20 May 2016

The Hunger Games Auction!

Hi everyone! We were contacted by Invaluable to let you all know of a The Hunger Games auction taking place! It has sooooo many interesting things from the movies, and even if you can't afford it, it is definitely worth looking through! Here's some more info about the event: 

This auction, The World of The Hunger Games Auction, starts at 11:00 AM PST on May 20 and will feature 450 noteworthy lots. The auction features props and outfits from all four of The Hunger Games films. Items include Katniss’ Mockingjay propaganda outfit from The Mockingjay - Part 1, Katniss’ District 12 hunting bow and signature brown leather jacket from The Mockingjay - Part 2, Peeta’s arena wetsuit from Catching Fire, as well as props used by characters President Snow, Gale Hawthorne, Effie Trinket, Haymitch Abernathy, and more.

But it’s time for The Reaping for these iconic pieces of memorabilia from The Hunger Games - an amazing opportunity for fans and movie enthusiasts alike to have a chance to own these props. Here are a few lots for example:

Lot 272: Katniss Everdeen Mockingjay propaganda ensemble from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Estimated price: $15,000 - $20,000
Iconic “The Mockingjay” ensemble includes: a black canvas long sleeve zip-front jacket with interwoven nylon strap detail at the front, unique high collar piece descending into tiered shoulder pads, and integral black rubber forearm guard, a pair of black self-striped pants with cargo pockets retaining internal bias label marked “KE 5,” and a pair of black high-top boots with zipper and lace closures.
Lot 6: Katniss Everdeen hero wooden District 12 hunting bow from The Hunger Games
Estimated price: $8,000 - $12,000
Katniss’ signature hero wooden longbow used during her hunting trips with Gale in District 12. Measuring 59.75 in. long (unstrung), the longbow is crafted of dark stained wood and features wrapped twine reinforcement. Appears in The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as well as one of the final sequences in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.

Lot 446: Katniss Everdeen hunting ensemble with bow from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
Estimated price: $12,000 - $15,000
Katniss’ instantly recognizable signature brown leather hunting jacket with elastic detail at sides and zipper front closure. Includes a long sleeve oatmeal henley retaining internal bias label marked “KE4,” and a pair of olive flat-front pants retaining internal bias label marked “KE 5,” an olive belt with metal buckle, and a pair of gray canvas Israeli low-lace boots.

Also, feel free to check out all the other collectibles and first edition books they have up for auction!

Definitely cool to see all of this stuff! Check her outttt!

25 April 2016

Review: Illuminae

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 599
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Summary (Goodreads is illuminating): This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My Thoughts: It took me a long time to read this novel. I'm not sure why. Kristen and Kayla kept ranting about how great it was. They are like...crazy though, so I try not to listen to anything they say ever. In this case, they were...I can't say right but I will say they weren't exactly wrong. This book was fantastic! Okay, actually this book was terrifying. It was the scariest thing I've ever read. I can't even tell you. I'm trying, I swear. Basically, this AI and the disease...it's all the scariest thing ever. It's the worst. By worst, I mean the best. 

I thought that the format of the book would make me hate it. The typography was pretty weird. Yet, it was also perfect. With any other book it wouldn't have worked but it worked. The images gave it a personality, which is ironic in this case because of the crazy computer. 

The only problem I really had with this novel was that you get so little description of setting and the characters. You really get thrown into the action and don't get the time or place described to you so you are left wondering what the hell is happening. I wish I would have gotten a little bit more information. I'm not sure how it would have been written into the story as it was but it might have helped a little bit. Luckily, after a little while it didn't matter. I caught up enough. Some more description might have also made me care about the characters earlier in the story.

I'm sorry this review is poopy. I tried, I swear. It's just good. That's all I can say. You have to give it a chance.

Basically, this novel is fantastic and beautiful and written in such a cool way that you should run to pick it up right this moment. Do it before the crazy computer makes you. 

This review took me forever to write and that makes me very sad because this novel really is fantastic and you should check it out but don't read it before bed because it's actually scary.

