Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

It feels a bit silly to be waiting on a Christmas book in the heat of July, but...

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Editor: Stephanie Perkins 
Authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire,

Expected publication: October 14th 2014

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. 

LOOK AT THAT CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR LIST! I mean, aside from the fact that the lovely Stephanie Perkins edited and wrote for the anthology, this is basically cribbing from my top 20 YA authors of all time. I'm obviously super-excited to read short stories from some of the greats on this list (Gayle Forman, anyone?) but I'm also excited to find some new authors to love.

That's what's great about anthologies like this: you can test the waters without making a big commitment to a series! Plus, you get stand-alone stories that break up the reading time between other books - at least, that's how I read anthologies.

I definitely have a thing about cheesy holiday/winter stories - even though they're sometimes predictable, they definitely leave you in the right spirit to go bake cookies, or go ice-skating, or just curl up with a hot drink and the perfect read.

Are you excited for MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME? Who's your fave on the list of contributing authors? Do you like holiday anthologies, books or movies? Let me know what your fave is in the comments!

Friday, July 18, 2014

In Which I Get Personal and Philosophical: Early Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Just Like the Movies
Author: Kelly Fiore 
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's (Penguin Canada)
Source/Format: eARC via Edelweiss from publisher (thank you!)
Expected publication date: July 22, 2014 
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 

Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.


Warning: this is going to be one of those deeply personal reviews for me - I'm not even sure it's a review, it's...I don't know what it is. An essay? Philosophical thoughts? I don't know. But I hope you'll read on and find out why this book affected me so much, and why it might work for you. 

Just Like the Movies is one of those books that would normally be a really cute, light summer romance for me. It's a book that you can read really quickly (I finished in about 2.5 hours!), and just soak in the fun. Normally, it would probably get a "fun, but not super memorable" rating from me...except for the fact that one of the characters was exactly like me as a teenager.

When I first heard about this plot, I knew I had to get my hands on this novel, because I asked that question everyday in high school and during my first year in college: "Why isn't life more like the movies?" As a teenager, I soaked in stories - I lost myself in movies and I read books voraciously, and I dreamt of love like I saw in Ever After or 10 Things I Hate About You. I really wanted to make my life like a romance movie, because I wanted every moment of my life to have meaning.

When I got this ARC, I knew I'd be reading about characters who were like me, who always wanted to make those perfect scenes happen, and even though I knew that the book reenactments probably wouldn't turn out as perfectly as the characters hoped they would, I knew I was going to connect with the characters right away. Throw in the fact that the writing was super-engaging, and I was completely on board.

I definitely identified with Marijke in her one-sided relationship with Tommy, and the fact that he took her for granted. I admired and saw myself in some of the gutsy moves she made in order to keep her relationship together: at one point, she commissions a flash mob to show Tommy how much she loves him (a throwback to lots of rom-coms, but especially Friends with Benefits). She's strong and sassy and a genuinely nice character.

HOWEVER. Very rarely do I come across a character who is literal representation of who I was as a teenager. Lily is just that - she's a bit sarcastic, definitely self-deprecating; a brainy girl who does a ton for the school, but despite how much she does, she's pretty much invisible to everyone. She's not part of any crowd. She doesn't know how to dress. She has "people she's friendly with, but not actual friends."

The book alternates between Lily and Marijke's points of view, and I can't get over how many passages in Lily's parts I highlighted. They were the things I thought in high school. They were the things I felt in high school. I thought I'd be squirmy over them, but they kind of made me a bit teary because, guys, Kelly Fiore GETS me. She gets why I think the way I do, and she made Lily real to me.

"It's kind of weird to be such a big part of things but not a part of things at all," Lily narrates early on in the novel. "At least not enough to be recognized. Most of the time, I just try to convince myself that I don't care." This was me in high school. I was the girl who was involved with everything, who organized a lot of things, but I was never really a part of things. Those lines are exactly how I lived through my high school experience, and it was both painful and cathartic for me to see myself represented through this book. Even when Lily takes a chance on Joe later on in the book, it reminded me of my own experience asking a boy to prom for the first time.

