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Book Review | Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace by Jessica Bennett

femAuthour:
Jessica Bennett
Format:
ARC; 293 pages
Publication date:
September 13th 2016
Publisher:
Harper Wave
Publisher Social Media:
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

I first heard about Jessica Bennett’s Feminist Fight Club from this quite epic book trailer, where a woman has to “defeat” various scenarios/rounds in a video game. Despite being non-fiction, I found this book to be a witty, entertaining and quick read that can be accessible to even readers who typically do not read non-fiction. This is due to the writing style which is not pretentious or overly preachy. It also helps that there are hilarious illustrations and diagrams that give readers a break between pages of text.

The book itself is divided into six different sections (along with a few other mini sections and a glossary at the back of the book). The six core sections are: Know the Enemy, Know Thyself, Bobby Traps, Get Your Speak On, F You Pay Me, and  WWJD – What Would Josh Do (aka “How to Carry Yourself with the Confidence of a Mediocre Man“). Within each section an issue or scenario/example is presented before being followed by some practical, and useful advice and tips on how to tackle the issue or how to act accordingly.

Regardless of your background, there is something for every young woman to relate to in this book. I personally loved the Know Thyself section in addition to the Get Your Speak On section as there was a great deal of helpful information in those two sections that are applicable to me and my current circumstances. And for those who have the option to negotiate their work but are terrified or unsure of how to start, the F You Pay Me section is a must read. Finally the last section, WWJD – What Would Josh Do is hilarious yet true and genuinely helpful. The back cover of my review copy for Feminist Fight Club describes it as “Lean In for the BuzzFeed generation” which I believe is accurate since the writing and illustrations would definitely appeal to this particular group of 20-30 something year olds. If you’re in need of an empowering read, I would definitely recommend purchasing Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Don’t I Know You? by Marni Jackson

don't knowAuthour:
Marni Jackson
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
September 27th 2016
Publisher:
Flatiron Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Written by Canadian journalist, Marni Jackson’s Don’t I Know You? has an intriguing premise to it. Rose McEwan is an ordinary woman who lives a fairly regular life except for her various random encounters with random celebrities among them, Joni Mitchell, Meryl Streep, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Taylor Swift.

While the first where Rose encounters John Uplike was weird and to be honest, slightly creepy the following chapter with Joni Mitchell made up for it although I hated how passive Rose was. This was generally the tone of the book, a few of the encounters were strange while others were charming and cute. My favorite story in the collection is, probably, Mister Softee where Rose first encounters Leonard Cohen for the first time. I loved that it concerns family and dealing with death, and while it was a simple story it was incredibly poignant. The Reading featuring Meryl Streep and Exfoliation with Gwyneth Kate Paltrow giving Rose a facial in addition to Free Love with Joni Mitchell were all memorable and were close runner-ups. And obviously the final chapter with a featuring a canoe trip that Rose takes with Leonard Cohen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Taylor Swift stood out as the most unrealistic yet charming of all the stories in this whimsical collection.

Being a Canadian myself, I love that the author takes the time to highlight the various sights and sceneries that can be found in Canada. Thus whether intentional or not, it felt as if this collection of stories served as a homage or even a “love letter” to the country itself even if the book wasn’t completely set in Canada. Don’t I Know You? is a book that I’d recommend for those who appreciate short story collections that are slightly unusual yet charming throughout.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

hategameAuthour:
Sally Thorne
Format:
ARC; 372 pages
Publication date:
August 9th 2016
Publisher:
William Morrow
Publisher Social Media:
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
When I first heard about Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, I thought it would be the perfect summer read for me since I do love a good romantic comedy. Furthermore, my contact at Harper thoroughly enjoyed it, describing it as “a romantic comedy movie in a book, think a movie with the likes of Anna Kendrick and Zac Efron”. (By the way I would totally watch that) Anyways, just as she predicted I did end up enjoying The Hating Game.

