Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Blog Tour: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti - Review and Author Q&A

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

Publishing Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 400
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Hawthorn wasn't trying to insert herself into a missing person's investigation. Or maybe she was. But that's only because Lizzie Lovett's disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don't happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she'll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now.So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie's disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously? at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie's life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie's boyfriend. After all, it's not as if he killed her-or did he?Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn's quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself" (Sourcebooks Fire).

My overall thoughts and review: I've been on such a mystery/thriller kick recently and when I read the premise for this book, I knew I had to pick it up. From the first page, the reader is immediately thrown into Hawthorn's world, or rather, Hawthorn's mind. I must admit, in the beginning, I was quite reluctant and I found it hard to get on board with the text. Hawthorn is kind of "prickly" but you quickly learn as a reader, the inner workings of her mind. She goes to school with some pretty hostile people, like the character Mychelle. Hawthorn finds her life as boring and when the mystery of what really happened to Lizzie Lovett comes up, she finds herself diving straight into it. She begins to explore where Lizzie used to work and even starts hanging out with her boyfriend, Enzo. The story isn't so much about Lizzie (well yes, it is, Hawthorn becomes obsessed with what happened to her), but it really becomes about Hawthorn learning more about herself and coming to terms with who she is. The text touches on her relationship with her bestfriend, and how that changes when you add other relationships to the mix. The text also speaks about her relationship with her brother, and what that is like, being the kid sister. You also see how her family life is which shapes everything nicely.

I will say, what I appreciated most about this book was that Chelsea does not sugarcoat things at all for the reader. Trigger warning, there is some dark subject matter. That might not be apparent from the beginning of the book because of Hawthorn's unique perspective and personality, but do go into this book with an open-mind. I said earlier on, I found it hard to empathize with Hawthorn, but as I kept reading, she genuinely grew on me. She wasn't a perfect character, but I got to understand why she was so interested in Lizzie Lovett, and she kind of reminded me of myself a bit. I definitely had some far-fetched ideas as a teen and although, Lizzie's idea of what happened is quite surreal and strange, I feel like this was her way of coping with what happened. We cope and manage in different ways and sometimes really strange ways. High-school years can be some of the toughest years for some individuals and Chelsea gives the reader a pretty good example of how dark and lonely high-school can be. Some believe that it can be the best years of your life, but the harsh reality is that many deal with cases of bullying on a daily basis. The text also speaks a lot about expectations and ideals. That because we give off a certain persona, we are expected to rise to a certain standard and into people's expectations. Overall, I feel like this YA read was definitely something I've never encountered before. It spoke about high-school, bullying, depression/anxiety, family, friendship and falling in love, and all from a very unique character like Hawthorn. If you are a fan of John Green's Paper Towns or Andrew Smith's Winger, I definitely think that you will enjoy this read!

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/IndigoKobo BooksAmazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

As part of the blog tour, Chelsea has very kindly offered to answer a question for each blogger about the book! :D

Author Question and Answer

1. What part of the text was the most difficult for you to write? 
Writing the last chapter of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett was devastating.

Not for the reason some people struggle with final scenes. It wasn’t devastating because of the content, or because I was so invested in the character’s emotional journey.

It was because I didn’t want to stop writing.

Hawthorn and her story had lived in my head for years before I put anything on paper. Over time, I’d come to know Hawthorn so well. She became a part of me. I was convinced I’d never love another of my characters as much as I loved her. When it was time to say goodbye to her, it felt like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Writing the final words should have been a celebration, because finishing a novel is a huge accomplishment. Instead, I cried. I literally cried.

At the time, I didn’t know what would happen with the book. Would it ever be published? Or, after all that effort, would I put Hawthorn aside, never to be looked at again? For all I knew, The Hundred Lies would be my first and only novel. Typing “The End” felt so very final.

Clearly, the outcome of this story is already spoiled for you. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett got published. Hawthorn didn’t have to fade out of my life.

And I did write a second book. It turns out, there are characters in it who I love just as much as I love Hawthorn.

When I wrote the final chapter of my second book, I didn’t cry. Because I knew very well that there would be more stories in my future. More characters who would eventually feel like friends to me. I’m confident now that there’s no reason to grieve the end of a book.

