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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Thousand Words | Book Review

Thousand Words

Written by: Jennifer Brown
Number of Pages: 274

Average Rating: 3.78 / 5 stars
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Published: May 21, 2013
Read in November 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

Ashleigh’s boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he’ll forget about her while she’s away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh’s friends suggest she text him a picture of herself - sans swimsuit - to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits “send”.

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone - until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he’s the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh’s photo - and didn’t look. 


My Thoughts

This novel opens on Ashleigh in community service, and we continue to delve right into the aftermath of her trauma. I was a little disappointed in the lack of resolution, as I don’t think Ashleigh completely understands her share in what happened. Although she was indeed a victim and was bullied harshly because of it, she was ignorant of how her decision affected so many other people around her - including her family. She refused to admit that she was as much to blame as Kaleb was, and the entire novel was filled with immaturity and lack of empathy. 

In a contemporary novel it is so important to have strong and independent characters, but I felt that they were not completely developed in this story. As I mentioned Ashleigh was very immature, but unfortunately she was not the only one amongst her crowd. It was almost painful to read the interactions between Ashleigh and her ex-boyfriend Kaleb as it was the cliché breakup experience we could all expect when one goes to college and the other stays behind. At the beginning of the novel Ashleigh started off with a big group of friends and although none specifically up and ditched her, she cut everyone off from her life and isolated herself in her misery.

Jennifer Brown has a very smooth writing style that makes this a very quick and engaging read, but was also aided by splitting the story into both past and present. I think this is a very important novel for young girls to read, especially those with the means to get themselves into this kind of trouble. When I was growing up there wasn’t a huge discussion about the dangers of sending these kinds of pictures, but it’s also not something I ever considered doing. Another aspect of this novel that is so underrated is that there is a female-male friendship that involves absolutely no romance. The only romance in this novel is the brief run of Ashleigh and Kaleb, but with Mack they are just supportive of one another through their community service. I think it is refreshing to read a story where friendship is a focus and to show that even in dark times there are some people that can look through the bad to see the good. 

Overall, I think that was worth the read as it covers an important issue, and teaches lessons such as friendship, family, and bullying. I think I would have enjoyed this more had I read it a few years ago, but I still recommend it to readers, but teen girls specifically.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Wicked Deep | Book Review

The Wicked Deep

Written by: Shea Ernshaw
Number of Pages: 310

Average Rating: 3.83 / 5 stars
My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Published: March 6, 2018
Read in November 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. 

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbour and pulling them under. 

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into. 

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swift to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters. 

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself. 


My Thoughts

I received an e-arc copy of this novel to review from NetGalley, but that does not influence my opinion. 

I am so frustrated that it took me almost a year to finally pick up my e-copy of this novel, and I have no excuse as to why I didn’t read it earlier. I think I thought that this was a story set around mermaids (which I don’t enjoy) and only felt compelled to read it to clear off my review shelf. It took me a while to get into the plot at first, as I found her writing style to be very over-descriptive but eventually was able to become hooked. I actually read the last 35% in one sitting overnight. Shea Ernshaw’s writing somehow because less overly-descriptive and more atmospheric and mysterious. I wish I was able to pinpoint at which point my perspective to her writing changed, but it was such an effortless transition that left me captivated in her storytelling. 

There were a few characters to keep track of in this novel as we get perspective from both past, with the sentencing of the sisters, and future, of the drownings they set upon the town each summer. I did not have a character that I loved more than any other, and found instead that they worked best as a group - with the exception of the insta-love I really could’ve done without that. 

A final comment that I would like to make is in regards to the plot twist(s). I have seen a lot of negative reviews towards this novel with the explanation that it is too predictable, but I didn’t see it as it’s biggest flaw. No it is not overly original, but I did think it was well written and spooky. Overall, I think this was a really solid read and I’m glad I finally got around to picking it up. Although it is set during the summer, I think it is best read during this gloomy fall weather as it brings you into the perfect atmosphere!


Saturday, November 3, 2018

All Hallow’s Eve | Book Review

All Hallow’s Eve

Written by: Vivian Vande Velde
Number of Pages: 240

Average Rating: 3.64 / 5 stars
My Overall Rating: 3.7 / 5 stars

Published September 2006
Read in November 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

A boy is trapped in a possessed car that has stalled in the path of an oncoming train. A girl is dragged into a crypt during a field trip to an eighteenth-century cemetery. A group of friends meet their fate after an unsettling visit with a backwoods psychic. And that’s just the beginning.

Celebrated author Vivian Vande Velde is at her spine-tingling best in this collection of thirteen scary stories, all of which take place on Halloween night. With tales that range from the disturbing to the downright gruesome, this is one collection that teens will want to read with the lights on.. and the doors locked. 


My Thoughts

This is a fun and spooky collection of stories perfect for the Halloween season, so I’m glad I picked it up on Halloween. Although this is classified as a young adult read, I would say it sits low on the spectrum specifically closer to upper middle grade or early teens. The writing has a slight juvenile tone to it, and I didn’t think it took away from the story but instead made it a faster read. 

As with all collections, some stories were stronger than others, so I rated each story individually for those interested.


