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Words of Mystery

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

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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.

Book Review | The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

unexpectedAuthour:
Morgan Matson
Format:
ARC, 519 pages
Publication date:
June 2nd 2016
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
To be honest, I feel as if I’m one of the rare few that am not obsessed with SYBG that coupled with the length of The Unexpected Everything made me reluctant to pick it up. However, after reading a gushing review of The Unexpected Everything from Tiff at Mostly YA Lit I started reconsidering my decision to pick up the latest Morgan Matson book.

Andie is a girl who is used to being in control and planning out everything, however as the title hints, things don’t go according to her plans for the summer. Instead, in The Unexpected Everything she is forced to re-evaluate how she’s always lived her life which leads to numerous changes that “unexpectedly” cause her to realize who she truly is and what she’s always wanted.

What I adored in The Unexpected Everything is the portrayal of friendships, especially female friendships in this book. My favourite aspect of this novel were the scenes that featured Andie and her friends either hanging out or texting each other. And while there is some drama in the novel, I appreciated how it was handled in an authentic manner, even if it means no simple happy ending. Another thing I loved with regards to The Unexpected Everything is the father-daughter relationship which we don’t see that often in YA novels. The entire portrayal felt extremely true to life, as both are initially awkward around each other, and unclear as to what their roles are since Andie’s father has been mostly occupied with his work as a congressman. However, slowly they are able to reach a compromise and I appreciated how Andie’s father allowed her to negotiate with him as a way to continue to provide her with some freedom.

All that being said, I wasn’t too fond of the romance in The Unexpected Everything. Although, I will admit that Clark had his adorable moments and I did delight in seeing how he helped Andie slowly get out of her comfort zone. Also I’m always up for a good bromance, and loved that he and Tom (the boyfriend of one of Andie’s best friends) bonded over shared interests and the fact that Clark is one of Tom’s favourite authours.

Overall, The Unexpected Everything is a book that I highly recommend to anyone in need of an excellent summer read. In fact, it has left me wanting more from Morgan Matson. In fact, given how her story concluded, I would love a novel with Toby as the protagonist, as I would love for her to have her’ own happy ending and finally find the “cure” to her “curse”.

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

June Review Schedule

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So its finally caught up to me. After weeks of stress and craziness at work, I finally got sick and was forced to take not one but two days off from work. Not the ideal situation and I definitely feel guilty about letting down my team but my health needs to come first so hopefully they’ll understand. Fortunately I was well enough to attend a trivia event and be part of the sole book blogger team.

In other news, earlier last month I went to the Raincoast YA Fall Preview event in Toronto and you can read my recap of the event here. I also finally checked off something from my bucket list when I did an Escape Room with my coworkers from work. It was super fun, and hilarious to see how everyone was outside of work. Unfortunately we ended up staying out way too late which was not good as the preview was the day after and it it wasn’t for one of my coworkers who generously went out of her way to drive me who knows when I would have made it back home. So in the unlikelihood that you’re reading this, words cannot express how grateful I am to you.

Fun fact originally I wasn’t going to post a lot in June, but somehow I ended up scheduling more than usual so I hope you guys enjoy my reviews this month. (Also stay tuned as I may add more posts for June)

***

June 2 – The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
June 7 All the Feels by Danika Stone
June 9The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone
June 14 – Burn by Paula Weston
June 16 The Name Therapist by Duana Taha
June 28 – Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases (so far)
June 29Midweek Mini Book Reviews #1

Book Review | Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen

pensAuthour:
Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen
Format:
ARC, 287 pages
Publication date:
May 31st 2016
Publisher:
Grand Central Life & Style
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
For those of you who aren’t aware, “Words of Mystery” is in reality currently compose of two of us. Though she is less involved now, my best friend from high school was instrumental when I first took over this blog as she often provided a second opinion on posts and assisted with some of the design of the blog. And perhaps that was why I enjoyed Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen since I could relate to a majority of it.

Pen & Palate started off as a (still running) food blog run by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen who have been best friends since high school. Lucy is a New York based writer and journalist and Tram is an illustrator and costume designer who lives in Chicago. Both women contribute blog posts consisting of personal essays and recipe while Tram provides the lovely illustrations that go along with each of the post. While I was aware of the blog before this book, I’m glad that I got to discover their blog through this book.

An entertaining element with regards to Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes is how the book is structured as chapters that alternate between Lucy and Tram. As a result, we see various events from both their perspective which serves to illustrate that occasionally the grass may seem greener on other side however isn’t quite true. When it comes to your friends, the majority of them who seem as if they have things figured out probably are in a similar boat as you. Additionally, I enjoyed was how I can relate to numerous things that Tram mentions in her chapters, since also being of Vietnamese descent several instances of what she described appear as if they could have come from my life too. It’s always wonderful to read writing from people who come from a similar cultural background as you, especially as there are not that many Vietnamese writers out there.

Anyways, Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes is the perfect book for those who love food and who are in the so-called “emerging adulthood” stage of their life. I loved how it perfectly captures how female friendships evolve as people grow and perhaps embark on different paths.

