Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Royals by Rachel Hawkins



Royals by Rachel Hawkins
Release Date - May 1, 2018
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  296 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.
Thanks to the recent royal wedding the fascination with all things royal is at a fever pitch. If you're anything like me you'll be wanting to get your hands on any book that has any sort of royal family connection in it. Rachel Hawkins' Royals was already on my radar, but it was exactly the book I was looking for when I picked it up. It is a book that more than lives up to what its synopsis promises and will leave you instantly wanting more.

This story focuses on a unique perspective by having it be told primarily through the lens of Daisy instead of her sister Ellie. It's like having a secondary view of what a royal wedding would be like, and this novel is all the better for it. I've never thought about the family of the person marrying into royalty. Through Daisy we see the spotlight that would come along with this. We see how invasive it would be to have that spotlight thrust upon you. It's this invasion of privacy, and a set of expectations, that you never directly signed up for. It's an interesting dynamic because you get that Daisy wants her sister to be happy and marry the guy she loves, but there is also this frustration that her life is now impacted by the choices her sister has made. The tension that is created from this really worked for me. I am a sucker for family dynamics and this has a lot of family focus.

Daisy is a typical teen. She's a fangirl who likes to read. She's a bit of a mess sometimes, but is also funny, snarky, and loyal. She isn't what anyone would consider regal or polished. She is not perfect and that imperfection shows itself on the outside. I loved the connections she had to those she surrounded herself with. Her family bonds, and friendships felt natural to me because I was invested in Daisy.

Sebastian, the younger brother of the prince Daisy's sister is marrying, is also a fascinating character. He's the more scandalous brother. He's the one who breaks hearts and finds his way into the tabloids. He's easily one of the more interesting characters and pretty unforgettable (especially when compared to his brother).

Part of Daisy's journey is realizing that the members of the royal family are not as perfect as they appear to be. This also applies to those they surround themselves with. It was refreshing to have them seem like human beings instead of these bland, characterless personas.

The romance within this one is enchanting. It's the stuff of fairytales, just a much more realistic feeling one. It's not all castles, tiaras, and grand gestures and that is exactly what makes it work. Daisy isn't looking for her prince charming. She isn't interested in the life her sister is living and wants to create her own path. All of this makes the ending of the novel all the sweeter.

The wide cast of characters ensures that this could easily be extended with a series of companion novels focusing on other characters. There are so many fascinating characters that grace these pages that it would be a travesty if we didn't see them again in some format. It's a world that is built to be expanded upon and I cannot wait to see that happen.

A book whose humour and charm sparkles as bright as any tiara. It's a perfect blend of fun, spit your beverage out  humour, and romance. It's the sot of book that is able to break you out of a reading slump. If you're a fan of contemporary young adult novels that seem made for a happily ever after I would highly recommend spending some time devouring this one.

Sunday, May 20, 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)

I had a lot of amazing arrivals this week! First up are two bookmarks that I love from HappyHello (Etsy shop link). They are adorable and I am happy to add them to my collection.


They are obviously Elio and Oliver from Call Me By Your Name. I've fangirled about this shop before, but you should check it out if you love cute bookmarks. A ton of different fandoms are offered and they make great gifts.

Next up was my Indigo Book Box which featured War Storm by Victoria Aveyard. The box contained a signed copy of the book, a candle, a note from Victoria, and a Scarlet Guard pin.


War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (goodreads)

The pin is so amazing that I had to include a close up of it! It's a perfect addition to my pin collection and a wonderful bit of swag to celebrate the end of the series with.


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

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 19, 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.

Trailers for the fall movies are begun to be released and it looks like there are some amazing upcoming movies to look forward to.

TV/Movie

Bohemian Rhapsody Trailer

This movie has been in the news for the behind the scenes drama that has surrounded it. Multiple directors and numerous delays have plagued this movie. I wasn't quite sure what to expect as a result. If the first trailer is any indication we are in for something pretty amazing.

 

Rami Malek is electric. He's giving me serious Oscar vibes and I fully expect him to be part of the conversation leading up to awards season. All of the negative background noise doesn't seem to have impacted the performance of story so my expectations are still pretty high for this one.

Teaser Trailer For Beautiful Boy

All eyes will once again be on Timothee Chalamet this upcoming awards season if this teaser trailer is any indication of the performance within this movie. 

  

This teaser has only made me want a full trailer all the more. It is on the top of my must see list for Oscar season! I expect it is going to be both heartbreaking and uplifting (it's based on a true story of a father trying to help his son who has an opioid addiction).

Destination Wedding Trailer

Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves spark in this romantic comedy trailer that has instantly made me want to see this movie. I am a huge fan of both of them and this trailer is a good showcase for each of them.

   

I love their banter and the connection that is evident even in this trailer. It's going to be a fun one to watch and I am very much looking forward to it!
What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, May 18, 2018

All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Penaflor



All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Penaflor
Release Date - May 15,  2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  432 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .
A secret. A famous author. A group of teen fans clamoring to be in her inner circle. The truth between fiction and reality become blurred in Lygia Day Penaflor's captivating, well written, and addicting novel.

This novel is compulsively readable. It's almost impossible to put down. The different narration formats used also make for a quick, easily digestible read  that many will finish in a sitting. It's the novel equivalent of a CW show - splashy, filled with a lot of drama and beautiful people. It also has an amazing hook and the author uses this to great impact. The story is told via transcripts, interviews, articles, and passages from a novel. It all comes together to create a book whose writing alone is worthy of praise.

This novel's tension really comes down to differing perspectives. It's multiple characters giving their account of events and how their personalities and biases impact how they see those events. These differing recollections allow the reader a much broader scope of the story. It allows the reader to sift through each of the accounts and draw their own conclusions. These characters are not deliberately misleading and that makes the story all the more fascinating.