Come In and Rest a Spell: 4 stars

Marian: 5 stars

Morgan Roehmar’s Boys: 3.5 stars

Only On Hallow’s Eve: 4 stars

Cemetery Field Trip: 3 stars

Best Friends: 4.5 stars

Pretending: 2 stars

I Want to Thank You: 3 stars

When and How: 5 stars

When My Parents Come to Visit: 4 stars

Edward, Lost and Far From Home: 2 stars

My Real Mother: 4 stars

Holding On: 5 stars


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Books I Want to Read in November

HAPPY NOVEMBER! 

Can you believe there are only two months left of 2018?! Unfortunately for me the year is ending fast, and I still have 41 books to read in order to reach my Goodreads goal. I recently got a puppy, and her training has put reading on the back burner, but she is getting better and hopefully I can get back into reading and finish the year strong. 

So today I am going to tell you about the 10 books I am hoping to read this month (excluding AYearAThon reads which I will talk about Sunday). Cross your fingers for me!

I am currently reading two books, the first being All Hallows' Eve by Vivian Vande Velde. This is a collection of 13 spooky stories, and I only picked it up yesterday and am nearly finished with it. It was a perfect read to pick up for Halloween, and of the seven stories I've already read, they average at a four star rating. 

I am also reading The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw, as I'd received an e-ARC of this prior to its release, but never got around to it. I am currently about 20% through, and am not sure how I feel about it. The troupe of the mysterious boy is overrated for my reading taste, but the idea of people being inhabited by ghost sisters every year to drown teenage boys intrigues me. Hopefully the suspense and thrill picks up in the story soon, because I'm sure at that point I won't be able to put it down!

When I was looking through my bookshelves deciding what I wanted to read this month, I realized that I have so many outstanding ARCs that I need to catch up on my reviews for. In November I am hoping to get through five (six including The Wicked Deep), and picked the ones that I think I'll enjoy the most, but also the ones I think I will read the fastest. 

One that I received from NetGalley is How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen, one of my favourite authors due to her stories regarding WWII and the Holocaust. How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a little different from what I'm used to reading from her, in that this is a collection of short stories retelling classic fairy tales in order to fit modern society. I can't wait to get into it!

The other four books that I want to read and review are ones that I picked up while at BEA this past May. I had such high intentions of having them all read and reviewed before they were released, but now that I've accepted it won't happen, I just want to get them done. 


Easy Prey by Catherine Lo is a young adult mystery following three students involved in the release of racy photos of one of their teachers. After the Fire by Will Hill is another dark YA with a contemporary base, as it follows a girls life after she is freed from a cult. Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling is the one I know the least about, but the one that is most out of my comfort zone. All that I know regarding this story is that it is historical fiction set in the 1500s, and has witches. The final review book that I want to read this month is the one that I am most anticipating: People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins. This novel is perfect for some major issues plaguing our society right now; gun violence and white supremacy. Six people are involved in this story and in the end one will die. I can't wait!


The last four books that I want to read this month are ones that I own and have been wanting to read since I picked them up but never did. I Stop Somewhere by TE Carter, a dark contemporary surrounding topics like rape culture; Ruby and Olivia by Rachel Hawkins, a middle grade story following two trouble-making girls in a haunted house; Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles, another dark young-adult, this one following topics such as abuse and death; and finally, Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor, which sounds fun and mysterious, but also comes recommended to me so I'm interested to see what I think.

This may seem like an ambitious list, but I am determined not to fail my Goodreads challenge, and am hoping not to be too busy with work. 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Fresh Ink | Anthology / Book Review

Fresh Ink

Edited by: Lamar Giles
Number of Pages: 208

Average Rating: 3.92 / 5 stars
My Overall Rating: 3.6 / 5 stars

Published: August 2018

Read in October 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and colour outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink. 


My Thoughts

This anthology was on my most anticipated releases for the year, and I am happy to say that I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Some of these stories were inspiring and heartwarming, while others could have used more development to strengthen its plot. 

As with every anthology or story collection that I read, I rated each story individually below and included any thoughts (if I had any).


Eraser Tattoo by Jason Reynolds
4 stars

- Super cute love story about two teens dealing with the fact that one is moving away. I enjoyed reading as they reflected on their relationship and how they came to be.


Meet Cute by Malinda Lo
3 stars

- This wasn’t anything special, and a very similar plot to stories I’ve read before. I would have appreciated more base or background to the characters in order to connect with them.


Don’t Pass Me By by Eric Gansworth
4 stars


Be Cool For Once by Aminah Mae Safi
2 stars

- I really didn’t care for this story, in fact I found it kind of pointless. We spend the story listening to a girl describe a crush she has on a boy, but then continues to push him away when he pursues her. The characters were annoying, the plot was flat, and just not my taste overall.


Tags by Walter Dean Myers
5 stars

- This was amazing, I am only saddened by the fact it won’t be expanded due to the passing of Mr.Myers. There were some powering messages in this script regarding issues of racism and prejudice, and the dark consequences our skewed perspectives can have.


