Midweek Mini Reviews #10

The Key to Everything by Paula Stokes

I love novels that feature travel in them, however I can be rather picky when it comes to the ones I actually end up liking. Fortunately, I rather enjoyed Paula Stokes’ The Key to Everything. Since The Key to Everything is categorized as “New Adult” this made the characters even more relatable to me since they are closer to my age than the teens in YA novels are. I also loved the fact that Oakland and Morgan are Psychology graduates as that’s what I studied during my undergraduate as well. The whole joke about Oakland and Morgan analyzing the boys (because they’re studying psychology) has been said to me on numerous occasions as well when I went abroad as a student. And while it was a bit frustrating to see how Oakland behaved at times, I did appreciate the positive female friendships (there’s not much “drama” between the girls) and I was glad that Morgan was there to talk some sense in Oakland when she went too far. The Key to Everything is a great read that is sure to inspire some serious wanderlust, but more than that I love how it portrays the unexpected friendships and relationships that can form when you take the risk and put yourself out there. And while it’s not always the case, it’s was nice to see that the bonds the girls form during their trip end up lasting when they return to the “real world”. Slightly predictable yet also unique this was one book I loved throughout.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Melissa De La Cruz’s Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe has made many changes to the classic novel. The Bennets’ are now brothers instead of sisters, Bingley is a gay actor, and Darcy is an independent, modern woman who had to make her own fortune after she was “disowned” by her parents. What I didn’t like about this retelling was how Darcy was made out to be a selfish, snobby and stuck up person by almost everyone. As readers we get to see the story from Darcy’s point of view, but even from her actions while she’s far from perfect she truly isn’t that horrible or even judgmental of a person compared to some of the other characters. Which is why I felt her “change” was a bit excessive since we didn’t get to see how she previously treated her assistant and it’s not as if she abused Millie. I was glad when her best friend, Bingley finally assured her that she wasn’t the awful person that everyone made her out to be just because she was the only one of them to leave and make it on her own. As for the character of “Luke Bennet” (this version’s “Elizabeth Bennet”), I wish we got to know him more because his character came off as kind of bland. Other than that Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a sweet spin on the Pride and Prejudice story and would make for a nice quick holiday read. And if you’d rather watch the movie, then you’re in luck as Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe is in the process of becoming a Hallmark movie!

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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Midweek Mini Reviews #9

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

If you follow my blog, you will know that I loved Alice Hoffman’s last book, Faithful. However, I was a bit reluctant to pick up her latest book The Rules of Magic as I never got into Practical Magic and wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea. For those who are familiar with Practical Magic, you will recognize the world and a couple of the characters in The Rules of Magic. However, it’s not necessary to be familiar with Practical Magic as The Rules of Magic is a prequel and can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. In The Rules of Magic we become acquainted with the characters of Franny, Violet and Jet who are all endowed with magical gifts. I especially loved that we see Franny and Jet grow up from little girls to old women. Getting to see their thoughts and motivations made me want to root for them even more and it was nice to see that the tragic Owens curse didn’t completely stop them all from love and happiness. Similar to her other books, Hoffman’s writing whisks you away to the world of the characters so that you feel as if you are right there beside them as they go through life. I’m glad I ended up picking up The Rules of Magic as I was able to discover yet another enchanting and magical book.

Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena & Jess Zimmerman

The idea and history of witchcraft has always fascinated me enough so that it lead me to picking up Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman’s Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven. With the exception of the various “spells” and “rituals” Basic Witches at its core reads like any other self-help book. Empowering and female positive, I adored the beautiful illustrations and the straightforward and non-judgemental voice of the book. And while I wasn’t all that into the “spells” I loved learning about the feminist history that surrounds most of the stereotypical witchcraft beliefs and practices. Additionally, the “spells” are relatively easy to do and some of them do seem fairly reasonable as well as practical. For instance, I truly enjoyed the information on smellomancy as well as the cooking magic suggestions as I definitely agree that warm milk and honey are perfect for when you want to relax. A fun, light-hearted and unique read that’s perfect for the modern young woman who needs a little extra “boost” in life.

