Friday, 22 September 2017

Blog Tour: Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken - Review & Guest Post

Fraternize (Players Game #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

Publishing Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Skyscape (Available in Canada through Thomas Allen & Son)
Pages: 318
Contemporary Romance / Sports Romance

The Premise from the Publisher: "Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done. No fraternizing with the players. Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too- sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way. Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart" (Skyscape).

My overall thoughts and review: So as you all know, I'm absolutely on a romance novel kick, but I have to admit that I haven't read any sports romance books :O This is my first one and it is also my first book by Rachel Van Dyken. It surely won't be my last because after finishing this, I may or may not have gone on a little spree on kindle and bought a bunch of her other books. I absolutely loved the premise of this book and I was excited to see what Van Dyken would do with a love triangle. I find love triangles can often really be one sided and it's super clear from the get-go which guy she'll end up with, but in this one, both guys were such great picks. Emerson is such a lovely protagonist to follow because she's incredibly strong and independent, but also shows her vulnerable side. I definitely empathized and found myself in how she discussed body image and her own insecurities. I loved that Van Dyken didn't give us a traditional protagonist. As someone who is not a size zero, it was great to read about someone working hard to be comfortable in their own skin. Definitely one of my favorite parts about the book was Emerson and how hard she worked to achieve her dream of being a cheerleader for the Bucks. Learning about her relationship with her father also totally hit me right in the feels. I loved learning about her past with Miller, and how their friendship developed. They had such a unique relationship together and it was something that surpassed simply friendship. They had a level of understanding with one another that was really special. I really liked Miller as a character even though some moments he was quite childish and I wish he would've taken ownership for what happened in the past earlier. But guys, the reason why I absolutely loved this book so much is Grant Sanchez. What a character. He's arrogant and definitely has that playboy persona, but underneath, there are so many layers to him. The scene when he goes to Emerson's house and plays checkers with her dad is so precious. He doesn't push Emerson and he is willing to wait for her. You can see him falling for her with every chapter, and it was just so incredibly sweet. I loved how it was a story of both second chances and falling in love again. I don't want to spoil what happens, but I LOVED how it ended ;) I also know next to nothing about football, so it was fun learning about how the game worked and just the overall stress that comes with it. I learned a few tidbits like the rookie dinners, coaches expectations, and regime, and I am definitely on board to read more football books in the future. I loved this book so much and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a heartwarming romance read. There's a bit of everything and I can't say enough good things about it!

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

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Author Guest Post
Writing Fraternize was probably one of the most fun experiences I've ever had, mainly because I was able to interview real NFL players (most of them retired). I wanted everything to be really authentic, but I had no clue where to start, so I posted on Facebook asking readers if they had any contacts and if those contacts would be willing to chat with me. Shockingly, I had three people get back to me, all of them willing to talk! One was a doctor for one of the teams, and the two other men were past players who were now retired and enjoying life off the field with their families.

I came up with a list of questions like, is it true that the rookie dinner is basically something that the other team members make you do so that the rookies have to pay for all the food? What kind of things happen during the locker room pre-game pump? Are guys really that mean on the field, what things do they say in a huddle? And a personal favorite, when a kicker misses, are you angry at them?

The answers that I got blew my mind! Especially the one where I found out that one of the rookie dinners ended up costing over 40K dollars. Yeah. Insane, right? Another answer that I heard from a player was that when a kicker misses, the entire team is angry, not because they missed, but because they have one job, and they need to do it. It was said by one of the players I interviewed, that most kickers dont even have to show up for all the summer practices so basically they're out hunting and hanging out, and show up right before pre-season meanwhile all the players are sweating buckets and ready to puke.

For the most part, they all had similar answers about just loving the game. I'm an avid football fan so I basically nerded out over all the answers and honestly wrote this book so fast not because of a deadline but because I had so much fun in this world! I think you guys are really going to enjoy it!

Fraternize Tourwide Giveaway!
The winner will receive 1 copy of Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken!
Giveaway Details: 
- Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
- Giveaway ends on September 28th at 11:59 am EST
- Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email & will have 48 hours to claim their prize

About the Author
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Follow Rachel:
Website | Twitter | Facebook
Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads


Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour! Show some fellow bloggers some love in the comment sections and check out more exclusive Fraternize content. 

Sept. 12 – Between the Spine 
Sept. 13 – Bookish Wanderlove | Instagram: Pattycakess20 
Sept. 15 – Booking It With Hayley G 
Sept. 18 – BookCatPin 
Sept. 20 – Cupcake and a Latte
Sept. 21 – Brains, Books & Brawn
Sept. 22 – Padfoot's Library

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Thomas Allen & Son for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

[Teaser] In Pieces by Danielle Pearl


In Pieces, an all-new standalone from Danielle Pearl is coming October 10th!