One of the reasons I enjoyed it was that I could relate to the characters who both work in an office environment in fairly administrative roles. Additionally, if you are a book nerd too, you’d be able to appreciate the fact that Lucy and Josh both work for a large publishing house that was merged from two smaller publisher houses. Coincidentally (or maybe not), the situation reminded me of when quite recently, Penguin and Random House merged and became Penguin Random House. Anyways, there are numerous book and publishing references that I book bloggers and publishing nerds would appreciate.

Another time I found refreshing about this book was the relationship between Lucy and her boss, instead of a stereotypical evil boss Lucy as a boss that truly looks out for her well-being and wants to mentor her. There are, however, numerous stereotypes and the CEO that Josh works for could definitely fall into the “horrible” boss category. That being said, while the story is predictable, the banter between the characters is amusing and the chemistry between Josh and Lucy is definitely hot and steamy. And while Josh made me uncomfortable in the instances where he became jealous as he was kind of terrifying, he does help Lucy stand up for herself and she does bring out the softer side to his personality. All in all The Hating Game is a rollicking ride of a novel that is basically catnip to readers who are fans of the hate “turned to” love trope.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Monday | A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Louise Penny is a former journalist and radio host with the CBC. The authour of the best selling Chief Inspector Gamache series, A Great Reckoning is her 12th book in the Inspector Gamache series. She currently lives with her husband, Michael in a small village south of Montreal.

What is it about? Armand Gamache has finally decided his next steps after retiring as Chief of Homicide division…cleaning up the Sûreté academy known as “the last shit pit in the Sûreté.” However, when the one professor that posed a threat to his mission to “clean up” the academy is found dead, he finds himself the main suspect. Not to mention, with the dead body, a copy of an old, odd map is found the exact same one that Gamache was gifted with on the first day of his new job by his friends in Three Pines. Enlisting the aid of the four young cadets who happen to also be suspects in the professor’s murder may be a risky but necessary move when it comes to this investigation. Along the way more secrets will be revealed including the one involving Gamache and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, one of the cadets and a protégée of the murdered professor.

recokening

Where does it take place? Those familiar with the Inspector Gamache books, will definitely remember Three Pines. Three Pines is a fictional, idyllic village located somewhere in Quebec that has the constant, unfortunate luck of attracting murders. In addition the book is also set in the Sûreté academy.

Why did I like it? It seems like every time I find myself in a summer slump and there’s a new Louise Penny to help me get out of said slump. With the exception of A Long Way Home, Penny manages to surpass her earlier book with each new one being better than the last. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but with every new Louise Penny book I open it fills me with a warm feeling akin to coming home after some time away. I adore the village of Three Pines and all the characters who live there and I relish every opportunity I get to check in and see how they are all doing.

One unique thing about A Great Reckoning is how it explores what comes after for a character who has already held a position of immense power and prestige and has since left that place. It was refreshing to see the author explore this stage of life as we rarely get to see this in books. Another thing I enjoyed was that this book shone a light on the complicated relationship between Gamache and Brebeuf. Since I didn’t start this series from book one thus it was fascinating to see how deep their relationship ran and how Brebeuf’s betrayal affected both men. One of the themes that always rings true in these books are how we are all human, flawed and prone to making mistakes and no one not even Gamache is immune to this. All that being said, my favourite element of this book is the reunion of the “dream team” and I’ll admit that I let out a squeal when it turned out that Gamache and Beauvoir would once again be working together.

Overall, A Great Reckoning featured exquisite writing as always coupled with compelling characters, both new and old in addition to an intriguing setting and case. A Great Reckoning is a definite must read for mystery lovers and fans of Louise Penny.

When did it come out? August 30, 2016

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

mondaysAuthour:
Jessica Brody
Format:
ARC, 346 pages
Publication date:
August 2nd 2016
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’ve an advocate of having a palate cleanser read in between or after reading too much of a certain genre or type of book. Thus, after reading a few books set in and about life in Israel, I felt the immense craving for a fluffy contemporary read. And Jessica Brody’s A Week of Mondays was just what I needed.

Are you guys, familiar with the movie, Groundhog Day? The movie basically concerns a guy who is forced to repeat the same day again and again until he finally gets it right. A Week of Mondays has a similar premise, however in this case its sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks, who after having the worst Monday asks the universe for another chance to get it right. Eventually what starts out as Ellie attempting to prevent her boyfriend from breaking up with her, gradually turns into an opportunity for her to look outside herself and pay attention to the other people in her life.

