Three More Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter // A Real Contemporary Story at Its Best

Monday, 29 February 2016 0 comments
Three More Words, by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Publication: June 30, 2015, by Atheneum BFYR
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent a harrowing nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes. Her memoir, Three Little Words, captivated audiences everywhere and went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Now Ashley reveals the nuances of life after foster care: College and its assorted hijinks, including meeting “the one.” Marriage, which began with a beautiful wedding on a boat that was almost hijacked (literally) by some biological family members. Having kids—from fostering children and the heartbreak of watching them return to destructive environments, to the miraculous joy of blending biological and adopted offspring.
Whether she’s overcoming self-image issues, responding to calls for her to run for Senate, or dealing with continuing drama from her biological family, Ashley Rhodes-Courter never fails to impress or inspire with her authentic voice and uplifting message.

My Thoughts:

I have only read a few memoirs, and honestly, not everyone could be a master of writing one. Ashley Rhodes-Courter provides a sequel to her first novel/memoir, Three Little Words, and even though I have not read the first book, it is easy to catch up with what I missed—it did not seem much. Everything became so clear to me from the start, and Ashley's story is beautifully written and absolutely heartfelt. Also, it is not like I felt like this was a book, a novel, whatever you would like to call it. This was a true, special story about a woman who encountered so much in her life that changed her and her life greatly, and made her the way she is.

Three More Words is something I cannot precisely summarize. It is a story about someone's life. Of course there are details missing, events that were not perfectly explained like the actual situation. But actually, Ashley went through so much, and here is a snippet of it, from my viewpoint. Ashley actually was a foster child, being put in so many homes and never feeling like something was permanent. In this novel, she writes about the later half of her teenage years and how she became who she was at the moment. She talks about her husband, her children (and the foster ones that came along the way) and what she wants to do to help children in need. It is a powerful motion.

Ashley is such an inspiring woman. I have never known much about the reality of the foster-care system, and from this 320-paged memoir, I have learned so much. Even after knowing a child for a few weeks, people grasp a connection to the little ones who have been abandoned, abused, or unloved, or even all three of those together. It cracks your heart—and knowing that Ashley encountered this and tried to change the way things were for others was beautiful. It is beautiful. We have discovered so much useful information about this woman and what we could do to help. I am not saying that we have to be foster parents. But donating, seeing children like they are all worth it and equal, those are the things that could help readers achieve things little by little. The title of this novel is such an extra touch for readers leaving them thinking about the truth behind it all afterwards.

I love the style of this story. Everything was fast-paced, with the right amount of details for readers to understand and most of all, I was absolutely intrigued. I absolutely recommend this—everyone could find a perfect thing about Ashley's story. She's an incredible writer, and I would go read anything she writes. 

Three More Words is a story, a real life story told from the perspective of a woman who has overcome it all. There are moments where you think about survival, about hardships, about unbelievable things that people have to go through. I need three more words... three hundred even.

What is the best memoir you have read? Do you enjoy reading non-fiction?

The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett // One of My Most Anticipated Reads of 2015

Friday, 26 February 2016 0 comments
The Unquiet, by Mikaela Everett
Publication: September 22, 2015, by Greenwillow Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 464
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Rating: ½

For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.
The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.
An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.

My Thoughts:

The Unquiet has a mediocre, plain cover that does not seem to captivate readers as much as the book actually did. I was extremely captivated with it from the first moment I set my eyes and scanned the summary. Two identical, alternative worlds—Earths. Carbon copies of the same person—leaving readers wondering if they are exactly alike—by lifestyle, looks and so on. There is many things that I wondered before I picked this one up. At the same time, I did not want some roboty, technical dystopian story that is about saving the world. Minus the robots, this is what this was kind of about, but in the end, the realization hit me: What else could this book possibly be about other than a group of teenagers trying to get back home? 

This is not The Wizard of Oz. Mikaela Everett does not create a protagonist who resembles Dorothy, who has encountered a traumatic experience leaving her torn away from the things she loves. She is not encountering friends on the way and evil. Those were lies. This could be compared to something in that sense, but I found so much more depth in this story than a simple fairytale that I fell in love with when I was a kid. This is not a fairytale to fool readers. This is a deep, well-worth-the-while read that will cause people to create theories, to think about parallel universes, destiny, fate, and the decisions that we constantly make. Every time I click a key on the keyboard, I have just made a new decision. Count the amount of characters in this review, those are ____ decisions that I have made. Interesting to think about, no? (I am actually pretty proud of that theory, to be honest. Courtesy to me, my friends!)