Three years ago she was left in pieces . . . Most college freshmen love the newfound freedom of living on campus, but none of them craves it like Beth Caplan. One ill-fated night when she was fifteen left her locked in a posh prison of private tutors. It's for the best, everyone said, and maybe it was. But after years of hard work and healing, the one person who never thought of her as broken could be the one to break her all over again. And Beth can't seem to stay away now any more than she could all those years ago. 

As soon as David March learned his best friend's little sister was enrolling at his school, he promised to look after her, and promised himself he'd keep a safe distance. But the sweet little girl he'd grown up with has transformed into a gorgeous young woman, and she's attracting attention from people she shouldn't-like the ex who nearly destroyed her and a strange new student with a disturbing habit of showing up wherever Beth goes. But for David, the most troubling discovery is realizing that he doesn't just want Beth to be safe. He wants her to be his. 

Preorder Today!
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2a5Uafh

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/29TYZHf

Disclaimer: I have signed up with Social Butterfly PR to help promote this author and her book. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

[Teaser] Scandalous by L.J. Shen

Scandalous, the highly anticipated next standalone in the Sinners of Saint Series by LJ Shen is coming September 29th!

They call him The Mute for a reason.
Hard, cold and calculated, he rarely speaks.
When he does, it’s with disdain.
When he does, his words aren’t meant for me.
When he does, my stomach flips and my world tilts on its axis.
He is thirty-three.
I am eighteen.
He’s a single dad and my father’s business partner.
I’m just a kid to him and his enemy’s daughter.
He’s emotionally unavailable.
And I am…feeling. Feeling things I shouldn’t feel for him.
Trent Rexroth is going to break my heart. The writing isn’t just on the wall, it’s inked on my soul.
And yet, I can’t stay away.
A scandal is the last thing my family needs. But a scandal is what we’re going to give them.
And oh, what a beautiful chaos it will be.

Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/rBwXhs

Start the Series of Standalones Today!
(Free in Kindle Unlimited)
Vicious
Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2hUo31f

Disclaimer: I have signed up with Social Butterfly PR to help promote this author and her book. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Cover Reveal: Scandalous by L.J. Shen

image1-3

Scandalous, the highly anticipated next standalone in the Sinners of Saint Series by LJ Shen is coming September 29th!


Blog Tour: Deer Life by Ron Sexsmith - Review and Author Q&A

Deer Life - A Fairy Tale by Ron Sexsmith

Publishing Date: September 16, 2017
Publisher: Dundurn Press
Pages: 136
Middle Grade

The Premise from the Publisher: "Deryn Hedlight was not having a very good day and it was about to get much worse. He’d read stories of witches as a boy, but never believed for a second they were true. That is, until an unfortunate hunting accident turns his world upside down. What seemed like an honest mistake leads to an altogether unexpected transformation. But poor Deryn wasn’t the only wronged character tied up in these gloomy circumstances and sinister forces. Deer Life tells the story of a kind-hearted boy from Hinthoven and his motheṟs undying love. Mostly though, it’s all about patience, friendship, and heroism where you least expect it" (Dundurn Press).

My overall thoughts and review: I remember working at Second Cup during highschool and always having Ron Sexsmith's music playing in the shop. I've always liked his mellow, soft, melodic tunes, and when I heard he was coming out with a book, I was intrigued. It's always interesting to see people of different professions attempt writing. This book was pitched as a middle grade fantasy but something a bit darker with witches and transformations. The novel also includes some of Ron's illustrations of the characters which was nice since it didn't leave it to the reader to visualize certain characters. I must admit, I had a bit of difficulty reading this book because I felt like it jumped around a lot in terms of conversations and setting. Even though there were designated chapters, I found the pacing a bit difficult to follow. There a quite a lot of characters to follow and I found you didn't really get as much character development/background that you would get with the large number of characters. Sure, I enjoyed seeing Deryn and scenes between him and other characters, but I really wasn't invested in his story. I was more curious about the witch to be honest. I also wished there were more scenes between Claira and Tressa in particular, because I think if given more information about them, I would've loved reading about them. Overall, it was a decent fairy tale, and for a middle grade book, it is incredibly short, so I believe that it could've been expanded a bit more in terms of length for character background. Ron mentions in his Q&A a possible prequel/sequel to explain the witch's motivation which is also good. I did like how the narrator had a role in the text and it reminded me a bit of Tahereh Mafi's Furthermore. All in all, it is a decent middle grade CanLit fairy tale, but I wish there was more character background since I didn't feel particularly connected to any of the characters.