What I loved with regards to A Week of Mondays was how it showed that everything happens for a reason and that Ellie needed to do the right thing in various different aspects of her life, and not just her love life in order to break the cycle. Additionally being a fan of playlists myself, I appreciated the fact that Ellie had numerous playlists to reflect her moods, and I enjoyed looking up the songs that were on them. Ellie herself is relatable, as is her reaction to having to repeat her Monday again and again. From denial, disbelief to shock and despair it’s just the reaction an ordinary person would have to her situation.

Jessica Brody is back in her element with A Week of Mondays, a feel good YA contemporary novel. A Week of Mondays is the ideal read if you are in need of a lighter read or are having a bad day and need a pick me up since when Ellie finally gets her Monday right it’s truly right and worth it in the end.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Baggage Check by M.J. Pullen

baggageAuthour:
M.J. Pullen
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
July 12th 2016
Publisher:
Thomas Dunne Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Having not read any of the previous books in M.J. Pullen’s the Marriage Pact series, I went into this book with little judgment concerning the protagonist, Rebecca who had tried to “steal” her best friend’s husband, Jake in the first book. And perhaps this was a good thing, as I ended up enjoying Baggage Check more than I probably would have if I had read Marci’s book first.

The premise of Baggage Check is basically what you’d expect it’s mainly light, fluffy and entertaining read, however amidst all that, it also shows how Rebecca has to confront her past demons in order to move on and become truly content in life. What I liked best was how early on in the novel, Marci committed to moving on from her feelings for Jake, her friend’s husband and stuck with it in spite of it being difficult for her. Of all her friends, I personally found Rebecca the most relatable in that there are times when I feel lost and talentless compared to those around me. In addition, I could relate to her younger self running away from her problems at home in Alabama to Georgia after her senior year as I would’ve done the same at her age if I was in her shoes.

All that being said, my favourite element of this book were the blog entries by Marci. Possibly for the reason that I too am I blogger, I enjoyed reading the entries as they gave another perspective to the events of the book and detail what’s happening with the rest of her friends while Rebecca is back in Alabama cleaning up her family’s mess. In the end, while I would have liked to see more of Alex and Rebecca together I felt that Baggage Check was a satisfying conclusion overall as it brought all the characters together in the finale in a realistic manner

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Frenzy Five

2016 marked the fifth year anniversary of Frenzy Presents, a YA preview event of upcoming Fall/Winter titles hosted by HarperCollins that usually took place at their offices.  A big shout to all the wonderful staff at HarperCollins who have once again invited me to attend this event for the third (and I hope not the last) time. As always there were lots of book bloggers, awesome treats, and of course tons of books. Of the titles discussed during the presentation, the following five are the ones that I most looking forward to:

1. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

image

The protagonist, Molly has had many crushes but has never been in love (just like high school me). When her twin sister, Cassie finds love with her new girlfriend Mina, Molly is slightly jealous that her sister gets to experience something she has yet to experienced. Things suddenly get complicated when Cassie and Mina try to set up Molly with Mina’s friend, Will at the same time that Mina finds herself falling for her nerdy co-worker, Reid. The Upside of Unrequited  is probably my most anticipated title of all the titles that were discussed during this year’s Frenzy Presents. I love a good contemporary YA novel and this one sounds right up my alley, too bad I will have to wait until April 11th 2017 to read it, though I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

2. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

3crowns

Okay, normally I don’t do fantasy but this one has me intrigued (and it comes highly recommended by Suman). Three Dark Crowns follows three sisters who are triplets and all have equal claim to the throne. Separated at birth, on their 16th birthday the three sisters will be forced to battle each other (until the death?) with the victor becoming the next queen. Unfortunately of the three sisters, only one of them truly has a handle on their powers…Releasing on  September 20, this is one book that I’m looking forward to audiobook.

