless, and then turning them into something new and refreshed is difficult. It's not an easy task and can often translate poorly. The last thing that you want is to ring a series dry and not do it justice, but this take on The Flash is true to tone and spices up a tried formula in ways that will impress old readers and draw in some new fans. 

The bad news is that, despite the good in it, it's not going to be for everyone and it certainly isn't my favourite comic to date. It has a lot of slow moments and a whole lot of repetitive things to it that will put a lot of us off but if you stick it out, it does have its more genuine moments. If you don't like The Flash--if his brand of superhero and story lines aren't your cup of tea, then don't pick it up. You won't like it if you already dislike the vast catalogue of stories that have been around for decades. Simple as that.

Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook | Rating: ★★★★★  

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I am going to be the woman you fear.

As of late, I've been expanding my poetry shelves and when I came upon Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately, I knew I had to give it a read. Something about the format is appealing to me and I had a feeling I'd love it. I didn't know just how much I would. Not only is the format told in a way that sparks my interest (mix tapes and poetry?!) the prose is so full of life that I found myself short of breath on more than one occasion. I kept saying this, this collection is modern poetry at its finest.

Alicia Cook has a way to her words that leads us readers to her thoughts. Straightaway, what she writes is what we feel. It's so easy to connect with her and there's this sense of honesty to every word that is impossible to describe. Poetry is all about connecting us to a person's heart and soul and Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately is a total nod to this. You're embraced by this intimate look at her life. The good, the bad, the everything. I loved exploring every minute of it and finished it in one sitting because it's just so good.

Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For by Sara Pascoe | Rating: ★★★☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I have this itching desire to read everything witch related that I can get my hands on, so upon reading the brief summary of Sara Pascoe's charming novel Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For it's not surprising to hear that I had to read it. I had a bit of trouble getting into it at first (perhaps I am out of its targeted age range) and there were times I felt like it was all over the place, but for the most part it was a fun read.

The first thing I need to say is that you should give it a bit of time to get into its groove. Because once it gets there, it really gets things moving. Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For has its flaws and will certainly not be for everyone, but it's such a solid read that I see it being one of those books. The sort of novel that gets preteens/teens reading for real. I felt out of touch with the way it was written/portrayed sometimes but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon | Rating: ★★★★★   

“I talk to you as I talk to my own soul," he said, turning me to face him. He reached up and cupped my cheek, fingers light on my temple. "And Sassenach," he whispered, "Your face is my heart.” 

Some types of love are stronger than you can imagine. And if there is one thing I've learned from reading Diana Gabaldon's incredible series Outlander, it's that love can endure almost anything. What strikes me most about this series is how it takes all its archetypes and throws them out the window. Gabaldon blends more than a few genres together and comes out with an intelligent story of love, loss, war and time travel. In Dragonfly in Amber we pick up quite quickly where we ended in Outlander and in this novel, we explore far more than we did in its predecessor.

If you thought the first of the series was breathtaking and full of romance, action and heartbreak, you're in for a new level with Dragonfly in Amber. Armed with the same bits of love, charm, soul and heartache that we'd come to see before, things are kicked up a notch. I am not altogether certain how to describe the sway of emotions readers will ride out during the novel. If I had to describe it, though, I'd say that this story is equal parts a warm embrace and a kick in the chest.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Saturday Evening Girls Club by Jane Healey | Rating: ★★★☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I wasn't sure what to expect from The Saturday Evening Girls Club even at the start. But as someone who loves period pieces and constantly longs for more novels that are based around the friendships between women, with other things sprinkled in for good measure, Jane Healey intrigued me from the moment I read the novels premise. The novel itself wasn't quite what I was expecting in a lot of ways but it was still a read that kept me focused well enough. 

Where the connections--the families, the friendships and all the in betweens--soared and made the novel an engaging story; the dialogue, at times, felt stiff and a mixture of the past and the present.  A lot of it felt like a mismatched series of events and conversations. Which isn't that big of a deal but it did bring down my reading experience by at least a star. Something about it, despite this, remained appealing and in terms of a lot of women's fiction, The Saturday Evening Girls Club sets an example of how human connections should be explored in any timeline. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Some Kind of Perfect by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★  

We speak of moving mountains, but sometimes people can completely rotate the world, just so someone else can land upright on their feet.

Every once and a while it is our pleasure as readers to find a series we feel so connected to. We live in the pages of these stories and watch as the characters move through their own lives; growing, growing, growing, until we have to say goodbye. Upon completing the series we know we can return at any time but still, somehow, feels like we've said goodbye to our very best friend. Krista and Becca Ritchie have created this within the characters we meet in Addicted and Calloway Sisters. I feel as though I've spent my 20s living side by side with Lily, Rose, Daisy, Lo, Connor and Ryke. In a lot of ways I have--and that isn't a feeling I thought I could have replicated beyond Harry Potter.

In the finale of a wonderful series, Some Kind of Perfect is a delight to start from finish. At first, I was concerned about the concept of an epilogue novel but there's something about Ritchie Squared and the way they develop their characters. It's a breath of fresh air in romance/new adult novels and their novels are truly one of a kind. They've set the bar high for other releases that are to come. And this isn't the first time I've said it, but they write their characters so beautifully it's impossible to not think of them as friends by the end of their stories.

Escorted by Claire Kent | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

"With all the erotica in popular culture now, many women have unrealistic expectations about what sex should be like. So when their actual experiences don't match with the fictional fantasies, they think something's wrong with them. But the reality is it doesn't happen magically, and a lot of men don't know to please a woman's body--even if they genuinely want to."