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Dundurn

Author Questions and Answers
1. What was the inspiration for Deer Life? 
It presented itself to me one morning while I was still in bed and floating in and out of sleep. At first I thought it was an idea for a movie and so I wasn't sure what to do with it.
2. In the Preface of the book, you mentioned that the story came to you as a morning dream of sorts. Do you still see more of Deryn's story in your dreams?
I don't see his story in my dreams anymore but when I'm walking around I still think about it and see more of the story that isn't in the book.
3. Can you talk a bit about how writing songs is different from writing a novel, in terms of your own process?
With songs you have the luxury of melody and repetition. You can base your second verse on the first verse etc. With writing this book, I felt completely out of my element, I had so many questions along the way, and there were many things I wanted to do but didn't know how to do.
4. What do you hope your readers take away from the book?
I hope the readers like the story and the characters as much as I do.
5. What are you now working on Post-Deer Life?  
I'm working on songs for a musical based on the book and I'm also writing a Prequel/Sequel to Deer Life that I hope will fill in some of the blanks in terms of the witch's motivations and her connection to the Grimsby's. 
Thank you so much, Ron, for stopping by and answering these questions! Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour for more Deer Life content! 
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Dundurn Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own.

Release Day Blitz: Dear Bridget, I Want You by Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Frenzy Presents Fall Preview | September 10, 2017

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all having a great week. I recently attended another book preview and I wanted to share with you all what happened and some exciting upcoming YA releases. The event was hosted by the lovely folks at HCCFrenzy (many thanks to Ashley for the lovely invite). I always look forward to the Frenzy events because they honestly put on such a good time for us bloggers with so many treats, special guest authors, and its just a nice way to spend a Sunday catching up with fellow book bloggers. 



Saturday, 16 September 2017

Review: Checkmate: This is Dangerous (Logan & Kayla, #1) by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is Dangerous (Logan & Kayla, #1) of the Checkmate Duet Series by Kennedy Fox

Publishing Date: July 6, 2017
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pages: 232 (Kindle)
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Author: "Logan Knight is a real life knight in shining armor. 
A detective godsend in a sleek black suit has me thinking less than secretive thoughts. Brooding and mysterious, he's the kind of guy every girl instantly notices. Between his seductive smirk and charming good looks, it's no wonder I can't help the way he makes me feel whenever I'm near him. 
Too bad he's unavailable--or so he says. He thinks I'm a do-gooder who shouldn't get involved with a guy like him. His past is messy and relationships just add to that. He insists the timing is all wrong and he's devoted to his career, but I don't buy that excuse for a second. I see the way his body tenses and his jaw ticks every time another guy is around me. He just won't admit it, but I'm more determined than ever to show him what he's missing. I'm a devoted animal rescuer and I'll risk everything to save them, but when a dramatic turn of events puts both our lives at risk, I'm positive Logan will write me off for good. But when he asks for my help with a personal crisis, I know it's my last chance to finally show him I can handle anything he throws my way--messy past and all. He might think he has me all figured out, but I'll prove him wrong no matter what he thinks. This game of push and pull has me running in circles. One wrong move and we could both lose. Checkmate, Knight" (Fox). 


*Recommend for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.* **This is book 1 in the Logan & Kayla Saga--a second-chance romance. You don't need to read any of the other Checkmate series to enjoy this one, but is always recommended as they are both introduced in the earlier books.**

My overall thoughts and review: Kennedy Fox is seriously my favorite romance writing duo and I honestly didn't think anyone could replace Drew (from the previous Checkmate Duet) in my heart, but Logan Knight has definitely taken that spot. We got to see the beginning of Logan and Kayla's story in the previous books, where Kayla was definitely falling for him, but he kept her at arms length and we learn that is because he has a daughter, Skylar. He wants to devote his time to making his relationship with Skylar the best it can be, while juggling co-parenting with his ex, Maggie. He obviously is attracted to Kayla, and regardless of how much he resists her, you do see him falling for her and goodness when he falls, he falls deep. You also see his worries disappear in how great Kayla is with Skylar. They get along so well and his hesitation was honestly all for nothing.  He is seriously the sweetest and I legit swoon every time he calls her "Angel" - I loved seeing their relationship blossom. He is truly her knight in shining armor who would go to great lengths for her. You see him doing this especially with the rescue dog, Herman, and helping her save him. Kayla's love for dogs and donuts is mostly what makes her such a likable character for me. I see a lot of myself in her and I also see a lot of my own partner in Logan. I loved how authentic and true their love story felt as I was reading. It had me swooning, it had my crying, and it had me grinning like a mad woman. I could not put this book down. In true KF fashion, the book does end on a massive cliffhanger. There's always some drama to be added to the mix, and I pray that they both get through it ok. They are such lovely characters on their own, but together, they form such a lovely relationship, and one that definitely rivals fairytale romances. I also loved seeing the previous duet characters pop up in this book. You see how Viola & Travis handle more kids, and you see how Drew & Courtney handle the difficulty of wanting to start a family. Seeing all the characters together is a firm reminder to us readers the importance of female friendships, because seeing the three girls get together and rely on one another is incredibly special. This is easily my favorite duet and I can't wait to see how it all ends in the final book, This is Beautiful!  