Why I Learned to Cook by Sara Farizan
4 stars


- I thought this story was really fun and really cute, and especially appreciated the way it focused on family and how our main character showed so much respect to her grandmother. 


A Stranger at the Bochinche by Daniel José Older
2 stars


A Boy’s Duty by Sharon G. Flake
3 stars


One Voice by Melissa de la Cruz
4 stars

- This story was good, but fell just shy of great. There was such a big lead up to our character speaking out and rising as an influence, but instead fell into the crowd. It was a strong message, but wasn’t as powerful as it could have been.


Paladin / Samurai by Gene Luen Yang
3 stars


Catch, Pull, Drive by Schuyler Bailar
5 stars

- ALL THE STARS


Super Human by Nicola Yoon
5 stars


- This is another short story that I would give more stars to if I could, and is the reason that I am now encouraging my mom to read the entire collection. This story is so important and so relevant to today's issues, that I would love to see it developed into a full-length novel.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Hide and Shriek | Book Review

Hide and Shriek

Written by: Alison Hughes
Number of Pages: 144

Average Rating: 4.0 / 5 stars
My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Published: August 28, 2018
Read in September 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

When Emily, Tess, Cam and Dylan decide to ignore the new town curfew during their Friday-night game of hide-and-seek, they get more than they bargained for. Down by the river, they witness a shady deal go down involving some criminal types who recently moved into their neighbourhood.

When the teens are discovered, they are hunted through the dark streets and back alleys. They will have to use all their hide-and-seek skills to save each other. 

Ultimately, Emily, the youngest of the group and the best hider, discovers that sometimes staying hidden is the best way to escape.


My Thoughts

I received an e-arc copy of this book to review from NetGalley in exchange for a review, but that does not influence my opinion. 

I spent the last five weeks in a terrible reading slump, and this was just the story to get me out! It was a quick, fun read that I got through in a single sitting of about 90 minutes. As I’m sure many of you did, I grew up playing hide and seek with the neighbourhood kids, and watching it grow into something so much darker was an amazing concept. Each reader would be able to feel the same anxiety that our characters do, the build-up of being caught, and the constant racing of your heartbeat. 

The characters were relatable, the suspense was intriguing, and the plot was realistic. The only thing I could suggest to make this story better, is expanding it into a full-length novel! There were some things that I felt were left unanswered at the end, and I would like to get complete closure. 

If you want to read an intense game of hide and seek, pick this up!


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Giant Days | Book Review

Giant Days

Written by: Non Pratt
Number of Pages: 288

My Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

Published: August 21, 2018
Read in August 2018


Summary According to Goodreads

Giant Days follows the hilarious and heartfelt misadventures of three university first-years: Daisy, the innocent home-schooled girl; Susan, the sardonic wit; and Esther, the vivacious drama queen. While the girls seem very different, they become fast friends during their first week of university. 

And it’s a good thing they do, because in the giant adventure that is college, a friend who has your back is key - something Daisy discovers when she gets a little too involved in her extracurricular club, the Yogic Brethren of Zoise. When she starts acting strange and life around campus gets even stranger (missing students, secret handshakes, monogrammed robes everywhere), Esther and Susan decide it’s up to them to investigate the weirdness and save their friend. 


My Thoughts

I received both an e-arc copy of this novel from NetGalley, as well as a physical arc when I attended BEA in New York - but that does not effect my opinion. 

I picked up this novel and was anticipating reading it because I am a fan of Non Pratt - Trouble remains in my top five favourite books that I’ve read this year,  but I’d never heard of the Giant Days graphic novels. 

I was expecting so much more out of this story, as I didn’t find it either enthralling or funny as the synopsis said it would be. My biggest complaint is that the plot felt very scattered and rushed in parts. There is a lot going on in the beginning, a very slow middle, and then a crammed ending that leaves more to be desired. The chapters weren’t divided up in a way that made sense to the progression of the story, and I felt that the plot lacked any sense of excitement or adventure (for my taste). From the beginning it was obvious that Daisy was getting herself involved in a cult-like group, but it was overshadowed by Esther trying to impress a goth-girl and Susan becoming overwhelmed studying medicine. 

This story follows three characters; Daisy, Esther, and Susan, who become best friends since they all share the same university residence. I understand the motive behind this friendship, but the three don’t really have anything in common and it hard for me to picture them all together. Daisy grew up home schooled but was written to be so overly-naive that it became more annoying than endearing, and Susan was blunt and forceful enough to make me roll my eyes a few times. Of the three I would have to say Esther was my favourite, because she went through the most character development, and came out stronger on the other side. Plus she’s just kind of a bad ass. 

Overall, I think you would be more likely to enjoy this novel if you have read the Giant Days graphic novels or at least know their plot. In hindsight I really wish I had gone read at least the first collection of stories before picking this up so that I would better understand the characters and have a better idea of the world that was created.  I will say that this novel made me very nostalgic for my early university years, and I had to give it credit for that. This will not be the last book by Non Pratt that I pick up, but I’ve definitely learned that I prefer her original stories opposed to adaptations. 

Also… can someone who read the comics tell me what happened between Susan and McGraw because I totally missed that.