Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally // HOLY MOLY.

Friday, 16 February 2018 0 comments
Coming Up for Air (Hundred Oaks), by Miranda Kenneally
Publication: July 4, 2017, by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?

My Thoughts:

I have really, really avoided writing this review. Why, you may ask? Why be so lazy? *giggles* Because I didn't want to let this series go. Miranda Kenneally's Thousand Oaks series has been with me since the start - the start of my obsession with reading and all things YA fiction. Coming Up For Air was just as good as the others in this series, and I am so obsessed with it. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for the author's writing and what is yet to come! 

I feel that this series HAD to end because Kenneally ran out of sports to write about — we have been through them all: soccer, football, baseball, running, swimming, you name it! Haha - but in an honest sense, I must say that what I loved most about this book was the fact that romance was incorporated in a realistic way. Maggie and Levi had the most passionate relationship ever (!! seriously!), and I cannot get them out of my head. 

This could’ve been bad—real bad. You see, I’m used to a lot of those cheesy fluffy contemporaries with a lot of unrealism in them. I could spend hours naming them all, but I’d rather not since contemporary is probably my favourite genre. 

I feel like books in this genre could either go one way or the other. The characters in this one seemed more mature and relatable than the others of the author, and that surely shone a light onto this all, just like a little topping or sprinkle of something onto your ice cream sundae. Like really, it was the magical touch and new-thing to this series. It was what we needed to get this to a whole other level. 

Buy, loan, grab, steal (just kidding) this book IMMEDIATELY. I promise you will adore it, and if you (somehow) don't, I'll kindly (or forcefully) ask you to pick up the first books of the series and devour them. There is literally no way that you will not find this book enjoyable. Now, go ahead and go for it!

What was the best final book of a series you recently read?

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch // AGH. I'm in Love!

Sunday, 4 February 2018 0 comments
Love and Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch
Publication: May 3, 2016, by Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 389
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

My Thoughts:

It is rare for me to be in love with a book, especially during my current tough reading slump. I find that it is quite difficult to find enjoyable books that are different than the rest and contain the most important thing I look for in a book: a plot that is in no way boring. However, Love and Gelato by the AH-MAZING Jenna Evans Welch shocked me and showed me that there is hope in this world to find good books. I loved the setting of Florence, Italy, and the romantic interest, Ren. Those are just two of the mini captivating points that I am still currently obsessed with.

Even though I closed this book back in August 2017, I feel as if I just finished it. Ren and Lina's story seems to be living in my head for an extra long period of time, longer than what I averagely deal with. This is not a story that is just about the romance, hence the title. Jenna Evans Welch creates Lina's persona as one that is struggling to find the truth about her roots and who she actually is. She has little to no knowledge about her father, and what Italy really means to her. However, as she has the best summer of her life (I am still envious to this day about what she experienced, agh) the secrets begin to flood out and we as readers begin to strive to want to find out THE TRUTH. And, to not burst your bubble or anything, the truth is not leaked until THE END. But not the last page - so don't be one of those sneaky people and scan the last page for spoilers. It won't get you anywhere. *winks*

This is one of those books that is perfect for you to read on a day at the beach, a day by the pool, or on a day where you can see twenty feet of snow outside of your window. It will develop so much wanderlust in you, and you will want to email the publisher like a maniac, asking them to show you the author's next novel. TRUST ME, I've tried. (Just kidding!) But I guess that this is a sign that you. Will. Be. Incredibly. Addicted.

Lina was the most kick-butt contemporary-romance protagonist I have read about in a looong time. I loved that she was skeptical of her surroundings and what she was being told by her father. She wasn't naive, WHICH, for chick-lit books, is a trait quite easy to find in narrators. And the best thing was that she had the most amazing connection with Ren. *heart eyes* REN IS MY BOO. MY LOVE. I'd really appreciate it if Lina passed him over to me!

Love and Gelato is my love. And right now, I could really use a cup of gelato (preferably cinnamon flavoured) to make my day complete. AND ALSO, if I booked a trip to Italy, I wouldn't ~want~ anything else. GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW. If you're seeking a 'best book of the year,' this is it!

What are some other YA books set in Italy?

Nice Girls Endure by Chris Struyk-Bonn // Short, Mediocre Read

Saturday, 3 February 2018 0 comments
Nice Girls Endure, by Chris Struyk-Bonn
Publication: August 1, 2016, by Switch Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

Chelsea Duvay is so many things.

