Monday, November 12, 2018

How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett

How She Died, How I Lived
Release Date: November 13th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: From Publisher
Reason: For Honest Review
Find the Author: Website
Buy the Book: Amazon CA | Amazon

I was one of five. The five girls Kyle texted that day. The girls it could have been. Only Jamie--beautiful, saintly Jamie--was kind enough to respond. And it got her killed.
On the eve of Kyle's sentencing a year after Jamie's death, all the other "chosen ones" are coping in various ways. But our tenacious narrator is full of anger, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie's boyfriend--knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead?
The Young Adult literary world is having quite the movement of its own. Authors are writing bolder stories that tackle real-life issues. They are breaking down barriers and giving voices to many.  How She Died, How I Lived is no exception.

Mary Crockett penned an emotionally raw novel that will leave you thinking about it long after you've finished. The story tackles the aftermath of the violent murder of a teenage girl by a fellow classmate. The author does a tremendous job at capturing the emotional intensity of this story. She crafted multiple layers that provided a wide perspective of how each character was impacted.

A small character cast adds to the overall tone of the novel. You don't get lost in too many side stories. It was just the perfect amount to achieve the emotion of the storyline. Aside from the subject matter, there was a light undertone that shined through that provided a bit of a relief at times.

How She Died, How I Lived is more than just a story about death. It is about life after death. It's about the ripple of effect of those still left on earth. Even those affected who didn't quite know the victim that well. It's also a story about forgiveness. How forgiving isn't a weakness, it's a necessary step to moving on. It's about figuring out who you are now; since the person you once were has been ripped away from you. Or that person just doesn't quite fit right anymore. How She Died, How I Lived is an intense powerhouse of a novel.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies, #1)
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 384 Pages
Series: Grim Lovelies #1
Format: ARC
Source:  From Publisher
Reason: For Honest Review
Find the Author:
Buy the Book: Amazon CA | Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.
Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price. 

Gargoyles and Beasties and Witches, Oh my! Grim Lovelies is an enchanting tale that will take you down its dark and twisted road. 

Grim Lovelies is a book that you will want to return to, year after year, as a loved tradition. I can already see myself, this time next year, as the wind chills and the leaves are bold and colourful, curling up to this book and revisiting its magical world.

I adored and savoured every single moment of this story. Megan Shepherd, as if casting a spell herself, lures you into the world of the Beasties and the dark magic that surrounds them. Shepherd paints a beautiful setting, placing you right in the palm of its Parisian hands. You could smell the lavender, taste the tea, feel the warmth of the magic pulsing off of the pages. It was a delicious reading experience!

With this beautiful setting comes an even more decadent character cast. The book is told from the perspective of Anouk, a beastie that was Mada Vittora's house servant. I loved Anouk. I found her to be a powerful main character. She is not a damsel in distress, she is a rockstar! Then we have Cricket, another strong and bold female character that is witty and seriously kick ass. Beau is the love interest in the story. I think Megan Shepherd gave us just the perfect about of romance. It is not the main storyline, nor is it really the second. It is a pleasant undertone of the novel. A beautiful reminder that despite the darkness, there is still beauty, there is still love.

There is so much that can be said of Grim Lovelies it holds so much in its 384 pages, and yet could have gone far beyond that. I love that this is a series. The author does a spectacular job of setting up the potential storylines for the next book to come, which I am already eagerly awaiting! Aside from it being thrilling and heart-pounding, Grim Lovelies is also a story about self-discovery and growth. A story about finding one's self right in the midst of chaos. A phoenix rising out of the ashes.


“You thirst for magic so you can exact revenge. You want to destroy, to tear down. I see it in your eyes."
"And what's wrong with that?"
"Nothing, my dear, as long as you don't mind living in a broken world.” 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Confessions of a Teenage Leper by Ashley Little

Confessions of a Teenage Leper
Release Date: September 25th, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Canada | Penguin Teen
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 304 Pages
Format: ARC
Source: From Publisher
Reason: For honest review

Abby Furlowe has plans. Big plans. She's hot, she's popular, she's a cheerleader and she's going to break out of her small Texas town and make it big. Fame and fortune, adoration and accolades. It'll all be hers. 
Abby is sent to a facility to recover and deal with this new reality. Her many misdiagnoses mean that some permanent damage has been done, and all of her plans suddenly come tumbling down. If she can't even wear high heels anymore, what is the point of living? Cheerleading is out the window, and she might not even make it to prom. PROM!
But it's during this recovery that Abby has to learn to live with something even more difficult than Hansen's Disease. She's becoming aware of who she really was before and what her behavior was doing to others; now she's on the other side of the fence looking in, and she doesn't like what she sees. . . 
But then she notices some spots on her skin. She writes them off as a rash, but things only get worse. She's tired all the time, her hands and feet are numb and her face starts to look like day-old pizza. By the time her seventeenth birthday rolls around, she's tried every cream and medication the doctors have thrown at her, but nothing works. When she falls doing a routine cheerleading stunt and slips into a coma, her mystery illness goes into overdrive and finally gets diagnosed: Hansen's Disease, aka leprosy. 
Despite the heavy storyline, Confessions of a Teenage Leper was witty, quirky and a really fun read!