But man, writing that last chapter of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett was tough.

Thank you so much, Chelsea, for taking the time to answer my question. Writing the ending is definitely the author saying goodbye to the characters you have created and come to love. I look forward to seeing what you write next :) I want to thank the lovely folks over at Raincoast for this lovely opportunity as always to participate in their blog tours and Chelsea for speaking with us bloggers. Please take a moment to visit the other stops on the tour and check out my fellow bloggers' reviews and their own specific questions for Chelsea!
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Holiday Gift Guide | "Grip-Lit" Edition!

Hi everyone. I'm back with another holiday gift guide. Many thanks on the amazing response on twitter from the last holiday gift guide. I'm so pleased to see many of you picking up those suggestions. For my next category, I want to focus on "Grip-Lit" aka Gripping Literature.. or rather Thrilling Reads. I feel like since the emergence of Gone Girl there has been an influx of thrilling reads and I'm all about that life. I love reading thrillers so much. They keep me on the edge of my seat and they aren't too far that they venture into horror (I'm still a bit of a chicken). They kind of venture into the mystery realm too. Anyways, I have a few older books on this list and some that came out this year, but I hope you will pick some up regardless.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 368

My pitch: At my store, we have a table titled "thrilling reads" - during a shift of fixing up books, I picked this up because I had seen a trailer for it and didn't realize it was a book first. I saw that the protagonist's name was Christine, so instantly I was intrigued. A woman wakes up with no memory of where she is, does not recognize the man she's in bed with, and when she looks in the mirror, she has aged. Christine wakes up every day not remembering and she is told by Ben, her husband, that she suffered memory loss from an accident. As Christine uncovers the truth about her past and what really happened, things get extremely complicated. It is one of those keep-you-constantly-guessing reads. It reminded me a lot of Marcela the TV series, and I think fans of that show will definitely enjoy this! I haven't watched the movie adaptation yet, but I definitely plan to!

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Book Depository

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 320

My pitch: This story touches on a difficult subject and on a scenario that no parent ever wants to get in. Marco and Anne are next-door having dinner with their friends one evening and because their sitter canceled, they couldn't find anyone to watch their child. Instead of bringing the baby to the dinner, they left the baby next door and checked on the child every half hour and used the baby monitor. Of course, chaos struck the couple & the child goes missing. As a detective attempts to uncover the mystery and try and locate the child, more horrible truths start coming to light. The couple begins to doubt one another, they start to doubt their friends and family while the safety of their child is at the center of it all. I read this in one sitting and I could not put it down. I was so intrigued and I felt like I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds.. (I think you can tell now from my two suggestions that I have a thing for crime shows). I also really liked the character Anne and empathized with her throughout the entire story.

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Book Depository
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was sent to me by PRHC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Pages: 384

My pitch: Another book that tackles a dark subject again... during a dark night, a mother loses grasp of her child and her son dies in a tragic car accident. The hit-and-run is never solved and there are many dead leads and the mother attempts to move away to deal with the loss of her child. I really can't say too much more than that. But please listen to me when I say, this book is a must read. I picked it up after one of my friends raved about it and I have to tell you, it is the first time ever reading a book that I felt the author geniunely tricked the reader. I remember getting to a moment in the book and going "WAIT! WHAT?" and I had to flip back and re-read a few pages because I was astonished. The book is so incredibly clever and I love how the entire story unravels. I just could not put this book down and I enjoyed it so much. I can definitely see why it was a Staff Pick of the month book. If you are new to Gripping Lit, this is the one to start you off. It is simply amazing!! Can't say enough good things about it. (Also.. currently reading Mackintosh's new one and that is also really good.. full review to come ;))

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters  - Book Depository
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was sent to me by PRHC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Other books I'd like to mention but I already wrote full reviews on are:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - Full Review HERE!
With Malice by Eileen Cook (YA Grip Lit) - Full Review HERE

Let me know in the comments below what other holiday gift guides you'd like to see! 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Holiday Gift Guide | YA Books Edition!