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

 

Midweek Mini Reviews #8

You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle by Paul Benedetti

Continuing my pattern of reading collections of personal essays, I decided to pick up Paul Benedetti ‘s You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle. This book is a collection of his past columns for The Hamilton Spectator where he writes about his life, family and of course his neighbour Dave. Maintaining a good balance of being heartfelt, witty, hilarious and self-deprecating Benedetti’s writing at times reminded me of the writing style of the late Stuart McLean’s. Touching on every happenings in his life, there is definitely something that everyone can relate to in this collection of essays.

Well written and organized in a short and simple way, You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle is most certainly a book that was made to take along with you on vacation or even for a weekend at the cottage.

This Time Around by Tawna Fenske

For those looking for a light, sweet contemporary romance Tawna Fenske’s This Time Around definitely does the trick. I adored the setting and all the characters, especially Jack’s daughter, Paige (who stole every scene she was in and even some that she wasn’t in) and Allie’s new friend, Skye. Furthermore it was difficult not to root for Jack and Allie as they were perfect for each other.

The only issue I had with this book was the conflict with Allie’s family and the money she discovers, I found it incredibly frustrating that she just kept on making poor decisions when it came to that. However, this was offset by the absurdity of what else she finds in her grandmother’s attic as it seems every character was finding something there.

This Time Around, is one of those warms that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy in the end, and I like how it shows that the life you expected might not be the life you get and how sometimes it’s the unexpected that leaves us pleasantly surprised.

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

 

Midweek Mini Reviews #7

One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis

I’ve been a fan of Terry Fallis’ books since I’ve read Up and Down so I was excited for this one especially as it features twins! (For those of you who don’t know the author is also a twin in real life) Anyways, One Brother Shy was a well written and heartwarming story about family and moving on from your past. As with his earlier novels, Fallis’ trademark humour once again is evident within the pages of One Brother Shy in addition to his talent for writing scenes that are funny but also shockingly dark like the “Gabriel” incident in this book. I loved that in addition to family One Brother Shy touched on other topics like bullying, trauma, the effects that viral videos have on their victims. And despite liking the where the book Alex leaves at, I do wish we got to spend more time with Alex, Matt and the rest of their family. One Brother Shy is a great vacation read that’s not too light and not too dark, and bonus points for it being Canadian of course. Also while the book is good, I’d highly recommend you check out the podcast of One Brother Shy. Read by the author himself, you definitely feel more connected to the story, the world and Alex when you listen to the podcast.

Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini

Having found, Katie Heaney’s earlier books fairly enjoyable I was really looking forward to her newest book, Public Relations which she co-wrote with her friend, Arianna Rebolini. I love a fun, light romantic comedy, especially for the summer and I was eager to dip into this tale of a faux showmances.

Unfortunately, this one was a bit of a disappointment. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, although I did appreciate how the novel chooses to focus on Rose’s job in PR giving us an insider look at what goes on behind the scenes of a public relations firm. And I can definitely relate to her working an entry-level job and trying to work her way up the ladder. That being said, however, the characters and the majority of their relationships were often frustrating at times. Furthermore, I couldn’t stand the character of Archie Fox, who was supposed to be the intended love interest, as he came off as pretty spoiled and condescending and I couldn’t really see his appeal.

So while I didn’t hate Public Relations, I will admit it just wasn’t for me. I do think that Public Relations is a book that may appeal to the millennial crowd and someone who is looking for a read that’s light on romance and heavier on celebrity culture and PR.

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

 

Midweek Mini Reviews #6

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Initially I was interested in Cecilia Vinesse’s Seven Days of You because of its Tokyo setting. However, I was a bit wary as YA novels that feature travel and foreign locales are usually a hit or miss with me (and the mixed reviews of this book didn’t help with that). Fortunately, Seven Days of You was a relatively easy read to get into which made it a perfect read for me to take along on my Japan trip. I loved that the romance aspect was kept mostly in the background, and that the main focus was on Allison getting ready to leave Japan and how it would affect her relationships with her friends. Additionally it’s also a coming of age story as Allison starts to come to terms with her complicated family dynamics. That being said, I did find the moments where Jamie and Allison bonded over their families and past to be adorable and it did endear me to their relationship more. Overall, a fairly enjoyable read that is perfect to bring along with you on vacation, especially if you’re planning to go to a place like Japan.

The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake

The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake was a book that I had sitting on my shelf for some time. However, after meeting and chatting with the author at IFOA (the International Festival of Authors) last year I decided that I would take this book along with me to read while travelling in Japan.