3. The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

image

My first introduction to Canadian authour, Lesley Livingston was her Never series, so her latest book has me excited. I’ve always been into ancient history, and this book is set during Ancient Rome where gladiators roamed. Additionally it features a badass female which I just love. For those of you who are fans of Roman history, The Valiant comes out on February 14th 2017.

4. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

1000th

Apparently The Thousandth Floor starts with a character falling off the tower, but readers won’t know who it is until the end. I was fortunate enough to be gifted an ARC at the Indigo YA Fall Preview, and I’m looking forward to starting this at some point. Jessica at The Papertraildiary was the presenter for this title at Frenzy Presents and has told me that the story is REALLY good. For those of you who were not able to get an early copy, fret not as this tale of high stakes, drama, and gossip comes out on August 30!

5. Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

image

On the invitation for Frenzy Presents this year, we were told that there would be two special guests. One was M-E Girard, the authour of Girl Mans Up and the other was Kenneth Oppel who talked about his new book, Every Hidden Thing. Described as “Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones”, the book follows the children of two rivaling paleontologists (whose relationship is based off of the real life rivalry of paleontologists, Cope and Marsh). After falling in love and realizing that their fathers are nuts the two run away and elope before setting off on an adventure to find “the Rex”. This one is out on September 20th.

So, what are you guys looking forward to this coming fall and winter? Comment below with what titles you can’t wait to read.

September Review Schedule

Sept 2016

This summer flew by so fast, and I’m sad to see it go. Thanks to the two receptionists we got during the summer, I was able to take some time off from work. Furthermore, it was nice to have people to hang out with for once since the rest of my team, while they are all nice and cool people they don’t really see me as someone who can “hang” with them on an equal footing.

As always I got to try a lot of awesome foods and explore more of the city. And keeping with tradition, I even got sick during the summer (and somehow managed to get others sick as well?). I also went for a couple of job interviews and even managed to turn a year older. Anyways I’m glad to be back on the blog, and I hope you’ll enjoy these posts. There won’t be any posts next month as its an extremely busy work month for me. However, I will be back again in full force come November. Until then, see you!

***

September 2  Frenzy Five
September 6 Baggage Check by M.J. Pullen
September 8 – A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
September 12 A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
September 13 The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
September 20 – Don’t I Know You? by Marni Jackson
September 22 – Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace by Jessica Bennett

A Summer Hiatus…

Words of Mystery will be going on a break for the summer, but not to worry we will be back in September with all new reviews. I hope you’ll all stay tuned until then, and as always thanks to everyone who takes the time to check out and read this little book blog.

Midweek Mini Reviews #1

I Had a Nice Time And Other Lies…: How to find love & sh*t like that by The Betches

betchesThe co-founders of the Betches website, and authours of, Nice is Just a Place in France: How to Win at Basically Everything are at it once again with their latest book being about dating and relationships. I Had a Nice Time and Other Lies: How to Find Love & Shit Like That is written in their trademark style which is both hilarious yet often rings true. Part satire, and part self-help book I Had a Nice Time and Other Lies: How to Find Love & Shit Like That is perfect for those who don’t take things too seriously. And while I don’t appreciate the subtle jabs that are made towards “book nerds”, I did appreciate the various pop culture references and quotes that are sprinkled throughout the book. After all it made for a more entertaining and amusing read. Overall, I think there is actually a lot of decent advice in I Had a Nice Time and Other Lies: How to Find Love & Shit Like That. And while it may be more tailored towards a millennial audience, I think that the underlying messages of appreciating yourself and only being in a relationship if it adds something “awesome” to your life are messages that are important for those of all ages.