Mikaela Everett features that alternate universe idea that I have been mentioning for the past two paragraphs. Lirael, our "Dorothy" in this case, has been training for all of her life. Ever since she has been placed onto this alternate Earth, she has wanted to come back to her actual home. She is orphaned, living in a little cottage in the middle of nowhere, and just wants to kill her duplicate self so she could be reunited with the ones she loves and once knew. Two copies of the same things cannot exist. It/They disappear from one Earth, the other stays on the other. It is the way the "magical" rules work in Everett's mindset here. I adore it.

"Love is what they have. The people of this Earth. Not us. Look how weak it has made them." (41)

The beginning of this whole fiasco was elegant. No seriously, the plot of this began so well and was consistent for a majority of the first portion of the story. I got to know Lirael's story very quickly with just the right amount of detail that I would like from a character. I imagined the house/cottage that she and the others lived in so vividly—the imagery descriptions were on point. I made predictions and theories from the first chapter, honestly. Everything went so well until the middle where I became bored. 

Pacing is extremely important for me when I am enjoying a story. It has to make sense. The ultimate goal for the characters of this book was to get to the other Earth, and that occurred in the midway point of the novel, when I highly believe that it could have occurred in the last bit. Lirael's wishes come true, and then readers are dumped into a mould of slow-paced writing, boring family scenes and nothing. Much. Happening. It's slower than molasses spreading from a spoon to a bowl. Or from the jar to a spoon. You get my simile use, right? 

Thankfully, I connected with Lirael. I liked her attitude—it was positive and she never wanted to take anyone's bad comments and take those seriously. She kicked butt, and I just felt that ultimate reader-character connection that always makes me tingle. After getting to know the other characters, I cannot imagine the book set in anyone else's perspective. She was that perfect cookie-cutter example of a protagonist for a dystopian novel.

The Unquiet was different than every single dystopian YA novel I have ever laid my eyes upon. Its concept is more science-fictiony than futuristic, which made the experience even better. Coming from a genre that is lately a hit or miss for me, I had low expectations, but it turned out to be a rather pleasant story that I definitely recommend. It is even greater when you think about it later (after reading) and discover what the title really means. DEEP PEOPLE. DEPTH.

What is the most unique dystopian novel you have read? Do you like the genre itself? 

Frostfire by Amanda Hocking // Lower Compared to the Others

Thursday, 25 February 2016 2 comments
Frostfire (Kanin Chronicles #1), by Amanda Hocking
Publication: January 6, 2015, by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural
Pages: 321
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.
Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who's determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She's not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.
But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

My Thoughts:

Frostfire is not a book readers come across with often. Amanda Hocking presents an idea that is original, says her name (literally) and has its own flair. Although I was not the biggest fan of it by the end, I must say that it is just what I expected. I probably have found supernatural stories to not be as good as it was before, though this is perfect for those who have read those in the past. This story contains revenge, friendships and dark concepts that only fall in fantasy novels. This was not Hocking's best for me, but I had seen great things about it either way. The cover is stunning, my judgmental skills were going out of control when I realized how good this might be and so on.

This was rather simple. It is a simple story about a simple girl who lives a simple life where there are trackers and guards and kings that walk around the face of the fictional Earth. It may be fictional, unless the amazing Amanda Hocking knows something that we do not about fantasy. Whoa. Things just got more crazier and interesting. *raises eyebrows* This is about trolls, actually. But do not picture hideous Furby-like creatures that walk around with wacky hair colours. The main character, Bryn, is part of a troll tribe... though she actually is not one after all. She wants to protect the Royal Family, and that basically is her main goal of the book, with of course, some outrageous situations in between.

This kind of reminds me of Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass, where the main character there, Celaena Sardothien, was becoming a guard of the Royal Family as well. For a fantasy novel that has battles and magic and that cool stuff, this makes absolute sense. From the moment the cover was released and I found out the title, I could not help but guess what this book would be about. Even though I yawned too many times, this was a beautiful story that I partially have the capability to let go of. Partially. Not yes, not no. I wish I did enjoy it more, though, since I am pretty sure that I will not read the sequel.

I found that I REALLY liked Bryn's character. Hocking always knows how to create and establish a relatable, absurd (in a good way) main character. Bryn knew her troll vocab, taught readers about the world that she lives in, and made less things seem molasses-like (a horrible comparison, I know) and more fast-paced. But something went off. I just cannot discern what it was exactly.

