Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Book Review: First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
Publication Date: June 28th, 2016
Format: An eCopy of this book via First to Read (thanks Penguin, you're awesome!)
Rating: 5 stars
In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads.

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.

Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.
I wanted to read this book because it involved two sisters. It might seem a bit odd, especially since I always wanted a sister of my own, but sometimes - reading books like this - makes me wonder what could've been had I actually had my own sister. Nothing against my two little brothers, of course. They mean the world to me. But, sometimes, I wonder how things could've been had things been different.

For Josie and Meredith, they're more likely to wonder how better things would be without each other in their life.

Alright, that may seem a bit harsh. In fact, as far as I know, they were good friends. At least that's what was implied. All of it changed when, one evening, their brother - Daniel - passed away from a car crash. Just like that - it only took one moment to break what little hold these girls had on each other. That, and a secret that never came to light until years later.

They both live different lives now - Meredith got to marry one of her good friends and also birthed a little girl named Harper. She also has what would be considered a perfect job - instead of being an actress, she pursued being a lawyer and got her wish. Money's never an issue anymore and they look like a happy family. But nothing's ever what it looks like on the outside.

Josie wanted the family that her sister have. If it wasn't for the fact that Will, her ex, decided to move on and marry another woman... it might have happened the way she wanted it to be. But at least she has a job that she loves - working as a first grade teacher. Nothing really shook her to the core about it until she noticed a familiar name on her roster: Edie, her ex husband's child. It felt like the world was laughing at her and everyone was in on the joke but her. To make things worse - Edie is a wonderful young girl.

But something had to change. Josie wanted a baby. She wanted a family. She couldn't bring herself to wait any longer. She was going to have a child - even if it means getting medically inseminated to let it happen.

But the anniversary of their brother's death is coming and their mother wants to see Sophie - Daniel's ex girlfriend - as a way to make the anniversary that much special. But even with that little reminder, Meredith and Josie find each other between their own little rock and a hard place to rediscover what it means to cope with such a big loss but also learning how to love themselves and their family.

This story is more than just what the synopsis states. I've always been the kind of reader that, even though the book discusses about a topic I normally don't read, immediately gets pulled in with the emotions I feel just reading the words. This book left me glued to my seat. It wasn't difficult to get the two sisters confused with each other - which is a huge plus for me because, sometimes, I easily slip up and get confused over which one's which - and I started feeling sympathy for each one of them for different reasons.

For Meredith, I related to her mental health and sometimes falling for everything a psychologist tells her. Although I don't have OCD, like she does, it's my anxiety that makes me so on edge that I find myself screaming if something is in the wrong place because it's one of the few things I could actually control in my life. I guess I found a bit of me in Mere than I thought I would.

For Josie, I feel like we're both impatient, impulsive (I'm getting better at that, though, hah), and mildly self-centered sometimes. At one point, I was reminded about that so many times that - just like Josie - I started to question whether I was really selfish. We both know what we want, even though sometimes we don't follow through. That's not a bad thing. That's how things are.

It doesn't change the fact that things change as you grow up. You carry these expectations on you - saying you want to major in college in this and then eventually landing a job related to that - with thoughts that this is going to happen exactly as it should. But things change. Plans divert down another path, one that you probably never wanted to take. But, here you are. I think this book helps remind you that, despite plans not working out, things are okay and will be okay. You'll be okay.





Thursday, 16 June 2016

Blog Tour plus GIVEAWAY: There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane




There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC
Book Format: eBook
Rating: 3 stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks
Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of her dome. Now Nat wants answers. What else might her government be hiding from the good and loyal people of Dome 1618?
First Impressions:

... I was dazzled by the book cover. Anything with shiny stars I'll always get myself drawn to.

I was even more interested when I discovered that Natalia, the lead character in this story, lives in an city that is protected from radiation. What happened in the end? Where did the radiation come from? I'm sure one of the obvious answers is from nuclear power and such, but... that would only be the tip of the iceberg. Did they know this was going to happen so 'Dome 1618' was built around that time? And why is there an actual human still outside the walls? So many questions I wanted answered...

I hope that there's some quote that involves 'bottling stars'. That'll be cool.

Aftermath:

I want to start off by saying that this book could easily benefit from having a sequel. No trilogy, but just one more book accompanying this one. There's so much backstory that's been missed that could add so much to what's already been built up. That thought really didn't click in my head until I saw my first impressions of this book. I never did find out how the radiation came to be, but I can't imagine a girl like Natalie would know anyways. Not when her grandparents are so secretive.