She's an avid musical lover, she s a gifted singer, and she has the most perfect, beautiful feet. But no one ever notices that. All they notice is Chelsea s weight. Daily, Chelsea endures endless comments about her appearance from well-meaning adults and cruel classmates. So she keeps to herself and just tries to make it through.

Don't make waves. Don't draw attention. That's how life is for Chelsea until a special class project pushes the energetic and incessantly social Melody into Chelsea's world. As their unlikely friendship grows, Chelsea emerges from her isolated existence, and she begins to find the confidence to enjoy life.

But bullies are bullies, and they remain as vicious as ever. One terrible encounter threatens to destroy everything Chelsea has worked so hard to achieve. Readers will be captivated by Chelsea s journey as she discovers the courage to declare her own beauty and self-worth, no matter what others might think.

My Thoughts:

I originally picked up Nice Girls Endure because I was seeking a nice, quick read that would (possibly?) steer me away from my treacherous reading slump. I'm not sure if it had the power to steer me away from this slump, but, I may say that for the first half of the novel, it was enjoyable and quite interesting. Chris Struyk-Bonn used her unique writing style to combat a subject that many Young Adult Fiction novels lack of: insecurity involving weight. I loved the protagonist, Chelsea, who had a strong voice, but, sadly, this deserves a three-star-rating due to how suddenly the book became uninteresting and to put it easily: lacking.

This was about Chelsea, our 'heroine' who constantly got bullied at school due to her weight. She has no friends, and when she tries to make some, things end up terrible and wrong. However, when she meets Melody, her life turns around and Chelsea begins to see signs of positivity. Of optimism. What this book mostly focuses is on is Chelsea's journey to positivity and happiness. There's nothing incredibly special that happens, which is quite saddening because isn't a book supposed to be entertaining and vivid? This sure wasn't.

I had high hopes because it's a story I grabbed at BEA and was so captivated to pick it up. I couldn't wait to dive into the story and enjoy. But, looking back, it was a story that didn't take me anywhere.

If you just want a story to see some kind of character development and strengthening, pick this one up. If you're seeking entertainment, look elsewhere. That's the best way to put this book. Hmmph. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What are some other YA books that look at the subject of weight?

The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash by Candace Ganger // My Second DNF in a Row :(

Friday, 2 February 2018 0 comments
The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash, by Candace Ganger
Publication: July 25, 2017, by St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Rating: ½

Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.
Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

My Thoughts: 

 DNF @ 50(?) pages

Another DNF - here we go again. I have been DNFing so many books lately, and I cannot really understand why. Why must all of the negative-emotion-inducing books be coming straight at me? I AM A BOOK LOVER WILLING TO GIVE HUGS TO ALL THE BOOKS IN THE WORLD. However, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash gave me no interest. To me, the fifty pages I only read were about rebellious teenagers trying to 'hit it off,' and start a cheesy romantic relationship. That's it - that's all I can recall. Perhaps others have a different opinion of this book, but for the boring 50 first pages I read, that's my experience.

If you're like me and have a difficult time 'getting into books,' this will certainly not be enjoyable. Go find something more worthwhile to read. 

We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards // Did This Just Bring Me Into a Reading Slump?

Thursday, 1 February 2018 0 comments
We All Fall Down, by Natalie D. Richards
Publication: October 3, 2017, by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Theo's always been impulsive. But telling Paige how he feels? He's obsessed over that decision. And it's time. Tonight. At the party on the riverbank, under the old walking bridge, site of so many tales of love and death.
Paige has had a crush on Theo since they first met, but she knows her feelings are one-sided. She's trying to move on, to flirt. A party at the river is just what she needs. Except a fight breaks out, and when Paige tries to intervene--Theo's fist lands in her face.
All Theo and Paige want to do is forget that fateful night. But strange events keep drawing them back to the bridge. Someone, something is determined to make them remember...and pay for what they each did.

My Thoughts: 

 DNF @ 150(?) pages

We All Fall Down was a read I couldn't wait to pick up and devour for its mystery premise and for the fact that Natalie D. Richards wrote it. I really enjoy her writing, so I figured that this would be just enjoyable. HOWEVER. This wasn't really enjoyable, to be quite honest. I DNFed it midway, not knowing if I would eventually pick it up. I left it sitting on my nightstand for a month, until I realized that I had no plans to pick it up ever again. This was definitely one of the worst books I read in 2017. It was just too boring, too plain, and superficial.

