Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday .... Stay Sweet

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Stay Swee by Siobhan Vivian

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
From the author of The Last Boy and Girl in the World and The List comes a bold and sweet summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best for friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…
This sounds like a perfect summer read to enjoy with some ice cream. It's got female friendships, potential for romance, and a synopsis that invokes summer so easily.

I am excited to read this because it seems like it really focuses on female empowerment and love that the ice cream shop has always been owned and ran by local girls.

Expected release date - April 24, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Release Date - January 16, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  432 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
Disappearances, murder, boarding schools, and romance. Truly Devious has all the makings of a great YA mystery read. It starts with a intense first chapter and quickly sets up what is an intriguing mystery. That is, however, all this book really does - it sets up the next two installments in this series..

This is the type of book that is really a small piece of a larger story arc. This installment doesn't wrap up any plot points in a nice little bow. It doesn't have a conclusion by the end of the novel. It's not a novel that could stand on its own. It does, however, set up the next two books in this series rather well. This means that the overarching plot is only moved forward a bit, and that pacing may feel slower to some people as a result. It's a story that involves patience to reach the payoff, but the potential is there for it to be worth the investment..

Stevie Bell is pretty much anyone who is interested in true crime. She listens to true crime podcasts. She analyzes and categorizes her surroundings. She's smart and a little awkward. You'll pretty much love her immediately. She uses her mind to work out problems, and get out of situations. I am eager to see that continue to grow and her have a battle of wills with "Truly, Devious" as the story progresses.

Part of what makes the mystery element of this novel work is the setting. Ellingham Academy is filled with tunnels, hidden rooms, and a feeling of isolation. Locked room mysteries (aka mysteries where the suspect cannot be an outsider) are some of my favourites and this one has that feel. The remoteness of the school, mixed with the overall creepy atmosphere make the logical suspects those within the school. It creates an instant case of unease because one of the characters we're getting to know is, obviously, hiding something. This element of the story is done incredibly well with the tone being perfectly captured.

The two interconnected mysteries compliment each other seamlessly, and increases the chance for a least one of them to pull off a genuine surprise twist. I liked the 'flashback' chapters filling in the older mystery while we saw the pieces to this new mystery start to fall into place. It's done well and helps add to the atmosphere of the novel.

Mystery fans will delight in having two puzzles to unravel and eagerly theorize possible suspects until the next book is released. I think this series might be one to binge read in one sitting, but fans eager for another novel from Maureen will not be disappointed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews)

Only one book to share with you this week and it is one I borrowed from my local library. I decided to read it because of Rebecca Serle's recommendation to check out this book.

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson (goodreads)

What bookish goodies made their way into your mailbox this week? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

I hope 2018 has been treating everyone well! We may only be a couple weeks into 2018 but I already have quite a few things to be super excited about.


The End Of The F***ing World

This new extremely dark and humourous Netflix show is incredibly binge worthy. You'll fly through this series far too quickly and immediately want more. The less you know going in the better, but be aware that the emphasis in the darkly funny part of the description is definitely on the dark.

I am going to be doing a full review for the blog so I won't say too much here, but this is possibly the one Netflix show I don't want to have a follow up season. I highly recommend it for a rainy (or snowy) afternoon.

Every Day Trailer

Here is where I admit I have not read Every Day. I know, I know. That is going to have to change SOON because this trailer is INCREDIBLE.

It is romantic and unique and immediately made me start thinking. I am adding the book to my list for 2018 and hope to get to it before the movie comes out (and the movie tie-in edition is actually rather pretty).


Thirst Aid Kit Podcast (link) 

This podcast was all over my Twitter timeline this week thanks to the fact that these amazing ladies interviewed Chris Evans. The interview is adorable, so give it a listen, but I also finished that episode wanting to binge the rest of this podcast.

This podcast looks at all the swoon worthy celebs who make us 'thirsty' and offers up a lot of laughs along the way (if the Chris Evans episode is any indication). It's a Buzzfeed podcast and one you should check out if you spend time dishing on hot Hollywood guys with your friends.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - I, Tonya

I, Tonya

Rating: 14A

Director: Craig Gillespie

Language: English

Length:  121 minutes

Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney

Viewing Method: Regular Theatre Screening

Synopsis: Based on the unbelievable but true events, I, TONYA is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding, and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. Featuring an iconic turn by Margot Robbie as the fiery Harding, a mustachioed Sebastian Stan as her impetuous ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, a tour-de-force performance from Allison Janney as her acid-tongued mother, LaVona Golden, and an original screenplay by Steven Rogers, Craig Gillespie’s I, TONYA is an absurd, irreverent, and piercing portrayal of Harding’s life and career in all of its unchecked––and checkered––glory.