15 April 2016

Review: Champion by Marie Lu

Reviewer: Kayla
Author: Marie Lu
Pages: 369
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5/10

Summary (Goodreads. Da real MVP):

He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

My Thoughts:

"Hi," he says. "I'm Daniel."
"Hi," I reply. "I'm June."

Champion.... you mean CHUMPion AM I RIGHT?!?!?!

*waits for applause*

No okay..

Actually though, more like chumpion.

This book was mediocre. I'm going to admit, part of my disdain for this book may be because I listened to it on audiobook rather than reading it, and part of it may be because I completely lost interest when I got to the second book. Personally, I found this ending to the trilogy rather anticlimactic. Not much of anything happened except people speculating and the government trying to solve their issue and people getting sick, but other than that nothing really HAPPENED. Even the ending "action" scene was nothing more than a measly fight scene on the roof. It just seemed lack lustre of the end of a trilogy. With that said though, I feel like the book could have been worse. It kept my interest at most.

The characters were kind of mediocre as well. June was whiny as all else and it kind of pissed me off how she went between Anden and Day almost as much as America went through Maxon and Aspen (except not as dramatically), but every time she was in the room with either of them she would be attracted to both of them and her floppiness around that irked me. Day was more tolerable than he was in Prodigy. I distinctly remember being annoyed by his entire demeanour in previous book. Here he was a little better. The characters I wanted more of were Eden and Pascao, they were the best part of this book. I have no feelings toward Anden, tbh. He was just okay. Just there.

I don't really have much else to say about this book except that it fell kind of flat for my liking. It wasn't a gripping trilogy ender in any way, shape, or form, and it was also kind of predictable in some ways. Also, the epilogue. I thought it was a cop out to satisfy the readers, but I just feel it was unnecessary.

Final Thoughts: I'm kind of disappointed in the ending of the trilogy, but I'm gonna be honest it was not a terrible book in and of itself. It was just average for a trilogy ender, I felt.

25 March 2016

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Reviewer: Kayla
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Pages: 486
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 3/10

Summary (Goodreads. Da real MVP):
Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

My Thoughts:

You cannot fathom the distance I would travel for you.

((you cannot fathom the distance i would travel to get the heck away from this book))

If you haven't noted the extremely long timeline of my progression through this book, let me inform you that it is far too long, almost unnecessarily so. I could blame the overwhelming number of novels and things I've had to read for school for the reason as to why this took me so long to read, but I'm gonna be straight with you: this book was not gripping whatsoever.

At first, I thought the premise was extremely interesting and the first three to four chapters had so much potential. Throughout the novel, we get so many informational dumps, the plot was very jumpy, and there is still a lot of aspects of the world I do not understand. Again, the potential for the plot was and still is there, but I really don't think I'm going to be continuing with this series/trilogy/whatever. Also, it was so slow. So. Slow. So. Unbelievably slow. The basic plot was introduced to us 200 and some pages in. There was so much unnecessary writing that could have been easily scrapped. I feel like Alexandra Bracken tried so hard to make this world as intricate and deeply unique as humanly possible that it just left way too much underdeveloped or unexplained that I could not grasp any of it.

This is the first Alexandra Bracken book I have read, so this is the first time I have been acquainted with her writing. It was not the worst writing style I have ever experienced, but it certainly wasn't beautifully outstanding. I think the descriptions of many of the things was quite matter-of-factly and the novel lacked artfully beautiful imagery that I love.

Not even the characters could salvage this story for me. I found Etta to be quite self-righteous and annoying, but I did like her "I don't need no man to protect me mentality." Even so, her thought processes had me questioning her judgment and I just could not connect with her in any way shape or form. As for Nicholas, I did like his character and I liked the way got into his mindset of living in his time period as a person of colour that had to deal with things such as slavery, something I myself as a white person in this day in age has never had to personally go through. I also enjoyed the racially diverse characters other than Nicholas, like Hasan. Honestly, Hasan was my favourite character in the book, which kind of sucks because he was introduced like 350 pages in. Still, he was refreshing and new and I loved his sarcastic comments about Nicholas to Etta and his loyalties.