I want to know how and why the radiation poisoning began and I want to know how well in advance they knew they were going to have to start creating the domes. I think other readers might be interested in that as well. It doesn't even have to focus on Natalia but, perhaps, on a former character who knew first hand about this.

Anyways. This book centers around a young girl named Natalia and, when it starts off, it's almost her eighteenth birthday. This is huge - it means that she's now considered an adult and is encouraged to spend the next two years trying to find way to contribute to the dome by doing what she knows she'll love for a long time. She gets the chance to celebrate with her close friends, Jax and Xara, by visiting a theater and a museum. Just friends enjoying the last bits of youth together.

Things start to unravel, however, ever since Natalia found herself face to face with an outsider. Well, almost. There was only a thick wall of glass between them, but it was enough to wonder: how could he survive without being infected? Even after the Order catches him for trespassing, he still invades her thoughts.

Things go quickly from there. No longer does she work in sanitation. She has been promoted to the Science division. No reason why - especially since Natalia is more than willing to admit that she didn't study nor test herself for this position - but yet here she was. And, due to her parents being one of the most well known scientists when she was younger, she found herself carrying the weight of their memory even more.

I didn't like Jax. At all. I knew there was something that rubbed off on my wrong with him, especially since he admitted his love for her after the visit from the museum and the theater. That, alone, isn't such a big deal. It takes a lot of energy for anyone to admit that they love someone. But Jax went about it the wrong way. He started to not only see her as more as just a friend - but as someone he knew he would be with forever. He went so far to find himself jealous of her time spent with the outsider, Evan, and claimed she liked him more than she liked Jax (which, I guess wasn't a lie). Jax still wanted her. He wouldn't hesitate to claim her as his own - very toxic behavior. Evan called out on it but, because they've both been friends for so long, Natalia saw it as him only protecting her.

Sigh.

Toxic romance aside, I did find this book really interesting. It was really amusing to see scientists from the dome observing and finding different things - flowers, trees, different life forms - and just being dazzled over the fact that there was life outside the dome. It meant that there was a high possibility that they could live freely outside the dome. But, with the fear that has been placed in the community for generations, how do they bring such a radical idea forward?

The book has been set up pretty well. It could've been better with a little less romance though. I don't think Natalia never even got the chance to think about what exactly her parents were researching on. Actually, I don't think she had much time to think at all, considering how fast the whole plan against the dome was going. She even got snapped at for just wanting to process everything. I can't blame her for that.

Overall, it's an interesting read. I just wish that there would've been more of a history added to this book about the story behind what caused the world to be so toxic that there had to be domes created to save humans? It's not my favorite read but it's a good quick read.






ABOUT MELANIE MCFARLANE:
Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie McFarlane jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie focuses her powers on writing young adult stories to keep the rest of the world up reading all night.

I also got a giveaway for an eBook of THERE ONCE WERE STARS. You have five chances to win. Go go go!!



 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Book Tour - Roses & Rot by Kat Howard




Roses & Rot by Kat Howard
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Publisher: Saga Press
Book Format: Physical book from Publisher.
Rating: Five Stars
Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love.

What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.
First Impression:

I found out about this book through one of the many Irish Banana's blog tours. I'm glad that she gathered together a list of future blog tours and has email notifications because I'm sure there are a lot of books I wouldn't have found if it wasn't for her. Plus - I got to be part of the blog tour. Yay!!

Advertising aside (lol), I was interested with the fact that this story involved sisters and the fact that they are attending a place for artists. The fact that Imogen is described as someone who's always immersed in fairy tales and storytelling, I just knew I had to read this. She reminds me of me so so so much. I'm kind of nervous to see just how close Imogen really is to my personality. But it looks like it goes so much more further than that - her 'fairy tale' could be the one thing that forces her against her sister? Nooooooo!! What is this thing that keeps sisters away? Why? D:

I had to find out...

Aftermath:

Wow. I feel like Imogen with when she found herself confronting Melete for the first time- blissfully ignorant to what she's heading for- and then realizing too late just how different things were meant to be. Imogen may not have liked the outcome, but at least she agreed that it would make for a very interesting story.

"Come on now, Imogen. You know how this works. No one ever made great art by being careful."