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

Available for purchase at:

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Sneak Peek Excerpt Reveal - Dear Bridget, I Want You by Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland


Dear Bridget,
I’m writing this letter because it’s highly doubtful I’ll ever garner the courage to say this to your face. So, here goes. We’re totally wrong for each other. You’re the proper single mum with a good head on your shoulders. I’m just the carefree British doctor passing through town and temporarily living in your converted garage until I head back to England. But here’s the thing… for some bloody reason, I can’t stop thinking about you in very inappropriate ways. I want you. The only reason I’m even admitting all of this to you right now is because I don’t believe it’s one-sided. I notice your eyes when you look at me, too. And as crass as I appear when we’re joking around about sex, my attraction to you is not a joke. So, what’s the purpose of this note? I guess it’s a reminder that we’re adults, that sex is healthy and natural, and that you can find me just through the door past the kitchen. More specifically, it’s to let you know that I’m leaving said door cracked open from now on in case you’d like to visit me in the middle of the night sometime. No questions asked. Think about it. Or don’t. Whatever you choose. It’s doubtful I’ll even end up sliding this letter under your door anyway. 
--Simon

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Publishing Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
YA Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah. But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity. It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him" (SS).

My overall thoughts and review: Christina Lauren is seriously one of my favorite authors out there, so when I heard they were coming out with a new YA contemporary romance, I knew I had to have it immediately. I haven't read their other YA books, but I love their romance books so much. There's something about their writing and their ability to create such vivid characters that I really admire. I loved those Beautiful books & Wild Seasons books, but let me tell you, this one BLEW ME AWAY. It had me laughing, crying, and smiling so much. It follows Tanner, who is a bisexual teen who has moved back to Provo, a town with a large Mormon population. That complicates things for him because in a town that previously excommunicated his aunt and his mother because his aunt is a lesbian, being bisexual is not safe from judgement unfortunately. He has his wonderful best friend Autumn, who is a a tad bit in love with him, and for this new year, embark on a new writing class together. The goal is to write one book in one semester and the course has already proven to be successful because a previous student, Sebastian, is having his book published. The second Tanner meets Sebastian, they immediately have a connection, and Tanner finds himself filling his book with the story of how they met. Seeing their friendship blossom into a relationship definitely made my heart swell. Their attempts at flirting and just the way they felt so comfortable with one another made me so happy. Their story is simply beautiful. It also tackled really important issues because Tanner was not out to anyone but his family in Provo, and in Sebastian's case, he had to remain firmly in the closet and he was also working through what being gay meant. Christina Lauren introduced a lot of information about the Mormon church and I wasn't familiar with all of that beforehand. I really found like I learned a lot more while reading this and I feel like anyone dealing with certain restrictions, whether it be religion or even parental aspects, would find something relatable in this text. There are some really tough moments in the text that hit you right in the feels. When the characters hurt, you can't help but feel all their emotions, and I really love that in Christina Lauren's writing. Their ability to bring you right into the text and have you feel what the characters are feeling first hand. No spoilers on what ends up happening with Tanner and Sebastian's story, but I just LOVED both of them so much and I'm so incredibly invested in their relationship that I need to know more. I kind of sat there and cried at the end of the book because I was so devastated that it ended. This is Christina Lauren's best book yet and easily one of my favorite books of the year. It has everything you could want in a contemporary book: romance, accurate representation of LGBTQ+ (especially those who identify as bisexual), family, and friendship. I can't sing enough praises about this book, I simply loved it. So please go out and buy a copy. You won't regret it!

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

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

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

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Penguin Random House Fall Preview | September 8, 2017

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely week. I was lucky enough to attend the Penguin Random House Fall Preview this year where they hold a three hour information session of upcoming releases and book highlights for bloggers, booksellers, and librarians. It was such a great time and I could honestly listen to the PRHC team talk about books all day (well done, Taylor, Evan, Christina, Justin, and Aleks!)


We were also visited by three lovely authors who came to talk about their book a bit. We first met Alison Pick who spoke about her new historical fiction book Strangers with the Same Dream, set in 1921 Palestine which tackles utopian ideals, social dynamics, politics, and at its heart is a universal story about people. Next, we had Carol Off, a CBC journalist discuss her new book All We Leave Behind, which is about her journey in how she crosses lines of journalism to save someone she now considers family. Listening to her describe the journey she took to Afghanistan and learning of what happened really got to me and I started welling up a bit. I can't wait to read this one. Lastly, the very funny and charming, Tom Wilson, came by to talk about Beautiful Scars, where he speaks about learning that he was adopted at the age of 53. He sang some songs for us too. It was such a lovely time meeting these three authors, and you can be sure I will be diving into their books ASAP!