Other than that, I can't say much more about this book because I quickly lost interest in it. There were many information dumps that I could not grasp, Etta was boring and unrelatable, and I just completely lost interest in the book and had no care in the world to continue, but stubbornness won out and I finished anyway. I can see the potential and why some people would really like this book, but it just was not for me.

23 March 2016

Review: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Alan Cumyn
Format: ARC - thanks Simon & Schuster CA! 
Pages: 304
My Rating: 6/10

Summary (thanks Goodreads): Prepare to be blown away—or rather, carried away on huge muscular wings—by this blissfully outlandish, bracingly-smart, tour de force about a teen who has to come to terms with relinquishing control for the first time as she falls for the hot new…pterodactyl…at school. After all, everybody wants him!

Sheils is very pleased with her perfectly controlled life (controlling others while she’s at it). She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and she even has a loving boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for?

But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something about him—something primal—that causes the students to lose control whenever he’s around. Even Sheils, the seemingly perfect self-confident girl that she is, can’t keep her mind off of him, despite her doting boyfriend and despite the fact that Pyke immediately starts dating Jocelyn, the school’s fastest runner who Sheils has always discounted as a nobody.

Pyke, hugely popular in a school whose motto is to embrace differences, is asked to join a band, and when his band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his preternatural shrieking music sends everyone into a literal frenzy. No one can remember what happened the next day, but Shiels learns that she danced far too long with Pyke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done something with her boyfriend that she shouldn’t have. Who’s in control now?

Hilarious and relatable (despite the dinosaur), Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is about a teen who must come to terms with not being in control of all things at all times, break free of her mundane life, discover who her true self is, and, oh, finding out that going primal isn’t always a bad thing

My Thoughts: Have you ever just sat back and wondered what you'd get if you took a little contemporary, and then threw in some dinosaurs? Like, maybe, you're reading Twilight, and you're just so annoyed with Bella (because, let's face it, she does annoying things), that you kinda really want a dinosaur to come in and mix things up? I mean, who doesn't? While Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend doesn't exactly fit that description, it definitely takes contemporary and takes some dinosaurs and creates this fantastically weird, and funny, novel. 

So, I think that one of my favourite things about this book is it's title. A) Because I finally learned how to spell Pterodactyl (I did that with my eyes closed but I'll never be able to prove it), and B) Who isn't going to immediately grab this book and go.... wait, what? Add that with the cover - which I love and it stands out so well on my book shelf - and you got yourself a winner at the book store. 

This definitely not a serious book - it's light, and funny, and a supremely quick read. I sat down to start reading, and I didn't stop until I was finished. It was one of those "I can't put this down because I have literally no idea where this story" is going type of deals.  The characters were funny enough, and definitely original. I particularly liked Sheils, I connected with her a weird amount (especially considering she falls in love... with you know... a literal dinosaur).
It held my interest the entire time, and even though I probably wouldn't re-read it, I'd recommend it to people with dry senses of humour. There's a lot of satirizing taking place, especially about the YA genre (their meeting gave me some Twilight feels), so if you're about that life, this is another good one to check out. 

Also, fellow Canadian's: this book is for you. It's one of those books that actually get the weird things us Canadian's say and do, and of course, there is a moose cameo. What more can you want? Dinosaurs and moose is all you need. 
Final Thoughts: Probably, no - definitely - the most original and unique book I've read this year. If you're intrigued by that description (and, I ask again, who isn't), definitely check this one out! 

Follow along with the rest of the tour here! 

*** Thanks again Simon & Schuster CA for having me be apart of this tour!*** 

7 March 2016

Review: The Time Traveler's Wife

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Format: Paperback 
Pages: 528
Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (I know we aren't supposed to do this half nonsense, sorry)

Summary (I use Goodreads all the time): Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, have known each other since Clare was 6 and Henry was 36, married when Clare 23 and Henry 31. Impossible but true. Because Henry unintentionally jumps in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity, past and future. His experiences can be harrowing or amusing.

What I Think: This story was as unique as it seems. Now, I watch Doctor Who, so I understood some of the issues with time travelling but this book still hurt my head at times. It made me think way too much about the concerns one would have if they were to time travel. Can the future be changed when you are in the past or has it already happened? Try not to think too hard about it or you will be mad at me. I spent the whole novel thinking about it and it was killing me.