Roses and Rot, pg. 143
You only really get to see Marin's and Imogen's mom through their own opinions and thoughts, but its enough to make you understand why they hoped they would never see their mother again. She's just one of the many fairy tale themes that scatters itself on the pages, but it never gets old. It's a constant reminder that, no matter how much you know something inside and out, you'll always find yourself surprised.

The sisters were lucky - they both managed to get into Melete together to further their art. It seems too good to be true, and Imogen felt it in her bones that it was. But Marin constantly reassured her that just because something seemed perfect on the outside doesn't mean that it wasn't. After all, it meant never seeing their mother - at least for nine months. But, with their skills honed, they wouldn't have to see her again.

But it was so much more than that - and the girls were quick to catch on. They may have everything they need to survive, alongside with other girls - Ariel and Helena -  it did not come without a cost. And faeries are more than willing to take back what they're owed.

Yes. Faeries. They exist - but they're not what you expect. Especially for Imogen who had spent most of her life reading fairy tale upon fairy tale hoping for a better life - a happy ending. But, in the end, things don't always go the way you want them to. Even if there was a happy ending, it doesn't come without some sort of scar to remember where they came from.

But still, Imogen keeps writing.

"My voice is who I am, and they can take it from me. I don't know how to feel okay."

Roses and Rot, pg. 143
The writing in this book is perfect. Kat Howard's voice is charming and eerie all at the same time. You could feel the life emanating from the pages - even more so when you read the story Imogen struggles to write on her own. Although, had Imogen's words been lined up together rather than being separated between her own world, it probably would've seemed fractured. But I think, with how the story is trying to be told, it felt right. It fit the mood perfectly.

This is definitely a book that you do not want to miss.

If you like dark faerie tales, a story about two siblings and the path they chose to go on and the one they follow in the end, this will definitely be the book for you.

"My fairy tale ending was to live."

Roses and Rot, pg. 94

(Disclaimer - Even though I did receive a free copy of this book, I wasn't influenced by any sort of outside source that would've swayed my opinion for this story. All opinions and thoughts are my own.)


WHERE TO BUY ROSES AND ROT: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

ABOUT KAT HOWARD:
Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in year's best and best of collections, and performed on NPR. Roses and Rot is her debut novel. You can find her on twitter at @KatWithSword. 

Also, Shane Leonard took her photo, and she's super grateful.

LINKS: Website | Twitter
Interested? Thinking that this might be the kind of book you want to read ASAP? Well, I got awesome news for you - we got a giveaway for one finished copy of Roses and Rot (US only, I'm afraid - sorry D: ).

Enter with the Rafflecopter below and good luck!



Saturday, 4 June 2016

Book Review: Tremontaine - The Complete Season One

Tremontaine - Season One by Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, and Patty Bryant.
Release Date: June 1st, 2016
Publisher: Serial Box
Book Format: eBook from NetGalley
Rating: 5 stars
Welcome to Tremontaine, the prequel to Ellen Kushner’s beloved Riverside series that began with Swordspoint! A Duchess whose beauty is matched only by her cunning; her husband’s dangerous affair with a handsome scholar; a foreigner in a playground of swordplay and secrets; and a mathematical genius on the brink of revolution—when long-buried lies threaten to come to light, betrayal and treachery know no bounds with stakes this high. Mind your manners and enjoy the chocolate in a dance of sparkling wit and political intrigue.

Tremontaine is an episodic serial presented by Serial Box Publishing. This collected omnibus edition gathers all 16 episodes from Season 1.
 
 First Impression:

One of the biggest reasons why I even found myself interested with this is because Malinda Lo is involved with this. I'm quite selfish, I know. I got even more excited, though, when I learned that Alaya Dawn Johnson is involved as well because I've read one of her books, The Summer Prince, and fell in love with it. On top of that - this is the first time I've seen written fiction being treated as a tv show... in a sense. All the mini stories are considered to be 'episodes' and, with all of them together, they're a season. How unique.

Now I just want to know how this all works with so many multiple authors who have put their own words in this and how they weave together.

Aftermath:

As a small disclaimer - I have not yet read any books by Ellen Kushner before reading Tremontaine. This is worth mentioning since it's a prequel for an already published series and I have no idea if this book reflects the quality of the books before it.

At first, this book may seem a little bit daunting to some since it introduces many characters right away. For someone who has trouble taking in too much information at once, it was definitely trying. The book does help the transition of learning about these characters smoothly enough. That's the first episode for you - setting the tone for the rest of the season.