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. The holiday season is upon us! As some of you may know, I work in a bookstore and I'm constantly asked by customers for good books for the holidays. It is easy enough to recommend a new release, but so many books have been released this year and some are fantastic gems! I've compiled a mini list/batch review of some books I've read this year and loved. Some of I have full reviews for on my blog, which I'll link. Other books... I haven't gotten around to fully review yet, so, think of it as a mini-review! I'm going to sell you these books in a small paragraph. I've hit a wide range of YA books, from contemporary/romance, sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian! I don't really need more books myself, but if you think there's a book that is a MUST-READ, Perfect-gift, YA book.. please let me know in the comments & I'll add it to my ever-growing wishlist.

Replica by Lauren Oliver (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 520

My pitch: I first fell in love with Lauren Oliver books when her Delirium series came out. I loved that series so much and ever since then, anything written by Oliver is a must read for me! This book was first pitched to me by the girls at HCCFrenzy and it comes in such a unique format. It has two stories: Lyra and Gemma, and you can choose to read one first, and then flip the book over and read the other side. You can also read them both at the same time with alternating chapters. The story follows Lyra and Gemma and they both search to discover the truth behind their identity in a world where replicas/human models are made. It is a thrilling read for those that are interested in clones and AIs. I definitely was reminded of Dollhouse. It was so intriguing and both characters stand-alone so strongly, you end up loving them both! This would make a great gift for the reader in your life who is a fan of dystopian/sci-fi fantasies.

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Book Depository
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was given to me at an HCCFrenzy event. All opinions are my own.

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320 
Contemporary Romance 

My pitch: A few of my friends and co-workers had read this book before me and by the way they were raving about it, I instantly picked it up and I could not put it down. The story follows Henry and Grace, two people who are completely different who find themselves paired together because of a school newspaper project. Grace is a new student at the school and she brings with her a dark past and secrets, and Henry is a hopeless romantic. They both get tangled into a sweet and complicated romance that simply tugs at your heartstrings. It reminded me a lot of Paper Towns by John Green, in a sense, where falling in love can be complicated. Sometimes you fall in love with your expectations of a person and not the actual person. It's also a great story about friendship and highschool experiences. I think fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and Jenny Han will love this book! 

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Book Depository 
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was sent to me as a bookseller from Penguin Random House. All opinions are my own. 

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: August 30, 2016 
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416 

My pitch: I loved the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi so much and when I heard she was writing something completely different for young readers (9-12.. but I'm sneaking it on here under YA), I was so on board! I later learned that it was an interesting take on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (one of my favourite classics) so that only solidified my love for it. Immediately, you are introduced to a very interesting narrator who introduces you to Alice and the world in which she occupies. In a world full of colour, Alice is colourless and she attempts to find her father who has long gone missing. It is a charming read that has a wittiness to it! I loved all the characters and the world building so much. It focuses on identity, family and friendship. I think readers of all ages would love this book. We love it so much at my store that my co-worker and I, share a staff-pick sticker for it! 

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Book Depository
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was sent to me as a bookseller from Penguin Random House. All opinions are my own. 

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 464

My pitch: How could I write a holiday gift guide and not feature my favourite author? This book is this year's MUST.READ. I've been throwing it at everyone I know. It is a fantastic read. Schwab builds this world of monsters and chaos and gives us two opposing characters. We are given August, who is a monster and who is enticed by the human world and we have Kate, daughter of the man who will protect citizens from the monsters, and she wishes to be as ruthless as him. They are thrown together in a strange happenstance and they discover each other secrets. This is the first book in a duology and this story follows both of them as they figure their city out. This is a fantastic read because it does not push romance on you! These are two characters that have the potential to be together, but aren't. I really enjoy that. It is essentially Romeo & Juliet but without the romance, in a world of monsters! What more could you ask for. It is also written by Schwab who has amazing writing that just simply draws you in. I highly recommend picking this up as soon as possible!