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

9womendress

Recently, I went to my first out of country wedding and as the plane ride would be four hours long I knew I needed to pack some reads for the trip. When it comes to vacations especially if the reason for your trip is a wedding, you can’t go wrong with a light and fluffy contemporary novel. Though the title is slightly misleading (as there are male narrators in addition to the women), Nine Women, One Dress definitely fit the bill as it was a feel good, quick, predictable read with not much substance which was ideal for a summer trip. The book follows various characters who are all connected through a little black dress which was dubbed the “it” dress of the season. To be honest it felt as if there were too many characters crammed into the book, at times it seemed that some chapters and characters did not belong in the novel. Additionally as a result of the large cast, the reader doesn’t get to spend as much time with any of the characters. This is unfortunate as I would’ve much preferred the book to be focused on a smaller cast of characters like perhaps just Arthur, Felicia (his executive assistant), Jeremy, and the Bloomingdale employees. However, in spite of its flaws, Nine Women, One Dress is the book for people who enjoy those romantic comedies ensemble movies or for anybody who wants a summer read that has happy endings all around and leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Top Ten Tuesdays | Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year (in no particular order)

1. The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi; Translated Anthony Berris

beautyqueen

Having read this book as an e-galley, I loved how it portrayal dysfunctional relationships between mother and daughters.

2. The Princeling of Nanjing (Ava Lee #8) by Ian Hamilton

princeling

Action packed and thrilling, this latest installment in the Ava Lee series is a great addition to the series.

3. Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare

lady midnight

Okay I’ll admit that I’ve never been a Cassandra Clare fan so I was surprised that I really enjoy Lady Midnight. I adored the Emma and Julian as well as Mark and Cristina. The prose was gorgeous and the dialogue was witty and hilarious at times. There were also alot of kick butt and swoony scenes. And while I’m terrified as to what will happen in the next book, I definitely will be picking up Lord of Shadows.

4. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

unexpected

I love YA Contemporary as a genre, yet until The Unexpected Everything Morgan Matson’s books have never been my cup of tea. Still, I’m glad I gave The Unexpected Everything  a chance as I LOVED how friendships were portrayed in this book as well as the father daughter relationship in the book, something that we don’t see too much of in YA.

5. Burn by Paula Weston

burn

After like three years, we finally get the answers we’ve been seeking. Often series finales can be a let down, but Burn managed to provide a satisfying conclusion with enough loose ends for a spin off.

6. All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister

singleladies

I’ve been constantly searching for a book that perfectly captures the single person experience and this book did the job. (granted I didn’t actually read it, rather I listened to the audiobook of it) Anyways, I loved how we get to see so many different types of women with varied experiences, and how in the end we find out that someone of them are still single by choice and remain happily so.

7. Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5) by Marissa Meyer

starsabove

Okay this one is a given considering my love for Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series. And yes I will confess that when I finally got a copy of this book (thank you, Christine) I immediately skipped to the epilogue and yes it was soooo worth it (although I do wish we could have seen more a certain couple) however Stars Above had so much more to offer in addition to the epilogue and the short stories that had been previously released as there are a couple of other new short stories. Thus if you’re a fan of the series and were dying for more of your favourite characters after Winter, then this book is a must buy for your personal library!

8. Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen

pens

A collection of some of the illustrations and blog post from the Pen & Palates blog, this book really spoke to me because I could relate to so much of the stories of both girls.

9. When We Collided by Emery Lord

collided

 

I love Emery Lord books, and this one was no exception. Though slightly different from her previous two books, this one is just as poignant and beautiful.

10. Mother, Can You Not? by Kate Siegel

mothercannot

Another book that I audiobooked. This one’s perfect for those of us who are super tight with out moms to the point where others may think the relationships with have with our moms are slightly crazy and dysfunctional.

Book Review | The Name Therapist by Duana Taha

nameAuthour:
Duana Taha
Format:
ARC, 347 pages
Publication date:
April 5th 2016
Publisher:
Random House Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
What’s in a name? According to the authour of The Name Therapist there’s a whole lot. To be honest, I never had any issues with my name growing up, it’s rarely misspelled and almost never mispronounced. In fact I couldn’t imagine having another name. My parents, who were immigrants picked it for the reason that it was simple plus it easily translated from English back to Vietnamese. Still I found Duana Taha’s The Name Therapist to be an intriguing read.