I knew something big had to happen near the end to the story and, because the whole story was about time travel, if you pay attention, you are able to find little bits of foreshadowing throughout the whole book and sort of put it together. Of course, I wasn't able to figure out how sad it would make me. It hurt. It hurt a lot. I might have teared up a little bit...or a lot...I'll never admit it. Since we are on the subject, I have to admit to you that I was exceedingly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. That sounds rude but I read it, almost, because it seemed like some cultural thing I had to take part in or something. I don't know but I didn't want to read it. I'm so glad I did. What an emotional rollercoaster.

Honestly, the only problem that I had with this novel, which is not the novel's fault at all, is that I'm too young to get all the cultural references. During the majority of when this novel takes place, I wasn't alive. Yet, since the novel is modern still, the author didn't feel the need to really explain most references (they would have been out of place anyway). I understand that it was a lose-lose but I still didn't understand some of the jokes (I assume that some of the references were meant to be funny). If I was like fifteen years older this might not have been an issue for me. It wasn't enough to make the novel suck, as seen by my high rating, but it still made me a little bit sad to be missing out on something. 

Anyway, here is another movie that I have to see and another book that I will probably reread in the future. This novel made me laugh and almost made me cry and it was just great. I think that maybe 35+ readers will get more out of it but I quite enjoyed it nonetheless. It's a great romance story and the time travel thing is pretty cool. Just make sure you pay attention to when the time is changing. I caught myself flipping back in order to figure out where in the time line I was reading. It was work but worth it. It's a great love story (just ignore that he knew her as a child because it gets really weird if you consider that too long...).

29 February 2016

Review: Room

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Emma Donoghue
Format: Paperback
Pages: 321
Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary (Couldn't live without Goodreads: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

What I Think: I past this book on the shelves many times before I actually got around to buying it but I'm glad I did. It was not exactly how I imagined. There is a lot of focus on what happens after. I wasn't expecting that but, once I read it, it made sense. Of course the transition wouldn't be easy. I just didn't know how upsetting it would be.

It was interesting to get the story from Jack's perspective. Of course, this means that some of the language is a little off (he's a kid, give him a break). Sometimes he would say things that a young child wouldn't know to use and others it would be very childish. However, this can be overlooked due to content. If this had been written from his mother's perspective it would have been a very different book. It might have become almost unreadable for the pain she must have gone through. I'm glad that it was Jack telling the reader what happened, even if I had to work a little harder to understand what he was trying to tell me at some points. Then again, maybe I'm just slow and my reading comprehension was lacking. Either way, I managed to figure everything out.

It is a very sad story and not to be read by the faint of heart. I didn't cry exactly but I was very upset and felt strongly for the characters. This story is, thankfully, just something so outside of my realm of experience that, for a lot of the story, I wasn't sure how to respond. That said, I came to care about the characters and wanted them to end up alright. I equally had to remind myself that it was a made up story while, also, reminding myself that this happens to people more than we like to believe.

I haven't seen the movie but the awards speak for itself. I think that it reflects how good the book really is. I thought that it was outstanding and well written. It doesn't seem like a book that one might reread over and over again, and it wouldn't be because of the depressing content, but it was so good that I just might reread it anyway.

Basically, I've wanted to read this book for a while and I'm glad I did. It's definitely and adult book and be warned that the content can get pretty upsetting at times. It was worth the read though and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie now.

22 February 2016

Review: November 9

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Colleen Hoover
Format: ARC, paperback (Which Kristen stole back from me)
Pages: 310
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Summary (Thank you, Goodreads): Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

My Thoughts: I almost feel the need to apologize to every Colleen Hoover book because after Maybe Someday they really don't stand a chance. I get so excited about CoHo books that they have to do a lot to make me happy. It's an accident, I swear. 

