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What to Expect the First Year
Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, Sandee Hathaway
Me Before You
Jojo Moyes
The Silver Star
Jeannette Walls
The Eternity Cure
Julie Kagawa

I'm in the process of moving my books over from Goodreads, so bear with me while I figure this all out!


I also blog at http://writergrrlreads.blogspot.ca.  Come visit me there as well!

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things

The Book of Lost Things - Cynthia Voigt, Iacopo Bruno I don't read a lot of middle grade fiction, and can probably count on one hand the number of titles that I've read and reviewed on this blog; however, when I saw an e-mail from Netgalley about this title, I just KNEW that I had to read it. I absolutely adored Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming series when I was younger and I remember reading Dicey's adventures several times over.Max's theatrical parents receive a mysterious invitation to India and then disappear on the date of their departure. Max is left behind with his grandma and must not only fend for himself, but also has to contend with solving the mystery of what happened to his parents and dodging some mysterious people with long ears that seem to know that his parents have left. Desperate to earn some money so that he can afford to stay on his own, Max becomes Mister Max, a finder of lost things (hence the title). This is the first book in a trilogy that is sure to be a delight to a whole new generation of Voigt fans.Despite the fact that I don't read much middle grade, I did enjoy Max's adventures. The style of the book has an older feel to it, almost like it was written a hundred years ago, which likely helps to make it accessible to older readers. Max is a likeable character, as are the rest of the colourful people that come in and out of the storyline. My only criticism of the story is that Max often puts on one of his parents' theatrical costumes as part of his investigations and then people believe that he is the person or the age that he's pretending to be. And he's TWELVE. It seems a bit unlikely that a twelve year old can be continually seen as a gentleman, just because of a costume. Or maybe that's just me. Regardless of this minor point of contention, the story is well-told and flows well. I'm eager to see what the next installment of Max's adventures will bring!Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley. The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my review of this book in any way.

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always - Elissa Janine Hoole I have to confess something with this book: I requested a review copy on Netgalley because I thought the cover was really pretty. I'd just been turned down for a couple of titles that I was REALLY excited about, so I thought that I maybe my chances of getting approved for my next request might be better if I'd read and reviewed more titles (silly, I know). So I perused through some upcoming titles, and the cover of this book jumped out at me.Once I started reading the book, it was NOT at all what I expected. Cassandra's family is very religious, and they seem to be part of a fundamentalist Christian church (i.e. the Church is opposed to all kinds of things, including the school's Winter Carnival). Cassandra, despite her family's beliefs, feels that she's an atheist and struggles with how to coexist with her parents. Also, her older brother is gay, and she's learning how to deal with the way that the world sees him.These conflicts aren't the centre of the story. The main focus is the fact that Cassandra purchases a pack of tarot cards for her birthday and then starts up a fortune-telling blog that goes viral, where she does readings in response to her readers' questions. The main subplot that runs through the story is that Cassandra's English teacher has asked her to write a poem, a song of herself. Since Cassandra isn't too sure how she fits into the world, with her religious beliefs and friendships that just don't feel right, she can't write the assignment.There were a few moments where I wondered where the book was headed, and felt that the storyline was getting just a little too preachy. But then the writer pulled it back perfectly and I found myself enjoying the book again. By the end of the book, I was loving Cassandra's story and rooting for her. This is a very enjoyable contemporary tale that deals with a lot of tough issues, but in a heartfelt and genuine way.Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley. The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my review of this book in any way.

The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey Series #2)

The Iron Daughter - Julie Kagawa I read the first book in the series, The Iron King, way back in February 2012, shortly after I started this blog. I can recall enjoying it, but not loving it. When I reread my review, I was surprised to see that I was so excited by the end of the book and had already placed the next three books on hold at the library. Obviously, something got in the way of finishing the series, as these things seem to do, and I've only now found myself picking up the second book.It took a little while to remember what was happening in Meghan's world. Just like the first book, the beginning of the book seemed a bit slow, but it picked up by the end of the story. Meghan's character does get on my nerves a little bit -- she's not the best lead female that I've read. But there are enough redeeming qualities to the series for me to read on, and I'm determined to finish the series!

