Thursday, July 20, 2017

Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally



Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally
Release Date -  July 4, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincost Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

This is a standalone novel. 
Reading a new installment of Miranda Kenneally's 100 Oaks series is like putting on a favourite cozy sweater. There is a comfort to be found within these pages. Getting glimpses of past characters we've come to love is something I look forward to, and only adds to the nostalgia feel that surrounds these books. Coming Up For Air hit all those sweet spots while still entertaining with a new couple to root for and their story to become invested in.

Maggie is a driven young woman with dreams of qualifying for the Olympics. Swimming is one of the most important things for her, and she is prepared to do what it takes to win. Most of the time she's more than happy to miss out on the 'typical' high school experience to get up early for swim practice. Maggie's journey is one of balance. She, through a college visit, realizes she might have missed out on things in high school that she wants to experience before she leaves (like making out with a guy, for example). Her story arc has her caught between different wants and the pull of what is expected of her, and what she expects for herself. I think her story will be wonderful for those teens who are just as driven as Maggie is, and wondering how they can fit in dating, and other teenage experiences. I admired Maggie's sense of self, and what she wanted. She may get a little lost along the way, but she never looses sight of what she is willing (or not willing) to sacrifice.

Each of these companion novels make some of kind of statement on sex. I was immediately struck with how sex positive this one was. Particularly for the readers who happen to be teen girls. Maggie's desire to hook up and explore that side of herself is presented as being entirely valid, but this novel also explores other choices teens can make and they are made to shown as just as valid. We see people with different view points to relationships, sex, and making out within this novel. It was also refreshing to see a novel address the fact that when you're a teen you feel like everyone is doing the things you're not. That you're the only one who hasn't kissed someone, or had sex, or a million other things. It showcases that everyone experiences things at their own pace, and that you don't have to do something just because you think it is expected of you. It should be because you want to and are ready. It's a message that I don't recall seeing in another novel, and I was glad that it was approached in such a sex positive way.

Romance is something Miranda Kenneally fans have come to expect from her novels, and this one delivers in a big way. If you're a sucker for the 'friends to lovers' trope I predict that Maggie and Levi will be one of your favourite Hundred Oaks couples. The bond of friendship that these two share really is the highlight of the novel, and the move to something more felt entirely natural. It also seems effortless, and I think it takes a lot of skill to make the chemistry that apparent and easy.

While this wasn't my favourite of the Hundred Oaks series it still is a solid contemporary read. I appreciate how this series tackles important issues in each of the books without feeling preachy, or making anyone feel judged. This is easily a series that I could see continue for as long as Miranda wishes to write them. Her fans will love checking in with their favourite characters and falling in love with some new ones.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ... The Wicked Deep


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw


Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

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 harbor 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 swiftly 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. 
I was sold on this as soon as it was compared to Practical Magic! I love witch stories, and I cannot wait to read this one. It sounds incredible!

The wait for this one is pretty long as it doesn't come out until March of next year but something tells me it'll be worth the wait.

Expected release date - March 6, 2018

Sunday, July 16, 2017

New To My Book Closet


It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews)

Some exciting arrivals this week. First up are two ebooks I picked up after seeing people discuss them online. I am super curious to read these and I hope I can sneak them in this summer.


The King Of Bourbon Street by Thea de Salle (goodreads)
The Queen Of Dauphine Street by Thea de Salle (goodreads)

Next up is a mug I purchased because the Disney fangirl in me could not pass it up.


Snow White is not even my favourite, but this mug is absolutely a must have! #EvilQueenInTraining

Let me know what bookish goodies made their way on your shelves this week!

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday

So much Stranger Things stuff was announced this week, along with some other things that got me pretty excited this week.

BOOK

Cover of Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu (goodreads)

I have a thing for superhero stories, and I happen to love the idea of iconic superheros as teens I was super excited when this 'series' was announced. We're impatiently waiting for Leigh Bardugo's take on Wonder Woman to be released, but we get to look at the cover for Marie Lu's take on Batman to make the wait a little easier. 


This cover is going to look amazing with the Wonder Woman cover, and I cannot wait to read Bruce's story. I trut Marie Lu will do a fantastic job. 

TV/MOVIE

Stranger Things Season Two Key Art

Pretty sure everyone who visits this blog is well aware of my Stranger Things obsession. I am so excited that we're finally getting reveals about season two, the most important of which is an official release date. OCTOBER 27!!!



I am so excited to watch this! I happen to be off on Fridays from work so I intend to get up early and binge the entire thing.October can not come quickly enough in my opinion. 



OTHER



 Second Wave Of Stranger Things Funko Pops

I loved the first wave of Stranger Things Pops from Funko, and was excited to see that we are getting a second wave so quickly. I have preordered most of these, and am eagerly anticipating them arriving.