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

TeensRead Fall 2016 Preview

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It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to attend a publisher event, and I was really looking forward to seeing everyone again. What I didn’t account for was my work team having an outing the day before and me not getting home until 1:30 AM on the day of the preview. Needless to say I was extremely tired, but still excited to get to the event.

For those of us in Toronto, we had our own event at Deer Park Library where we all sat together and watched a live stream via Google Hangouts of the actual event that was taking place in Vancouver. While the event in Vancouver was hosted by Melissa from Raincoast Books, (with special guest, Eileen Cook, who wrote With Malice) the Toronto event was hosted by Jenn (aka @lostingreatbook) and Jenny from Ampersand Inc. who provided us with lots of yummy treats and a swag bag.

Photo credit: @ShilpaRaikar
Photo credit: @ShilpaRaikar

Despite some technical issues that made it difficult to hear the stream, it was still a yummy snack filled and fun event as we rarely get to see so many book bloggers gathered together in one room.

Of the countless fall titles that were previewed at the event I thought I’d highlight six that I’m eagerly anticipating. Interesting fact, Raincoast announced at the preview that they will now be distributing Bloomsbury titles starting August which has me super excited as some of my favourite YA titles are from them (like Emery Lord’s books) Anyways, in no particular order, they are:

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

vassa

A modern adaptation of the Russian fairy tale, “Vasilisa the Beautiful“, but set in the kingdom of Brooklyn. Vassa lives with her stepmother and stepsisters in a working class neighbourhood where there is dark magic lurking about. So when she is sent to get light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission. Fortunately she has help from Erg, a tough wooden doll with sticky fingers, and together the two may finally be able to break the witch’s curse. Also if that doesn’t intrigued you, I should mention that it’s also blurbed by Leigh Bardugo!

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crooked kingdom

Speaking of which, in case you don’t already know I adored Six of Crows and the sequel is definitely high of my most anticipated fall releases. While the synopsis has me slightly worried for the characters I love so much, I’m still incredibly curious as to what will become of them also I’m intrigued because I heard that Crooked Kingdom will focus on cons more than heists. And of course I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of my beloved ships.

Other-Wordly written by Yee-Lum Mak and illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley

other word

One of the posters included in the swag bag featured illustrations from this book which are gorgeous! I love languages and learning new words, and that paired with such beautiful illustrations makes this one a must pick up!

 This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

adventure

 I received an ARC of this title in my swag bag, in fact many of the other book bloggers in attendance also received an ARC. To be honest the synopsis didn’t appeal to me, but I was in the mood for a contemporary novel and I had a long commute home so I decided to give it a try. And to my surprise I found that I enjoyed (and am still enjoying it immensely). Sloane has just moved from New York to Florida, and unexpectedly she gets involved with twins Vera, a social media star and her brother Gabe. I’m still reading it at the moment but I have to say I am really enjoying the portrayals of complex relationships, both familial and friendships. This is definitely one YA contemporary read you’ll want to be on the lookout for.

We are all Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

We are all Tornadoes

Another contemporary YA novel, this one is set in the 1980s and is a series of letters back and forth between two characters who are best friends. I’m looking forward to a coming of age story and I’m hoping that there will be a bit of romance in it too! This one was a title that the Raincoast staff recommended for those who are fans of Rainbow Rowell.

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

ever

Ever the Hunted has been on my radar for quite some time now, in fact I already tried requesting it on Netgalley so here’s to hoping I am able to get approved. The synopsis promises murder, magic, and dangerous quests as well as a kick butt heroine so I’m definitely game.

So, how about you guys? Any of these titles appeal to you? What are some fall titles that you guys are anticipating?

Book Review | How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom & Pier Bryden

howhelpAuthour:
David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden
Format:
ARC, 367 pages
Publication date:
February 23rd 2016
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
You are not alone. These words are something we take for granted and it’s only when mental illness hits close to home and we reach out that we realize how true these words ring. Mental illness has touched my life in several ways, I’ve had friends and sibling of friends suffer from depression, bipolar illness and schizophrenia. My brother tried to kill himself multiple times in his first and second year of university and both my sister and I have suffered from severe anxiety in the past. Furthermore, with my educational background in psychology, mental illness has always been a topic of interest for me.

I’m sure that the majority of people may already be aware of statistics shows that 1 in 5 Canadians deal with mental illness each year, mental illness is quite commonplace. Today, I feel that people are more open to sharing their experiences with mental illness with others. However, as seen in Dr. David Goldbloom’s How Can I Help? we still have a long way to go when it comes to reducing the stigma associated with mental illness in addition to how it’s dealt with in our society.

What I appreciated with regards to How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden are how the book is written in an entertaining and accessible manner. The other thing is how the book is structured to illustrate a week in the life of a psychiatrist. There are numerous misconceptions concerning what psychiatrists do, it’s enlightening to hear from an actual psychiatrist what their job essentially entails.