Duana Taha is a self-styled “name therapist” who writes for the gossip blog, Lainey Gossip additionally she also works in Television where she gets to name characters which is basically the dream for a “name nerd” akin to herself. And while I’m not much of a “name nerd”, Duana’s enthusiasm for the subject had me slightly excited about it too. Part memoir, and part social science study throughout The Name Therapist readers are introduced to a bit of history behind certain names and their popularity in addition to how Duana’s love and fascination with names started. My favourite aspect of, The Name Therapist was learning about the various different types of name research and theories exist, including an app that tells you what careers has the greatest amount of people with your name. (In case you’re curious apparently there are numerous people named Lynne that are Interior Decorator/Designers).

Another section that intrigued me what, when the topic of anglicizing your name was brought up, especially if you’re an immigrant with a name that is definitely not a “Western” name. While there was never a need for me to anglicize my name, it made me remember an odd incident back when I was an undergraduate student. Back when I was trying to find a thesis supervisor, I often was required to send emails to professors expressing my interest in working with them. For some reason, I noticed that whenever I signed the email off with my full name which contained a very Vietnamese last name in my email was ignored, however when I signed the email with just my first name I often received replies, and invitations to meet with the professor in person to discuss potential thesis ideas. While it may have just been a coincidence, it struck me as strange at the time and I would be lying if I said it did not bother me. Anyways other than that, I do not believe my name has caused me any problems.

I guess it’s true what Duana writes in her book, there’s always something to be talked about when it comes names and it’s quite entertaining to hear stories behind people’s names. Thus if you are looking for an amusing and a different type of nonfiction read, you should give The Name Therapist a shot. Or if you’re just looking for another perspective on naming your unborn child The Name Therapist is the book for you.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only. <

[Blog Tour] Book Review | Burn by Paula Weston

Burn_BlogTour_600x300

Authour:burn
Paula Weston
Format:
Trade paperback, 448 pages
Publication date:
June 7th 2016
Publisher:
Tundra Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“Where do we fit in the universe? We exist in this world but we’re tied to other, unseen worlds. We are Rephaim, children of the forsaken. What future exists for us if we find the fallen? What future exists for us if we don’t?” – p. 20

When a series you’ve followed faithfully for years, finally concludes it can leave you with a few incredibly mixed feelings. I can’t believe that it’s been three years since the first Rephaim book was released in North America, to be honest it feels much longer. Since Burn is the final book in the Rephaim series, it may be difficult for me to write this review without spoiling elements from the previous book, however I will attempt my best to avoid spoilers that aren’t in the synopsis of the book.

After a quick recap of the series so far, which I appreciated, Burn begins immediately after the events of Shimmer. Gabe’s memories have mysteriously returned to her, and it was a pleasant surprise that she did not revert completely back to her former self. Instead her struggles to reconcile the past year with whom she once came off as both realistic and refreshing.

As a result of her memories returning, Burn initially switches between flashbacks and the present day events. Finally we receive answers to all our burning questions regarding Jude, Gabe and Rafa. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in the reveal of why Gabriella and Rafa “hate” each other as it all came down to personal drama. That being understood, I did feel that Gabe’s extreme reaction was fitting given her personality and pride and that the embarrassment and fear of humiliation by others that she felt was realistic to her character. On the other hand, I appreciate the complexity of the sibling dynamics between Gabe and Jude, and it was satisfying to learn how they ended up the way they did.

I think one of the reasons why the Rephaim series has appealed to me in spite of the fact that I typically do not enjoy fantasy or supernatural fiction is that the series contains numerous elements that can also be found in contemporary fiction. The complex relationships are all there, both familial and romantic on top of well written friendships. Furthermore, I love books with action which Burn definitely does not lack. There are several thrilling twists and turns and the final battle does not disappoint.

Burn as a conclusion to the Rephaim series was extremely satisfying as it tied the major loose ends up while leaving room for further exploration of the world later on. For instance, given the position that Jude finds himself in I would love a spin off that focused on him. Ever since I started the Rephaim series, it has been one of my go-to recommendations for fantasy fans in addition to reluctant contemporary fiction fans who are not that keen on the fantasy genre. And with this conclusion, Burn has cemented the Rephaim series as one of my go-to recommendations for anyone who is looking for an action packed story with multi-layered characters and relationships

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

looseendsAuthour:
Carrie Firestone
Format:
ARC, 346 pages
Publication date:
June 7th 2016
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’ve never been good with dealing with death, the only people I’ve lost (to date) that I knew well enough to miss were my grandmothers and my mother’s brother. And maybe that’s why I found Carrie Firestone’s The Loose Ends List such a soothing and comforting read since its approach to death and dying is such a refreshing change. Having a YA novel tackle it in such a matter of fact manner is both impressive as it’s essential to obtain different perspectives when it comes to a controversial issue like a person choosing to die via physician assisted suicide.