We have a few primary characters that we'll get to follow around a lot. It might help to write them down, unless if you have a better memory than me or you find it easier to just get to know these characters by just following their stories.

First - we have the Duchess Diane Tremontaine. She holds a lot of power in her town and does not hesitate to use it. However, she does not misuse it - she uses her knowledge to plan for things that will benefit her the most. But time is not on her side and she doesn't have long til everything she helped build could crumble away...

Second - The Duke, William Tremontaine, husband to the Duchess. He dedicates his time to his wife and partakes in many of her decisions. He starts to get distracted, however, when he notices a certain male scholar... and he realizes what he's truly missing in his life.

Third - Ixkaab Balam - a young lady who also goes by the nickname 'Kaab'. A trader of things - specifically chocolate from her homeland - and gatherer of secrets. She traveled to a new land to assist with trades with people of higher ranking, like the Tremontaines, with items they desire. Another part of her job is figuring out just who's hiding what. But, even with her history with women, she found herself off guard when she finds a beautiful forgery artist.

Fourth - Micah, a young student who decides to leave her home - the farmland - and pursue a higher education and to put her mind at work in search for greater pastures. In order to not be bothered, however, she claims herself as a male student so she can focus only on college work. But when a tutor instructs their students wrong, Micah stands for herself but only finds herself kicked out in the progress. But she knows she unlocked something. Something so big that could change everything in this town.

So many characters with different background but their paths, unknowingly, diverge within each other towards a destination no one expected to take. At first, it's so easy to just see them as just individual stories - but they merge into something intense,

It may seem strange to write a book as if it were a TV show - minus how scripts are actually written, of course. It makes the transition from one character to another easier. I'm not quite sure exactly how but I think, with that TV mindset, I'm so used to shows heading off into another scenes that it just feels natural. It works for me.

Some people may be turned off by the multiple authors working on this. I say this only because every author have their own writing style. It can be a bit jarring to be used to how this one author writes and then immediately jump to another author's writing style. It's not impossible, though. If you just focus on the story itself, it's not too bad.

If you're looking for a fantasy story full of secrets, fighting, romance (specifically between two cis males and two cis women - from what I can tell from the story, I believe they're all AMAB and AFAB) and deceits... this is the story for you.

I'm still excited to find out what will happen in the next season. : D



Friday, 3 June 2016

ARC Review: Our Chemical Hearts

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Book Format: Physical ARC from the publisher
Rating: 4 stars
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him - at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl; she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl.
First Impression:

To be quite honest, I kind of did think of this as a typical romance story. I just always feel worried when, in the actual synopsis, it blatantly talks about how it's not like the usual 'boy meets girl' story cause more than not... it is. I can understand trying to let the book separate itself from other romance stories but I don't know. I think all descriptions for romance stories are starting to blend in more in my head now.

The Aftermath:

I discovered my initial thoughts were actually incorrect - and I'm quite happy that it was the case for this book. This book is about a simple love story that's, really, not so simple at all. It's about an all-too normal boy falling in love in such spectacular form that it consumes him. Blinds him. You're left wondering, at the end of the story, what really happened between the both of them and where their relationship stands. 

 "It's a story about struggling to move forward without guilt, without regrets, in poetic form. Simple, but raw."


Ironic how one of the main characters, Grace, has a massive desire to write, listen, and read with no filters, and no editing. After all, I'm reading the uncorrected proof of this book so, in a way, it's exactly how Grace would've liked it to be. Somehow, it makes it all that much more special.

Who knew chemistry could be so interesting?

There wasn't really going much for Henry. Honestly, he just wanted to be done with high school and move onto better things. Not before he earns his way as an editor in the school newspaper, of course, but if he could manage to keep his grades up and go into a fairly decent college, it would be nice. Typical, normal, stuff high school students worry about.

But Grace... Grace was never a part of his plans. It would have been one thing had she only really caught his eye during one of his classes. He had never expected to find her in a position where she would be offered a place as an editor in the paper as well. Though, at first reluctant, Grace decides to accept the offer - which meant that now both Grace and Henry were going to spend a lot of time with each other.

There was one point when one of Henry's friends talked about how Grace sounds like a 'MPDG' (or a manic pixie dream girl' in short) with how Henry talks about her. I think was meant to be a sort of stab at the cliche but, if anything, I found it a bit insulting. She may seem odd but, in the end, it was still pitched as a joke and, in result, so is Grace. Definitely disrespectful, in my opinion.