I thought that this was a very well executed book. I was concerned that the time gaps would make me judge the characters but I really didn't. The idea intrigued me. How would people changed if they only met on day a year. Would they stay close when they were together? This part of the book required a slight suspension of disbelief because I've had friends I could keep in contact move and we weren't able to stay friends. These two must have romanticized the idea of the other so much that they could overlook a lot. That's not to say they didn't have really struggles. The whole point of the story was to see how they overcame their problems (the main one being that they only saw each other once a year). I thought that the book did a great job covering this. 

The first time the two main characters met was pretty weird. It was too much for Kristen. For me, however, it could have been worse, I guess. I guess I overlooked the fast that this situation wouldn't have happened in real or, if it did, he would have met a great deal more resistance. Either way, I was able to look past it because it was a romance novel. You will probably be able to look past it too. 

The problems these two had to overcome fascinated me but the back and forth of "can we be friends?" "yes" "no" "yes" just isn't for me and bothers me in any novel.

Whatever, basically, what I'm saying is that I liked this novel but it still isn't my favourite. I still liked in more than Confess though if that helps you understand the train wreck that is this book review. If you have any specific questions, please ask away!

Note from Kristen: I didn't steal the ARC from Kelsey, it's my ARC okay

19 February 2016

Review: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Reviewer: Kayla
Author: Anne Brontë
Pages: 488
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 8/10

Summary (Goodreads. Da real MVP):

Gilbert Markham is deeply intrigued by Helen Graham, a beautiful and secretive young widow who has moved into nearby Wildfell Hall with her young son. He is quick to offer Helen his friendship, but when her reclusive behavior becomes the subject of local gossip and speculation, Gilbert begins to wonder whether his trust in her has been misplaced. It is only when she allows Gilbert to read her diary that the truth is revealed and the shocking details of her past.

Told with great immediacy, combined with wit and irony, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerfully involving read.

My Thoughts:

"First study, then approve; then love. Let your eyes be blind to all external attractions, your ears deaf to all the fascinations of flattery and light discourse"

I read this novel for my seminar class (and I have to do a seminar presentation on it please help me), but overall I actually enjoyed this book, which I was surprised about.

When I first started it, I got the old school, classic Nicholas Sparks vibe - romance, child in the mix, tragic history, something keeping them apart but they end up getting together anyway, death. You know all that good stuff. The storyline was interesting and I was really intrigued at the glimpse of the Victorian era we get through the characters. The writing was beautiful and I seem to like Anne Brontë's style better than Emily's (only having read Wuthering Heights). I found this novel much easier to follow and less dense. While there were some parts of Wuthering Heights that I enjoyed better than Tenant, I overall enjoyed the experience and writing of Tenant better.

To sum up the book, a woman and her child come to Wildfell Hall, which have the neighbouring residents curious and nosy. Our main fellow, Gilbert Markham, is the less sinister of the bunch, and rather than being suspicious and extremely negative toward the newcomer, he comes to fall deeply in love with her. The middle of the novel embodies Helen's story and how she ended up coming to tenancy of Wildfell. We learn about the injustices that have been against her, as well as her selfish, rude, drunk husband Arthur Huntingdon. We learn of her story, digression, and how she stood up for herself and her son and got out of the situation. I'll leave the ending to your imagination -- or for those of you who want to pick this book up, I will not spoil it.

As a feminist, I read this with a feminist lens and critical point of view. Helen was unlike any of the other female characters in the novel. She was stubborn (in a good way) and held firm in her thoughts, opinions, and beliefs among all things including patriarchy, child-bearing, religion, etc. She was the voice of reason for many characters, as well as a woman who did not deserve any of the misfortunes that befell her (unlike Catherine from W.H but that's another review/discussion in itself). I loved the relationships she made with almost all the characters, (except Arthur, I have some disagreements about that one, especially toward the end of the book) and she stayed true to herself throughout the entirety of the novel. Though she had to drastically change herself in order to fulfill the duties of her newfound roles she has been introduced to, her overall demeanour and character did not change, which I truly admired.

Arthur Huntingdon, while we were supposed to despise, I actually liked as an antagonist. He knew just the right buttons to push and the right things to say to set Helen off. I feel like there is more to his character than just an uncaring drunk who imprisoned his wife and child, as though there is something beneath his tough exterior that made him be this way. I wish we would have gotten a sense of his past, from childhood to adolescence, to see what influenced him to become this sort of monster. If reading a multitude of books has proven anything to me about evil people, is that there is always an underlying cause to their torment and acting out. This may just be the psychoanalyst perspective I'm putting into play here, but this could be interesting for my seminar.