There was just something about the entire premise behind Claire Kent's Escorted that intrigued me from the get-go. I have been slowly expanding my taste by exploring the romance genre and there was something undeniably hot and heavy about the plot-line in this one. While Escorted wasn't something I necessarily expected to like, I did enjoy the experience of reading it and seeing how the story developed between Lori and Ander.

At first glance Escorted promises to be a sexy romp in its pages--a love story with a twist. We can all appreciate these little ticks that come with a story like it and I really cannot stress how fun Kent's novel was once it got in its groove. Story-line wise, it's sex heavy. Obviously. Do I even need to say this? Beyond the hot and heavy smut, the story is genuinely good at offering us a dip in the warm and fuzzies.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thrifty Tuesdays: January-April, 2017

Most days I wonder how much of my time is spent on things like making music, reading and writing, and--gasp--thrifting. It suits me rather well not to know how much of my free-time is spent on certain things because I have a feeling if you were to write a chart/graph of where I spend my time (outside of work) most thrift stores and antique shops would be at a solid 75%. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. I love a good deal.

As of lately, I've been scoping out more thrift shops in a well off portion of my city and that's my big tip for anyone looking to score some serious steals when it comes to both new and secondhand goods. You see, the bigger the income of that area the more likely you are to find gems of all kinds. Books, shoes, clothing. Add in the fact that some big-time stores like Target donate unsold, new products and you've got the formula for an awesome spot. I fancy myself quite knowledgeable about thrifting and what makes a location good but perhaps that is just me tooting my own horn. Regardless, I've found a stellar selection from two specific locations over the span of four months and I'm here to share my finds with you.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon | Rating: ★★★★★ 

A copy of this novel was provided through Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

No spoilers, please! If you read that in a "no pictures!" voice, you are going places my friend. Because this novel has yet to be released, my review will be to the point and free of spoilers. I'll try not to fangirl too hard but this novel is that kind of novel, if you know what I mean.

I'm calling it now: When Dimple Met Rishi is going to be *the* YA contemporary of the summer. I'm so impressed by this novel because it kept me reading without ever feeling slumped about the story--something that not many in its genre do. There is something irresistible about Menon's novel; the prose, the plots, the characters. It's sweet, humorous and generally touching. Reading it is the equivalent of a warm blanket and feel-good movie. A novel that will hold you in your seat until its final pages, not out of suspense but out of some inexplicable feeling of weightlessness and joy. I literally enjoyed every page of it and found myself smiling a good chunk of the time. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Favourite Quotes: Addicted & Calloway Sisters

It's time for a celebration! Your girl finally has a working laptop, again.

My wallet is very unhappy with me due to the cost of it all but for the most part I'm beyond thrilled to be able to resume my blog and get back on a normal schedule. I've been thinking of something to do as a welcome-back for myself (is that lame?) and my first idea was to just revisit my favourite quotes from two of my favourite series: Addicted and Calloway Sisters by the ever-lovely Krista & Becca Ritchie. And then I thought, gee, Jessica? Why not do this as a weekly--or monthly--thing to show off your favourite quotes throughout time?

I didn't answer myself back, of course. Because, I am far too lazy to do so. But I felt like I was onto something; as mundane as it seems--and of course, where better to start than with the book series that has shaped my early-mid twenties? Krista and Becca Ritchie have worked their way into my heart with their words and characters, if you haven't checked out their work do so NOW. I am pretty sure that the first book in the Addicted series is free on all digital platforms so you really have no excuse in not checking out the eBook.

Thank me later.

The Masseuse by Kristine Robinson | Rating:  ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

As you can see, I've taken to heart my goal of reading more romance and erotica. It's taken a while but I've finally begun to put a dent in my to-read pile and The Masseuse was at the top of my list. WLW novels are so hard to come across and I was intrigued by the premise of this steamy release. But the problems I had with this short story were much of the same problems I had with Sylvia Day's Afterburn and Aftershock.

They were much too short to grow attached to, well, anything. Kristine Robinson did a lot with such a short timeline and I have to hand that to her. Besides this, the sex scenes were full of so much chemistry I am pretty sure I needed a cold shower by the end of the blossoming love (or lust) story between our two leading ladies, Sandra and Dominique. The Masseuse could have been pure fire if some of the scenes didn't feel recycled and tired--but that doesn't make it any less hot than it was.

I can't stress how off the charts the chemistry was. I think my face is still red.

There were a lot of negatives about The Masseuse beyond the shortness and overall similarities in all the sex scenes. I wanted to know more about Sandra and Dominique as individuals and for the plot to develop itself a bit more. Emotional charge could have been on high and sometimes this is more important that the sexually charged moments. I felt like a lot was left unresolved and there were more than a few moments that felt lackluster and descriptive.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Long Way Down by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★  

“I am the biographer of my own life. And no one can take that away from me.” 

Since the day we were introduced to both Daisy and Ryke I have been waiting for them to get their own happily ever after. Since the day they got together. All the way to Long Way Down, I've been waiting patiently for luck to be on their side. So much of this time has been spent getting to know them as individuals, as a couple. If there were a pair of fictional characters so deserving of greatness it's them. All the way down the path to their destiny, it's been a pleasure watching them grow and seeing them navigate a sticky world.