We were given a ton of information on upcoming releases and I went home that night and filled out my agenda with important dates for all the releases I'm most excited for. Below are some titles that I'm absolutely over the moon pumped for and I can't wait to read them. It's going to be a good Fall/Winter season with so many amazing books being released. I love that a good mix of genres intrigued me and I'm so excited for all the great non-fiction that is coming out soon. As always, many thanks to the lovely folks at PRHC for the invitation to this great book preview! :D

 




What titles are you most excited for this coming Fall/Winter? Let me know in the comments below! 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Review: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena 

Publishing Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 320
Fiction - Suspense/Thriller/Mystery

The Premise from the Publisher: "You come home after a long day at work, excited to have dinner with your beautiful wife. But when you walk through the door, you quickly realize that she's not there. In the kitchen, there is a pot on the stove, and vegetables on the counter, abandoned. Her cellphone and her purse are still in the house, in the bedroom, exactly where she keeps them. It looks like she's left in a blind panic. You fear the worst, so you call her friends to see if they know where she is. Then you call the police. The police tell you that your wife's been in an accident. They found her in the worst part of town, after she lost control of the car while speeding through the streets. But why would she go to that neighbourhood? And why was she driving so fast? Was she running toward something? Or away from something? The police think your wife was up to no good. You refuse to believe it, at first. Then, as the stories and facts don't line up, and your wife can't remember what happened that evening, you start to wonder. You've been married for two years and you thought you knew her better than anyone else in the world . . . but maybe you don't" (Doubleday).

My overall thoughts and review: This book is Lapena's second book after her debut of The Couple Next Door. If you want to read my review for that one, you can find it here! I really enjoyed that one and there is something simplistic and nicely paced about Lapena's writing. I love how straight forward it is and there is a stronger emphasis on dialogue. I also love that the chapters are not incredibly super long and I feel like the actual story is moving quickly, so it felt fast paced as I read along. This premise of this story definitely intrigued me becaause its the question of whether or not she really doesn't remember or she is simply saying that to hide something. On the surface, Tom and Karen Krupps seem like the perfect happy couple with nothing bad to hide, but this accident shakes open a whole bunch of secrets. You start doubting Tom and Karen and with each chapter, more secrets unravel. I also loved how you began to question other characters as well, like Brigid, the neighbour & Karen's best friend. Detectives Rasbach & Jennings try their best to decipher the truth and although the case appears fairly straight forward with certain facts, some things simply don't add up and it blows the case out of the water. I liked that it brought on questions of "how much can you really know of a person?" and whether or not we hide our skeletons from the people we love. I didn't particular like any of the characters which was interesting, but I was still invested in their story and wanted to find out more about them. I did feel like the end felt a bit rushed and I would've liked some more details about a certain character's past. It does end in a really nice way which leaves the door open for more, and has you feeling unsettled like nothing is ever truly resolved. I quite like it when thrillers/mysteries do that because it isn't always the case in life where things are wrapped up in a neat bow. Overall, if you liked Lapena's previous book, you will surely enjoy this one!

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

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

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Blog Tour: The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle - Review & "Winspiration"

The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle

Publishing Date: September 1, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Canada Ltd
Pages: 312
Middle Grade Sci-Fi 

The Premise from the Publisher: "In a world where the familiar has sinister undertones, two friends are torn apart just when they need one another most. Can they both survive? Marivic Stone lives in a small world, and that’s fine with her. Home is with her beloved grandfather in a small town that just happens to be famous for a medical discovery that saved humankind — though not without significant repercussions. Marivic loves her best friend, Saren, and the two of them promise to stick together, through thick and thin, and especially through the uncertain winnowing procedure, a now inevitable — but dangerous — part of adolescence. But when tragedy separates the two friends, Marivic is thrust into a world of conspiracy, rebellion and revolution. For the first time in her life, Marivic is forced to think and act big. If she is going to avenge Saren and right a decade of wrongs, she will need to trust her own frightening new abilities, even when it means turning her back on everything, and everyone, she’s known and loved" (Scholastic).