From start to finish, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of Gilbert Markham. He seemed innocent enough, but he does do some things that makes me question his character and the goodness in him (aka he almost killed someone out of jealousy like ok relax). He seemed creepily obsessed with Helen and always asked about her and what she was doing, how she was feeling. I can understand that his being in love with her would make these questions rise, but it got exceedingly annoying and borderline stalkerish. Especially the one of the last scenes (aka where he goes to her house and literally stands there watching it but refuses to go inside?). Either way, he was the best option for Helen in the end, giving her the happy ending she's always wanted and deserved.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this book and can appreciate all opinions of it. I know there is a deeper rooted meaning, symbolism, and analysis to this novel that I am going to have to explore. I feel like if I did not have to pay such close attention, make notes, and think about a seminar presentation while reading this book, I would have given it a five stars. That may not be entirely fair, since I know if I read this for pleasure it would have gotten 5/5, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

15 February 2016

Review: Just One Day and Just One Year

I'm going to have a two for one special today on review. Let's take a look at the Just One Day series!

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Gayle Forman
Format: Paperback
Pages: 369 and 336
Ratings for each 
(Just One Day): 8 out of 10
(Just One Year): 8 out of 10

Summary (For Just One Day): Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

The first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved this series. I loved being able to travel (in my mind sadly) back to places that I had been in real life (that Europe trip was totally worth it). It was incredible to see those places again but through somebody else's eyes. I was interested in the idea that a girl who never did anything could strike out on her own and do something wild. I was fascinated by Allyson and the interesting people she met along the way.

I was very passionate about Allyson's mother...as in, I really hated Allyson's mother. I didn't think that a book would be able to make my hate anybody or anything as much as this book did. I didn't think that she had any right to treat her daughter the way she did. I actually swore at her out loud (of course, this drew a lot of attention so I really worked hard to repress the desire). My mom, while reading this series, felt the same way. She used it as a reason why she was a good mother, if that convinces you to read this at all...

I enjoyed the strange characters in the diner and at the school. I think the variety of people in the world was really captured in this story. It made for many interesting scenarios. Also, her grandmother is hilarious. 

I think that I might have enjoyed Just One Year a little bit more. I was already in love with the characters and I was dying to know what happened to Willem. Even when my mom was reading Just One Day she kept asking about him. The audience really needed the second in order to understand how we felt about him. It may have changed your perspective a little bit. It was a great book too. If you read or have read Just One Day, you really need to read Just One Year. It's important to get the whole picture.

Both Just One Day and Just One Year are full of wild adventures and moments that capture your heart. The characters are funny and hold nothing back. You will be happy with Allyson and you will be sad with her too. You will find yourself wanting to do something crazy, to travel the world, to try something new. I already suffered from all of these sad conditions and these books just made it all worse...but a good idea of worse. I mean, if Allyson can do all that she did, you can sign up for that race or say hi to someone new or apply for that job, whatever it was. Maybe I'm making up inspiration where it doesn't exist but I guess you will just have to read the series and find out if I'm crazy or not. 

So, basically, I think that if you like love stories, adventure stories, or stories that you can relate to than you should read this series. You will cheer on the characters and groan at their embarrassing moments but you will want to be right there in the action with them. I related to this series, especially Just One Day, too much. I already want to reread them.

12 February 2016

Review: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Reviewer: Kayla
Author: Lemony Snicket
Pages: 162
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 8/10

Summary (Goodreads. Da real MVP):

Dear Reader,

I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

My Thoughts:

Rereading this series while I eagerly await the Netflix show!

I remember absolutely loving these books as a kid, and these books definitely played a vital role in igniting my love of reading. Having read so many more books since my first time reading this one, it's clear that this is a middle grade novel and not the best piece of literary fiction I've ever come across. But the nostalgia, and honestly the story itself, still had me enjoying every page.