What I liked about The Translation of Love is that fact that we get multiple perspectives in the story, all of which are important to the plot. I really appreciated the opportunity to get to know all the major players in the story as well as their motivations for their actions and choices.

A thought-provoking, and heartfelt novel that is perfect for all ages. The Translation of Love is a well-researched novel that does a good job at depicting what life is like in a post-war country for those who have to remain behind in addition to showing the devastating traumas of all who were involved.

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #4 (Travel Edition)

  

All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft by Geraldine DeRuiter

allover

Down to earth and written in an easy to relate manner like Geraldine DeRuiter‘s blog The Everywhereist, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft isn’t your typical travel memoir. While travel is a major theme, the book is more about the role that travel has played in the DeRuiter‘s life and not a tell all about the various travel adventures she’s had one her own and with her husband. This makes the book more of a memoir than a travelogue.

With a gift for telling stories of simple, albeit messy life moments DeRuiter manages to turn these moments into something remarkable leaving a poignant message for the reader. In particular, I loved the chapter where she describes how she slowly “fall in love” with the city of Ashland, Oregon comparing it to how she fell for her husband. And for all those who are not “pros” at travelling, you’ll definitely appreciate the chapter where she comes to the conclusion that getting lost isn’t the end of the world, and that you may not be an expert on travelling but at least you are the “expert” on your own travel experiences which can be just as valuable.

A sweet, comforting, and quick read I love how the common thread among all chapters in Geraldine DeRuiter‘s All Over the Place is that it forms one big love letter to her husband to whom the book is dedicated to.

Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke: Completely Revised and Updated by Off Track Planet

offtrack

I love travelling and have a serious case of wanderlust. And while I have been fortunate enough to have visited a handful of countries it’s definitely not enough! This year I’m hoping to get the opportunity to solo travel to a place that I’ve been dying to go to since I was little. Anyways to prep for my second (potential) solo trip I’ve decided to read more travel guides starting with Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke: Completely Revised and Updated.

With it’s aesthetically pleasing layouts and photographs Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke definitely caters to who its intended audience. The photos and colourful fonts and titles definitely scream “fun”. However, I felt that there was a great deal of information that wasn’t relevant to me as I’m not an American nor am I someone who has never travelled before. Still there was some useful information in the planning and research section of the book that I will definitely be taking advantage of.

Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke is a well-organized guide for those less “seasoned”/”experienced” travellers that provides a general overview making it a good starting point for those who want to travel but aren’t sure how to go about it or even where to travel to.

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #3

 The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec

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What I liked most about The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec is just how relatable some of the essays in the collection are. They are also quite entertaining in a self-deprecating manner which leaves the reader with a lot of good quotes you can’t help but scribble down. Two of my favourite quotes from the book are “A great writer knows when not to fake being a expert” and “If anything breakups should be renamed breakdowns. That’s all they really are. Whatever drew two people together in the first place eventually breaks down,” these two were the most memorable for me because they are simple yet so true.

Of all the essays in the collection I particularly was fond of the collection’s titular essay because who here hasn’t at least once found themselves listening in onto the conversations of strangers around them? I also enjoyed “Life on the Other Side of the Internet” because it gives you a “glimpse” at what’s its actually like working for a major Internet site.

Overall if you enjoy reading Elite Daily articles (the authour is the managing editor of the site) you will probably like this book, but even for those who are millennials who are only vaguely familiar with the site (like myself) Dybec’s musings on life, family and relationships could definitely be appreciated as being relatable.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

vicBefore reading Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria, I have to admit I knew very little about the history of Queen Victoria other than that she is (now) the monarch with the second longest reign (Queen Elizabeth II recently just surpassed her record). However, I am a fan of Daisy Goodwin and what she does when it comes to historical fiction so I was looking forward to Victoria.

In Victoria, Daisy Goodwin once again does what she does best in historical fiction and really whisks you away to the 1800s and into the life of a young royal who is coming of age and into her role as a country’s monarch. While naïve, it was difficult not to root for a young Victoria as she struggled to find her way into her new role against so many obstacles and barriers and with a whole lot of spunk. In the end, knowing what becomes of many of the characters from Victoria’s youth in real life made this book an incredibly bittersweet and emotional coming of age novel.

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

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

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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.