My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the description of the book, it was also brought to my attention that the story would be The X-Files meets Stranger Things (two shows that I love). I was immediately drawn in by that, but also VanSickle's world building in the text. The story takes place in a small town, in a world where there was an infertility crisis after WWII. Because of the infertility crisis, a group of doctors formulated a shot called SuperGen and people started having children again. However, most of these children grew up with strange impairments and they had to go through the winnowing process to become better. We follow Marivic and her impairment is along the lines of being able to run incredibly fast & telepathic abilities. She lives with her grandfather and when her best friend, Saren, gets sent off to Barton (facility where they do the winnowing), she quickly follows as well. I really enjoyed the friendship between these two because it was so incredibly strong. They endured a lot together and I loved how upfront they were with one another. Even when tragedy strikes, Saren is a big part of Marivic, and you can really see that as Marivic makes her choices to move forward. I also really enjoyed scenes where she engaged with Daisy and Ren, and as much as Kamal bothered me in the beginning, he did grow on me towards the end. I would've liked to see more of Abbot. I just really enjoyed learning about how these friendships grew. It was similar to other dystopian books where the protagonist discovers the truth, and there already appears a rebel group in the works (winfree). So I really liked that aspect and that it wasn't simply one singular person fighting for the cause. If you liked Veronica Roth's Divergent series, I found Marivic to be quite similar to Tris in many ways. I did feel like the end happened incredibly quickly, especially since the rest of the text was nicely paced. I would've liked to see more of Gumps in the end explaining things to Marivic. I also totally feel like the story doesn't really end there, and it could easily go on for another book or so! Overall, I really enjoyed it. It had wonderful world building, a strong emphasis on family and friendships, and a really intriguing premise of ACES, imps, and the winnowing. I've been a fan of VanSickle's writing for a while, and this one is no different. You should definitely check it out!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4.5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, and Amazon

Winspiration Guest Post by the Author
I remember the first time I read The Giver. I was in grade 4, an avid reader with no snobbish preferences for one genre over another. A book was a book was a book. But The Giver blew my world wide open. Not only had I never read a dystopian novel before but I had never considered the concept itself. The idea that society could be ordered and controlled in any other way—and many other ways—was a watershed moment for me. Living in Canada I was a lucky, sheltered individual. I had yet to study world history and learn about communism, fascism, living off the grid, and the many other ways people had lived (or still lived), let alone the ways people could potentially live.

As a book, I think The Giver is as close to perfection as it gets.  Lowry’s pace and the doling out of key information about the world just when the reader needs it is impeccable. I loved that the society Jonas and his family live in isn’t bad or broken, it’s just different. And extreme. I could see the benefits of such a life. But would I want to live there? I’d never considered such a huge, philosophical question in my reading before.

Consider the moment Jonas sees colour for the first time—described as “an indescribable change” and “seeing beyond.” Later, The Giver explains that what Jonas saw was the colour red. This revelation was so astonishing to me as a reader that I went back to the beginning to see if I could find an instance where Lowry had slipped and described the world colour but of course she hadn’t. In this subtle way Lowry taught me that a reader brings their own filter and expectations to a book, and a skilled author can expose this and use it to great effect.

If it’s not obvious, The Giver is one of my favourite books. It’s the gold standard I aspire to. One of the characters in The Winnowing—a neurologist who is part of a group responsible for re-shaping world— bears the last name Lowry. This is an obvious and deliberate nod to Lois Lowry: genius, inspiration, and master world-shaper.

Links for Vikki: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Scholastic Canada Inc & the Author (Vikki VanSickle) for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Friday, 1 September 2017

Review - Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo 

Publishing Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Pages: 384
DC Icons / Superhero / YA

The Premise from the Publisher: "She will become one of the world's greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . . Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world. Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn't know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war" (RH).

My overall thoughts and review: Of all the DC superheroes, Wonder Woman is definitely my favorite. The recent film version with Gal Gadot is pretty much my favorite movie of 2017 as well. I just love her so much and everything that she stands for. When I learned that there were going to be some DC Icons YA novels, I was instantly excited. I am ashamed to admit that this will be my first Leigh Bardugo book, but it surely won't be my last. I just love her writing. The story follows Diana during her teen years, and if you are familiar with the films, there are some familiar characters that pop up. You get to see Diana's mother, Hippolyta, and other Amazons. You are once again brought back to the world of Themyscira. The text begins during a race and as Diana is taking a different route, she sees a ship sinking and she dives in to save a human girl named Alia. She decides to relinquish her chances of winning the race and showing the other Amazons that she is capable in order to save the human girl. You get to see Diana's thoughts and anxieties, because she was born on the island and created by her mother, she feels she is not as strong and well-respected as the other Amazons (also, Tek bullies Diana a bit which also makes her feel the way she does). She decides to go seek the Oracle's help and from there she learns the truth of Warbringers. Warbringers are descendants of Helen of Troy and essentially, they are the catalyst to conflict and war. They are often hunted and Diana decides to save Alia instead of simply having her die (another Warbringer would be born in her place anyways). The story moves from Themyscira to New York to Greece. I really loved seeing Alia and Diana's friendship blossom as they explored New York in the beginning. You get to see the usual sassy attitude that Diana has, and I just love her blunt reactions to certain situations. You are also introduced to Alia's overprotective brother, Jason, and her incredibly hilarious best friend, Nim. You also see a possible love interest for Alia in their friend, Theo. I loved how they all worked together to save Alia's life. Even when Nim & Theo knew they wouldn't succeed, they put their life on the line for their friend. I really admired that. All in all, I just loved this book a lot. I finished it within a day and I honestly stayed up into the early hours of the night reading it. If you are a fan of Wonder Woman, you will surely love it. But if you aren't familiar with her, I think this is a nice introduction piece. It has family, friendship, and love, all wrapped up in adventure and drama. It concludes quite nicely as well, but I'll be over in the corner waiting for Bardugo to write a sequel to this ;)