Abby, a literal Regina George, is given a pretty harsh reality check. A girl who uses her looks to charm her way through life is diagnosed with Hansons Disease, aka Leprosy. She loses her friends and everything she has built in her shallow world.

I really loved the way Ashley Little crafted Abby's character. You really do kind of dislike her in the beginning, and her attitude can definitely make you cringe. But, all of that was necessary to get the full grasp of her transformation throughout the book. It is a great story of self-growth. Abby struggles to grasp her diagnosis and goes through all the natural stages of coming to terms with it.

Aside from Abby, we are given a pretty great character cast. Each character adds charm and depth to the entire story.

Confessions of a Teenager Leper was not what I expected at all. It is filled with so much personality. At times heart-wrenching it was just as much heart-warming. A wonderful reading experience! 

Monday, September 24, 2018

The War Outside by Monica Hesse

The War Outside
Release Date: September 25th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 336 Pages
Format: ARC
Source: From Publisher
Reason: For Honest Review
Find the Author:Website
Buy the Book: Amazon CA | Amazon

A stunning novel of conviction, friendship, and betrayal from Monica Hesse, the Edgar Award-winning and bestselling author of Girl in the Blue Coat
It's 1944, and World War II is raging across Europe and the Pacific. The war seemed far away from Margot in Iowa and Haruko in Colorado--until they were uprooted to dusty Texas, all because of the places their parents once called home: Germany and Japan.
Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a "family internment camp" for those accused of colluding with the enemy. The teens discover that they are polar opposites in so many ways, except for one that seems to override all the others: the camp is changing them, day by day and piece by piece. Haruko finds herself consumed by fear for her soldier brother and distrust of her father, who she knows is keeping something from her. And Margot is doing everything she can to keep her family whole as her mother's health deteriorates and her rational, patriotic father becomes a man who distrusts America and fraternizes with Nazis.
With everything around them falling apart, Margot and Haruko find solace in their growing, secret friendship. But in a prison the government has deemed full of spies, can they trust anyone--even each other?

The War Outside is one of those books that you hug tightly to your chest and let out a deep sigh as soon as you've finished the last page. The story and its characters will embed themselves deep into your soul.

The War Outside was a perspective of WW2 that I have never known. I did not know about these internment camps and their existence. It's another heartwrenching fact of that time. Although The War Outside may be fiction, I am sure its story is very true for the people that were involved. I'm sure if they could have read The War Outside they would have found a little piece of themselves in one of the characters.

This is my first book by Monica Hesse but it will not be my last. She crafted an emotional story about 2 girls that, despite the rules of society, developed an unbreakable bond. The War Outside is a very character driven novel. It is not a story about a war. It is a beautiful tale about 2 girls with a war happening around them. Hesse approached this story with a fine delicacy. It's as if Haruko and Margot were in the room with her, confiding their stories, whispering their secrets and she was just transcribing them to paper.

The War Outside is a book that you'll want to savour. You will want to take your time reading each word, not rushing, although it will be tough to not devour it. It's dual perspective will give you a deep look into each character and the own wars within themselves and their families that they are dealing with.

Get cozy, curl up with your favourite blanket (and a box of tissues) and delve into the stories of Haruko and Margot, but be prepared, once you meet them, you'll never forget them. 

I read a book, this book was called The War Outside and I will never forget it.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Confessions of a Teenage Leper by Ashley Little

Confessions of a Teenage Leper

Release Date: September 25th, 2018

Abby Furlowe has plans. Big plans. She's hot, she's popular, she's a cheerleader and she's going to break out of her small Texas town and make it big. Fame and fortune, adoration and accolades. It'll all be hers. 
But then she notices some spots on her skin. She writes them off as a rash, but things only get worse. She's tired all the time, her hands and feet are numb and her face starts to look like day-old pizza. By the time her seventeenth birthday rolls around, she's tried every cream and medication the doctors have thrown at her, but nothing works. When she falls doing a routine cheerleading stunt and slips into a coma, her mystery illness goes into overdrive and finally gets diagnosed: Hansen's Disease, aka leprosy. Abby is sent to a facility to recover and deal with this new reality. Her many misdiagnoses mean that some permanent damage has been done, and all of her plans suddenly come tumbling down. If she can't even wear high heels anymore, what is the point of living? Cheerleading is out the window, and she might not even make it to prom. PROM!But it's during this recovery that Abby has to learn to live with something even more difficult than Hansen's Disease. She's becoming aware of who she really was before and what her behavior was doing to others; now she's on the other side of the fence looking in, and she doesn't like what she sees. . .