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Book Depository
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was sent to me by HCCFrenzy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

When We Collided by Emery Lord (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Bloosmbury USA
Pages: 352 pages
Contemporary Romance

My pitch: I've seen Emery Lord books in the past, and I know people who absolutely love her, but I've never read anything by her until this book. I followed her on twitter and I absolutely love her personnality so I was a bit disappointed with myself that it took me this long to discover her. I will say, this book has fully converted me. I instantly went out and bought every book written by her after finishing this. I listened to it via Audible the first time and then I bought a hard copy. The book follows Vivi, a character who has bipolar disorder and Jonah, who is struggling with his five siblings after the death of his father, and his mother, who is experiencing deep depression. They both meet over the summer in Verona Cove and a magical romance begins. I don't want to get into details of it and spoil it, but as someone who suffers from mental illness, I found myself in many passages of this book. I empathized so much with Vivi and Jonah's mother. I felt like it was such an accurate depiction written by Lord. Nothing was exaggerated and especially the manic moments with Vivi, felt so vivid to me. I really enjoyed her writing and I just loved how the story unravelled. It is a beautiful story about falling in love, family and friendship. For those who love a good romance and are fans of complicated relationships, this one is for you! It focuses on mental health which is a great factor as well.

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Book Depository

And because I usually like to save the best for last.... here is my NUMBER ONE recommendation for this year's YA books!: 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas 
[Book #2 in ACOTAR series] - (✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 640

My pitch: I know it is a bit unusual to be picking a second book in a series, but I loved this book so much that you could honestly start from here. I read the first book in the series earlier this year and really enjoyed it. It was a Beauty and the Beast retelling in a way, but with fairies. I read the second book and I was simply blown away. Maas introduces the reader to new courts, new political deceit and NEW romance. Oh my, oh my. I was simply blown away by this book and I don't think I've had such a bad book hangover as this one. When I finished, I was simply in a daze for days... I honestly functioned as if I was in the Night Court. Maas gives Feyre and Rhysand amazing character development and I honestly felt I was right there in the novel the entire time. Maas also introduces the reader to brand new characters at the Night Court and you simply fall in love with them. It is a massive book but it definitely didn't fell long, I couldn't get enough of it. When I finished, I was so sad because there wasn't more. If you are a fan of her other books, you will love this one. It was simply amazing! I can't say enough good things about it, but I also don't want to say too much without spoiling the book. Do yourself a favour and immediately get started on this series and read this book. It was beautiful, spell-binding and simply blew me away. I loved it so much (I love it so much, I immediately ordered ACOMAF merchandise and I am now a proud owner of two pillows with quotes from the book). Just please read it? And then message me so we can go fangirl over it ;)

Available for purchase: Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Book Depository

Other books I'd like to mention but I already wrote full reviews on are: 
Scythe by Neal Shusterman - Full Review HERE!
Heartless by Marissa Meyer - Full Review HERE!

I hope to write a few more holiday gift guides in the coming weeks! Let me know in the comments below what you'd like to see next! :D 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Blog Tour: Heartless by Marissa Meyer - Review & Book Excerpt

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Publishing Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (An Imprint of MacMillan)
Pages: 464
Young Adult Fantasy/Classic Retelling

The Premise from the Publisher: "Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans" (Feiwel & Friends).

My overall thoughts and review: As some of you may know, I'm a pretty big Marissa Meyer fan. I love The Lunar Chronicles so much and I even enjoyed the Queen Levana story she wrote in Fairest - where she gave the reader the villain's POV. For this stand-alone, Meyer does the same again, but this time with Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland "Off-With-Their-Heads" villain: The Queen of Hearts. I love all things Alice and I continue to have a major fascination with that world. Regardless of how long it has been and how many times I've reread the story, I love finding new interpretations of the text. I have to say, giving a backstory, or rather, prologue to the Queen of Hearts, is definitely something new and unique. I'm super happy that Meyer took on the task because her writing is phenomenal. You are first introduced to the Queen, when she is pre-Queen, and simply, Catherine. A girl who resides in Wonderland, with strict parents who have ambitions to marry her off to the King of Hearts. Catherine simply wants to bake all day (I was so hungry for lemon tarts while reading! Lemon tarts are her specialty) and one day open up a shop with her best friend (who is also her maid, but she sees her as a friend and confidant). Things get complicated when the King attempts to court her and she meets the court joker, Jest. She begins to fall for Jest and she also gains more agency in wanting to speak up about her future to her parents. The reader is introduced to the history of Wonderland, the world of the mirror/Looking glass, the Jaberwocky and how the Red Queen and White Queen came to be enemies. I don't want to say much more to spoil things, but Meyer has said time and time again, and I will reiterate this too: Do. not. expect. a. happy. ending. You will find yourself hoping as I did, and I even cried a little while reading it, because I wanted so much for every character. That's the wonderful thing about the book, I grew to care and love almost everyone (yes! even her parents.. and the boring King of Hearts. Everyone was given such great backstory) and I loved the world so much. I was truly sad when the book ended and I only wanted more of Cath's story. This book was an easy 5/5 stars for me. I loved it so much! Please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Now as part of the blog tour, each stop will introduce you to a character in the book. I was given the Marchioness. I was quite intrigued to get her and although, she was incredibly difficult to deal with at times, I could see her point of view. I could see her reasoning behind her endeavors to want to see Catherine marry the King of Hearts. She loved her family in her own way, even if it wasn't the right way.