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

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Sundays in the 6ix | August 27, 2017

This past Sunday after work, I headed downtown with Jeremy for a little stroll around Graffiti Alley and we visited Kensington Market to check out Dough.TO since it was their last weekend there. I will always be grateful that we live in such an amazing city and I love that we are constantly discovering new parts of the city. 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

How to Survive Your First Convention

So if you've been following me on social media, you will know that I'm on a big romance kick at the moment. I am loving romance reads and I've even looked into various romance conventions I'd like to attend. There is a lovely States side convention that happens annually called Love N Books and this October they will be having a convention in Las Vegas! I've decided to share some of my tips for surviving your first convention in anticipation for the event in October. Even if you aren't attending the LNB event, I feel like convention season is all year around, so these tips can definitely be applicable to any convention that you decide to attend (I'm attending Fan Expo later this week and I wish someone gave me some tips my first time going a few years back!). So yeah, onto some Do's and Don'ts for your first convention & my suggestions on what you should pack! 

1. Programs! Use them! - I think it's a given that you should plan in advance what panels you want to attend and signings you want to go to. But sometimes, people do forget about the programs. Some conventions have started putting their programs on phone apps like Guidebook. It helps you stay organized and ensures you see everything you want to see.

2. Cash is a MUST! - Cash just makes your life AND the vendor's life easier. Especially if you are in Artist Alley. Remember that with a big crowd, the data service isn't exactly great and sometimes, cash just ensures your purchase is completed in a timely manner. Cash also comes in handy when you want to grab something from a vending machine as well. You can budget more accordingly with cash. Set a certain amount you will spend that particular day, that way you don't go over your budget.

3. Stay hydrated! Some conventions do allow food and drink inside, so be sure to check with the rules ahead of time. I always bring some snack bars and a water bottle. There is tons of walking and sitting around and you must keep your energy levels high. There will most likely be water fountains around as well so be sure to fill up and stay hydrated!

4. Have your passes (lanyards or wristbands) visible - sometimes the staff will be checking as you go in and out of certain halls or rooms. Make their life easier and have your pass visible at all times. This will ensure that you move more efficiently throughout the convention.

5. Dress comfortably - I can't say this enough, but good shoes is an absolute MUST. With how much you are walking around, you want to be comfortable. Wear clothes that are comfy because convention days are long days and nothing sucks more than being uncomfortable in something. My go-to outfits for cons are usually comfy leggings, good shoes, and a fandom shirt.

6. Respect Authors, Celebrities, and Cosplayers - Another given but cosplay is not consent. ALWAYS ASK. Whether it be cosplayers, authors, and/or celebrities, if you want something signed, a photo, or even a hug, always ask. And respect them if they happen to decline you. They could be on a time crunch, lord knows, but if they say no, they don't need to justify their reasons to you. Be a decent human and respect that!

7. Backpacks! A backpack is seriously a godsend at conventions. You can put all your essentials in there and with all the walking around, you want something that can be good for your back. I also love it to carry stuff and I always pack an extra tote bag in case my backpack fills up from convention goodies. It also helps if you are with a friend, and they can spot you easily by your backpack ;)

8. Bring something to pass the time - If you are going to a book convention, chances are you will get books there, so you don't need to bring a ton of books to pass the time. I bring my portable phone charger so that I can check social media and I also bring my Nintendo DS to conventions for street passes. I feel like conventions are mostly waiting in lines a lot of the time, and having something to help you pass the time really makes it a lot more enjoyable. You aren't focusing so much on being in lines all day which can get frustrating and you don't want to feel that way that a convention!

9. Bring a camera! Or use your camera on your phone. Take pictures! You will definitely want to document your adventures and there is no easier way than photos. I remember my first year my phone ran out of battery and without a portable charger, I was incredibly grateful I packed my camera with me since I got to get some pretty cool photos. (TIP: if you are bringing a camera, bring an extra battery that you've charged the night before AND always ask before you take a picture of someone).

10. Have fun! Remember why you are there and don't sweat the small stuff - enjoy yourself and make the most out of the time that you are there, because it goes by quickly and you'll miss it when its all over and gone. 

That's it for tips from me folks. I hope you have an amazing time at whatever convention you attend. Have fun and stay safe. If you want to share in the comments below other convention tips, let me know! I'd love to hear from you and I'd love to hear what some of your favorite conventions are to attend. I've mostly attended Popular Culture ones and I really hope I can attend some bookish ones in the future. 