I particularly love the Nancy and Jonathan ones! It will also be nice to have a Hopper to put along side my Joyce one (I ship it so much).

36 Questions Podcast (link)

You may not know that I adore Jonathan Groff. Have loved him since he came to my attention as Jesse St James in Glee. He's has an incredible singing voice, and I will pretty much watch (or listen) to anything he is involved. (ie - his new Netflix show, Mindhunters, is high on my must watch list this fall). I was curious when I saw the announcement that he was going to be part of a musical in podcast format. I wasn't sure how it would work, but it really (REALLY) does.



It is called 36 Questions, and is based off the 36 Questions that are designed to make strangers fall in love.  In this podcast a couple is trying to save their marriage from the brink of divorce by asking each other these questions. The songs are catchy, both cast members have amazing singing voices, and the story really does come alive in this format. I am impatiently waiting for part two to be released so I can continue this couple's story.


What are you obsessed with this week?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday ... No Saints In Kansas


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is No Saints In Kansas by Amy Brashear


Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
A gripping reimagining of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and the brutal murders that inspired it

November is usually quiet in Holcomb, Kansas, but in 1959, the town is shattered by the quadruple murder of the Clutter family. Suspicion falls on Nancy Clutter’s boyfriend, Bobby Rupp, the last one to see them alive.

New Yorker Carly Fleming, new to the small Midwestern town, is an outsider. She tutored Nancy, and (in private, at least) they were close. Carly and Bobby were the only ones who saw that Nancy was always performing, and that she was cracking under the pressure of being Holcomb’s golden girl. The secret connected Carly and Bobby. Now that Bobby is an outsider, too, they’re bound closer than ever.

Determined to clear Bobby’s name, Carly dives into the murder investigation and ends up in trouble with the local authorities. But that’s nothing compared to the wrath she faces from Holcomb once the real perpetrators are caught. When her father is appointed to defend the killers of the Clutter family, the entire town labels the Flemings as traitors. Now Carly must fight for what she knows is right.
I have been on a true crime kick recently with podcasts and wanting to get back into reading some true crime novels. This one caught my eye when I first heard about it. Truman Capote's novel is, arguably, one of the most popular true crime reads out there and I love the idea of a retelling from persepective of Nancy's friend.

There isn't too long of a wait for this one as it comes out in November of this year. I predict it'll be a perfect read for those chilly autumn nights.

Expected release date - November 14, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Who's That Girl by Blair Thornburgh



Who's That Girl by Blair Thornburgh
Release Date - July 11, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
This laugh-out-loud debut is filled with hilarious awkward encounters, a supportive LGBTQ organization, and too many cheesy lyrics to count—all with the compulsive readability of Audrey, Wait! and Boy Meets Boy.

Junior Nattie McCullough has always been that under-the-radar straight girl who hangs out in the cafeteria with her gay-straight alliance friends. She’s never been the girl that gets the guy, let alone the girl that gets a hit song named after her. But when last summer’s crush, smoking-hot musician Sebastian Delacroix—who has recently hit the mainstream big-time—returns home to play a local show, that’s just what she gets. He and his band, the Young Lungs, have written a chart-topping single—“Natalie”—which instantly makes Nattie second guess everything she thought about their awkward non-kiss at that June pool party. That it was horrific. That it meant nothing. That Sebastian never gave her another thought.

To help keep her mind off of Sebastian and his maybe-about-her, maybe-not-about-her song, Nattie throws herself into planning the school’s LGBTQIA dance. That proves problematic, too, when Nattie begins to develop feelings for her good friend Zach. With the song getting major airplay and her once-normal life starting to resemble the cover of a gossip magazine, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her brief moment with Sebastian was the stuff love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder. 
Who's That Girl is a lot of things. It's funny. It's romantic. It is a breezy summer read that may have been entirely different than I was expecting, but was nonetheless entertaining. It is the kind of book that won me over gradually and left me happy I read it.

This is a story about a girl who finds out she is the muse behind the current it song. Every girls dream, right? Well, this novel showcases how the reality might just be the exact opposite. Natalie is not exactly wanting to bask in the attention this song is going to bring her way, and that combined with a lot of uncertainty leads to some funny (if awkward) situations. It may be nice in theory, but I predict many people would not actually want to be known as the person who inspired a majorly popular song.

This story surprised me by being completely different than I anticipated it to be. I expected the song plot point to be the main focus, instead I got a story that was really about Nattie and her relationships. The song could have been substituted for anything that brought attention her way and the story still would have worked. This is both a positive and negative for me. I wanted the story about the song. I wanted to have the story be about being the girl who got the song written about her. Those going in for simply this story element may end up disappointed, BUT the care taken with the relationships between the characters more than makes up for it (at least for me).