The writing was decent, if I must be honest. I got kind of annoyed with the constant defining of words, but I know, as a middle grade novel, it helps broaden the vocabulary, so while it was kind of redundant to see it as a 21 year old, I remember 12 year old me really appreciating it. Also, there were a lot of small, sarcastic comments throughout the narrative that I caught on to this time around and I actually quite liked.

A lot of what happened in the book I pictured perfectly in my head from the movie, therefore Count Olaf, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny were all, in my head, the actors that played in the 2004 depiction of the books, and that was fine with me since I thought Jim Carrey did great with it and I loved Liam Aiken since his outstanding role as Owen in "Good Boy" (I'm not going to clarify whether that was sarcasm or not). This book was extremely fast paced, and since I watched the movie over 50 times, it was nice to see how the book to movie adaptation stayed true to Lemony Snicket's depiction and what small details they changed for cinematic purposes. All in all, this was not the best book ever, but I still enjoyed it genuinely for its content, and even more so for the nostalgic element. I highly recommend this series for a book lover of any age. Guarantee you will enjoy it nonetheless.

6 February 2016

The Look Book by Simon & Schuster

From the Simon & Schuster CA websiteComplete with new beginnings and the promise of satisfying endings, The Look Book sampler offers the best in fiction from across the Simon & Schuster Canada Spring 2016 list. This array of debut authors and perennial favourites will allow you to step back in time with our historical fiction, time travel with our fantasy writers, fall in love with our inspirational romance, marvel at our literary stylists, and be enthralled by our dark thrillers. 
With chapter excerpts from the following Spring 2016 new releases:
Dark Territory, by Susan Philpott
He Will Be My Ruin, by K.A. Tucker 
Owl and the City of Angels, by Kristi Charish 
Black Apple, by Joan Crate 
Still Mine, by Amy Stuart 
Glory Over Everything, by Kathleen Grissom 
The Rivals of Versailles, by Sally Christie 
Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, by Ann Y.K. Choi 
Nightfall, by Richard B. Wright 
Mannheim Rex, by Rob Pobi 
Umbrella Man, by Peggy Blair

This comes as a free to download e-book, and I think it's a fantastic idea! It's a great way to learn about books you may not have heard of otherwise, and it's basically a catalogue for books. Who else remembers the grade school days? You guys should definitely check this out, S&S have a bunch of great releases this year! 

5 February 2016

Review: The Flood Girls

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Richard Fifield
Pages: 336
Format: ARC - thank you so so much Simon & Schuster Canada! 
My Rating: 9 out of 10

Summary (you da best, Goodreads): This snappy, sassy redemption story set in small-town Montana is “a wild and crazy debut novel by a talented young writer” (Jackie Collins), filled with an uproarious and unforgettable cast of characters you won’t want to leave behind.

Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now.

Rachel Flood has snuck back into town after leaving behind a trail of chaos nine years prior. She’s here to make amends, but nobody wants to hear it, especially her mother, Laverna. But with the help of a local boy named Jake and a little soul-searching, she just might make things right.

In the spirit of Empire Falls and A League of Their Own, with the caustic wit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure, Richard Fifield’s hilarious and heartwarming debut will have you laughing through tears.

My Thoughts: I've literally just finished this novel, and I'm a little scatter-brained because it made me feel all the things, so I'm just going to tell you whatever comes to mind. The gist: I freaking loved this book. So much. It was honest and powerful and funny. It was unexpected and relatable and I can't say good enough things about it.  I've decided that going into books blindly is the best way to go. I honestly didn't know much about this book before I dived in - and I'm so glad that I read it this way. It dealt with some pretty big issues (like alcoholism) in such a smart way, and it really illuminated the lives of everyone in Quinn. A super small town, where everyone knows everyone, and Richard Fifield made me feel like I lived there too. I could totally be a fly on the wall of The Dirty Shame - the bar that one of the main characters own.  

The characters were so rich and, I don't want to be cheesy, but three dimensional, that you felt like you literally knew them. I would absolutely love it if the author did little spin offs of other characters that we are briefly introduced to in The Flood Girls. These characters take on everything. They are so realistic and fascinating that you literally cannot put the book down once you've started it - believe me. I neglected my school readings to finish this because I just could not get the story out of my head. 