**purchased ticket to review on my own**

Anyone who remembers the assault on Nancy Kerrigan may feel that there is nothing new that could be said about it, and they would be right. I, Tonya is a darkly humourous movie that loses a little bit of steam by asking you to feel sorry for someone who, depending on whose version of events you believe, I am not certain we should feel sorry for.

The movie never attempts to clarify what Harding knew, or didn't know, about the attack. It doesn't present any version of events as the truth. The movie is mostly based off interviews with Harding, and Gillooly with each giving contradictory versions of what happened. It, therefore, ends up being a 'he said/she said' narrative where everyone points fingers at the other. Everyone has their version of the truth, but everyone knows that the real truth is usually somewhere in between.

Harding is shown in a sympathetic light. Abused by both her mother and husband (both of whom deny the abuse allegations), it is easy to feel sympathy for her. The abuse she is shown to have suffered is horrible, especially the childhood verbal abuse by her mother. The movie also, however, includes the fact that Kerrigan's practice location and times were found written on a piece of paper in Harding's hand writing. It reminds you at every turn that all of these characters are unreliable narrators of their own stories.

Margot Robbie gives a transformative performance that, along with Allison Janney's biting performance, stood out during this movie. I could tell that she put in the time, and effort to get this performance right. She physically transformed and ensured that she got the mannerisms pitch perfect. Her performance is big and showy in a way that matches the loud and showy tone of the movie. It's a performance that fits into this setting effortlessly.

Sebastian Stan has the thankless role of Jeff Gillooly, Tonya's ex-husband. He does great work in the role of someone you are supposed to dislike immensely. He was equally capable as the more mild mannered guy telling his version of events, and the violent, triggered temper nightmare of Harding's version. The movie also makes the unforgivable sin of putting Sebastian Stan in that awful mustache.

I love movies that break the 'fourth wall' and have the characters talk directly to the audience. When this is done effectively it is a brilliant narration choice, and I, Tonya uses it to perfection. The 'audience as interviewer' feel that the movie has certainly lends itself to using this narration convention. It also provides much of the humourous moments of the movie. I had mixed feelings on some of the humour, especially the moments that occur during rather graphic spousal violence, but if you like your humour with bite than this hits all those notes.

I, Tonya is, ultimately, a movie made better by the performances found within it. The movie itself may not have anything new or different to say about Tonya Harding, but the performances, along with the extremely dark humour, make it worth the watch.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Release Date - December 26, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  384 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.
Books with lists are one of my (many) bookish weaknesses. I love the idea of a book that revolves around the main character completing a list and growing as a result. Kasie West's newest novel revolves around an artist attempting to gain some life experience to better her art. It's a cute, and heartfelt, read that existing fans will love.

This premise is perhaps one of my favourite out of all the books Kasie West has written. I love the idea of following a character on a specific journey and this book has that at its heart. The fact that this also has some great character growth only adds to this novel's appeal. Abby grows as a result of her journey in really evident ways. It is something I really enjoyed getting to experience because her experiences change her. I think all readers what to see that in the books they read.

The love story is perfect for those who love the 'friends to more' trope. It's classic Kasie West in that there are some adorable moments mixed with some great dramatic ones. I bought the chemistry between the two characters, along with the catalyst for their feelings coming out. It all felt really believable and natural. Their connection was, perhaps, one of my favourite things about this book.

Art is such a large part of Abby's story. It is the driving force behind her character and why she starts the list. It also is used to show how supportive Abby's family is. They take an active interest in her and her art and it was nice to see that reflected. Family dynamics are often missing from young adult novels and I liked seeing complex family relationships be a large part of the story.

The pacing felt a little rushed at the end, and I would have gladly welcomed another 100 or so pages to flesh out the ending and the growth that Abby experiences. It offers that classic Kasie West happy ending, but it didn't feel as tidy to me as some of her others have.

Those looking for a cute read that also has some great character growth will love this one. I just wish it had gone a little deeper into Abby's journey of self discovery. This is one that left a big smile on my face and that definitely makes it one I would recommend for young adult contemporary fans.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday .... Love and Other Words

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide in this first women’s fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Autoboyography, Dating You / Hating You).

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother...only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.
I love Christina Lauren's romance novels. They are always fun and sexy. I was excited to see that they have a new book coming out in April and it sounds adorable.

This is being called 'women's fiction' instead of romance so I am expecting something a little different from the usual with this one, but I am excited to read all about Macy and Elliot!

Expected release date - April 10, 2018

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