I am not the only one, which can be seen from the book's Goodreads ratings. Many people are also putting this one down, feeling that its plot and premise is a little too "tween" and not thrilling or interesting. This book was not different or anything new. I bet that my thirteen-year-old self would have adored this story and everything that came with it, however, today, this doesn't fit my standards. 

What is it about? Damaged characters and a weird mystery. That's all I can recall; I haven't thought about this book in a long time and felt really icky to even write this review. I previously found myself really enjoying Richards' work, however, I am now skeptical and feel as if I will gain the same experience every time I pick up one of her books. Eek. *shrugs*

This is a book that I believe has drastically thrown me into a reading slump. I truly wish I enjoyed it more, as it seemed impressive at first glance. Read some adult mysteries or thrillers instead.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is the latest book you DNFed? Do you ever experience reading slumps?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald // A Lovely American Classic

Friday, 19 January 2018 0 comments
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publication: May 27, 2003, by Scribner
Genre: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 184
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach. Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing, and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby---young, handsome, and fabulously rich---always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

My Thoughts:

The Great Gatsby has been on my to-read list on Goodreads for years. YEARS. I bet that I first added it when I opened my account... when I turned thirteen. I always had that fantasy that I would read the BEST books in high school, so I waited until this past semester of school where I discovered that I would be reading it. F. Scott Fitzgerald has created a literal masterpiece that I recommend TO EVERYONE. If you want to see beauty in terms of greed, corruption, forbidden love, and the famous American Dream. This is a quick read, however, the amount of events that occur in between the lines ARE IMMENSE. 

This is the kind of book that hooks you midway. It's not something that you'll start adoring as you begin reading, or even after two chapters. Gatsby's story develops very slowly, like a metamorphosis (do you see my attempt to sound lyrical over there?). And after I watched the movie with Leo DiCaprio, I felt a greater connection to the novel as all became clear and I was truly able to appreciate the era in which it was written... an era I would love to travel back in time to: the Roaring Twenties. I would want to see what it was like to be a flapper, to attend extravagant parties with jazz music playing in the background... all of that. Since I cannot gain that experience, Fitzgerald did that for me; he created a gorgeous experience and setting for all readers.

The setting of the story is what continues to draw me in to this day. New York City is the most important from them all; even though it appears to be so luxurious and full of glitz and glamour, it is really corrupt. It's where crime and bootlegging happened... where some of the characters took their positions out of hand, where infidelity occurred. Then, we also had a division in Long Island, between West Egg and East Egg. Although both parts of the island contained individuals who you may describe as "filthy rich," they were practically polar opposites. West Egg contained the "new rich," including Gatsby and Nick Carraway, our novel's protagonist. The East Egg, on the other hand, contained the "old rich," those who are careless and didn't have to work for their money. This was made up of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, major characters of the novel. 

AGH. There are many things I would do to receive some sort of sequel for this novel. It is a pure American classic that highlights the fact that money doesn't buy happiness; that humans are always striving for something more. And, in a way, this is a corrupt love story.


The Great Gatsby is a novel every human being must pick up at some point in their lives. Whether you're a teenager, or a middle-aged person, this book will formulate some kind of emotion in your heart. You'll get easily attached to Gatsby's world, and the rest will be history. You'll be talking about this gorgeous piece of literature for ages.

Have you read TGG? What is your impression of it?

Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje // A Very Confusing Story

Thursday, 18 January 2018 0 comments
Running in the Family, by Michael Ondaatje
Publication: November 30, 1993, by Vintage
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Contemporary
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed

In the late 1970s Ondaatje returned to his native island of Sri Lanka. As he records his journey through the drug-like heat and intoxicating fragrances of that "pendant off the ear of India, " Ondaatje simultaneously retraces the baroque mythology of his Dutch-Ceylonese family. An inspired travel narrative and family memoir by an exceptional writer.