Fiore makes Lily completely visible, centre stage in a novel, and I'm so grateful, because, like Lily, I always thought of myself as a secondary character - someone who helps along the plot for the hero and heroine by making the school dance happen. In high school, I never thought I could be a main character.

This book made me realize that maybe, just maybe, someone was noticing me in high school. Because for Fiore to write such a marked, perfect description of who I was...she was watching, and I am grateful for it. Even as an adult, I felt empowered and just...noticed, because I mattered enough to be a main character in her novel.

Me with my BFF in high school. We're not friends anymore,
but I'm grateful he was around at just the right point in my life. 
But then Fiore takes it one step further. When her main characters, Lily and Marijke hatch their plot and put their scenes into action, they become friends. And like my own life when I finally found a BFF in high school, that friendship is more meaningful than either of them realize.

More than anything, what Just Like the Movies celebrates is having a connection with another person. Finding someone you're able to tell everything to, and finding someone with whom you can be yourself. It's only when they fight that Marijke realizes what she's losing: "They say you can fall in love at first sight. What about falling into friendship? Can you become BFFs over the course of a few short weeks?"

Honestly, to me - and this is my one and only criticism of the book, and it might be kind of a SPOILER - the story should have focused on just Lily and Marijke's friendship, because that's enough. The book works so well with their realization of what they mean to each other, and how movies fit into that. The romance part is almost an afterthought.

But I think Fiore wanted to end on the romance because she wanted to remind us that we all do long for that movie script ending sometimes. We want things to magically resolve like a movie, or, dare I say it, like a YA book. As an adult who reads YA, I recognize that things aren't always like that, and that sometimes, YA and movies are mainly an escape from a gritty and unfair reality.

But at the same time, reading a book like Just Like the Movies makes me all the more grateful for the moments of magic that do exist in our lives - whether they be through discovering books or other stories, or through our own realities. Even though Just Like the Movies cautions you not to live your life hoping for that perfection or trying to create it, it also celebrates those moments when life does feel perfect, without you even trying.


Name A Rom-Com: It's pretty fun reading Fiore's descriptions of my favourite rom-coms and their best scenes - Easy A, Mean Girls, Never Been Kissed, The Cutting Edge (one of my personal faves, trailer above)...there are so many mentioned in this book, and it totally made me want to go and watch every one of them again.

The Final Word: 

Here's the thing: Just Like the Movies isn't super deep, and it's not meant to be. But it hit me hard because it reminded me so much of myself as a teenager . The novel is fun, fast-paced, and adorable, but it also has some wisdom that I think will really resonate with teens, and even with some adults. Some people will see it in the way Kelly Fiore gently pokes fun at the rom-com cliches. Some will see it in the characters themselves, like I did. And some people will see it as a reminder to seize those moments when life really does feel like the movies, and to hold on tight.

JUST LIKE THE MOVIES comes out on Tuesday, July 22nd. Will you be picking it up? Do you imagine yourself in rom-coms like I did? Do you have books that deeply affect you in a personal way? And how much do books and movies play into your ideas of what friendship and love are? Hit up the comments if you have thoughts!

Want to win Just Like the Movies or another July 2014 release? Stop by my July New Release Giveaway!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Go The Distance": Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (Blog Tour & Review)

Hi guys, today I'm part of the Canadian blog tour for Miranda Kenneally's latest novel, Breathe, Annie, Breathe! This was a really great read, you guys - I've got an interview with Miranda and my review up, so check them out! 

Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks #5)
Author: Miranda Kenneally 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (Raincoast Books in Canada)
Source/Format: An eARC was sent by Raincoast in exchange for an honest review (thank you!)
Publication date: July 15th 2014 
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.


Not sure how it happened that I, a self-professed mostly YA contemp reader, had never read a Miranda Kenneally book until this one. Believe me, I'd heard great things about Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Racing Savannah, and Things I Can't Forget, but somehow, I just never got around to reading one of her books.

I'm grateful that I was given the opportunity to be part of the Canadian blog tour for Breathe, Annie, Breathe, because it's fantastic. Annie is a seventeen-year old girl who is just graduating high school, and she's been through a lot in the past year. Her boyfriend Kyle died a year ago, and she's not over it. In order to honour his memory, though, she's running the Country Music Marathon in downtown Nashville - Kyle had always dreamed of finishing a marathon, so she's picking up his stead - but not without a lot of fear, dedication and guts.