As a result of the book’s structure we get a glimpse at the various types of patients that require psychiatric assistance. Furthermore, I liked how we catch glimpses of Dr. Goldbloom’s life outside work and his background in addition to brief social, historical and cultural background on psychiatry practices and research. Psychiatrists and other doctors are people too, and I appreciated how the book acknowledges that they are not invulnerable to biases and human emotions.

There is much that I can say regarding mental illness and this book, however in order to keep this review brief I will that I believe this book is one that every person should read. After all, in a society where stigma remains when it comes to mental illness, it is vital that we all take the time to educate ourselves so that we can not only support those in our lives who are suffering from mental illness, but also take care of our own mental health.

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 Society by Jodie Andrefski

thesocietyAuthour:
Jodie Andrefski
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
May 3rd 2016
Publisher:
Entangled Teen
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I love a thrilling revenge story, however Jodie Andrefski’s The Society was much more than a revenge story. In fact, if I were to be honest the “revenge” aspect of the story is only a minor portion albeit a major theme of the story.

Samantha Evans was living what she thought was the ideal life, when her father is suddenly arrested for insider trading. As a result, her “best friend” ditches her, her mother flees and Sam is left to live with her aunt in a trailer park. What I enjoyed about The Society was how realistic it was in depicting bullying in schools, and while how victims may desire to get back at their attackers revenge may not necessarily be the solution. While, Sam essentially goes through with her plans she feels guilty regarding her actions for the majority of the time which often leaves her conflicted and confused. I found this to be realistic since in reality a person is able to complete some type of special revenge training where they learn to turn off their emotions and stuff. Revenge in real life involves real people, and things aren’t always black and white which means things can become messy.

Regardless, I did wish that there was a greater focus on the scheming and the revenge aspect of the story rather than the subplot involving the mysterious guy, Ransom. To be honest, I was getting a bad vibe from him, and felt a bit let down when nothing came of the subplot. That being understood, my favourite element of The Society was the relationship between Jeremy and Samantha which was slowly developing from best friends into something more. I adored the dynamic that the two have and was rooting for them to become a couple the entire time. I also adore how Samantha slowly came to accept her life as it is and appreciate the family, she does have, in her aunt and not the family she “lacks” at the moment.

The Society is a novel that I would suggest if you’re looking for more of an incredibly fast paced story concerning high school cliques, bullying and its consequences.

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

May Review Schedule

may 2016

Turns out when you think your workload can’t get any crazier…it does. So I’m going to stop saying things like that for the sake of my sanity. April consisted of two major work events that I attended and supported, it was also a time of change as we said goodbye to one of my favourite supervisors as he was moving on to a manager position. Fortunately, my Secret Sister package for April gave me some snacks which made the days go by faster. On a more uplifting note, I’ve finally been approved for some time off in June which I am really looking forward to even if for most of my time off I’ll be in Texas for a wedding. Nevertheless, I plan to relax and work on some blog and other projects during my time off.

As for this month, I’m looking forward to some fun work events where I don’t have to actually “work” as well as the YA Fall Preview hosted by Raincoast Books in Toronto. My goal is to finally catch up with all my work so that I’m no longer behind when I leave for my vacation. So how about you guys? Got any grand plans for May? Are any of you guys going to the Raincoast Preview event? Let me know in the comments below, and as always I hope you’ll enjoy reading my posts this month.

***

May 3 – The Society by Jodie Andrefski
May 5 How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom & Pier Bryden
May 31 – Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen

Book Review | Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

lovegelatoAuthour:
Jenna Evans Welch
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 386 pages
Publication date:
April 12th 2016
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
My conundrum when it comes to YA novels remains that I have yet to find several novels featuring travel that I have come to adore. However, Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato was one of the rare few that met my expectations.

Love & Gelato is the story of 16 year old Lina whose mother has just passed away, as per her mom’s dying wish she is sent to spend the summer in Italy in order to be acquainted her father. To make matters worse, when she arrives she find out her father lives near a graveyard where he’s the superintendent. However, things improve when she is given her mom’s journal. This leads her on an adventure with her friend, Ren as they discover an entire other side to Florence in addition to a few new things concerning Lina’s mother.

The writing throughout Love & Gelato is simplistic yet amusing and entertaining, incredibly relatable. I loved the usage of journal entries to tell Lina mom’s story as you get to read the entries with Lina. The best part of having the story set in Florence, Italy were the numerous descriptions of marvellous food on top of the sights and sounds from one of the places that I have always wanted to visit. The entire time it felt akin to essentially being there in person and experiencing all the things alongside Lina.

As with the majority YA novels, there is romance to go along with the travel. To be honest, I wasn’t as invested in Lina’s romantic adventures. However, I stayed incredibly intrigued in the romance and love aspect of Lina’s mom, Hadley since it’s a major plot point to the central story. And even though we are familiar with how Hadley’s story ends at the start of the novel, it remained still a more compelling story than Lina’s story. Overall, Love & Gelato featured an incredibly charming cast of characters and a story about all types of love that gradually grew on me. And if possible I would love to read a continuation of Lina’s adventures and misadventures in Italy.

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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