Losing Hope (Hopeless, #2)

Losing Hope (Hopeless, #2) - Colleen Hoover I read, and loved, Hopeless. It was the first book that I'd had the pleasure of reading and reviewing from Netgalley. So, when I saw a flutter of excitement on Twitter over Losing Hope, I quickly requested a copy and was thrilled when my request was approved.I liked Losing Hope, but not quite as much as Hopeless. I think it's because it's the same story as Hopeless, but just told from Holder's point of view. Hopeless was such a great story because of all of the twists and turns that I just didn't see coming, whereas this book was almost like reading the same story a second time. I like re-reads, but I always find that I don't love the story as much the second time around. I suppose it's because there's a certain type of magic in discovering a story for the first time, and the second read through just lacks a little of that magic.With that being said, Losing Hope is still really, really good. In Hopeless, I found that I was a bit worried about the beginning of the book, because I felt like Sky and Holder were developing a dysfunctional Edward-Bella type relationship, where he treats her like crap but she still worships him. In Losing Hope, we really get into Holder's mind and, although I still find Holder to be a little over the top in his emotional and physical reactions to the events around him, I liked him better now that I've seen the world through his eyes.If Holder is one of those bad boys that you hate to love, you'll definitely want to check out this companion novel. It's a quick, easy read that I polished off in just two days. Perfect for the beach!

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave - Just not in the mood for aliens right now...


Burning - Elana K. Arnold Reading this book was a bit like a roller coaster ride. I had moments where I was loving every word, and moments where I had a really tough time pushing myself to finish the book. Let me take you along the journey of the highs and lows...The book tells the story of Ben and Lala in alternating narratives. The chapters flip back and forth between Lala and Ben's points of view and each character has a distinctive voice. I liked Ben's character -- he and his friends are very typically crass teenage boys, ribbing each other about sex and girls. Then sometimes I'd wonder whether it was accurate to portray the boys in this manner, never really talking about anything from the heart. The boys are going through the collapse of their town after the gypsum mine shut down, and each boy is moving onto a new life in another down. Not the mention the fact that Ben's friend Pete went through the loss of his father. It just seems like the boys are a little superficial in the way they interact with one another, especially when contrasted with the way that Ben THINKS. He's quite profound, yet he doesn't always verbalize what's going on in his head.Lala's voice annoyed me at times; she almost seems old-fashioned in the way she speaks (i.e. there's never a contraction in her section of the book -- I am feeling instead of I'm feeling -- and it seems odd in today's day and age to not use contractions). But then sometimes I'd get caught up in the way that Lala sees the world (she seems very wise beyond her years) and then the way her sections are written would annoy me less.Once I reached the acknowledgemets section at the end of the book, I was surprised to see that the author thanked a professor of anthropology, as well as people who provided her with information about gypsum mining and tarot reading, but there was nothing specifically mentioned about gypsies. This left me wondering exactly where she found out the information that she included in the book about Lala's family. My husband is half gypsy (although Eastern European gypsy) and his culture is NOTHING like the gypsies portrayed in this book. Perhaps there are other cultures of gypsies that I don't know as much about, but the gypsy culture in this book just seemed ... off somehow. I mean, Lala's family believes that a woman is considered unclean when she has her period and cannot be around the rest of the family. Even their clothes from the lower halves of their bodies are washed separately from the rest of the laundry. And yet Lala has a cell phone, and uses her phone to read books. She's reading The Catcher in the Rye during the course of this book, and seems intrigued by gazhò culture (I'm assuming this means "white" culture?). Yet, even though she's so drawn to this other culture, and imagining things that are "forbidden" to her, she still clings to these traditional beliefs of her people. And, without spoiling the ending, seems completely okay with her decisions at the end. I don't know -- it's hard to explain, but this whole part of the book just seemed a little off to me.Before I started writing this review, I had quick glance over some other reviews on Goodreads. One of the concepts that came up quite a few times was the "insta-love" in this book. Many readers felt that the love between Ben and Lala was completely unrealistic. This is one area where I'd have to disagree, and I think that this was what finally convinced me that I was enjoying the book after all. The love story was completely real to me, and felt like a teenage romance should be. Although Ben and Lala's relationship progresses quickly (this may have been what rubbed some readers the wrong way), I felt that the quick explosion of feelings is what teenagers feel when they become infatuated with someone. Those feelings sometimes burn out as quickly as they come on, but it's that intensity that makes teenage love so real. The author did a beautiful job of conveying that aspect.In conclusion, I liked this book, but I didn't love it as much as I had hoped I would. It would have been easier for me to digest the story if it hadn't been for the bizarre gypsy traditions that didn't sit well with me; however, there were more things that I liked than things that bugged me. It's a quick read, and one that would be great if you're participating in the Summer of Standalones!Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley. The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my review of this book in any way.