Along the way, she ends up meeting Jeremiah Browne, who is her coach Matt's brother (Matt is the love interest from Things I Can't Forget). Their attraction to each other is undeniable, but Annie's not sure she's ready for anything new, nor does she know if she wants it given that she and Kyle were meant for one another.

Kenneally's approach to survivor's guilt, and moving on from death is what makes this book so special. Annie deals with a ton of stuff in BAB, from wistfulness at the end of high school, to the trepidation of starting university, but none resonated for me more than her perseverance and her attempt to move on.

Like in her runs, Annie deals with her grief step by step, breath by breath. She starts running to make herself exhausted so she doesn't have to think, but as she continues running, it's like every step falls into place and she's able to unravel her own feelings of guilt and remorse. It's a great parallel - the hardship of training for a marathon versus the hardship of dealing with death, and Kenneally makes the most of it without hitting you over the head with the subject.

Annie is a really complex, emotional character - she's a quiet soul, someone steadfast that you really feel like you can depend on, but someone who loves and feels things deeply. Oh yeah, and she's pretty sassy, too - I was really rooting for her throughout the book. When BAB begins, Annie is a bit of a loner because of how much she feels for Kyle, but as the book goes on, she really opens up and comes into her own. BAB really looks at Annie's relationships with her family and friendships, and how they've changed in the wake of her loss. It's fascinating and their interactions feel very real.

That opening up has a lot to do with Jeremiah, who is...really hot, and really into Annie. Their relationship is a bit "one step forwards, two steps backwards" but it works because of how cautious Annie feels like she needs to be. It's kind of a beautiful unfolding, because Jeremiah is dealing with his own issues that Annie opposes, and it's only through their love that they become more to each other and to the world.

It's hard for me to sum up how strong Breathe, Annie, Breathe is - it's one of those books where mood is everything, and where changes in character happen very subtly. It's a testament to Kenneally's writing that Annie and Jeremiah always stay true to who they are, but somehow, when I look back at the beginning of the book, they feel like totally different characters.


Crossover Characters: Readers of other books in Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series will appreciate the glimpses at some of the past MCs - Matt and Kate, Jordan and Sam, and Savannah and Jack all make significant appearances. Even as someone who hasn't read the earlier books, I noticed their appearance, and it definitely made me want to pick up the other books.

Steamy Scenes: This is my first Kenneally book, so I didn't expect some of the romance to be as...steamy as it was. But it is. This is definitely mature YA or possibly light NA territory, and it's written well and will definitely make you fan yourself.

Running Tips: I like running a lot, but I've never run seriously before, so learning about all the different things you need as a runner (Vaseline for chafing!) was pretty cool - I also liked reading about the atmosphere of races and even about Annie's weak stomach - it just made the sport part of the book that much more visceral to me.

The Final Word: 

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is one of those books that you want to keep reading and reading, not stopping for food or coffee. It's very compelling, and the characters are flawed and gorgeously wrought. I really enjoyed it, and I applaud Miranda Kenneally for writing such a meaningful and perceptive look into running and grief, and how those things change us and make us stronger.

About the Author: 

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Visit her online at:

WebsiteTwitter FacebookInstagram


1. Why do you choose to write YA books? Have you ever considered writing other genres?

A: I'd love to write adult romance or historical romance. I might try writing adult romance one day, but I'm just too busy with my YA books right now. I also love sci-fi, and would love to try writing another one. I've written 3 sci-fis, but they aren't exactly publishing material! :)

2. Recently, there has been a huge trend with dystopian YA novels. Why do you choose to write realistic fiction?

A: To tell you the truth, I would love to write sci-fi or fantasy, but I've never been all that great at world-building. I love reading contemporary fiction, and people say you should write what you love reading.

3. If you could have a character from any book (or movie!) to make a cameo in your novels, who would you choose?

A: It would be pretty badass if Professor Dumbledore showed up out of the blue. He could conjure up a banquet, or help my characters apparate to the beach for a party or something.

4. Running the marathon for Kyle was Annie’s way of coping with her stress and grief. What advice would you give others in similar situations of grief or stress?