All of the characters are fascinating in their own way. I, however, found the character of Fatima Ro to be the most fascinating out of the group. She is also one of the main characters who never give their own account of the story. She is shown to the reader through the lens of other characters. Her motives are at the crux of this novel. The why behind her actions is always on the reader's minds. I found how she used he art to 'rewrite' things in her life interesting and wish we could have explored her more. She's this larger than life figure whose made even more mythical thanks to the media circus that surrounds her in this book.

Where the book falters a little, at least for me, was the ending. The build up to the big reveal felt anticlimactic because it is evident early on what exactly the situation was. It was a case of the set up being more captivating than the reveal and the story just didn't come together as fully as I felt it was going to in the beginning. Something was missing to bring it all together and that especially became evident for me as I neared the ending of the story.

This is a book that will make for some pretty deep discussions. The characters of both Jonah and Fatima are enough to provide book club fodder all on their own, but the novel also dives into other elements that are worthy of discussion. The idea of trust and if it was broken in this particular case is certainly ripe for discussion, but so is the entire notion of fan culture and frenzy that surrounds it. It would be a good pick for anyone wanting to ignite a healthy debate at their next book club.

All Of This Is True will definitely be devoured by certain people. It is tailor made to appeal to the hardcore book lovers who dream about getting close to one of their favourite authors. It certainly boasts a tantalizing premise and has solid writing behind it, but it didn't quite come together for me the way I had hoped. I enjoyed my time reading it but wanted just a little bit more of a payoff to this incredibly set up premise. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday ... Kens


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 Kens by Raziel Reid


Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
Heterosexuality is so last season: Kens is the gay Heathers meets Mean Girls, a shocking parody for a whole new generation.

Every high school has the archetypical Queen B and her minions. In Kens, the high school hierarchy has been reimagined. Willows High is led by Ken Hilton, and he makes Regina George from Mean Girls look like a saint. Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson, standing next to his throne. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences in each edition, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan's doll factory. Soul sold separately.

Tommy Rawlins can't help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection that glide through the halls. He's desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens? Tommy has high hopes for their future together, but when their shared desire to overthrow Ken Hilton takes a shocking turn, Tommy must decide how willing he is to reinvent himself -- inside and out. Is this new version of Tommy everything he's always wanted to be, or has he become an unknowing and submissive puppet in a sadistic plan? 
I enjoyed Raziel Reid's first book quite a bit. I especially loved the discussion my book club had after reading it. I was excited to see that he has another book coming out and that it is inspired by Heathers and Means (both of which I love).
 
I anticipate that this will be just as thought provoking and discussion worthy as his first. I expect it is going to be just as buzz worthy as his first.

Expected release date - September 18,  2018

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Puddin' by Julie Murphy



Puddin' by Julie Murphy
Release Date - May 8,  2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  448 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
It is a companion novel to Dumplin', which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean's star turn in the Clover City pageant.

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined. 
It is a rare occasion that I love a companion novel more than the original. Julie Murphy has accomplished not only creating a satisfying contemporary novel, but one that accomplishes this elusive goal. She manages to make Puddin' stand on its own merits while still gifting fans of Dumplin' with a return to the characters they fell in love with.

It is the female friendship that is the heart and soul of this story. The entire tone of the novel is one of girl power, the importance of friendships, and supporting each other. The group of girls who bonded during the pageant in Dumplin' are there for each other in a way that just makes your heart swell. They have their differences and disagreements, but they are always there when they need each other. It was refreshing to see friendships where there was no drama due to romantic interest in the same person. That story arc is the typical go to in female friendships and I was relieved it was not included within these pages. Anyone looking for a story that allows these friendships be the focus will find this read a delight.

Callie is a fascinating character. Many will remember her from Dumplin' and probably have a set expectation of who she is. Julie Murphy manages to create a complex, at times infuriating character who is so much more than you think. She may make awful decisions and mistakes, but she is never shown to be unworthy because of it. She is someone who has a lot of growing to do and changes she needs to make but you root for her to see the error of her ways. All of these feelings are simply a result of how well written the character is. Julie Murphy makes it easy to understand Callie even if you don't always like her actions.

Millie is someone figuring out who she is and what she wants. She is finding her voice for the first time and taking the tentative first steps of independence from her parents. It's a journey every person takes and while Millie's is unique to her circumstances there is something relatable at its core. Part of the book's charm is seeing Millie and Callie form a strong friendship, and how they influence each other. Millie grows just as much as Callie does as the story progresses. She just does it in a vastly different way.

The romance that is in the novel is not quite in the background, but definitely not the main focus. They are very sweet and tentative in way that I found charming. There is something to be said for that giddy crush feeling and the blushes that come along with it. Julie Murphy is a pro at creating these relationships that feel filled with potential and very much grounded in reality. They start as friendships and that very much feels like the most important aspect to any romance that Julie writes.

A story filled with friendships, sleepovers, first loves, and learning to stand up for what you want. Puddin' is, perhaps, even more charming than Dumplin' and provides a feel good read that is all heart. Julie Murphy continues to write novels that are simply a delight to read. It's one I highly recommend when you need a fun read that will make you laugh. It's one that you'll immediately want to share with your friends. 

Sunday, May 13, 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)

A huge thank you to Raincoast Books for the very exciting package that arrived in my mailbox. I am looking forward to Legendary and Furyborn and cannot wait to dive into them. I basically hugged the package when it was handed to me because I knew what I would find in it!


Legendary by Stephanie Garber (goodreads
Furyborn by Claire Legrand (goodreads)

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

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!


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