photo_2

Little was born in Calgary, Alberta. She earned her bachelor of fine arts in creative writing and film studies at the University of Victoria and an MFA in creative writing from University of British Columbia. She lives in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.Little's debut novel PRICK: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist was published by Tightrope Books in 2011. Prick was shortlisted for the ReLit Award. Her second novel The New Normal (Orca Book Publishers, 2013) is for young adults. The New Normal won the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize at the 2014 BC Book Prizes. Her third novel, Anatomy of a Girl Gang (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013) won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize at the 2014 BC Book Prizes, one of two awards Little won that year. Anatomy of a Girl Gang was a Finalist for the 2014 City of Vancouver Book Award and longlisted for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.Little served as the 2014 writer in residence for Calgary's Alexandra Writers Centre Society, and as the 2015 Vancouver Public Library Writer in Residence. Little served as the 2017 Edna Staebler Writer in Residence for Wilfrid Laurier University.
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Monday, September 3, 2018

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

People Kill People
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books | Simon and Schuster
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 448 Pages
Format: ARC
Source: From Publisher
Reason: For Honest Review
Find the Author: Website
Buy the Book: Amazon CA | Amazon

People kill people. Guns just make it easier.
A gun is sold in the classifieds after killing a spouse, bought by a teenager for needed protection. But which was it? Each has the incentive to pick up a gun, to fire it. Was it Rand or Cami, married teenagers with a young son? Was it Silas or Ashlyn, members of a white supremacist youth organization? Daniel, who fears retaliation because of his race, who possessively clings to Grace, the love of his life? Or Noelle, who lost everything after a devastating accident, and has sunk quietly into depression?One tense week brings all six people into close contact in a town wrought with political and personal tensions. Someone will fire. And someone will die. But who? 

 You can't be a part of the young adult literary world without knowing who Ellen Hopkins is. She is well known and well loved for pairing her unique writing style with raw and relevant stories. Her books may be based off of fictional character but the issues she tackles so honestly hit home for many people. Ellen Hopkin's gets as real as fiction can get.

People Kill People is no exception. This book hit me hard. I finished it a few days ago and am still left reeling. Immigration, gun control, gun violence, and racism is a very active issue right now. Yes, it always lived, more so in the shadows, but not it is front and center, in the spotlight. People Kill People tells the story of 6 very different lives all within one pulsing week. The book is delivered from the perspective of each character: Rand, Cami, Noelle, Silas, Ashlyn, and Daniel. Each character holds their own strong opinion on immigration, racism and guns. This reason, driving them to make the decisions that they make. The pacing of this novel is on point. Hopkins does an outstanding job at building each character and letting their story unfold at a perfect pace. Giving you a glimpse into themselves and why they believe their perception of life is the right one. Why they believe they are justified in doing what they do. 

There is another perspective that joins us in this book, in Hopkins unique verse style, Violence. That's right, we also get to hear from the side of Violence itself. And I tell you, that made for quite a rattling and powerful reading experience.

People Kill People is honest and relevant. It will shake you up and consume you. It will tug at your heart and madden you all at the same time. It's a one of a kind read that will leave you thinking about it long after you've read it.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie
Release Date: Septemeber 4th, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 320 Pages
Format: E-galley
Source: Netgalley
Reason: For Honest Review
Find the Author: Website
Buy the Book: Amazon | Amazon CA


Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. 
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Canada is known for some pretty spectacular things: Health Care, Maple Syrup, Poutine...But, to me, what makes Canada most notable is its talent in the literary world. We've got Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro but most brag-worthy is Courtney Summers. A strong female author that writes books that will shake you to your core. She tackles subjects that some shy away from. She gets raw and gritty and isn't afraid to go there. Courtney Summers makes me proud to be Canadian.

Sadie is a heartwrenching tale about a girl on the hunt for her sisters killer. Delivered, outstandingly, in dual perspective: the first being in podcast format and the second coming from Sadie herself. It is a sad story about a girl seeking vengeance for her dead sister. Sadie's pain bleeds from the pages and will leave you heartbroken for her. Like her previous work, Summers has a flawless writing style. Her story development draws you in immediately and will never let you go. Summers crafts a small but in-depth character cast in Sadie. Each character adds their own valuable puzzle piece to this dark and mysterious story. Summers surely captures the emotional tone of this novel. It will have you questioning whats right and wrong, and how you would handle Sadie's situation. This story isn't just about Sadie, it is also about a journalist that is willing to go to the ends of the earth to find out what happened to her and to Mattie. To give Sadie a voice and to tell her story. In a way, it's a triumphant story.  

Courtney Summers has done it again, but really, I had no doubt whatsoever. Her books, her characters nestle themselves deep into my heart and hold space there until the very last page and long after.
 
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