A: I would say give yourself time to heal. Recognize that everyone's healing process is different. Don't beat yourself up if you don't feel better in a certain amount of time; everyone heals in different ways. If you need to, talk to good friends, your guidance counselor, or a therapist.

5. What advice would you give yourself in high school?

A: Stop spending all your time pining for boys who don't like you back!

Are you interested in reading BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE? Have you read any of Miranda Kenneally's other books in the Hundred Oaks series? Are you into running or any other sports? Have you read any other books that deal with grief and resonated? Let me know in the comments!

Want to win Breathe, Annie, Breathe or another July new release? Come by and enter my new release giveaway!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

I am on a sad book jag lately, and I was hoping this one would be different, but I couldn't NOT post this for this week's WoW pick!

I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman 
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (Penguin Canada)
Expected publication: January 27, 2015

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

First of all, GAYLE FORMAN. 

I mean. 

I'll pretty much read anything she writes, so there's that. But then there's also the fact that Just One Day is my favourite YA book. And that I totally embarrassed myself in front of her with my crazy fangirl love. 

But then there's also the synopsis, which sounds epically sad and perfect and like we'll be mining the depths of Meg's life, and just trying to sort out WHY. I'm desperate to read this because I need to know why, too - why are we here, why choose to die, why choose to live, and why are we left behind.

Forman has a way of getting into my head and heart and giving me perspective in a way that no other author does. I need to read her opinion and learn from it and try to figure out how it fits into my ideas about death, but more importantly, how to live.  

Are you desperately in need of I WAS HERE, too? Have you read all of Gayle's other books? What do you think of that cover? Are you into books about learning to grieve and cope (I'll have a review up of one tomorrow)? Sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

GIVEAWAY CONTEST: Win a July 2014 new release!

Hi everyone, happy July! Hope you're all having an amazing summer filled with books and vacation!

Today I'm giving away one young adult, middle grade, or new adult book released this month - I'm also including a couple of adult books this time that I know are hotly anticipated. In the interest of not making myself crazy, I'm only posting covers for the ones I'm super interested in reading, but feel free to comment with your own choices!

Review to come next week!                                             


  • Giveaway open internationally provided you can receive shipments from The Book Depository.
  • You're welcome to choose a book I didn't mention here as long as it's a July 2014 YA, MG, or NA new release.
  • I will not be responsible for lost or damaged packages from The Book Depository. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the rest of the giveaways!

Friday, July 11, 2014

"Call Me, Call Me, Any, Anytime": Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Author: Rainbow Rowell (twitter | website)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (MacMillan/Raincoast Books)
Source/Format: ARC from BEA14 (thank you, MacMillan!)
Publication date: July 8, 2014 
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?


Landline is a book that envelops you in its characters and their failing relationship. Georgie and Neal are people you want to know, and want to cry for immediately. I tweeted to a book blogger friend that after reading eight pages, I needed to put the book down because it just felt too visceral, especially as my husband and I just had our one year anniversary. It’s not that the exact same thing was happening to me in real life – it’s that I could see myself having Georgie and Neal’s argument at the beginning of the book in ten or fifteen years.

It’s fitting that I’m projecting so far into the future since Landline is about hindsight and the past, and what was and is meant to be. Georgie is a successful comedy writer in L.A. on the cusp of getting her own show with her best friend, Seth. The catch? The head honcho wants to see her and Seth’s pitch two days after Christmas. Georgie has promised to go with her husband Neal, and their two children to his parents’ place in Omaha for Christmas. Georgie and Neal have a terrible fight about this, ending with Neal taking the girls to Omaha, and Georgie staying in L.A.

During this time, Georgie discovers that her old yellow rotary phone can call Neal in the past – specifically, Neal at a turning point in their relationship fifteen years ago. Knowing her marriage is falling apart and unable to call Neal in the present, Georgie latches onto this way of evaluating her relationship and figuring out what to do next.

Rowell deftly handles the changing timelines, and the day-after-day structure of the book, balancing it perfectly with observations that mine her characters' cores. I always knew exactly where I was in the book, and I stayed with the characters through each time change without any effort.

