Thursday, 27 April 2017

Review: Caterpillars Can't Swim

Caterpillars Can't Swim Caterpillars Can't Swim by Liane Shaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

This is a review of an ARC!

Wow wow wow. I honestly don't know where to start with this one. As you can tell by my rating, I loved it. I genuinely could not put it down, and managed to read it all in 2 sittings. (Damn you, work, for making me put this one down for a bit!) The best word I can think of to describe this one is fresh. A weird word choice for describing a novel but finally a YA contemporary book that made me feel like I wasn't reading a plot I've already read.

Our narrator and main character, Ryan, is on the swim team, has an insensitive but well-meaning best friend named Cody, and is wheelchair bound. When Ryan witnesses a schoolmate, Jack, struggling in the river he jumps in to save him. From there a hesitant (on Jack's part) friendship is born. This book is angsty as hell, but somehow doesn't come off as being overwhelmingly depressing. Ryan has a decent sense of humour, but knows when to be serious.

I love how the author managed to address political correctness when it comes to marginalised groups, as well as taking a glimpse into discrimination that people face everyday without making it the sole focus of the story. It's there, and addressed, but it's not the entire plot. There was even a fair amount of character growth in every character, without completely changing their personalities. While it wasn't a life-changing book for me by any means, I'm really loving the fact that more and more authors are writing main characters with disabilities!

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Review: Baby Doll

Baby Doll Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

I was a bit hesitant to read Baby Doll so soon after reading Room as they deal with similar subject matter, but I ended up being immediately sucked into this one.

Lily has been held in captivity for the last 8 years. The story starts with her and her young daughter's escape from their prison, and the trek home in frigid weather. This story follows the aftermath and reactions of Lily, her daughter, Lily's twin sister, their mother, and even Lily's captor. The format of the story felt fresh and different from what I've read lately, and I was really interested in the whole reintroduction process that Lily had to go through after missing 8 years of her life, unfortunately the second half of the novel failed to hold my attention as well as the first half.

I enjoyed that the characters didn't just suddenly recover from the trauma, but I felt that the overall characterisations felt a little too cable "crime drama" for my liking. I know I've said it before in my reviews, but I felt like I was watching a rerun of Criminal Minds.

Maybe it's time for me to take a break from mystery/thriller crime novels for a bit.

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Monday, 24 April 2017

Review: Descent

Descent Descent by Katie O'Sullivan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book.

I feel absolutely horrible for having to give this book such a low rating but I have to. I just can't justify giving it 3 stars. I was so excited to have this one on my shelves I put aside a couple I was already reading and started this one. I am incredibly disappointed.

The plot? In theory - so, so cool. A teenaged boy finds out that his mother he has never met is a mermaid princess. This could have been Percy Jackson meets The Little Mermaid (two things I adore), but it failed so miserably at being likeable. The execution was just so annoying and immature. Every main character, whether mermaid or human, had the most immature, overly formal, and petulant way of speaking I think I have ever read. Not once did I think "hey, that's the way actual humans speak." Exclamations such as "jumping jellyfish!" in serious situations had me wanting to throw my Kindle. I just don't understand how a story that was so "focused" on a war and murder still had such an incredibly immature feel to it. Maybe if I was 10, I'd be giving this book a bit of a pass.

It is stated repeatedly that the mermaids have to be careful of humans, as they need to stay as secret as possible to stay safe. At the end of the novel the mermaid love interest got upset because Shea (our lead) didn't want to tell his random human friend (a friend who is visiting who in no way, shape, or form had anything to do with any of the mermaid stuff) about his newfound merman status because he must be embarrassed of her. This basically sums up my issues with the book. Not actual conflict. Isn't needed. Doesn't quite make sense.

As much as I dislike this one, I still somehow find myself feeling bad for disliking it. I really wanted to like it. I didn't. I'm honestly not going to recommend this one.

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Review: The Princess of Wales: An Illustrated Biography

The Princess of Wales An illustrated biography The Princess of Wales: An Illustrated Biography by Susan Maxwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First things first: This book is extremely outdated. At the point of this being written Princess Diana and Prince Charles were seemingly still happily married (what we now know wasn't quite the case), and Princess Diana hadn't given birth to her eldest, Prince William, yet. Of course, this book was written many years before her death, and as most people know, a lot of information about Princess Diana was not public knowledge until tapes were released by her speech coach after her death. This book casually makes reference of her eating habits, when we now know she suffered from Bulimia in her adult years. And of course at the time she isn't yet known for her humanitarianism, and charitable causes, so this book focuses almost entirely on what she wore, how she acted with her husband and the other Royals, and her attitude towards the press.

Last but not least: the entire last section of the book focused solely on her future Queendom which made me both incredibly sad, and very uncomfortable.

All in all, an interesting view of what her public image was like at the time of publishing (1982), but overall knowing what we know now, an extremely flawed and naive "biography."

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Review: Love Life

Love Life Love Life by Rob Lowe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore Rob Lowe. He's an extremely talented man, and literally killed me on Parks and Rec, however this memoir seemed a little lacklustre to me. I feel bad for saying it considering he goes into detail about his addiction issues, and the important people in his life. Recently, celebrity memoirs haven't really interested me much, so maybe it's just me, who knows? Anyways, Love Life does have some interesting anecdotes and goes into a bit of detail about the creation and filming of some of Rob Lowe's biggest hits. Not an amazing memoir, but I do recommend checking it out if you're a Rob Lowe fan!