She's still very respected, though. But her secretive-ness is what made some of her friends hesitant to let Henry keep sticking around with Grace.

Their relationship isn't really all that normal either. In fact, it would be a bit of a stretch to even call them a couple. They do spend a lot of time with each other in this book, as evasive Grace is, and there are some scenes that would be considered very much like they were pointing down that path. But, due to Grace's past (excluded in this review due to spoilers), she's been hesitant to even consider it.

To be vague as possible, it's incredibly confusing. You can tell just how bumpy a relationship between them would be like if they had one. Definitely an unconventional love, for sure, but it's probably not a healthy one either. I liked how vague the ending was in this story, for once, because it does encourage you to lead to your own decisions.

But, whatever they might be, there's still that feeling of hope lingering in this story. I wouldn't mind if they never really considered each other a couple - in fact, I'm more for platonic relationships if I'm honest. But there is a hint of courage between them - going past their personal boundaries and discovering what's really worth going through in life.

There's not much that can be taken into much details without oversharing any spoilers. This is only a little of what you can expect from Our Chemical Hearts. If you find any of this eye-catching, please consider pre-ordering this book ASAP.

Keep an eye out 'cause its coming out in the US this September!


Friday, 6 May 2016

Book Except + GIVEAWAY - The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

The Queen’s Poisoner


Book 1 of The Kingfountain Series
By Jeff Wheeler

Beware the king who rules with a bloodstained hand.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

ARC Review: A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock

A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Book Format: eARC from First to Read
Rating: 5 stars
Set in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite’s restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin.

Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus—the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation. Her days are an unbroken loop of empty, champagne-soaked socializing, while her nights are silent and cold, spent waiting alone in her cavernous apartment for a husband who seldom comes home.

Then Emil Hallan arrives at The Angelus to paint a mural above its glittering subterranean pool. The handsome French artist moves into the building, shrouds his work in secrecy, and piques Vera’s curiosity, especially when the painter keeps dodging questions about his past. Is he the man he claims to be? Even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Hallan’s warmth and passion, Vera can’t supress her suspicions. After all, she has plenty of secrets, too—and some of them involve art forgers like her bold, artistically talented former friend, Bea, who years ago, at Vassar, brought Vera to the brink of catastrophe and social exile.

When the dangerous mysteries of Emil’s past are revealed, Vera faces an impossible choice—whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we’ve always led is not the life we want to have.
I think it's worth mentioning that I am greatly thankful for First to Read/ Penguin Random House for giving me the chance to read this book early.

 I can't recall what pulled me to this book, exactly, when I read the description. I think, maybe, being able to pick up a debut author's book was definitely part of the equation. Another was also the book being set in the 1920s and reading from a privileged young woman's perspective. I wasn't quite sure what to expect... but, let me tell you, I was definitely blown away from this book.

We get to see the world from Vera's view - not only as a married woman but as a young woman trying to find herself in college. The story switches back and forth after each chapter which, I know, might sound a bit bothersome to some. This is one of the few instances where it just works and it actually helps support and tie the story nicely with fancy lace.

Things are not as they seem for Vera. Yes, I know, very cliche for a rich young woman, but hear me out. She finds herself home alone most of the time because her husband, Arthur, finds himself too busy with work constantly. She still also seems to be 'under control', as I would explain it, by her mother in order to keep a proper face in the public view. Anything that could potentially ruin the Longacre's name Vera's mother was sure to immediately wash out before the fire burns too uncontrollably. In result, Vera finds herself... suffocated with 'what I must do's rather than doing 'what she wants to do'.

Vera only allows herself to do what is necessary. She does what her mother desires - such as finding legit paintings with her art degree - and does so with rarely any complaints. One day, though, she discovers an artist who goes by Emil Hallan -  a newly discovered artist who has recently graduated from college. His art, so unique in their colors, structure, and flow, that she decided that this was the artist she wanted to paint in the house. Her mother approves - if only to keep the Longacre's name in high standards. Just wait until Mr. Hallan's name become big...

But Vera is more concerned about the growing interest that quickly grabs her heart.