I sank straight into the characters and the conceit of the book from the first page. Even the hardest parts of the book – the intentionally repetitive, over-analytical conversations that people have on the status of their relationships--felt just right: painful, but still blending enjoyment with the rawness of the situation. Georgie and Neal are fantastically, alternately clueless and observant about their relationship, both in the past and the present, and you can just feel the frustration and the miscommunication. It’s SO real and it’s heartbreaking and heart-lifting.

The heart-lifing part comes from Rainbow’s ability to make the most mundane things seem extraordinary, from Neal’s potential job as a railroad investigator to the fact that her mother’s husband built her a real laundry room. These things matter in a Rainbow Rowell novel, and each moment and little detail draws us deeper into the characters. By the end of the book, I couldn't name Georgie’s or Neal’s favourite colours or movies, but I knew them, and I loved them, flaws and all.

There’s very little else I can say about Landline other than that it is a deeply felt and deeply wrought novel. I’m so grateful that this more than met my expectations – it’s a book that alternates between the feels and quirk, and it's one that I guarantee you will get emotional about.


Time Travel…Sorta: I love time travel books, but I love it even more when they WORK. This is time travel in a different way, but it’s consistent throughout the book, and the way it comes together informs the book, but never becomes the focus. It’s a conceit, and it’s one that works to bring the book full circle.

Photo: katerha
“All the Feels” Writing: I can’t believe that this is the first “normal” review that I’ve ever written for a Rainbow Rowell book, but I do kind of understand why I’ve been avoiding it. How do you do justice to writing that reaches in and grabs your heart, squeezes it, then places it gently back together with deft hands? You don’t – you just leave the reader with some quotes (from the ARC, so might not be exactly what's in the final version):

“Neal didn’t take Georgie’s breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay—that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.”

“It was that she’d tied him to her so tight. Because she wanted him. Because he was perfect for Georgie, even if she wasn’t perfect for him. Because she wanted him more than she wanted him to be happy.”

“You don’t know when you’re twenty-three.
You don’t know what it really means to crawl into someone else’s life and stay there. You can’t see all the ways you’re going to get tangled, how you’re going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten—in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.”

The Final Word:

After reading YA for a long time, it’s sometimes refreshing to get to read an adult book. And an adult book written by Rainbow Rowell, author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, both of which I absolutely loved? I knew I had to get my hands on this as quickly as possible. I dogeared about half of the book, amazed by the poetic wisdom and observations that felt both incredibly universal and deeply relevant to my personal life. I recommend this to anyone who needs some introspection, with a big daub of quirk on the side. Buy this one, hug it to you, pass it along to friends, and then grab it back to read again and again.

Have you read LANDLINE or any of Rainbow Rowell's other books? Do you love them like I do? Are you okay with reading this adult book or are you exclusively YA or another genre? How do you feel about books that break you with their feels? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW pick was probably a lot of other people's WoW picks last week, but I'm desperate for it and we have to talk about it!

The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Harper Teen
Expected publication: February 10, 2015

There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

So. I have never reviewed the Unearthly series, mostly because I read it on my honeymoon, and it's kind of hard to motivate yourself afterwards. But know this: 1) it's probably one of the best paranormal series I've ever read, with a very smart love triangle 2) it has one of the most realistic portrayals of loss I've read in YA 3) I really loved the writing. I wasn't sure about it at all, but lots of people told me it was very much a contemp with paranormal elements.

So I'm very glad that the two elements I loved the most in Unearthly - the contemp parts of it, and the loss part of it - are now being brought together in Cynthia Hand's next novel. It's hard to say I'm excited about a book that will so profoundly explore death, but it's definitely a book that I'm anticipating deeply and looking forward to taking in and learning from.

Also, that cover! I love how adult-looking it is - right away, I can tell that this is serious book that's going to give me a lot of depth and a lot of feels.

Can it be February now?

Are you interested in reading THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE? Have you read The Unearthly Series (if you have, check out one of my follow-up questions here!)? If so, were you Team Christian or Team Tucker (I was the former!)? What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Destination Reading: Do You Choose Vacation Books Based On Their Setting?

Happy Independence Day to my friends in the States! Today I'm thinking about travelling and reading, and how I choose my books. Do you guys ever decide to go some place on holiday, and then discover that it's the perfect place to read a certain book? For instance, the setting or concept of the book just perfectly fits the time, the place, the location?