My Thoughts: 

I guess me admitting to you that this was a book I read for school is what helps you see WHY I didn't really enjoy Running in the Family. I had high hopes for the story, even though most of my friends who previously read the book hated on it, however, I was equally disappointed as they were. This was one of the most random and confusing stories I have ever read. I totally get that it is a memoir, and the random-ness of the writing style Ondaatje promotes is meaningful and metaphorical (in a way), however, I did not enjoy it. I am writing this review to obviously tell you if I recommend this or not, and even though I was forced to read it for school so I could analyze the author's purpose, I am trying to tell you to steer away unless you enjoy analyzing every bit of a novel for no good reason. 

This book is... not necessarily about the author's life. It's more about everything that has to do with his life. His family, where he was born, his family's issues, things that run in the family... all of the things that aren't specifically about Michael. What was most interesting is that Ondaatje went from one time period to another so frequently that I was just left confused. The chapters are relatively short, separated into sections that have titles that are supposed to have some kind of metaphorical meaning. I couldn't see it, whoops. There were poems scattered all over the place about feminism, life in Ceylon (which is now Sri Lanka), and weird stories about Ondaatje's family that will put a smile on your face before you realize that... it's just weird.

So that is what I got out of this book when I read it for the first time, without going online and reading sources about what others think. However, when I began making notes about this book, I began to see that IF the metaphorical meanings are true, they are beautiful and somehow related to Michael's story. These metaphorical meanings helped me enjoy the book, even though they could truly be based on someone's opinion. Readers will never fully understand why an author wrote a novel or article or... whatever it may be.

Running in the Family may be your kind of book if you're some English genius who is the best at analyzing novels and diving deep into them. I am no English major genius, so this was a weird experience for me. If this were written in a normal, chronological order, there definitely would have been some kind of potential for it to be enjoyable.

What are some books that need to be analyzed in order for one to enjoy reading it?

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke BLOG TOUR // Read This Quirky Story!

Thursday, 11 January 2018 4 comments
Nice Try, Jane Sinner, by Lianne Oelke
Publication: January 9, 2018, by Clarion Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: ARC 
Source: Publisher

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.
Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don't know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she'll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.
As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She'll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

 My Thoughts:

Nice Try, Jane Sinner can be best explained by labelling it as refreshing. It is different, more alluring than most books I've been reading these days. For one, we FINALLY have a college student YA protagonist. Normally, protagonists in New Adult novels are college students (or a little older), but the fact that this fits in the YA genre is lovely. Since the first time I learned about this story through an event Lianne Oelke, the author, attended, I was hooked to read this book. Reality shows, drama, and college life are what hooked me in, and let's just say that those were the aspects that sticked with me even after I finished reading this. 

I actually don't think I've ever read a book about a reality show. Make sure to prepare yourself for a realistic, contemporary experience that is the complete opposite of your typical Laguna Beach/90210 story. Oelke beautifully accompanied her writing with humour that actually made me laugh out loud. (I normally laugh in my head when viewing bookish humour, to be honest.)

Now - time for the flaws and cons. Before I get started, please note that I definitely recommend this book. Just because the writing style didn't work for me, does not mean that it will ruin your experience! I found it quite difficult to equally enjoy the different formats in which the book was written. There were text messages, conversations and short-term names that bored me. The story also felt really unnecessarily long, which I am ALWAYS picky about. It took me a long time to start to connect to the characters, which was a major flaw.

HOWEVER. I did enjoy this story nevertheless, and found that the best part was our protagonist, Jane Sinner. House of Orange, the reality show she is part of, allows readers to see how cameras and pressure can manipulate a person and help others see how they are. This was great.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is a read you must devour if you are looking to meddle away from your typical YA contemporaries. I hope more books like this will be published... with, of course, faster pacing and a plot that intrigues me earlier.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thanks so much!*



Q: Would you want to be in a reality show? If you do, what kind of show would be your dream one?

A: There’s a reality show on the History channel called ALONE, where contestants are dropped off in the middle of the wilderness on Vancouver Island. Not only do they have to survive on their own for months (build shelter, fish, hunt, forage, hope a cougar doesn’t eat them), each contestant has to film themselves, as there’s no crew around. Some of the contestants spend months out there, trying to be the last person standing. I really enjoy camping, so I would love to be tough and skilled enough to take it to the next level– and maybe I’d last a day or two on ALONE– but more likely, I’d be radioing for help as soon as the sun went down. There is nothing more terrifying than glowing eyes in the dark. Also I’d have a hard time committing to months away from home because I’d miss my cat too much.