Slammed (Slammed, #1)

Slammed (Slammed, #1) - Colleen Hoover I read Colleen Hoover's Hopeless last month and LOVED IT. Couldn't put it down and read the entire thing in only a couple of days. Afterwards, I put Slammed on hold at the library, excited to dive into another of Colleen's novels.I wasn't as impressed with this one as I was with Hopeless. Don't get me wrong, Colleen can tell a story -- I gobbled this one up almost as quickly as I did with Hopeless. It was just the subject material that rubbed me the wrong way. As the wife of a high school English teacher, there's just something about teachers falling in love with students that bugs me. The age difference isn't huge between Layker and Will, which made the story bearable, since I probably would have DNFed it if it was an older man falling for a teenage girl. Especially when it's a teacher who's in a position of trust. The love story in this book is believable though since, as I mentioned before, it's not a fifteen year age gap or anything like that. Will and Layker do have a fair bit in common since there's only a few years' age difference between them. I also really liked the slam poetry used in the book -- an art form that I've never seen used in a novel before, but very effectively used in this one.With that being said, I will read the companion novel, Point of Retreat, because Colleen Hoover can tell a really good story.

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson I wanted to like this one. I really, really did. I liked the premise of the book, but the pacing was way too slow for my tastes.

Through the Ever Night

Through the Ever Night - You know how they always add new words to the dictionary, so words like the verb "to Google" become actual real words, rather than just slang? Well, I think they should also add "second book syndrome" to the next revision of the dictionary. This would encompass all those books where the first book blew your mind, but then the second book just ... failed to live up the wonder that was the first book.Through the Ever Night is NOT one of those books. I have been disappointed by many a follow-up book, but Through the Ever Night was actually BETTER than the first book in the series, leaving me even MORE excited for Into the Still Blue.If you read my review of Under the Never Sky, I had a hard time getting into the book. So much that I had DNFed it, until some blogging friends convinced me to give it a second shot. Once I was immersed in the world, I sped through the pages of both books with no problem. The more that I read of Veronica Rossi's work, the more impressed I am that she can just throw the reader into this dystopian world with no explanation, and somehow it just WORKS. Even though I still don't fully understand the Aether, I just trust that there's further explanation coming and I am fully content to just let the story unwind as it should.I was watching Tea Time with Epic Reads a couple of weeks ago, and it sounds like Into the Still Blue is finished, which will hopefully mean there may be an ARC out there one of these days? I, for one, cannot WAIT to see how the end of this trilogy unfolds.

Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time

Love is a Mix Tape - Rob Sheffield When Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner posted about this book a while ago (it was one of her "Before I Blogged" reviews), it sounded like a total me book. I'm totally from the generation that remembers the power of the mix tape, from recording favourite songs of the radio (which always turned into the most random mixes) to making mixes for friends of songs that just TOTALLY sum up our friendship. I still have some mix tapes, even though I no longer own a tape deck, and was heartbroken when ICBC stole all my radio-made mix tapes after my car accident. (In their defense, I did sign paperwork claiming that I had all my possessions back, but I didn't realize that the tapes weren't in the bag until my car had already been taken to the junk yard *sob*) The memories summed up by a mix tape are simply indescribable.So, with that being said, I was totally excited to dive into Rob Sheffield's memoir that tells the story of how he met and fell in love with his wife, who he later lost very suddenly. Each chapter is a mix tape that plays a particular role in their story.There's so much about this book that I loved, from the mix tapes themselves to the multitude of quotes in the book that just made me want to write them all down. (Cassie @ Books With Cass did a great all-quotes post, so if you want to see some fantastic ones, just click on over to her review). There's so much about the power of music to shape your mood, the way songs just evoke particular emotions and the way listening to certain songs can just transport you back to a time and place in an instant. As a music buff myself, I found myself just shouting "yes!" to many of the points that Rob made throughout this book. I'm totally the kind of person that makes mixes for people, just as I press books into people's hands, exclaiming "You are totally going to LOVE this! Just TRUST me!" I'll obsess over making a mix CD for friends, adding 100 songs to an iTunes playlist, then slowly whittling it down to those magical 15 tracks that just flow effortlessly and completely and utterly convey the theme that I was going for.Yet at the same time, I found the constant name-dropping of bands and songs to be a little disconcerting. The thing with music is that there's SO MUCH amazing music out there, that's it's virtually impossible to know all the bands and all the songs. So there was a lot of times that I didn't understand the references Rob was making because I didn't know the song he was talking about. Although I did enjoy the book, it was alienating at times to not fully understand all the song references. I think my favourite chapter was towards the end when he was including songs from the mid-90s, which is totally my generation. I missed out on a lot of 70s and 80s music, because my parents only played 50s and 60s music at home (their generation) and then I jumped straight into the current popular stuff of the mid-90s, once I started junior high. I'm slowly discovering the generations of music that I missed out on through my husband, since he's eight years older than me, but there's definitely a gap in my music knowledge, primarily in the years in which this book takes place.In hindsight, I think that I would have benefitted from reading this book more slowly, and perhaps listening to each referenced song as it is mentioned. Oh the wonders of YouTube, that now allows us this magic! I might just re-read this book one day and do just that -- I'm sure that I will love a lot of the bands and songs referenced if given the opportunity to discover them.

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell I read (and loved) Attachments a couple of months ago, and have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Eleanor + Park at my library. When it finally arrived, I squealed all over Twitter, and set aside my current read so that I could dive into this one.I wanted to love this book so, so, so much. Especially after hearing so much blog love. But I didn't. I liked it, and it definitely had its moments that touched me, but on the whole it fell a little flat.I absolutely adore the cover. In fact, it was the cover that first convinced me that I'd love this book -- a couple bonding over music? Yes please! I was imagining something along the lines of Sarah Dessen's Just Listen, but the music aspect wasn't as prevalent in the story as I'd expected.Eleanor and Park are definitely unique characters and I really do have to applaud Rainbow Rowell's character development. I honestly can't say that too much happened in this book (it's not an action driven plot), but the growth in characterization is definitely the driving force in the novel. I didn't particularly care for Eleanor's character throughout most of this book. She's been through a lot in her short life, so I can definitely understand why she's a little messed up, but I didn't feel as sympathetic for her as I probably could have. Maybe it was just her abrasive personality? I don't know. But I really, really, really liked Park. And his mom. His mom was probably my favourite character.I know that I've written about this before, but sometimes I feel like I have unreasonably high expectations of a book (I know that this happened with both Code Name Verity and The Madman's Daughter), so when I finally read the book, I'm expecting way too much. Perhaps that's the case with Eleanor + Park -- I was just waiting to be blown away, to laugh, to cry, to want the book to never end -- and it just didn't happen. It's still a good story, but just not ten thousand kinds of amazing like I had expected.