So, what is a loose ends list? As the protagonist, Maddie explains it’s a list of things that you want to accomplish before you move on to either college (similar to Maddie) or even before you are to die (similar to Maddie’s grandmother). In that sense it’s akin to a “bucket list”. This remains a theme throughout the novel that ties up nicely in the novel’s conclusion.

While Maddie is technically the protagonist of The Loose Ends List, it’s her Gram that steals every scene she’s in. I adore the way she just owns who she is and is unapologetic. And without spoiling too much, I must say that she stays true to who she is with no regrets til the very conclusion. To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded it if I had a grandmother similar to her.

Another element of this novel that lead to me picking it up was how travel would be a major factor in the novel as the entire family boards a cruise that takes them around the world. While at times it was riddled with clichéd stereotypes of the various locales as evident in the pages detailing Maddie’s trip to Taiwan, it was at other times enjoyable to witness how being forced to travel together as one gigantic insane family unit impacted each of the individuals.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read for me that had me tearing up enormously by the conclusion. And I appreciated how realistic the novel was at capturing how different ages and personalities come to grips with those who are dying and the (eventual) death of a beloved family member. The Loose Ends List was an unforgettable read concerning endings and new beginnings with extremely flawed characters, however that is what makes them appear more human and as a result, by the conclusion the characters feel as if they are your family too.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | All the Feels by Danika Stone

feelsAuthour:
Danika Stone
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
June 7th 2016
Publisher:
Swoon Reads
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
During the Raincoast TeenReads Spring/Summer Preview, I mentioned that All the Feels was one of the two books from the preview. (The other book was Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn which I reviewed earlier on the blog) While I was too late to obtain a physical ARC for review, I was fortunate that they decided to have e-galleys for this title and thus I was given an e-galley for my review purposes.

All the Feels follows college freshman, Liv who is a fan of the fictional show, Starveil. When her favourite character is killed off, she is devastated and decides to initiate a campaign to “resurrect” him using the skills and resources she has at her disposal which includes her best friend Xander who is an actor. It was interesting that while All the Feels is a story cocnerning fandom and all things geeky, it also manages to touch on several serious topics.

For instance, her depression after seeing her favourite Starveil character killed off though not explicitly stated may also have a connection to the fact that the show was something she and her father used to watch when he was still alive. In fact, it seems that both Liv and her mother are not over his death and it causes dysfunction and tension between the two. Speaking of family dysfunction, I found it tragic how her mother tried to control her one minute and left Liv to the mercy of her Gary (her mom’s boyfriend) who was just plain horrible. Oddly enough the conflict involving Liv and her family is later brushed aside as the fandom aspect of the story takes over. In this sense, maybe the entire plot with Liv and her mother was better off being left out of the story since in the finale the family issues are left unresolved and made as if they were not that significant in the first place.

Other than the few loose ends that were left hanging by the conclusion, All the Feels was basically the book I expected it to be which I adored. The romance is swoony and the fandom aspects, especially the convention scenes were definitely on point. Liv’s first convention experience reminded me of mine, except in my case I didn’t have a “helpful” (and charming) guide to it similar to what she had.

If you are a part of a fandom, and can understand what it’s like to become overly invested, emotionally in it or if you’ve ever found your “people” either in person or online through one of your fandoms then you will definitely be able to relate to Danika Stone’s All the Feels. A friend of mine asked me if All the Feels was anything resembling Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and in a sense, maybe it does since both books focus on fandom culture. However, while I did not particularly adore Fangirl I adored the quirky, and sweet geek fluffiness of All the Feels.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

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