One of the things that strikes me most about Long Way Down is that there are so many times that you just want to cry your eyes out. At good things. At bad things. Krista and Becca Ritchie have accomplished so much with their words throughout the course of Addicted and Calloway Sisters but their greatest feat, their biggest triumph, is how they tackle the complexities of life and human emotions. Every character we've met has struggled in different ways and their approach has always been honest in displaying various coping mechanisms.

Aftershock by Sylvia Day | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

“I’ve always seen white picket fences in your eyes when you look at me. I was positive I wasn’t that guy. I was wrong. One of these days, when you’re ready, I’ll give that dream to you. And you’re going to give me a gorgeous little girl or two with your dark curly hair and smiles that slay me.” 

Sylvia Day is one of my favourite authors, period, and owns me with the fact that she is the one of the only romance authors that I can stand. I loved the Crossfire series and naturally, I'd made it my mission to read as much as I can get my hands on from her. No one writes a steamy romance like her and I was more than ready to swoon and trip over myself for the sexual chemistry that would surely cut the air.

Afterburn was sadly underwhelming--it was decent enough, but still not the greatest. Day can do so much better than the underdeveloped story of Jax and Gia. Sure, it's a steamy short story but it lacks the quality of warmth and soul that Day is known for. Importantly, her novels are usually more than just lust-over-me sorts of gems. There are characters who have so much depth and life breathed into them, you can't help but to fall head over heels for them. Afterburn was not one of those and sadly Aftershock is worse. I couldn't believe this was written by Sylvia because it lacked so, so much of what I've come to love about her words and it just left me feeling a bit disgruntled and confused.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fuel the Fire by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★ 

“I’m attracted to people. To the words they speak, to the actions they take, to their full-bodied mannerisms and soulful gaits. I am attracted to people. To impassioned hearts that beat out of sync, the ones that skip a measure, heard in hushed places and violent spaces—I am attracted to people.” 

Fuel the Fire is one of those novels that proves just how much of a punch our words can offer. Krista & Becca Ritchie really, really know how to get captivate us all and it continues to amaze me how underrated they are. How much they manage to intrigue me with every novel. It's no shock that this one would be one of my favourites of the entire series run--Connor Cobalt is my favourite of all the males. And yes, I'll probably regret saying that and change my mind because picking a favourite out of the core six is like...

Well, we won't get into that. It's just difficult. But Fuel the Fire made me love him even more which is not something I thought possible at this point. I loved the new set of challenges that Connor and Rose face (at the same time, back-off of my kids!) and how they handle it, as always, is with a determination and grace I aspire towards. As always: fire follows the two as they grow their family and embark on a future in the most Connor and Rose way possible.

Afterburn by Sylvia Day | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

Making changes was my responsibility. Having a great guy was just a bonus. 

Everyone knows that Sylvia Day is the queen and one of the only romance authors I can stand. Afterburn has been on my radar for a long fucking time, I just hadn't gotten around to it until now--and now that I have, I'm kind of glad I waited so long. Afterburn has all the makings of a stellar Sylvia Day story--it's "I want to rip my clothes off" levels of sexy; the chemistry so off the charts... I'm pretty sure the chart itself was set on fire. Gia and Jax are basically fire in the form of a couple (or in this case a pairing) and longtime readers are going to appreciate the good old fashioned heat that follows.

Day really knows how to grip her readers with her chemistry and there's just this overall thrilling tone to everything she writes. It can't be replicated. I did love Afterburn for what it was and found myself lusting for Jax right along for Gia. Which is a short story--one of two--and that does show. So much of Afterburn felt rushed and like an unfinished thought. I wanted to know so much more about Gia and Jax as characters. I wanted to know about their pasts--together and apart. I wanted to know about the timeline that takes place after chapter one and before chapter two.

Addicted After All by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★ 

There’s something about Lily that makes all the terrible parts of me seem irrelevant. That makes a bad day momentary and a good one infinite. It’s love like this that’s worth living for.

I'm not crying you're crying. In the conclusion to Lily and Lo's series--this isn't goodbye, yet, thank fuck--Addicted After All takes us to an all time high of emotions. Krista and Becca Ritchie really have that way about things, don't they? To make you feel all the feels. Every. Last. One. Of. Them. It goes without saying, to all the fans out there, that this installment is no different--you'll love, you'll sigh, you'll laugh, you'll cry. All you can ask for in literature is a book that makes you come to life with it and Addicted After All is one of those books.

This series is just genuinely my favourite and I can't even imagine my life without it at this point. Shout out to Sue over at Hollywood News Source for posting about this series on a near constant basis over on Tumblr because without her, I would have never discovered this beautifully honest series--and where the fuck would I be, right?

Seeing Lily and Lo's progress... all of their highs and lows, has been one of my favourite reading experiences over the years.
The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion | Rating:  ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As a note, a printed galley 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.

Graeme Simsion is not an author I'm overly familiar with. Sure, I know the name. And the title The Rosie Project is thrown around often enough (I'm totally adding it to my to-read list, by the way) that I can recognize who he is and all that jazz. Beyond that, I couldn't vouch for anything he has penned and this was lower on my radar than many of my most anticipated reads. That being said, The Best of Adam Sharp intrigued me from the start and was a pleasant surprise.

In fact, it was one of those books that just felt like a warm embrace whilst reading--I genuinely enjoyed it and didn't want to put it down. Which surprised me, as the novels biggest plot was a bit off-putting. The tone of love was so strong though that it made for a delightfully deep experience--I loved how everything was fueled with music and memories.