In college, Vera is a little more open to the opportunities she could receive but still remains hesitant. It was probably a surprise that she was even allowed to live on campus with other students. Even so, she was still monitored very closely by her own mother. No. She was still restrained under her mother's control... but only from a distance. Still, it felt just as painful. But at least she managed to find a new friend - Bea, a unique artist of wonderful talent... and refuses to follow the rules, and who has no qualms taking Vera with her.

It's so easy to just read the synopsis and assume that it's a typical book about a woman who finds herself dreading what has become of her life but does nothing to remedy it. This is one of those books where there is certainly more than what could ever be explained properly.

Subtle deceit, secrets, and lies grow at every corner. Like a water to a plant: it takes, absorbs, and grows and grows and grows until it becomes too big to manage on its own.

It's so easy to believe everything - but, eventually, everyone's secrets will come to light. Even the ones that Vera refuse to believe that are happening right under her nose - and in her heart.

Everything builds up at a steady pace. Nothing feels like its out of place and the amount of information given feels like the best amount you can get from a book like this. With a potential budding romance, and all the tension gathering from all the other characters, it's so easy to let things slide by fast without giving things a chance to grow. It felt so believable to me that, at a certain point, I didn't want to stop reading. Vera felt so real to me, so tangible, that I just had to know what was going to happen.

If you're going to read any new debut author's book this year, at the very least consider this book. It's a definite must read for me.




Sunday, 1 May 2016

ARC Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

When We Collided by Emery Lord
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Book Format: ARC (thank you Quality Fangirls for the copy!)
We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.
This book hit me. Really really hard. (In a metaphorical sense, but I suppose if someone actually threw this book at me... it would really hurt). I'm still recovering from it. I think, what I'm feeling right now, this feels like what I imagine a book hangover would feel like. But minus the stomachache which, in all honesty, I'm incredibly grateful for.

I knew mental illness would be discussed in this book but, at the beginning, it felt like... just something normal. In fact, I even recall just thinking 'oh gosh, please don't tell me it's just a typical love story' because I have been finding myself just tired of this cliche. And these two people- Vivi and Jonah- met because one little girl just had to go to an art class (not that I'm against that at all, of course). 

Despite that, I feel like this book pulls you in with a little light nudge until, all of a sudden, the calm suddenly becomes an uncontrollable storm that tears you apart but you stay because the ocean just looks beautiful in its fury.

... You can probably blame Vivi for this vivid explanation. (I also just realized - Vivid. Vivi. That's so perfect because that's how I saw Vivi - vivid and full of color and rainbows that are uncontrollable).

Verona Cove: a place where Jonah has grown in his whole life. For Vivi, Verona Cove is a place to start anew. A home away from home. Vivi just wants to recover from her past. Jonah craves for a future that seems far off now ever since his mom fell into depression.

Somehow, despite their differences, they manage to clash - in a good-bad way (??? I don't know how else to explain it).  Jonah stresses out how she's going to view his family but Vivi found herself brightening everyones' day. A beacon of light. Life is still stressful but, admittingly, it felt less so with her in the picture. The kisses weren't so bad, either, of course.

But Vivi's past is slowly crawling back as she refuses to believe what it in her mind - and drives herself to fix it herself. 

I'm not saying that this book shows a 100% representation of bipolar disorder but that doesn't make it any less worthy. I felt myself brewing in Vivi - potential for irritation even if there is only a sliver of worry for the situation. Overactive happiness to where sleep is no longer an option. Rapid, vivid, uncontrollable thoughts. Finding connection in the smallest of things. Creative imagination - with art and her words.

This barely even scrapes the surface on what I deal with a lot. It is unpredictable a lot of times. Just today, I found myself going through many emotions: optimism, guilt and an overwhelming sadness, calm, irritation over feeling like I'm selfish, not feeling much at all, stressing out and being heavily paranoid, exhaustion. Finally - silence and calm. As far as I know, though, my symptoms are pretty tame in comparison to many others who are bipolar.  

I think this, in itself, should be enough for a little taste in what you should expect from this book. It's not one that you can explain easily with words - When We Collided is one of those books that you just have to experience to understand. When you snag this book - you'll understand why.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

WoW: Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun


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

This week, my most anticipated release is:


Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun
Anticipated Release Date: April 26th, 2016
As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family; by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman; and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.

When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25502639-heir-to-the-sky

I'm a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear-- or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work's improved since then.

In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn't actually become an archaeologist -- I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.

The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with my husband and daughter. When I'm not writing, I'm devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons.