Saturday, June 30, 2018

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K Choi

Release Date: March 24th, 2018
Read: April 6-7th, 2018
Publisher: Simon and Schuster for Young Readers
Series: Standalone
Format: Signed Hardcover, 400 pages
Source: Bought

Description from GoodReads:

   For Penny Lee, high school was a nonevent. She got decent grades, had a few friends, and even a boyfriend by senior year but basically she was invisible. Having just graduated from high school, she’s heading off to college in Austin, Texas, and she’s ready for it.

   Sam has had a rougher time over the last few years. He grew up in a trailer park and had to bail when he caught his addict mom taking out credit cards in his name to buy more crap from the Home Shopping Network. He gets a job at a café whose owner is kind enough to let him crash on a mattress in a spare room upstairs. He wants to go to film school and become a great director but at the moment he has $17 in his checking account and his laptop is dying.

   When Penny and Sam cross paths it’s not exactly a Hollywood meet cute: they’re both too socially awkward for that. But they exchange numbers and stay in touch—almost entirely by text message, a form that allows them to get to know each other while being witty and snarky and intimate without the uncomfortable weirdness of, you know, actually having to see each other in person.  


   To be a hero, you had to decide it was you.
   There is the odd occasion when I will in fact judge a book by its cover, that is only when I absolutely adore its cover. That was the case for Emergency Contact. Even though contemporary tends to be the last genre I’m attracted to, Emergency Contact managed to win my heart over with just the illustrations alone. That and of course its story. 

   Emergency Contact just felt so real and so pure. I could feel a connection to at least one of the characters almost at all times throughout the book. From the panic attack when life gets too intense, to just being so awkward and loud in the presence of your crush. The book is the feel good book that any college or university student needs in their life. 

   It was also one of the very few college/university set YA books that I’ve seen. And I didn’t realise how badly I wanted that setting until after having read Emergency Contact. I do hope authors see the desire for the trend and begin to publish more books like it. 

Cuteness and perfection is what Emergency Contact is, and I will forever have a warm feeling in my heart whenever I think of the book. 


Favourite Quote:

“Loving someone was traumatizing. You never knew what would happen to them out there in the world. Everything precious was also vulnerable.”

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Fangirl, Fluffy books

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Book Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Read: March 26th-April 2nd, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 342 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Description from GoodReads:

   Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

   The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


   In my heart, I’m as wild as the ocean that raised me.
    To Kill a Kingdom made a fairly large splash on social media before I even had the chance to hear about it from work or even from GoodReads. This was a little peculiar since I usually make it a habit of mine to actively seek out Mermaid titles. Especially ones that are retellings. So of course once it was all over my timeline I made it a mission to get my hands on a copy of To Kill a Kingdom.

   Anything evil mermaid related is an obsession of mine, no matter how old the book, I have to read it . So when I picked up To Kill a Kingdom, is was an instant love, I even made my coworker bring it into our store to put her in her paranormal section. I loved everything about the society of sirens, everything from the murderous queen to the tradition of stealing the hearts of a mortal as a birthday tradition. It even made my day as to have an explanation as to how the sirens came to be, with there being an even worse race of male sirens that are just horrific in every way imaginable. I couldn’t have been happier with Alexandra Christo’s portrayal of mermaids.

   Even though it was advertised as a Little Mermaid retelling, I could also see the elements of other fairy tales mixed into the book as well. The second one that stood out the most was the story of King Midas. Being a fairy tale fanatic it was a fun little side piece to read into the different kingdoms and see little impressions of other fairy tales.

   As you get further into To Kill a Kingdom you can obviously see how much work and detail went into the storyline and plot, it was refreshing to see how everything fit together in the end without any loose threads.

   The only thing I did not enjoy about To Kill a Kingdom was the journey that occurs in the last parts of the book. I found that even with the plot being so detailed, the journey still could have been longer. With the journey being done in such a short span of time it felt as if it was somewhat rushed. I honestly thought between it all, the story could have even been two books, a duology.

   To Kill a Kingdom was a murderous, magical adventure that I kept me enthralled all the way until the final page. If Alexandra Christo ever decides to revisit the world she’s created with this book, you will certainly see my name at the top of the list of people who would like to read it. 


Favourite Quote:

"Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.” 

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mermaids, Witches, Magic, Little Mermaid, King Midas

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Book Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Read: May 20th- June 14th, 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 416 pages
Source: BEA 2018

Description from GoodReads:

   It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods. 

   Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

   The only thing is: they didn’t do it. 

   On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.


   Three average, everyday girls. a little lonely, a little ignored.
   I read my first Lauren Oliver book maybe 6 years ago, having picked up Before I Fall because for some reason I thought it was the first book in the Delirium series. Since reading the final book in that series I haven’t really been keeping up to date with the latest Lauren Oliver releases. But of course, she had to come along and release the cover for Broken Things, and have me hooked instantaneously. Especially considering it ended up being a thriller mystery. So now here I am, having finished the book and wanting to talk about it. 

    The three girls in Broken Things certainly took being book obsessed to a whole new level, with creating a sequel to the book, and even going as far as attempting to recreate sacrifices to the fictional demon like god from the story. It made for an interesting read, as well as made me wondering if at one point I’d eventually go that far in my obsession with books. 

    Broken Things ended up being a hit and miss for me, where there were many things I enjoyed about the book, it also came with a bunch of things that I didn’t. 

    Two out of three of the girls live, and so we get perspectives of the living girls throughout the book. Including how dark their lives are now that their town thinks they killed their best friend. Mia’s life has become complicated to the point where she’s a homeschooled girl who lives with a hoarder mom., and Brynn’s life is bouncing from back and forth between rehabs, faking being a drug addict and alcoholic, just so that she has somewhere to live. It was really interesting to read as to how the characters dealt with their circumstances, as well as how the problems were solved in the end. It also made the story that much more interesting when I found out that the circumstances were inspired by real events in Lauren Oliver’s life. 

    One thing I simply didn’t care for, but yet found interesting was that at almost every beginning of a chapter we were given a snippet of The Way into Lovelorn, the story the girls were obsessed with, or a snippet of the story the girls wrote themselves. I was never a fan of the fanfiction snippets when I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and I wasn’t a fan now. I can certainly see how this would appeal to other people though. 

    Then finally the major kicker for me was how easy it was for the murderer to be discovered. In the end the mystery just felt so rushed, like Oliver needed the story to be finished with already.  I wouldn't say I was disappointed in the end, but I certainly wasn’t satisfied. 

    Broken Things didn’t end up being a favourite, but I’d certainly give another one of her books a chance if or when I ever pick them up.  


Favourite Quote:

"No one's ever lonely in lovelorn. No one except the shadow."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Thrillers, Mystery, Books come to life, Murder Mystery 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Release Date: May 8th, 2018
Read: June 8-10th, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 320 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review.

Description from GoodReads:

   Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There's not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley's favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

   So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

   Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.


  That which rots you marks you.
   No matter what I pick up, I end up basically adoring every paranormal book I read, Undead Girl Gang included. I had requested Undead Girl Gang after my coworker thought it was the grossest and funniest book she’s read in a while. Obviously it was a perfect rec for me. 

   The first thing I noticed and loved about the book was it’s protagonist. Mila is an actual realistic YA character, even if she was a witch. She had personality and flare but most of all she wasn’t the perfect, not flawed, character that most paranormal or fantasy books have. Mila is a fat, confident Mexican girl that felt very real. I personally don’t think I’ve read YA book with a fat character that didn’t make the book all about them being fat. It was a refreshing change to just have it be a thing, without it being a huge part of the plot line. The same went with her heritage. 

   Another thing that really stood out for me was the “fooling around” scene that occurs later on in the book. Without saying anything to spoil the book too much, the protagonist ends up kissing someone and the other person pulls away. Mila’s first thought after they pulled away was “Consent revoked. Permission denied.”, and I couldn’t help but be overjoyed at the little addition. Lily Anderson didn’t have to include that, but I’m sure glad she did. 

   Finally, I could not get over the humor in the book. Where situations should have been super awkward and gross, Lily made them super funny and well, still gross, but in a funny way. Along with everything else I mentioned, it made for a terrific read. 

   Undead Girl Gang had everything I wanted humor and gross factor wise, and I could not have been happier. I look forward to seeing what other gross but funny book Lily Anderson has in store for us next!


Favourite Quote:

"Sometimes, magic looks a lot like how my mom prepares chicken."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Paranormal, Zombies, Witches, Witch Craft, Murder Mystery

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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

Release Date: June 26th, 2018
Read: December 29th 2017- January 1st, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: My Lady Janies, #2
Format: ARC, 464 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Description from GoodReads:

   You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

   Or does she?

   Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.


 I feel like we're getting a bit off topic.
   It's been almost two years since I first read the hilarious and exceptionally cute book My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows. It was one of my favourite reads of 2016, and I couldn't have been happier to hear that the publisher had purchased two more books in the series. Flash forward to a month or two ago, when I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of it's sequel My Plain Jane.

   With both books, I knew the history of the original story of both Janes going into the books. Unlike My Lady Jane, I never enjoyed the original Jane Eyre story. So it was exciting to go into My Plain Jane and expect a comical twist to the originally bland story.

   Of course with a trio of such fabulous authors working together, I couldn't have expected anything less than perfection. My Plain Jane turned out exactly as I'd imagined, and more. The humour from their first novel was back and even stronger than before.

   With My Plain Jane you had the perspectives of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brönte and the supernatural ghost hunter, Alexander Blackwood. What made this book all that more intriguing was that while having the perspective of Charlotte Brönte, the original writer of Jane Eyre story, the authors made Jane Eyre a real life friend of Charlotte, and that she was the object of Charlotte's novel that she continues to write throughout the book.

     Like the first book, you did not need to know Jane Eyre's story to understand My Plain Jane. I found in this case that if you had read it before picking up this book, then you would have noticed a few head nods in it's direction. But otherwise you will find that you will be rather pleased with the book no matter what your situation was before reading the book.

   One of my favourite parts of the book was when we got a bit of a peak at a few of the characters from My Lady Jane, confirming that the stories take place in the same world but rather at a different place in time.
   My Plain Jane was a absolute hit with me, written with the perfect amount of wit and romance. I can not wait for it to release for everyone else to read it, and I look forward to the next in the series, My Calamity Jane


Favourite Quote:

"Let's start with the girl.
 Her name was Jane."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Paranormal, Humour, Jane Eyre, Ghosts, Retellings

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Read: January 28th- February 15th, 2018
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Series: The Shadow Game, #1
Format: ARC, 400 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Description from GoodReads:

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.


   Don't trust unless you must.
   Like everyone, I too, was excited to get my hands on Ace of Shades. A book of gambling your money, and your life? WITH powers? How couldn't I be excited? But of course, the anticipation was short lived when I actually picked up the book.

   You'll notice I have two strong opinions when it comes to Ace of Shades. The first being about the world building, and the second being that I couldn't shake the feeling of having read it before.

   Amanda Foody's world building was exceptionally marvellous, you couldn't help but be in awe when it came to the society, as well as the gang groups and wealthy families. Amanda had them so well put together that when I walk by someone with white hair in the streets I can't help but be a little more cautious. The rankings of the groups, the way the gang's bloodline was still a major focus as it is in reality, but with special abilities, you couldn't help but be amazed at it all.

   The biggest flaw to Ace of Shades was that it wasn't published earlier. If the novel had been published maybe two, three years earlier I'm sure it would have been a huge hit with me. But unfortunately I had already read The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell, and heard so much about Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo before reading this one. I couldn't help but compare everything, and I mean everything from Ace of Shades to The Last Magician. It was actually kind of ridiculous how similar they were. Even the plot twist in Ace of Shades was predicable because the plot twist in The Last Magician was the exact same thing. It was because of this, that I couldn't stand the book. That and the  character Enne, literally drove me mad with all her whining.

   I really wished I could have loved Ace of Shades, but it ended up being a wrong place at the wrong right situation. Since it was the story rather than the writing that ruined the book for me, I still look forward to reading Amanda Foody's debut, Daughter of the Burning City


Favourite Quote:

"People do not play this Game to win, my dear. They play this game not to lose."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Powers, Gambling, The Last Magician, Six of Crows

Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Review: Fireblood by Elly Blake

Release Date: September 12th, 2017
Read: August 22nd-23rd, 2017
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Frostblood Saga, #2
Format: ARC, 416 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Description from GoodReads:

   All hail the Fire Queen.

   Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past…

   Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fire Queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax—which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, Ruby no longer knows whom to trust. The fates of two kingdoms are now in her hands.


   The last thing I want is to smother you
   I didn't adore Frostblood, the first book in the series, that much is known if you read my review. But in the end I requested the ARC since the author is Canadian and I wanted to give her another chance. 
   All the problems that occurred in Frostblood that I did not enjoy, reoccurred in Fireblood. Everything from the similarity to Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, to the book being a walking cliche of everything Young Adult. The Deja Vu factor had returned in full force.
   In complete honesty, the cliche factor was a deal breaker for me. I thought I could get over the fact, but in the end I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy really anything about Fireblood. Especially not when the only memory I still have of the novel is me groaning every five minutes. 

   Although, saying all of this, I do still believe that anyone just starting to read YA books should give the Frostblood saga a chance. If you haven't read a ton of YA yet, then I could certainly see Fireblood as an interesting and fun read. Because of that fact, I would still recommend it to people. 

   Fireblood was a walking "ugh" for me, so I probably won't pick up Nightblood, the final book in the series, unless someone shoves it in my face. 


Favourite Quote:

"You’re quite amusing when you’re not lashing me with that sharp tongue."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Old Time YA Books