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein I had such high hopes for Code Name Verity, after seeing this book listed on so many bloggers' End of Year surveys last year. Perhaps it was my unrealistically high expectations, but I didn't love the book as much as I had hoped that I would.I liked it, don't get me wrong. Elizabeth Wein definitely knows her stuff when it comes to aviation and WWII history. But perhaps it was the level of details throughout the book that distracted me from the actual story underneath. I appreciated that Ms. Wein did a lot of research in order to ensure that every detail was presented as accurately as possible; however, I was more interested in the characters themselves. It look a long time to get the story going and really get into Maddie and Julie's friendship, and that was where the book really shone. If it wasn't for so many bloggers assurance that, despite it's slow beginning, it would be worth it in the end, I definitely would have DNF-ed it. But, unlike The Madman's Daughter, where I felt disappointed that I'd wasted so much time on a book that really didn't wow me in the end, this one definitely did redeem itself by the end. It was the earth-shaking, unbelievable twist that I was expecting (it WAS a great twist, that's for sure, but I think my twist expectations were just too high).I wanted to like this book so much, since I have a fondness for WWII stories. I think it was just my expectations that brought the book down a little for me ... sometimes it's better to NOT know anything about the book before I start reading it, eh?

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson When I was younger, I devoured fantasy stories. Unicorns, dragons and magical lands were my favourites, especially if the book was written by Piers Anthony. Then something happened, I grew up and I lost my interest in fantasy. I've tried to jump back into the genre a few times, but found the plots hard to follow. Perhaps it's characters named Rxysharisk or trying to remember who's half falcon and half ogre or any other fantastical concept. Or perhaps it's just a side effect of growing older, since it became harder and harder to relate to a world so far removed from our own.Then one day, Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books and I were chatting about fantasy on Twitter. I told her about the fact that I used to love fantasy, and wished that I could rekindle that love again. She's a fantasy connoisseur, so I asked her for a recommendation. She mentioned that she had heard good things about The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and asked if I'd like to read it with her. Emboldened by the concept of having a fantasy friend on hand in case I got confused, I agreed.Wow. What a book! Perhaps this isn't the most fantastical of all fantasy books out there (i.e. I'm still not quite ready to dive into Game of Thrones), but I really did love experiencing this magical world. I'd almost label this book as fantasy for those that claim they don't like fantasy, since the characters and their struggles are very real-world, even though the setting is a fantastical world. There are no dragons or mythological creatures in the story, but there is magic and a really great story.Elisa is a great heroine, blessed with a godstone in her navel from the time that she was a baby. Bearing the godstone means that she is destined to accomplish a great act of service, but she doesn't yet know what that act might be. I was frustrated at times by Elisa's constant obsession with her weight and her figure (she constantly compares herself to others), but I did enjoy the way her character developed throughout the course of the book.Rae Carson's greatest strength, in my opinion, is description. She paints such vivid pictures of the scenery, the characters, the food, the clothes, everything. I felt that the novel engaged all of my senses and I was swept up in the magic of it all. The story is well-paced, balancing slower portions of character development and description with some action-packed scenes that had me flying through the pages and hoping that Marko would stay napping just a little longer so that I could finish the book!THANK YOU Alexa, for encouraging me to read this one. I've already put The Crown of Embers on hold at the library and I'm eager to read the continuation of Elisa's adventures.