Excerpt from the Book - Introducing... The Marchioness

“Catherine!” The door swung open and the Marchioness floated in, her eyes saucer-wide and her face purple-red despite having been recently powdered. Catherine’s mother lived her life in a state of constant bewilderment. “There you are, my dear darling! What are you—not even dressed yet?”
“Oh, Mama, Mary Ann was just helping me—”
“Abigail, stop playing with that broom and get in here! We need your help! Mary Ann, what is she wearing?”
“My lady, we thought the white gown that she—”
“Absolutely not! Red! You will wear the red dress.” Her mother swung open the wardrobe doors and pulled out a full gown overflowing with heavy red velvet, an enormous bustle, and a neckline that was sure to leave little unexposed. “Yes, perfect.”
“Oh, Mama. Not that dress. It’s too small!”
Her mother picked a waxy green leaf off the bed and draped the dress across the covers. “No, no, no, not too small for my precious little sweetling. This is going to be a very special night, Catherine, and it’s imperative that you look your best.”
Cath traded a glance with Mary Ann, who shrugged.
“But it’s just another ball. Why don’t I—”
“Tut-tut, child.” Her mother scurried across the room and framed Cath’s face in both hands. Though her mother was bony as a bird, there was no sense of delicacy as she pinched and squeezed Cath’s face. “You are in for such a delight this evening, my pretty girl.” Her eyes glimmered in a way that made Catherine suspicious, before she barked, “Now turn around!”
Catherine jumped and spun to face the window.
Her mother, who had become the Marchioness when she married, had that effect on everyone. She was often a warm, loving woman, and Cath’s father, the Marquis, doted on her incessantly, but Cath was all too familiar with her mood swings. All cooing and delighted one moment and screaming at the top of her lungs the next. Despite her tiny stature, she had a booming voice and a particular glare that could make even a lion’s heart shrivel beneath it.
Cath thought by now she would have been used to her mother’s temperament, but the frequent changes still took her by surprise.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour to hear about the book & other character excerpts! 

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Raincoast Books and the excerpt was also sent over to me by Raincoast Books. The excerpt is written by Marissa Meyer and comes directly from the published book. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
(Book #1 of Arc of a Scythe

Publishing Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400 pages
Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The Premise from the Publisher: "Two teens are forced to murder—maybe each other—in the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology. In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do. Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives" (SS).

My overall thoughts and review: I don't often post a review for a book prior to publication date and if I do, it is only for good reason and that is because I truly believe you should pre-order this book as soon as possible. I have to admit, this is my first time reading some by Neal Shusterman. I own most of his other works, but I never got around to reading them. When I was first pitched this book, I was instantly intrigued. It sounded like The Giver but with reapers. I was really curious about the world that was proposed to me, how disease has been eliminated and how professional reapers are chosen. I was actually supposed to be buddy-reading this with a friend (sorry again, Joey!) but I could not put this book down, I enjoyed it so much. You are first introduced to two characters: Citra and Rowan. They both become the apprentice to Scythe Faraday. In the beginning, it sounds like an interesting proposition, they both would compete and only one would be chosen as the final apprentice. The other will simply return to their life with all they have learned without the ability to do anything with it. Things over course get complicated because it ends up being a fight for their life when they are pitted against each other. I really enjoyed how many twists and turns there were, and I was constantly on the edge of my seat to find out who was really good and who was really bad. I particularly enjoyed the journal entries that were in between chapters from the journals of various Scythes. This is the first book in what I believe to be a series (not sure how long), but I'm already dying for the next book. If you want a good dystopian read, this is the one for you! It's been a while since I've read a dystopian novel and loved it. Shusterman offers great world building, strong characters and keep-you-always-guessing plots. So yes, please go out and secure your pre-order today for the book. You will not be disappointed.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for preorder at:
Chapters/IndigoKobo BooksAmazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was sent by Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