That ending, by the way? Yeah. It killed me. I'm writing this from beyond the grave. The wi-fi here is surprisingly fantastic.

Final Thoughts: This book is definitely going to be one of my favourite books of the year. It's a small town populated by bad-ass women who continually took me by surprise. I need you to go pick this bad boy up so I can talk about it with someone! 

Annnnnd, because I read #KickAssWomen, I thought that I should introduce you, Bad-Blood style, to Red Mabel! 

She was one of my favourite characters to read in The Flood Girls! She is definitely bad-ass, and you should get to know her better! Flood girls was a fantastic read, and you should definitely definitely definitely check it out! 

25 January 2016

Review: Mystic City

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Theo Lawrence
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 397
Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary (Goodreads rules): Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud - and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths.

But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place.

Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection - and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city - including herself.

What I Think: This book was given a five out of 10 because it was pretty convenient and predictable. There weren't too many surprises in this one. I figured the plot out almost right away. It was a very basic young adult novel. Hero girl, hero guy. Falling in love. You know how it goes. I would say that it firmly belongs in the YA section due to its ease of reading and language. It was well written but didn't make me think about anything at all. I wasn't considering the schemes or the characters. I didn't have to read deeper into any of the conversations or anything like that.

That said, I thought this novel was a decent one. I enjoyed reading it and there were a lot of cute moments in it. I struggled with my anger over what was happening to this girl and the situation she was in but I didn't relate very well to her. It claims to be a Romeo and Juliette novel but that is a very superficial description since she is forced into that role and it has nothing to do with her choice. So don't pick up this novel because of that description (and don't get me started on how wrong Romeo and Juliette "romances" are, okay, because they are always a disaster...PEOPLE DIED, OKAY?! Sorry...it makes me mad). 

It was interesting enough. It was a fast enough read. It was just unique enough. It was just enough. Not outstanding, not horrible. I enjoyed it and would consider finishing the series but I'm not going to put this on the top of the reread pile. If you really enjoy YA than you will enjoy this book but I can see you it could be too young for many readers.

20 January 2016

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Stephanie Perkins 
Pages: 338
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 7 out of 10 

Summary (you rock my world, Goodreads): Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. 

My Thoughts: So, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a review and I’m not even sure how to start it right now. Awkward. How’ve you been? Good? Glad to hear it.

I read Anna and the French Kiss back when it still had the pastel cover with the people on it, and I absolutely looooved it. That love, my friends, stems from one Etienne St. Clair; the amazing specimen that is the American boy with the British accent and the French name all wrapped up in a very respectable 5 foot 4 frame. He was hilarious, and swoon-y and everything that a girl looks for when choosing a fictional boyfriend. I mean, he makes the list with Peeta Mellark and Prince Eric, need I say more? Now, the reason that I’m talking about this is because I think a lot of the magic of the first book was wrapped up in Etienne. And Paris. Let’s not forget Paris.

Did I like Lola and the Boy Next Door? I did. Did I love Lola and the Boy Next Door? No, I definitely didn’t love it. A lot of my not-loving feelings toward it is because I didn’t click with the characters. I didn’t really understand Lola or why she was acting the way she was half the time (especially with the weird older boyfriend who I hated so much I’ve promptly forgotten his name). But, she was eccentric and herself, and I kind of loved that about her. She was unapologetic (most the time) and wild and very much a teen. I still don’t know how I felt about Cricket. He was just kind of there? I don’t know, there was a lot of pining and a lot of miscommunication and if they would have just talked to each other and sorted things out when they first ran into each other, the novel wouldn’t be necessary. I hate it when that happens. Miscommunication is one of my biggest pet peeves.

The writing was fantastic; it was simple and elegant and easy to follow. I picked this book up and finished it in the same sitting, and immediately dived into Isla, so I clearly like the series. It’s just not my absolute favourite. That place is saved for Etienne.

 Final Thoughts: If you're in the mood for contemporary, look no further. Stephanie Perkins is the queen of contemporary. 
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