Attachments - Rainbow Rowell I've been seeing rave reviews of Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Eleanor + Park, popping up all over the blogosphere, and I'm super excited to read that one. My library, however, seems to be rather slow in processing the newly acquired titles, and the book has been "on order" for quite some time. I've seen other bloggers state that Attachments was equally wonderful; however, my library only had an e-copy, so I thought I'd wait and try out Eleanor + Park first. BUT THEN, I discovered e-reading and decided to borrow my very first e-book from the library!Success. Success in so many, many ways. First of all, downloading the e-book from the library was so simple. I just had to install an app on my iPad, and then all it took was the click of a button. The coolest part is that, every time I load up the app, it tells me right on the main page how many days I have left before my book expires. (The loan period is 21 days). It was a nice reminder each time I started reading that I only had X number of days left. And when the loan period's up? The book RETURNS ITSELF. No late fines! How cool is that?And onto the story. I'd only just started the story before deciding that Rainbow Rowell is one of my new favourite writers. I think I'll add her to my auto-buy list. I found myself unable to put this book down, and devoured the entire thing in just a few days. In fact, I'd committed to reading The Girl of Fire & Thorns with Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books, but I fell behind in my reading because I just couldn't stop reading Attachments until the story was done.Attachments has a dual narration. Some chapters are told in e-mail form, as two women (Beth and Jennifer) e-mail back and forth at work. The other chapters are told from Lincoln's point of view in a standard third-person narrative. Lincoln is the IT person at the newspaper where Beth and Jennifer work, and his job is to monitor company e-mails and computer usage. Although he should be reporting the women for spending their work days engrossed in e-mailing each other about the personal details of their lives, instead he finds himself falling in love. What follows is a light-hearted (but at times quite serious) look at what it means to fall in love with someone for who that person really is inside, not just on the outside.Attachments is a phenomenal book, and one of my favourite reads so far this year. I'm even more excited now for Eleanor + Park (and contemplating a drive out the adminstrative centre for the library, to see if I can help stick a barcode on or something to speed the process along). I've also requested a review copy of Fangirl on Netgalley, and I think that this is the first book that I will be really, really, really disappointed about if my review request is denied.So add Attachments to your TBR list, fellow readers, if you haven't already experienced the wonder that is Rainbow Rowell. And, if you're going to be participating in Books With Cass' Summer of Standalones, this would be a great read!

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)

Hopeless - Colleen Hoover After I downloaded this book from Netgalley, I went onto Goodreads to add the book to my "currently reading" shelf. I always quickly glance at the average review before I start reading, and was blown away to notice that it has over 4.5 stars, based on over 46,000 ratings. Clearly, this book has had much love from the bookish community already.Hopeless deserves that love, and deserves that rating. If I could, I would have given four stars to the first half of the book, and then a well-earned five star rating to the last half of the book, which I read almost entirely in one sitting.The book opens with our heroine, Sky, throwing some kind of massive tantrum, smashing a mirror and hurling furniture around a room. She is subdued by Holder who wraps his arms around her and tells her to stop and leave. The next chapter jumps back in time two months, and we start to get to know Sky, especially her inability to form meaningful relationships with boys. Enter Holder -- the first boy who actually does make her feel something. And drives her crazy at the same time.I had issues with Sky and Holder's relationship throughout the first part of the novel because I thought it was gearing up towards an Edward-Bella unstable kind of connection. I mean, at one point, Holder acts like a bit of a jerk, and Sky is not only okay with him not apologizing for his actions, she even seems to love how unstable he is.Then we hit the first of many twists and the storyline positively EXPLODES. All of a sudden, the things that were annoying me in the beginning of the book make perfect sense and I couldn't read fast enough to get through the remainder of the book. Some of the twists I could see coming, while others I was left with my jaw hanging open wondering where THAT came from. I can say one thing about this book: Colleen Hoover knows how to tell a story, and tell it well.I've just signed up to participate in Books with Cass' Summer of Standalones. If you're going to participate this summer, add this one to your TBR list -- it's a great read, and would be perfect for the beach!Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley. The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my review of this book in any way.