I love when parents have a huge role in young adult novels. They should be present and part of the narrative in most cases. Nattie's parents are not only part of the story, but their affection for one another is clearly evident. Her family doesn't just consist of those biologically related to her, which was nice to see incorporated into this story. Her friends also play a large role in Nattie's journey and those bonds are just as well crafted. This novel really shines with the building of those relationships, and the nuances of the characters within them. The side characters are just as fascinating as Nattie, and that makes their interactions all the more interesting.

The romance that happens within these pages is cute. It also happens to be one of my favorite romance tropes. I won't spoil who eventually gets together, but I will say it quickly becomes evident what is going to happen. It's a more realistic romance which grounds some of the novel's other, more quirky, elements. It ends up being a pretty good contrast to the rest of the novel, and I think a lot of people will be satisfied with how Nattie's love life unfurls.

Blair Thornburgh delivers a fun, quirky read that I predict will charm many people. It's filled with humour, and some great friendship bonds. While I may not have fallen entirely in book love with this one, there are still plenty of great things to be found within these pages. Blair Thornburgh certainly has a talent for crafting engaging characters, and I will definitely give her next book a try.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday

Lots of exciting things caught my attention this week. I have been super into true crime podcasts for the last little bit and am excited to have a new one to recommend. I also share something I tried and really surprised me.

TV/MOVIE

Spiderman Homecoming

I went to see the newest Spiderman reboot and was completely charmed. It is, in my opinion, the best Spiderman movie to date, and Tom Holland is a perfect Peter Parker. I loved that they actually made Peter feel like a teenager, and that he was shown as very much still finding his way. The movie has been described as a John Hughes version of a Spiderman movie and I feel that assessment is entirely accurate. It was a fun (and hilarious) movie, and one that I am excited to watch again.

Yuri On Ice (link)

I do not typically watch anime but I had seen so many people gushing over Yuri On Ice that I had to check it out. It's surprisingly charming and I watched the whole thing in two days. If you're into figure skating I predict you'll love this one. 

OTHER

Hollywood And Crime Podcast (link)

I discovered this while looking for a new podcast to listen to once I had fully caught up on all avilable episodes of My Favorite Murder. The first season takes an indepth look at the Black Dahlia case along with other murders that happened around the same time that could possibly be linked. It's well researched and produced. I've almost finished the entire first season and cannot wait for details about the second one to be revealed.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes



This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes
Release Date - July 11, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching… and judging.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Paula Stokes' newest novel. All I knew going in was that it looked at internet culture. I didn't expect it to be a book that took a hard look at mistakes, forgiveness, and the nature of judgment and internet culture.

Paula Stokes moves with ease between various genres in her writing. Contemporary is where, I feel, her writing style really shines. She creates characters that are so humanly flawed. The characterization in her novels allows the plot to resonate a little more deeply. You feel it more, because you recognize and relate to the characters the plot is happening to.

The internet is a wonderful tool. It allows us easy access to information. It makes daily tasks, like banking, easier. It both educates and entertains. It also serves to bring the entire world closer together. It allows us to interact with people from all over the world, servicing as a bridge that links us together. The internet, however, also has it's negative sides. Every mistake you make is now there for public viewing. Cell phones are able to catch everything and everything can be shared with ease. People can instantly tweet their opinion with little thought to the person on the other end of the message they are sending. This latter aspect is what This Is How It Happened looks at.

We've all seen people rush to judgement before having all the facts regarding something they read online. Information gets shared without verification, and snap judgments are made and acted on. I, myself, am guilty of this. Paula Stokes shows how, in the aftermath of a rising celebrity being killed in a car crash, things can get out of hand. Nobody knows what or who caused the car to crash, but assumptions are made. Vile messages are sent on the internet and things quickly spiral out of control. It's eerily recognizable because we all know this situation is entirely too plausible. We've seen it happen.

The novel hammers home the point that while that you may not think your one message means anything, it could mean everything. You may not even think the person you're tweeting to will see it, but your message could be one of countless that drown the person in hate. It also shows that a hive mind mentality can take over and those messages and judgments can quickly become a swarm. This part of the novel is so incredibly thought provoking and timely. I thought it was well done, and showed the messily grey area that internet culture exists in.

Part of the novel examines how easy it is to send a hurtful message to someone because of the lack of face to face interaction. There is also an element of how unforgiving people can be of genuine mistakes, even when the person shows remorse. The permanence of internet ensures those mistakes follow you forever, even if you make amends. It makes a case for waiting, and reacting once you know all the facts, because you cannot take things back one they are out there. It is easy to assume, but assumptions can be wrong.