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Friday, 21 April 2017

How reading on a Kindle can save you money!

No matter your opinion on reading digital books, whether you are a paper purist, someone who believes that reading on a Kindle is somehow "cheating," or someone who loves the convenience of being able to carry hundreds of books in your bag, one thing is certain: reading ebooks can be an amazing way to save money for those of us pressed for cash.

I bought my Kindle Paperwhite on Christmas Day 2016, and I have purchased 31 books since, and have a collection of 219 total (including NetGalley, books provided by authors, and many of Amazon's freebies). In order to get the most out of your Kindle account, for the least amount of money, I will be sharing my tips and tricks.

1. Sign up for Kindle Daily Deals emails. Almost every book I have purchased for my Kindle has been for $5 or less (most being $1.99-2.99). If you're not wanting to sign up for the emails, you can also manually check the Daily Deals on the Kindle Store on Amazon, as the name suggests they change every day.

Here's a small selection of books I have bought from Kindle Daily Deals:

For $5 or less!
After You by Jojo Moyes
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Paper Princess by Erin Watt
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
The Two Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvate
Bossypants by Tina Fey  
Waiting to Be Heard by Amanda Knox

2. For free books I've subscribed to BookBub. BookBub is an email service (or you can manually go to the website) in which you can program your book preferences and receive emails daily of significant price drops or free books available on the Amazon Store (or whichever format/provider you prefer/require). Be quick! Not all books are free forever; oftentimes only being available free for a 24-48 hour window of time (in my experience).

3. Back to the Amazon Kindle Store! "Kindle Bestsellers" has a wonderful option of selecting "free!"

How to limit yourself from buying 50 books a day (I know - it's hard!) 
4. Make a wish list of books you'd like on your Kindle! Everyday check the wish list - sort by "items with price drops" and see if any books on your wish list have significantly lowered in price. The books sometimes lower in price for one day, but aren't necessarily a part of "Kindle Daily Deals." This is also a good and easy way to see which books are on sale for their "Monthly Deals."

These are just my tips and tricks for getting lower priced high-quality books! If you have any of your own tips or tricks I missed - leave a comment below!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Review: The Last of August

The Last of August The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am breaking my own avoid-blogging-about-sequels rule here because this series is unbelievably likable and exactly what I want in my summer reading experience. Not necessarily lighthearted, but not overwhelmingly angsty: AKA exactly what I am looking for in the upcoming summer months. (Hey, I consider anytime I'm not in University "summer," so as of April 18th, I am officially declaring that I am on summer vacation!)

So if you've read Study In Charlotte, you know the premise and can skip this next part. If you're not familiar:


 2. This series follows Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson. Both are descendants of Sherlock and John respectively. In this world, of course, both Sherlock and John were real people, who (if not always exactly as Dr. John Watson's stories dictated) solved crimes together, including foiling the plans of mastermind Professor James Moriarty, thus starting a blood feud that exists to this day.

Okay, those of you who read the first book, you can start reading again:
Once again I'm going to chalk up at least 10% of my joy surrounding this book to my obsession with BBC's Sherlock. If you don't love BBC Sherlock as much as me, have no fear! While the characterisations still exist in some form, make no mistake these are new modern, teenaged version of the characters. Both of our main characters seem fairly realistic, and while not entirely a model of a perfect, healthy, loving relationship (I mean is there ever going to be an adaption of Holmes/Watson where they have a totally equal, 100% friendly atmosphere), these characters balance each other out nicely and each have their good and bad traits.

My only critique with this novel (but my reasoning for the 4 star rating) is that there were at least three different times where suddenly there was a conclusion made or something happened that changed the course of the case, and while I read every word I had either no idea what happened or completely missed how the deduction came about. I'm still unsure about a couple details of how things come about - however there is a small possibility that as this is supposed to be Watson's writings, that he was the one who missed something. Hey - It's easier to blame a fictional character for my confusion. ;)

On a final note: I do want to warn readers, that this novel (while not graphically) deals with the aftermath of rape, mentioned also in the previous novel.

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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Review: After She's Gone

After She's Gone After She's Gone by Maggie James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

To be perfectly honest, I found this book a tad bit too cliche for a 4 or 5 star rating, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a great read! Right off the bat Lori Golden's younger sister is murdered, and this is the typical "whodunnit," without the focus on the police aspect. This novel instead focuses directly on Lori and her mother's reactions and coping (with of course some added new revelations and dilemmas thrown in). Interestingly enough, the characters don't "play detective" as you see in many other books, and are genuinely just going through life, and stumbling across questions and answers on the way.

I previously read Maggie James' His Kidnappers Shoes and found the narration style to be a perfect fit, however with this story it just served to distance me a bit too much from the characters. There were a couple of times when I either got the characters mixed up, or couldn't quite understand why they were suddenly on to a new topic. On that note, it completely threw me off that the mothers name was Dana, and the daughters name was Lori. (Shoutout to my Grandmother for forever making me associate the name Lori with an older person.) Either way, I know it's such a nitpicky thing to complain about but it was really disconcerting to me.

Anyways, if you've been craving a good mystery/thriller without all of the added police procedure (aka 99% of the books in the mystery section these days) I do genuinely recommend checking out After She's Gone!

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