I was just discussing this with Gillian at Writer of Wrongs, and I realized that I am totally a destination reader. There's nothing better than going for walks and getting lost in a new city, then finding the perfect cafe to rest my feet and enjoy my book du jour. If that book involves the place I'm travelling to, all the better - it's almost like an extension of the travel experience, and it colours the way I look at both the book and the place forever.

So today, I thought I'd discuss some of my most memorable reading moments while travelling. Check mine out, then please, share your own!

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens x Paris

Couldn't find a photo of the Bastille, this will have to do!
This was the book that sparked this whole post - thanks, Gillian! I chose to read A Tale of Two Cities while traveling in Paris specifically because I knew it was set in London and Paris. Little did I know that I was going to be totally wrecked at the end of the book. The Bastille wasn't on my list of touristy places to go at all, but after finishing the book in a park in Paris, I immediately ran over there, heart aching. It was like the entire prison was haunted with the ghosts of the characters - creepy and very, very cool. I'll never forget it.

2. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman x Oxford

This is actually the bench and tree I sat down on in the Oxford Gardens.
This one is a bit of a cheat because I finished His Dark Materials while on a night train to Italy, but immediately decided, upon my return to Belgium where I was studying abroad, to head up to Oxford the next weekend and read The Amber Spyglass again. I distinctly remember choosing just the right bench in the Oxford Gardens to read the end of the book (no spoilers, but I totally cried on that bench).

3.  North of Beautiful by Justina Chen x Hong Kong and China

Hong Kong in the background.
I saved North of Beautiful to read on my trip to Hong Kong and my mother's hometown of Jiangmen last winter. NoB features a once-in-a-lifetime trip to China for the MC and her mom, and it's an amazing emotional journey for them as characters. Even though I didn't have quite that experience on my own trip (Hong Kong is like my second home, and I've been to China a lot of times) having the flavour of China in the book I was reading while being in China and meeting people made me all the more thankful for my own family.

4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway x Rome and Venice

I totally read at the back of this boat. 
It's not quite the Cuban sea, but I remember reading this one on boat tours going around Venice, or sitting at the Trevi Fountain in Rome during my first sojourn alone around Europe. Just having that smell of the sea around me while reading about it was enough to make me feel like I was on the boat with old fisherman Santiago. And though the struggles of Santiago to catch his marlin were very different from my personal struggles, I felt a real kinship to him because I was facing up to my own challenges in travelling alone for the first time.

5. Upcoming: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson x Haliburton, Ontario

This is actually where I'll be staying next week!

Next week, I'm going on a family vacation to a cabin in Haliburton, Ontario. It's not far away, but seeing as SCS is set in a cottage during a family vacation, I'm pretty sure it's the perfect spot. Also, according to Morgan and a ton of bloggers, I'm desperately going to need tissues and hugs from my fam.

Are you guys destination readers? I'd love to hear about your favourite books for reading and travelling, especially if you've had moments when places have come alive for you because of the book you're reading (or vice-versa!). Or if you haven't travelled a lot, what book x trip would you take? 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

This week's most-anticipated pick is a no-brainer for me!

I'll Meet You There
Author: Heather Demetrios (website | twitter)
Publisher: Henry Holt Books For Young Readers (Macmillan)
Expected publication: February 3, 2015

If seventeen-year-old Skyler Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage-months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings them together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Gritty, romantic, and ultimately hopeful, I'll MEET YOU THERE explores the complicated lives of an unforgettable cast of characters. This is the story of teens outside the picket fence. It doesn’t soften the edges of adolescence or the individual consequences of war; it’s life on the fringes—maddening, weirdly endearing…and completely screwed up.

I've already tweeted about this cover, which I love so very much for it's road-trippy qualities, but honestly, before I even saw it and the synopsis, I was on board because HEATHER DEMETRIOS. Her debut, Something Real, was one of my favourite books of the year. She writes beautifully and with a lot of honesty, and guys, if you haven't met my book boyfriend/prom date Patrick Sheldon yet, get Something Real right now!

I met Heather at BEA this year, and one of the things she told me was that I'LL MEET YOU THERE is the book of her heart. 