This novel, while providing plenty of discussion material for book clubs, also has some great parent/child bonds at its core. Genevieve's parents are not perfect, but their love for her is never in doubt. The heart of this novel is forgiveness and that theme is woven through all of the story arcs within the novel. I predict people will have strong opinions about the various relationships in this book, but I think that fits with what the message the novel is attempting to convey.

Paula Stokes keeps writing fantastic contemporary reads that should definitely be on your radar. This Is How It Happened is a good choice for teen book clubs, or fans of thought provoking reads. It's a novel that asks us to strive for empathy, and to perhaps think before reacting to something; especially online. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday .... Renegades


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Renegades by Marissa Meyer


Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.
I have loved all of Marissa Meyer's previous books and I am so excited for her upcoming release. It is a departure from the fairytale retelling she has written and I look forward to seeing what she does with this superhero/super villain inspired story. 

It doesn't release until later autumn, but I predict the publisher has lots to tease us with leading up to release!

Expected release date - November 7, 2017

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Best I've Read In 2017 (so far)


July marks the midpoint of 2017. After I spent some time freaking out about how fast this year is going, I remembered that it meant it was time to share my annual post detailing my top ten list of best books I've read this year ... at least so far. I love doing this because it lets me see how much has changed (or stayed the same) by the end of the year. It also allows me to see which half was stronger in terms of books I loved. I am hoping it also allows my blog readers a chance to sneak in some of these titles before the end of the year!

1. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

I feel like an Emery Lord novel will never let me down. I continue to love and adore each book she releases and the characters that she creates. This is a novel that will make you cry, but in a cathartic way. It's the type of books that destroys your heart, but heals it too. It's one that should be on the list of every reader who loves YA contemporary novels.

2. There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

This Scream inspired novel offers chills, romance, and the classic Stephanie Perkins character development. This is a love letter to teen slasher films with more than a few pulse pounding moments. It's one best not read at night as it'll leave you jumping at every noise within your house, and questioning every misplaced item in it.

3.  Midnight At The Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Jodi Lynn Anderson's beautiful writing will leave you mesmerized, and her ability to interweave three different narratives into one cohesive story will leave you in awe. This is the type of novel I could read over and over and find some new detail within it.

4. Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L Walsh 

This novel takes the focus away from the infamous Bonnie and Clyde and instead offers the story of the young woman who would become Bonnie. This story will make you see a story you think you know in a different light, and probably leave you wishing history could be rewritten in the process.

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas's novel has received plenty of (well deserved) praise. It is not only well written, but is also one of the most thought provoking novels I've had the chance to read. It is one that stays with you long after you've finished reading, and one that, I feel,  belongs on reading lists in schools.

6. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy's books always have amazing characters at their heart. Ramona's story is no exception. You will fall in love with her, her family, and her friends. You will also fall in love with her story. It is a story of a girl finding out who she is, and redefining who she is on her terms.

7. Caraval by Stephanie Garber 

Reading this novel is like being swept away into a magical world. Stephanie Garber takes us into her world of magic, whimsy and romance and I pretty much did not want to leave. I cannot wait for the sequel and to return to this enchanting world.

8. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne 

Funny, sexy, and a delight to read. This novel is one that leave you happy and for that reason alone it is worthy of multiple reads. This 'from enemies to lovers' romance is a perfect choice for those looking for a little spice with their romance.

9. The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee 

A novel that completely surprised me in the best possible way. I knew I would love it, but I didn't expect it to tackle the topics it did with the weight and care it did. I got so much more than the fun European set romp I was expecting and I am so glad I did.

10. The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli 

This is a story for all those who always feel that their crushes are unrequited. It is a story of taking risks, and not standing in your own way. It also is a happy making, grin inducing read that is entirely charming. If you loved Becky's debut novel, do not miss this one.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians out there!

I have a few fun things to share this week!

BOOK

Cover of Kasie West's Love, Life and the List (goodreads)

I love Kasie West's books and her covers are always super adorable. Her upcoming release is no exception. I mean, how cute is this cover?!


I love books where the main character makes lists so I am excited to get my hands on this one!

Cover of Kim Leggitt's Heart Of Ash (goodreads)

I enjoyed Kim Leggitt's Blood and Salt so much and have been counting down the days until the sequel would be released. The cover has finally been revealed ... 


I love that it matches the first enough that they will look pretty together on bookshelves, but different enough to not be a direct copy. I cannot wait to read this and hope it is sexy, and unsettling as the first was. 

OTHER


My Favorite Murder 

I have mentioned this podcast before, but I have binged the heck out of it recently and am even more obsessed. It is a must listen for fans of true crime. The two hosts blend the seriousness of the topic with some humour. I highly recommend it if you enjoy true crime.


What are you obsessed with this week?

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