Graeme Simsion connected me to his characters through both music and nostalgia and ultimately, that's what made me enjoy The Best of Adam Sharp.

Thrive by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★  

It is bigger than an I love you. It is a declaration that solidifies what I’ve known for so long. We aren’t connected by our addictions. But by our childhood. Souls fused together from the very, very start.

Do you ever read a book and wonder--for a moment, after you put it down and absorb everything--how did I go so long without knowing these characters? Page after page, the further I dive into the lives of the characters, I can't help but to love each one of them. Krista and Becca Ritchie captivate me with their words and their character development in a way that is so hard to describe because it just touches something inside me. For as long as I live, these stories will mean the world to me and Thrive is a reminder.

How can I describe Thrive? It's a whirlwind of every damn thing you'd expect from this dynamic duo. Thrive, like the entire world its set within, is like nothing I've ever read before in NA. Everything about this novel is beautiful and emotionally gripping, it is something that takes you by your collar and says listen. What I can't stress enough is how intelligent and truthful the path is. One of the most important things to know about this series is that it's beautifully written and filled with so much heart and soul, you'll be left feeling like you've discovered a new friend. I couldn't stop highlighting Thrive and found myself scoffing again at the fact that I didn't purchase a physical copy.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jughead (2015) #4 by Chip Rating: ★★★★★  

Archie Comics does it again! I mean listen, I am probably slightly biased on the matter--I would definitely call Archie my ride or die comics--but the recently rebooted Jughead stories just keep getting better. In #4 we are continuing the trail of mystery (is the new staff at Riverdale up to something? If so, what?) with humour (a lot of humour!) and of course familiar faces. 

Oh, yes! Not to mention hilarious dream sequences--say hello to Slackbeard! I am either really tired (plausible) or really easily amused because I'm almost always howling with laughter at the vivid and creative dreams he has. While this one doesn't beat out Game of Jones or their spoof on U.N.C.L.E it is still filled with good old fashioned nostalgic humour that even the oldest Riverdale fans can appreciate. Tied it up in one stunning bow (that! artwork! I! feel! faint!) and you've got yourself a can't miss comic. 


Even better we get to see more interactions between Jughead and his friends. We get more of Dilton Doiley filling in the position of his partner in crime; as Jughead tries to crack the case on whether or not they are in serious trouble (danger!) at school. I've got a hint for you: HACKING and a bit of a backfire. Because what is an Archie comic without a little mischief gone wrong? 

If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a printed galley 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.

Elizabeth Wilhide's novel If I Could Tell You is full of hits and misses for me and while I did enjoy myself a lot with this one, I also felt immensely underwhelmed by other traits. In many ways it's a highly compelling read with stylish prose and a solid plot. It has its moments of intrigue. In other ways, it is highly unobtainable in the sense that as a reader you may have difficulty connecting to the characters. Wilhide is very intentional in the way the story ties up and this is a plus, but there are many other qualities that put me off and caused my to walk away a time or two.

I think my problem with the novel was more-or-less in the characters and the way their characteristics were tipped at us. Something felt off about it and I couldn't really get past that from the get-go. I had a fun time with the plot whilst ignoring its flaws but at the same time you can't help but to get frustrated because it lands in a way that's neither here nor there.

You spend all that time getting to know the story without coming away with much. And at the end of the day it's mostly a quick read that warrants use during a book hangover, for example. It can be fun and captivating only to leave you feeling as though there could have been more to it. I don't personally like that in my historical fiction--but that's okay. Because despite my problems with it, again, I didn't hate it.

Jughead (2015) #3 by Chip Rating: ★★★★★ 

SO. So. You guys know how I said that Issue #2 was my new favourite in this reboot of Jughead? I lied. I mean... in my defense, it's entirely because I didn't expect them to go all The Man From U.N.C.L.E on my ass. But here we are. The third installment of the phenomenal re-imagined Jughead is even better than the first two. I loved the tone of conspiracy and humour to it. Everything played out well and the artwork is just as nice as ever.

Picking up immediately where #2 left off, we find our boy in some hot water over an incident at school. Cleaning up after this mess isn't easy especially when you consider how much the new staff at school seems to hate Jughead. He is definitely a nuisance in their eyes which is hilariously true--he is Jughead Jones, after-all. His best friend is Archie Andrews. You get the picture.

Riverdale is just as fun and full of trickery as ever. There's something teasingly witty about this issue and I found moments to be more funny than they probably were. Once more, we strike gold with a Jughead Jones dream sequence. I love all the references they sneak in those and this issue is no different. In fact, while I loved their spin on Game of Thrones, I loved this U.N.C.L.E reference more.

The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As a note, a printed galley 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.

Before The Hope Chest, I'd never heard of Viola Shipman and frankly I'm surprised by this. I thought the entirety of this novel was drawn wonderfully and while it wasn't/isn't my favourite novel of the year, it was still quite the captivating read and an experience I won't soon forget. I was curious by the entire premise of both it and The Charm Bracelet and binge-read them during some much needed downtime.

I think the first thing that readers should know is that the writing is elegant. Pure and simple, it is stunning and offers so much to the story. Beyond that, it's thought provoking and sparkles from start to finish. I know, I say it a lot in my reviews but this novel has heart and just takes you in from the start. Something in the way that Shipman crafted the story is special--whether it be the first time you read it, the last, or the fifth. Shipman pulls on our heartstrings and makes us really, really think and feel freely. I caught myself tearing up a few times over the most mundane of things. Then, came the heavy stuff.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Jughead (2015) #2 by Chip Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jughead Jones is back and better than ever! In Jughead #2, everyone's favourite is in for some serious trouble--detention! Gasp! Howl! The horror! In my humble opinion, Jughead #2 is even better than the first installment of the newly rebooted Riverdale favourite and as usual is totally giggle worthy. Can I say that without sounding lame? Definitely not. Am I going to say it anyways? Duh.

Once more, the new Jughead combines new and old traits together; tying generations of fans up quite nicely. I found this installment to be more humorous than the previous which is saying something, since the last one was pretty damn funny! Of course, I am biased--as you know, Jughead Jones is one of my favourite comic characters of all-time. In #2, the artwork is on point and the characters we know and love are just as fun as they've always been. I couldn't get enough of it!

And I'm not going to lie, I totally cackled during the scene in detention when Jughead and Dilton were talking. "Your dad's name is Harvard?" Dilton? Hello, Dilton? (I actually wanted to add: is this thing on? To this entire scene. I was giggly, I guess.) The way that this scene is portrayed is classic Archie all the way and as mundane as it seems, it just made me smile like a doofus. Or like a Jughead who just spot a burger--whichever.

The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As a note, a printed galley 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.

Ginny Moon is a highly intriguing novel that hit a lot of high and low notes. I don't want my rating to fool you--I did appreciate this novel and thought it was very important to its genre. There were a few things I didn't like about it, which were what landed it between 3 and 4 stars, I may update it to 4 of 5 stars at the end of the day, like the ending.

For the most part Benjamin Ludwig crafts an unforgettable tale that combines innocence and a little heartbreak. I can't explain how I felt while reading it without spoiling and that's the opposite of what I want to do. It shines light on a character that is vastly underrepresented in modern and classic literature, and its prose is thoughtful--elegant and thought provoking. Ludwig managed to impress me deeply with the way the plotline is captured and you can feel everything as you are reading. I do mean everything.

Full of solid relationships (family and all its confusions) and sprinkled in are a lot of mixed genres; Ginny Moon is charming. I do think that even the most reluctant of readers will appreciate this novel and the characters in it. The tone is such a compelling one that you can't really put it down.

The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace | Rating: ★★★★★

Original review here. Slightly revised from its original form in honor of the newly published version, now featuring more new poems. This is pretty much the same review only it tackles a bit more without spoiling the new works published. A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

The Princess Saves Herself in this One is a triumph in modern poetry and I'm not just saying this because I've followed Amanda for years on her Tumblr and admired her blog from afar. I'm saying this because it's the first thought that comes to mind when reading this. If ever there were a release this year worthy of hype, it's this one. No matter what someone says--this is poetry and this breathes life to Amanda's words.

It came to me during a reading slump and brought me from it. Actually, I can't stress how important this collection is to me because reading it was something truly magical and didn't just pull me out of a reading slump. Now, my second time reading it and exploring the newer additions, I can say even further that Amanda Lovelace is a talent in her own league and someone to look out for.

Blind Attraction by Eden Summers | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

“I've watched a never-ending line of relationships crumple around me, with each sordid detail publicized to the world. I couldn't stand to hurt you that way.”

Eden Summers' Blind Attraction is just the latest in a string of romance novels I've been trying on for size. It follows a relatively normal and familiar formula: good, sheltered girl falls in with someone unexpected. Tropes like this are hit or miss for me and while I didn't hate Blind Attraction, I wasn't all that fond of it, either.

And while I'm sure it's found its audience and a steady fan base, it just wasn't for me. I felt bored a good chunk of the time despite liking the main characters. Eden Summers' prose is a solid departure from the genre but at the end of the day, I kept walking away from the story and lacked investment in it.

There were multiple times when I thought I wouldn't finish the story and found myself skipping certain parts in it when I couldn't focus.

Ms. Manwhore by Katy Evans | Rating: ★★★☆☆

Because I love him.
Because when I look into his eyes, nothing else exists but him.
Because even when I don’t look into his eyes, nothing else exists but him.

From hot and heavy to sweet and heartfelt, Katy Evans has a way of getting her readers invested in her stories. Manwhore was good and surprised me, Manwhore +1 furthered my interest in the love story between Rachel and Malcolm and I've heard nothing but good things about many of her other novels. But, Ms. Manwhore was pretty lackluster and a bit too clichéd compared to the first two installments. I just felt very bored the entire time I read it--because it wasn't awful but it just wasn't filled with the same spark as the first two of the series.

If it had been a full-length novel, perhaps their "happily ever after" would have compelled me more. As happy as I was to see how their story tied up I do wish it wasn't a novella; there was so much more of a story to tell about their vows and the wedding. I felt like something was missing the entire time I was reading it and even though I did enjoy it for the most part, I just think it could have been better. Perhaps, I was just picky about it.

Right On, Riverdale! Jughead (2015) #1

Jughead (2015) #1 by Chip Rating: ★★★★★  

Jughead Jones has always been one of my favourite fictional men (er, boys) so it's going to come as no surprise that I loved the first issue of the newly rebooted Jughead comics. There's something undeniably retro and modern about this particular portrayal of Jughead and I absolutely appreciate that. He's visibly different (look at that incredible new artwork!) but still the same old Juggy and you have to really hand it to Archie Comics for the way they are modernizing their characters once more. 

Filled with food and humor (the injustice of a new set of rules for the cafeteria food!) it is the perfect illustration of who Jughead Jones is. You can see the past adaptations and present ones college in #1 and that's what makes reading it so fun. It's one of those "what is old becomes new again" scenarios and lifelong fans of Jughead will appreciate it. The story is classic Archie style--new spines on old characters that has such a feel-good vibe to it. Plus, it's only right that Jughead's newest incarnation features food as the central plot to its first issue--because what is Jughead without his love of burgers? 

I found myself cracking up more times than I could count and when Jughead is knocked out cold, his dream sequence is by far one of my favourite columns in recent Archie releases. Bring on the Game of Jones, am I right? 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Manwhore +1 by Katy Evans | Rating: ★★★★★ 

Be safe with me. Reckless with me. Be who you are with me.

Much like with its predecessor, I found my expectations surprisingly shattered in the best possible way with Katy Evans lovestory. Manwhore +1 is entirely as fun and steamy as Manwhore and this time, there's a lot more romance and resolution to be found. While the story at its core is highly clichéd and a bit unbelievable, it is still likable and captivating. And if you loved the first novel in the series, you'll be positively enamored by the sequel and all the love and growth that materializes before our eyes.

Manwhore +1 is ultimately more heartfelt in its central plot that the first book. It takes a look around and improves itself--the main romance is expanded after they are reunited and make peace with the article and its aftermath. Everything in this novel is put to the test and the growth we see looking back at the start, to that ending, is a great example of what romance writers can learn. I found myself rooting even more for Rachel and Malcolm, something I thought not possible--as I was already cheering them on in the first installment.

Are you ready to be a sinner? Because I know I am. Full of steamy moments and sharp dialogue, Manwhore +1 is in it to win it.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Wrecked by Maria Padian | Rating:  ★★★★☆ (4.5)

As a note, a printed galley 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.

Let's start right off the bat with the topic at hand the trigger warning that is laying in the central plot. Wrecked tackles the subject of rape. This will not be for everyone. I need to lay that out there for my readers. Because, it is a sensitive topic. Remember, as always, to look into the novel and protect yourself from triggering any memories. Although it tackles the topic, it is not in the usual way--the story is not narrated by the victim, instead, it's a bit of an outsiders view of the aftermath.

That being said, Maria Padian has a realistic way of approaching the topic and breathes a life into her story that makes you feel deeply from page one until the end. It's deep, it's a bit of a painful experience, there's humor and it just remains true to itself in a way that most novels cannot manage. Wrecked isn't an after school special but a frank look into the characters' we meet and their lives. You look into the community of a college and the all-too-real look at sexual assault.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Betting on Bailey by Tara Crescent | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As if knowing someone is a prerequisite to good sex.

Betting on Bailey is another one of those on a whim purchases I've made lately. Until this novel, I'd never heard of Tara Crescent but can't understand why. Her writing is the type that pulls you in and just might set you on fire by the ending. I had a love/hate for this novel because there were a lot of parts that just didn't flow quite like I'd have hoped. I did, however, enjoy it overall and am curious to more by Crescent.

That being said--threesomes. It's one of those fantasies that just sort of sticks in your mind. Betting on Bailey is not my first experience with the topic when it comes to literature. But it is one of the better ones. You've got three intriguing characters who have off the charts chemistry; pulling you in from the moment they meet and keeping you in place firmly. Did I find their relationship to be entirely plausible? Not quite. Did I still enjoy it? Yes.

One of the things that bothered me about Betting on Bailey was how it flowed overall. It felt a bit strange, the way everything developed and grew from one thing to another. That's the only reason I'm giving it a three-star instead of four or even a five. I found some of the interactions to be a bit strange or lack that extra kick that would set it apart. Beyond that, I'm not going to lie to you: a great deal of it felt unbelievable and unrealistic.

Manwhore by Katy Evans | Rating: ★★★★★ 

A challenge is something you stop wanting once you acquire it. I can’t know if you’re a challenge yet until I make you mine. 

I went into Manwhore fully intending to hate it. This was a novel I picked up on a whim to cure a massive book hangover I'd been having for a few weeks. I never expected to like it, let alone love it. After-all, its plots are full of frequently used devices, tropes and all those bloody archetypes that grow more and more tedious with every passing day. We get it! Bad boy is tamed by a good girl.

The thing that surprised me about Manwhore was it was a total cliche. One that came into its own in a way that is very, very satisfying to a reader. Katy Evans spins a sizzling tale that is smart, sexy and quick on its feet. It only helps that it takes place in Chicago, a city that I love immensely. To describe the plot of Manwhore, I'd have to sum it up as a very steamy spin on How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. They're not identical in plots but I think the general premise will be appealing to those who love a good romp and the feel that comes with the now-classic romantic comedy. 

Manwhore is a lot more serious than I expected but also not serious at all. I'm sure you're thinking the same thing I am: "Jessica, that makes no sense." I'm not going to apologize, though, because that's the only way I can describe it. Evans mixes business, pleasure, heart and everything in between. Not unlike the tone that Sylvia Day writes in--she'll captivate you with the romance that blossoms against odds between Malcolm and Rachel.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

By Your Side by Kasie West | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

One of the main reasons I requested By Your Side was because I'd heard quite a lot of praise over Kasie West's work in the past and also that it was recommended for fans of Stephanie Perkins. Good young adult novels set in the contemporary and romantic genre can be hard to come across and while By Your Side was by no means a horribly put together story, it just wasn't particularly intriguing or mind-blowing. I thought the premise had a lot of potential to set it apart from other novels but ultimately it felt a lot like... every other book in the genre?

Let me explain: I spent a great deal of the novel stopping and starting. That is a bad sign for me always. Kasie West does have a nice prose that is sweet and to the point, not unlike Stephanie Perkins, but in the case of By Your Side there was a whole lot of one dimensional malarkey. Generally, I like to be wowed by character development and one thing was glaringly obvious about this one: the main character, Autumn, was the only saving grace in it. I did really like her and enjoyed hearing her voice. I thought there was still something else that could have been done with her and that a specific trope shouldn't have been used to define her.

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno | Rating:  ★★★★☆ (4.5)

A copy of this novel was provided through Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I've never read anything by Katie Cotugno but I have always heard good things about her work. After almost constantly hearing nothing but sweet things about her writing, and finally picking out something of hers to try, I can see why she has such steady fans. Fireworks is a breath of fresh air and pleasantly surprised me when it comes to its genre--it could have gone horribly wrong but something about her prose just makes the experience all the more good.

What made me enjoy Fireworks so much was the nostalgia of it all--Cotugno captured an era I remember fondly and did it a solid. I'd say it falls right smack dab in the middle of clichéd and not. Somehow, it all worked and tangled together spotlessly and kept me feeling a kind of warmth to it. I'm not going to lie and tell you guys this is the most moving novel you'll ever read but it is worth a second look. It reminded me of a lot of childhood memories but it also stays connected with its target audience--while it will feel nostalgic to people my age, it will feel just as captivating and relevant to a younger audience, too. A lot has changed from the 1990s to today--that is time itself--but not enough to make teenagers feel disconnected to the general story.

Nothing Less by Anna Todd | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

Where Anna Todd's Nothing More soared in comparison to her After series--Nothing Less, well, didn't. Her writing has really improved in the years since she began posting to Wattpad, and it is more obvious everyday, but the entire conclusion to Landon Gibson's story fell flat for me. Nothing Less picks up right where Nothing More left off but there just wasn't as much heart in it compared to the first of the duo.

Nearly everything that made Nothing More standout just didn't feel developed in this one and that was, ultimately, disappointing for me. I am not one to take many new adult novels in the genre serious--but one of the things that strikes me about Todd's writing is that with all her books, her prose grows stronger. Anna is known for growing as a writing and exploring different tones. But with Nothing Less, I felt like she'd backtracked on her "each novel gets better" progress and it just wasn't doing it for me. I almost didn't complete it.

But here's the thing: I think fans of the series, and the series that spawned it, will appreciate it for what it is. A fluffy, smutty, humorous love story with the importance of friendship and respect of one's self sprinkled in. After has never been my cup of tea, per se, but it's always been relatively entertaining for me. I think that, another reason why this installment just wasn't my favourite, was it felt a little separated from what she'd already established in her work.

Duplicity by Sibel Hodge | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Fans of thrillers will certainly fawn over Duplicity and its many twists and turns.Sibel Hodge keeps you guessing in every chapter and will compel you to read until you've flipped to the very last page. What started as a fairytale marriage between a seemingly perfect match ends in tragedy--Alissa and Max have everything a person could ever want, until Max is brutally murdered and Alissa is spared. Readers will follow as the glass shatters and the psychological thrills take place--Hodge weaves it all together like the pro that she is and you'll find yourself lost in her lush prose and the questions that follow. Fans of Gillian Flynn will love the "not everything is as it seems" flow that comes with Duplicity; indeed, it will leave your head spinning with questions as you nod "that makes sense" and wonder how you missed the signs.

Duplicity is the tense and gorgeous, frightening and mysterious, delicious and horrifying. I'm unfamiliar with Hodge's previous works but if it's anything like Duplicity--I'm totally here for it. She knows how to tug at your heart, soul and mind and then toss you flat on your butt. Which is my favourite kind of writing.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner | Rating: ★★★★☆

A copy of this novel was provided through Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

I'm a sucker for fairytale retellings. I'm an even bigger sucker for the types of retellings that sprinkle in fresh takes on standard tales and a whole lot of mythology. I find there just isn't enough in terms of re-imagining Beauty and The Beast. At least, not many that I like. In the case of Hunted, Meagan Spooner tells a tale that is instantly classic and new to our eyes--a lot of twists and turns, it's very high stakes and action packed, and also smart. I liked knowing what was going to happen but seeing it unfold in a way that is newer to me. 

That's what sets Hunted apart from its counterparts--you can guess a lot of the twists but they don't necessarily play out exactly as you'd think. Then there's the characters and the way Spooner works around tropes and plots that could have been utterly clichéd and dully familiar. Let's take our newly rediscovered Beauty, Yeva. She is very much like her fairytale counterpart but with a few notable differences. I liked that she was a hunter and full of strength and a bit of vulnerability. I.E: she is real and far from one dimensional. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber | Rating: ★★★★★ 

As a note, a printed galley 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. 

Where to begin, where to begin? This review is going to be hard because I don't know that I can explain my love of this novel in a short, spoiler-free review, but I'm always up for a challenge. I never knew I needed this book until it was delivered to my front door one rainy afternoon.  The thing about Caraval is that it's so incredibly vivid and unique. I was consistently blown away by the amount of soul that is in each paragraph and sentence and character. I don't think I've been this impressed by a novel, and its world building, quite so heavily in a long time.

What strikes me most is that this is Stephanie Garber's debut novel is that she is weaving a dark and delicious tale of magic and heart in a way that dances circles around people who've been working in the genre for many, many years. I can't stress this enough--Garber created a world so breathtaking (and at times terrifying) that you simply cannot put the novel down. I read it in one sitting and found myself revisiting it once already. I was thoroughly impressed with it in a way that made it an instant favourite for me.

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

There was something sincerely compelling about the way Silvis carries his story once he really gets going. One thing that makes Two Days Gone so fascinating and thrilling is the idea of what makes the main mystery a real, well, mystery. I liked seeing the way we're shown the main characters thoughts and how it all plays out. You think you have a person figured out and you don't. I think there was this interesting tone of friendship in it, too.

I think it begs one horrifying question: what happens when your family is murdered and you've become a suspect in the lead of it? What happens if your friend is the accused? I don't think this is an easy topic to approach and at times, it's dull and shaky in the exploration of it. However, at the end of the day, Silvis explores this mystery quite well that leaves us on the edges of our seats until its final page.

I can't really explain it without spoilers and I know, I know, my review is a bit all over the place and will be edited once I'm not in a rush. 

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Ah, the first big disappointment of 2017. Well, in terms of new young adult releases, that is. I was so looking forward to this one but it's one of those instances where all the hype makes you wonder why. As someone who loved the Divergent book series (or at the very least, the first book) it was very surprising to see Carve the Mark be plagued by so many flaws--Veronica Roth isn't an awful writer in the least but the entirety of Carve the Mark feeds on an offensive undertone that makes me cranky. And due to some of the remarks she made in her NPR interview, I've lost a bit of respect for her as an author and, well, a person.

In other words, I'm not entirely sure what to make of her. I--well, if you just Google info on the interview, you'll see where the problem lays and I'll leave it at that. Thanks to everyone who brought this to my attention, as well.

I hadn't seen all of the posts about this novel's flaws until after I'd read part of my pre-order (which wasn't that long ago) and I'm quite happy that I'm not the only one who was just generally put-off by the stereotypes in the story itself and the ways in which Roth is conducting herself. Personally, reading this was like I'd put on an itchy sweater and was stuck with it until the end of the day.

Kissed by the Rain by Claudia Winters | Rating: ★★★☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Despite the concept and general speed, I wasn't all that impressed by Kissed by the Rain. I thought it was a solid release but also very, very standard in terms of plots and characters--almost feeling familiar in the wrong sort of way. You know the type, right? It's a decent enough book (and the writing is quite velvety and smooth) and all, but I had this feeling the entire time that I'd already read it several times before. For me, that makes reading the novel itself very tedious and because of it, I almost put the story down on more than one occasion. 

This isn't to say that it didn't have its good parts--I did find myself enjoying a few scenes and characters, which is why it's right in the middle in terms of my own rating. You've got to remember while reading my thoughts on it that they are mine and mine alone; it doesn't determine your taste or the overall quality of the novel. I did like the twist of mystery in it--the whole idea that a ring was something that would determine the fate of our main character. Something about this superstition lifted the quality higher and put the plot in a direction that gave it a much-needed boost

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The May Queen by Helen Irene Young | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I think the first thing I need to say is that I wanted to like this one more than I actually did and, perhaps, it is a similar matter of it just not being my cup of tea for one reason or another. You mustn't take my reviews, or anyone else's, as the gospel and instead check this book out for yourself. That being said, I didn't finish The May Queen for one reason or another but I think it was entirely due to its pace and my lack of connection towards the characters or the central plot. 

I just wasn't feeling it from the get-go and I'm not sure what I was expecting or what I was supposed to be expecting. But, it just wasn't my thing. I know, I know, I've probably already said something similar in my already short review and I'm not trying to justify my dislike (or rather, disinterest) in The May Queen. It just failed to connect with me and I put it down only to never pick it back up again. 

But, here's the thing. If you're smart, unlike me, you will go pick up a copy and hopefully listen to my disinterest and spite me. Because it does have promise in its summer and the writing isn't spectacularly horrid--on the contrary, it was quite nice but just not enough for my attention to stay zeroed in. I spent the little bit reading it spacing out and that's just all there is to it.  
The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard | Rating: ★★★★★  

If you’re new to my reviews and don't know, let me catch you up to speed: I am in love with words written by A.G. Howard. I mean. Obviously. There, I said it. I’m almost positive that I would read an instruction manual titled How to Unclog Your Toilet With Your Pinky Finger if A.G. Howard wrote it (although, Anita, please don’t take this as an invitation to write said instructions--that was a weird statement even for me and I am sure I should talk to a therapist about it or whatever and I'm probably bluffing.) and I'd give it about four-hundred stars out of five. I'm not really kidding, the woman could write "Hello, I'm A.G. Howard," and I'd probably give it the highest rating imaginable after just casually passing her my wallet. 

Needless to say, I went into The Architect of Song with high hopes that only a few modern day authors have earned from me. I was excited, firstly, because of its plot and the fact that it wasn't a young adult novel. It's exciting seeing one of your favourite authors expand through the genres and in A.G. Howard's case she does so effortlessly and proves how severely underrated she is. There was something instantly classic about The Architect of Song that felt familiar yet undeniably its own--readers who love prose that is highly detailed, indulgent and poetic, will positive swoon over the glorious way this story is told.