IFOA 2016 Blog Tour - "The Guest Cat" by Takashi Hiraide - Review

Hi everyone! So, I have a very exciting post for you all today. Today is my stop on the IFOA (International Festival of Authors) Blog Tour! I was contacted by the lovely Marcie to participate and I was so excited because I've attended a few IFOA events in the past and really enjoyed them. I am especially excited because the book I'm reviewing for you all today is a translated text from Japan! I love contemporary Japanese literature and poetry, so I instantly knew from the list of texts featured, this one was right up my alley. I'm going to follow the regular Padfoot's Library review structure and at the end, offer you some details about the festival! :D

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
(Translated by Eric Selland)

Publishing Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: WW Norton
Pages: 140

The Premise from the Publisher: "A bestseller in France and winner of Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife — the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens…." (Publisher/Goodreads Premise)

My overall thoughts and review: As a graduate student, my current research interests include anime/manga, though occasionally, I like to dabble in a bit of Japanese contemporary literature. I was even considering making that my primary research at some point. I haven't read much Japanese contemporary literature as I would like to, but when I read that this book would be about the poet Takashi Hiraide's 'slice of life' piece, I was quite intrigued. To begin with, you do not have to be a cat person to enjoy this book. I used to have a cat and I'm definitely more of a dog person, but I will have to say that this book definitely tugged at my heart strings. I'm not going to spoil the book, but so many moments, I teared up a bit and had to put the book down, because it reminded me of my late cat but also, made me really miss my dogs. You really feel the gap and emptiness when they are not around. This is not a typical animal-loss narrative though, and in fact, the scenes are quite heartwarming. The scenes when the writer was interacting with Chibi, the guest cat, made my heart swell (especially when they explored the forest together). I also loved reading about how his wife was with the cat as well (how she would leave food out for Chibi). Chibi was the neighbouring family's cat and she often visited them unannounced. She was not to be tamed and she came and went as she pleased. She was described as quite the peculiar cat, who was cautious in her movements but also would show up to show off her wounds/battle scars. Although, the interactions with the cat takes centre stage for this text, the author weaves together narratives about marriage, working as a writer, life in Japan, history and finding oneself. I found myself reminded of Haruki Murakami's writing while I read the book (he is one of my favourite authors ever) and it definitely reminded me of an online question website he made earlier this year (he is also a big fan of cats), and he spoke about how cats are meant to be enjoyed for the time they are around, but not meant to be tamed.. and I really felt that come through in the text. Chibi was linked to everything and she affected everything in the couple's life. She was linked to their life as writers, their life as homeowners and their life as neighbours. I don't know much about Takashi Hiraide, but after reading this, I definitely want to pick up more of his texts. This was a beautiful, heartwarming, heartbreaking and charming read. I think readers who love animals but also love the Japanese atmosphere will definitely enjoy this read.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/IndigoKobo BooksAmazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

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Disclaimer: A copy of this book was sent to me by IFOA for an honest review in exchange for my participation in the blog tour & attendance to IFOA. This does not affect my review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Blog Tour: The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa - Review & Preview Party Event Recap!