There was an abundant amount of just about all of the factors that could make a novel great, as Amanda Hocking always creates with her writing. I loved the characters, and the idea that stemmed from this story was fabulous. I wish more happened and I wish that I was more intrigued during the time that I read this. I cannot help but continue to shrug until my shoulders break. I just do not know how to compare this to Hocking's other works.

Have you read anything by Amanda? Do you get easily disappointed with boring books as I do?

Waiting on Wednesday #31: Diplomatic Immunity

Wednesday, 24 February 2016 2 comments

Diplomatic Immunity, by Brodi Ashton
Publication: September 6, 2016, by Balzer and Bray
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

A standalone novel about a recent scholarship recipient who sets out to expose debauchery at her exclusive private school in Washington, D.C., only to find herself falling in love with the baddest boy of all.

This looks like fun! I have read a book by Brodi and the past and have somewhat enjoyed it, and the cover of this is absolutely beautiful. Plus, I have never read a book set in Washington, which I always wanted to visit. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS ONE, amongst all of the others newbies of 2016! YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!

Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul // Rich and Powerful

Monday, 22 February 2016 0 comments
Underneath Everything, by Marcy Beller Paul
Publication: October 27, 2015, by Balzer and Bray
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.
But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.

And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.
But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.
Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.

Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.

My Thoughts:

Underneath Everything began with a boom and surely ended with one, too. I kept this book at school, only reading it during my amazing English class when we were required to every morning, but when the weekend arose, I decided I could not wait until Monday to read it again and just finished it in one more sitting. This novel was fabulous, the story was memorable, and I just cannot get enough of everything that the author included in this story to make it intriguing and surprising. Make sure you do take note of the suspense and plot twists that will shove at your face. This one is a wild ride that you cannot figure out until you're basically, like Mattie, underneath everything, essentially.

Like the summary that first caught my eye noted, this one is about an intoxicating/toxic relationship. You cannot pick or point at one of the two. There are points that surround themselves to both ideas. From the start of the novel, readers are torn between a bunch of characters who we do not really expect to make a big comeback in the story. We have Mattie, who is our torn protagonist, definitely going through a bunch of problems and overcoming her demons in the story. Jolene is the rebellious, carefree secondary character who the story really is about, in a way. Mattie cannot discuss her feelings with herself, everything is inward. Readers could not even discuss this because we did not know at all, whether this was the real thing or not.

"There was a story: she said the first line, I said the next. The ending changed, but the beginning was always the same. It was our lullabye." (10)

That quote above made so much sense when Marcy Beller Paul revealed the truth to us in the end. It seemed like she did not even know what would come out of this, and I imagine this great author planning as she wrote. And seriously? Sometimes books should be written like that to stir confusion in readers, but obviously in that good, normal way that will not cause us to rate this one star. There is a difference between quality, in this case. Everything you read in the first few chapters will jump back at you. In a way, this book was written so psychologically that I could admit that I have never dealt with anything similar. Contemporaries lately have broken my heart so many times. I love it. I am seriously addicted to these kinds of books.

Readers could easily feel connected to the characters. Marcy Beller Paul writes from the perfect perspective of a teenager; we are selfish, careless and we never know what we want. Mattie is innocent, but her character really develops towards the end. That is my perfect definition of a teenager—we come of age, we realize what we want and we mature. She switches between her obsessions, being with Hudson, taking new stands in their relationship and figuring out what her friendship with Jolene would eventually turn into. 

Mattie and Hudson were not meant to be. I did not see anything with them other than lust and desire. It is interesting to see later on what their relationship really was for Mattie, what she thought of Hudson and why she made that mistake. This is not your average contemporary story, as you can tell. It certainly was quite more than that, and all of the puzzle pieces fit together afterwards to create a rich and powerful story that only this author can conquer wonderfully.

"Being high makes me superaware of where I end and everything else begins—what separates things. Drawn lines. Soft skin. It's like being inside one of my maps. Everything is contained in its rightful place. Safe." (30)

Underneath Everything contains all of the juicy stuff: secrets, toxic relationships, friendship, mystery and betrayal. Sara Shepard would certainly approve of the plot of this novel and if you are a PLL lover, this is perfect, but much more darker in that sexy way. It is definitely unique and satisfies my tingly jittery feels. 

What are the best dark-friendship novels? What do you think of a friendship in a book that goes in the most unexpected direction? *talks about LGBT*

The Winner's Kiss Blog Tour

Friday, 19 February 2016 0 comments

Hello my gracious friends! I am very excited to be writing my responses for this fabulous blog tour that the amazing people at Raincoast Books and Macmillan have asked me to be a part of! I have adored The Winner's Curse series ever since the first book fell into my hands and the ships are real. Anyways.