Now that I've read the synopsis, I know this is going to be one of my most anticipated books of 2015 - I love the fact that Skylar and Josh will meet at work and figure themselves out in the middle of a roadtrip rest stop. I love the fact that Skylar has worked so hard to get out of this tiny town, and they're going to have to figure out next steps together. I love the fact that the synopsis says that this is a book that doesn't soften war or adolescence. These are the books that I end up recommending to everyone. I'm very, very hopeful that this could be one of those books. 

Are you excited about I'LL MEET YOU THERE? Have you read Something Real or Heather's jinni book, Exquisite Captive (coming out in October, and super sexy!)? Do you like super-realistic or gritty YA? What's on your waiting-for list today? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Early Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence
Author: Kasie West (website | twitter)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source/Format: An ARC was sent by Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 (tomorrow!)
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My synopsis:

Charlie is a sixteen-year old tomboy who lives and breathes sports with her three big brothers and her neighbour Braden. She's really one of the guys, so it's probably not a surprise that she dresses mostly in sporty, non-descript clothing and runners. So when her dad forces her to get a job to pay off her speeding tickets, and she ends up working at a trendy boutique, Charlie isn't sure how her family will react. Slowly, Charlie begins to realize her own identity as both a girl, and as a girl who might have a thing for Braden. 


This book is a sweet summertime beach read. It's a fast one that I got through in about 4-5 hours. It's engrossing and fun, and since it's about summer, I read most of it in parks, and I would highly recommend that.

I was immediately drawn to Charlie and her character - I wasn't ever a tomboy like Charlie, but I did dress kind of like her early in high school. The thing about Charlie is that she's never been asked to step outside her comfort zone and try new - girly - things. She's scared of being laughed at by her brothers, and it's kind of fascinating and sweet to see her navigate that.

A big part of Charlie's tomboyishness is because her mom died in a car crash when she was little. Charlie still has nightmares about her mom, and she often exhausts herself with runs and physical activity so that she can sleep dreamlessly. Night after night, she ends up outside, sitting near her fence, with Braden on the other side. They end up talking, and Charlie is able to go to sleep more soundly after she works things out with Braden.

This is the part of the novel I liked the most - the fence chats. It's here where Charlie and Braden can be friends and a little more, and it's both adorable and heady with that feeling of something more. I liked how much they challenged each other, but also how much they understood and were each others' sounding boards.

I also loved seeing Charlie's growing interest in her job and discovering how she had an eye for fashion. For Charlie, it wasn't really okay to be both a sporty girl and a girl who dressed nicely at first. It's great seeing her open up a bit to a new world and new friends - while still keeping herself her.

I did find that the stuff with Charlie's mom was a bit glossed over. There's actually a lot to work with in terms of Charlie's development, so I found that I was a little bit disappointed in the ending and the way the family handled everything. It almost felt a little too easy to me.

That said, there's nothing here not to like, from Charlie's fun, outgoing, and protective brothers to her new friends at work. On the Fence is definitely an enjoyable light read, and one that would be perfect to grab for the beach.


Genuinely Nice Secondary Characters: There really wasn't a bad guy in this book - in fact, everyone in Charlie's life, including another guy she dates, her new girlfriends, and her boss at work, are all wonderful, accepting people. It's really interesting that it's Charlie who has all the hang-ups about herself and how girls and guys should be.

Blue Jays Wikipedia page
Sports Montage: I've mentioned this a million times, but I am not a sporty girl. That said, I LOVE reading about sports - and this book has them all. I've included a picture of the Toronto SkyDome and the Blue Jays because we are WINNING!

The Final Word: 

On the Fence is definitely a light summertime read. It reminded me a lot of the Love Stories series that I used to read in high school - a bit formulaic. I wanted to delve deeper into Charlie's relationship with Braden, deeper into her Dad's relationship with her, more into who her brothers were. Basically, I just wanted more. That said, if you're looking for a beach or park read in the summer heat, this might just be perfect for you!

ON THE FENCE comes out tomorrow! Are you interested in reading it? Have you read Kasie West's other books, The Distance Between Us, Pivot Point, or Split Second? How do you feel about really light reads? Are you into makeover books? Are you a tomboy? Let me know in the comments!