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

Publishing Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 368 pages
Historical Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "Before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now, in 1939, the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; her family’s fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. Hannah and her best friend, Leo Martin, make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together. A glimmer of hope appears in the form of the St. Louis, a transatlantic liner that can provide Jews safe passage to Cuba. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart on the luxurious ship bound for Havana. Life on board the St. Louis is like a surreal holiday for these refugees, with masquerade balls, exquisite meals, and polite, respectful service. But soon ominous rumors from Cuba overshadow the celebratory atmosphere, and the ship that once was their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence. Hannah and Leo must make an impossible choice or risk losing everything that matters. Seven decades later in New York City, on her twelfth birthday, Anna Rosen receives a package from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet this elderly relative. Hannah tells them of her astonishing journey on the St. Louis and, for the first time, reveals how she and Leo honored the solemn pact they had made. By connecting the pain of the past to the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives her young great-niece a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost" (Atria Books).

My overall thoughts and review: When I was first pitched this book, it was mentioned to me that if I loved The Nightingale, I would definitely enjoy this. I listened to The Nightingale in audiobook form earlier this year and I absolutely loved it. I don't read historical fiction often, but when I do I really prefer WWII era.I also love when books draw attention to events that are not widely spoken about.. and in this case it was about the MS St. Louis. Ruta Sepetys wrote Salt to the Sea (which I also loved) and it focused on MV Wilhelm Gustloff - another focus on ocean liners/ships. I love the idea of ships to begin with (I have to admit, I've never been on one!) and I just love reading about day to day interactions on-board. As the premise states, the narrative switches from Anna Rosen in present day New York (2014) and Hannah Rosenthal in Berlin in 1939. The reader learns the events of 1939, where Hannah and her family attempt to secure safe passage to Havana. I really enjoyed reading the scenes between Hannah and Leo. Those passages made me especially happy and just seeing how their relationship was, was really heartwarming. In present day, you see how Anna worries for her mother and attempts to learn more about her father. I really empathized with this story line because of how close Anna is with her mother. It reminded me of my relationship with my mother and my aunt. Overall, I can't say much without spoiling the book, but Armando weaves together a wonderful narrative about love, family, friendship and loss, all the while introducing the reader to an event that took place years ago that is only being formally acknowledged in the recent years. The records and documents have been ignored for years in the history of Cuba (classrooms and textbooks) and it was interesting to learn the role that Canada played in it all. After reading this, I definitely want to look further into the history of St. Louis. If you are a fan of The Nightingale, like me, you will definitely enjoy this read. Where The Nightingale highlights sisterly bonds, The German Girl focuses on mother/daughter relationships and friendship.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Preview Party Event Recap
On August 23, 2016, I was lucky enough to attend the Preview Party Event for the book downtown Toronto at Barsa Tabern. My good friend and fellow book blogger, Michele from JustaLilLost was also in attendance with me. When we first entered the venue, we were greeted by the lovely folks from Simon and Schuster, and I immediately recognized Armando from afar because of his red glasses from his twitter profile photo! xD I had only read half of the book by then, but I was really excited to learn about his influences. The party venue was actually decorated with artifacts that Armando collected during his research. There were old photographs, transcripts, magazines and photos blown up as portraits hung around the walls. I was also super excited to see menus from St. Louis. It was amazing what Armando had collected over the years. When we finally got to talk to Armando for a bit, we learned that he had even more at home and the collection on display was only a small faction!

Armando's editor spoke about the book and introduced him and Armando then went on to show us a slideshow of some photos of St. Louis and spoke about his inspiration behind the story. He was always fascinated with the events and wanted to explore that further. He also spoke about how he came to meet Ana Maria Gordon, who was one of the survivors of MS St. Louis, who now lives in Toronto. Ana was the special guest of honor that night and after Armando spoke, she spoke for a little bit as well. She is now 81 years old and she speaks about how it is difficult to recall most of the events because she was so young.. and unlike most people, she was able to live a happy and safe life after the events of World War II. It was so lovely seeing her and Armando together and it was great seeing a book come to life in a sense. I saw that night and I can also see in reading the book, how important the events are to Armando, and how he pays tribute to the victims and survivors of St. Louis. I had a great time at the event and I really hope Armando will do a book tour this fall in Canada. (I definitely am pushing for him to visit my local bookstore!)

(image from Simon & Schuster Canada) 

Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour! The other stops feature some amazing content and there is even a giveaway for a finished copy at one of the blogs! :)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was sent by Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own.