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3), by Marie Rutkoski
Publication: March 29, 2016, by Farrar, Straus and Giroux BFYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 352

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Here are the splendid questions that I would love to answer. Before we get started, I'd like to let you all know that they are all about kisses!

What book is your favourite literary kiss in? 

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, definitely. If you know me, I bet you'll definitely know whose side I'm on for Cassie Clare's ship here.

Who is kissing?

Tessa and Will, of course! I cannot help but freak out and go crazy when I see quotes that relate to their romance years after I finished the series.

"He bent down to her; their mouths met again, and the shock of sensation was so strong, so overpowering, that she shut her eyes against it as if she could hide in the darkness. He murmured and gathered her against him."

Why is it your favourite?

To this date, I have always called Tessa and Will my favourite literary couple. Will is the uttermost sexiest fictional male character to ever hit the shelves, and I cannot help but be on his side of the love triangle. (Sorry, Jem). Clare put their relationship in the readers' hands from the beginning and I guess that our hope and fangirling kind of made this relationship rise to another level. I HEART THEM TOGETHER. 

Did I ever talk about the time when I spoiled Clockwork Princess for myself? If you have a special edition version of the novel and have not read it yet, do not look inside the dust jacket. DO NOT.

Bonus Question: what kiss do you hope will occur in Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Kiss?

I do not even know what to expect! Arin and Kestrel have to have that life-changing, *fans go crazy* kiss that I will beg for. It's the final book (sadly) and I need a change and climax in their relationship! They are perfect for each other, honestly. *blushes*

Look at this amazing opportunity! I wish I could be able to send a copy of the amazing first novel of this story to everyone! Thanks to the publishers, I am able to nominate my friend Victoria to get a copy of The Winner's Curse! Thank you so much Macmillan/Raincoast! *sends kisses*

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wondersand The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat.

Have you read the books of this series? Are you excited for The Winner's Kiss as I am?



Thursday, 18 February 2016 4 comments
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews where us bookies
share our latest haul and additions to our shelves!

This Week's Headlines:

So it's obviously not the weekend, and I know it's Thursday, but who says that Stacking the Shelves is meant to only fall on Sundays? It's a beautiful time of the year! I am heading on vacation in seventeen days (to Mexico!) where I feel like I need a break. My second semester has started off toughly, and I need that me-time. (But that doesn't mean that I will not get schoolwork to take with me for the days I miss in between March Break. Egh.)

This is a HUGE haul since I haven't done one in a while. I am excited to share it with you all because (SO MANY ARE ARCS) I am obsessed with them all. Shall we begin? We certainly shall.

My Book Haul:

LOOK AT THIS. Before I get started, I would like to give a huge thank you to the following publishers for their review considerations (for some of the books of course): Simon and Schuster Canada, Raincoast Books, HarperTeen Canada, Merit Press, St. Martin's Press, Penguin Random House Canada and Hachette Canada! I LOVE YOU GUYS.

Let's narrow it down from here. Simon and Schuster have been amazing and sent me: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn and The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian. They certainly look pleasing.

HarperTeen sent me Dreamology by Lucy Keating! I have been anticipating it for a long time and the cover is seriously stunning.

As for Raincoast Books, I was sent The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah and This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart. THEY LOOK FABULOUS and contain a mix of everything I have anticipated.

St. Martin's Press came along with The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo, an adult historical romance that will hit the heart like all of the WWII ones I've read.

Penguin Random House were so sweet with Red Star Tattoo by Sonja Larsen and The City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong! HARDCOVERS TOO!

Merit Press ALWAYS REMEMBERS ME! *giggles* The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright made my day when I found it in the mail last month.

Here are the ones I purchased myself: Return to Me and The Academié.


Waiting on Wednesday #30: Unrivaled

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 0 comments

Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1), by Alyson Noël
Publication: May 10, 2016, by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432

Everyone wants to be someone.
Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.
She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.
That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.
Unrivaled is #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s first book in a thrilling suspense trilogy about how our most desperate dreams can become our darkest nightmares.

Alyson Noël is about to hit it again. She is one of my favourite authors whose books have been a part of my life ever since I got into YA fiction. I practically read them all, AND I NEEDED A REVIVAL. I need another repeat, some graciousness to come into my life. This cover is so gorgeous and to the point, I am gearing myself up for a drama-filled read, that's for sure.

What are you anticipating the most this week? Have you read/enjoyed novels by Alyson?