Love N Books holds 3 events yearly - be sure to check out their main website for more details: Love N Books & if you are attending the one in October in Las Vegas, be sure to check out Vegas.com for some Packages to save on Flights & Hotels! Will you be attending a Love N Books event? If so, let me know in the comments which author you are most excited to see (I am so jelly of those of you  getting to meet the Queen that is L.J. Shen in October)!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Blog Tour: Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast - Review & Author Post

Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions #1) by G.S. Prendergast 

Publishing Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 496
Young Adult Supernatural & Science Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "The 5th Wave meets Beauty and the Beast in this fast-paced and heart-stopping novel about an invasion of murderous creatures and one girl fighting for her life at the end of the world. He has no voice or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind. Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall. His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting. Until a human kills her… Sixteen-year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her fellow campers can only stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless, but what choice does she have? Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend. Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…" (SS).

My overall thoughts and review: I can't even remember the last time I read a YA novel with supernatural/sci-fi/dystopian elements, but this was one that got me right back into loving the genre. The story was pitched as The 5th Wave meets Beauty and the Beast, and I loved that combination. It was also pitched with a Canadian backdrop, with Calgary as the setting. I was instantly intrigued because it is told from duo-perspectives: Raven & Eighth. In this world, the Nahx (dark shadowy figures... I kind of imagined strong armored dementors while reading it) have begun invading and Raven is at summer camp when things start to change. Her boyfriend, Tucker, is murdered by one of the Knax, and she is forced to leave the confines of the camp to seek others and find shelter. You meet Topher, who is Tucker's twin brother and shows his disdain openly for Raven. I really liked their relationship dynamic. Topher felt that Tucker was changing to please Raven and therefore did not approve of their relationship. It was nice to see how their relationship changed over time as they became dependent on one another with the memory of Tucker tethering them together. It was interesting to see the whole "will they/won't they" with them since it is the end of the world, but with the presence of Tucker still lingering over them made things awkward. Raven is such an interesting character because she comes from a troubled past and a mixed family. She's stubborn and strong, but also incredibly emotional at her core. You can see that she attempts to be strong but things do shift and she is often so conflicted with her feelings. There are videos of Knax executions where humans have found a way to post to show that the Knax can be killed. Raven finds it incredibly hard to watch and I really liked that ~human~ part of her. Even though they are the enemies, she attempts to understand what is going on, rather than simply a revenge path like Topher. I will say I wish there was more explanation for the Knax and their take-over and what their end game was. I felt the ending explained a tiny bit, but this first book in the series was really laying the foundation for the relationship between Raven & Eighth, and less so on world building, which I wanted more of. I know this is mostly because Eighth is defective and actually doesn't have any of the answers, but I'm hoping the next book in the series will explain more of the Knax's agenda and motivations. As for Eighth, I really enjoyed reading his chapters. Even though he experiences a bit of "insta-love" with Raven, I feel like he does come to terms of learning what love is and his own meaning of love. It definitely hurt to see Raven fight with him, and goodness, he apologizes so much. I feel like at the end of the day, Eighth only means well, but with the difficulty in communication, that isn't always clear to Raven. Eighth cannot speak and can only sign things. I liked seeing their relationship grow and I started with shipping Raven and Topher, but by the end of it, I was totally team Raven and Eighth. I will say the pacing was quite slow in the beginning; it does pick up at some action-y parts, and the ending definitely felt a bit rushed. It ends on a massive cliffhanger and I will definitely be picking up the next book to find out what happens. I really enjoyed this because it made me like the genre of supernatural/sci-fi/dystopian YA reads again. I've always had a fascination with ~aliens~ and this was the perfect read to bring me back to reading those YA books again. Also, I LOVE the cover so much and when you learn what the cover refers to, it makes it all the more special.

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

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

Author Post: Inspiration for Zero Repeat Forever
Zero Repeat Forever was inspired by a dream initially, which became the opening scene of part III in the book. When I had the dream I knew nothing about the actual premise or genre, only the broad themes of enemies and imprisonment and trust. I must have mulled that dream idea around for a while but eventually I landed on the idea of doing it as an alien invasion story. It took a few tries to get the exact circumstances of the story right. In the first draft the story takes place decades after the invasion. Then I tried setting it five years after the invasion. Eventually I realized the best way to tell the story was to start it with the invasion and go from there. I think I've always been very interested in the idea of enemies coming face to face so I thought a lot about movies and books that explore this theme - everything from How to Train Your Dragon to Enemy Mine to Dances with Wolves to Frankenstein (of course!). I've also always loved sci-fi armour and cyborgs such as the Stormtroopers and C-3P0 in Star Wars, The Terminator, Data and the holographic doctor in Star Trek, and Robocop so when I was dreaming up the Nahx those were all in my mind. 
Thanks so much for dropping by on this blog tour and sharing the inspiration for the text. I can definitely see the sci-fi armour and cyborg stuff come to life while I was reading the text. ;) 

Be sure to stop by the other stops on the blog tour for more Zero Repeat Forever content! 

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