Book List 2018

Review: Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee

Title: Bygone Badass Broads – 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World35888416

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Genre: Badass non-fiction

Summary:

Based on Mackenzi Lee’s popular weekly Twitter series of the same name, Bygone Badass Broads features 52 remarkable and forgotten trailblazing women from all over the world.

With tales of heroism and cunning, in-depth bios and witty storytelling, Bygone Badass Broads gives new life to these historic female pioneers.

Starting in the fifth century BC and continuing to the present, the book takes a closer look at bold and inspiring women who dared to step outside the traditional gender roles of their time.

Coupled with riveting illustrations and Lee’s humorous and conversational storytelling style, this book is an outright celebration of the badass women who paved the way for the rest of us.

Review:

This book is everything.

I needed this book when I was growing up, unsure of myself and what being a girl meant, what becoming a woman would mean.

I need this book now when everything seems so confusing and women are still being degraded, and treated as something less, or disrespected for speaking out, for speaking their minds.

These women are badass. Not were. They are. Their legends should loom large and be researched and passed on from generation to generation, inspiring more women like them. Inspiring future generations to have fight in them, to have rebellion and be able to say what’s what and do what’s right.

Mackenzi Lee writes about these women in a way that makes them seem so relatable. It makes it seem like she’s talking about a friend of a friend instead of someone who has long passed through history.  At this point I am thinking that basically if Mackenzi Lee has written something, I am definitely going to be reading it.

I would recommend this book to everyone. I would also recommend having a notebook in hand because as you’re reading you’re going to want to find out as much about these people as you can, because they were definitely badass. 

They’ll also leave you thinking, “Hey, maybe I can be badass too.”

And you can. You absolutely can.

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Book List 2018

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

36101070
Gorgeous cover art.

Title: Emergency Contact

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Genre: YA

Release Date: 27 March, 2018

Summary: 

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Review: 

The verdict is in after much deliberation and I’ve decided I like this book quite a lot. It just took me a while while reading to come around to doing so, and I hate myself for the reason why.

I found it awkward to have a male character who wore his emotions on his sleeve so much, who felt so deeply that he couldn’t help but let it show.

I want you to know, people or persons reading this, that this is not a statement of something wrong with the book but rather a statement of what I have become as a reader, and as someone who didn’t even realize they bought into society’s shitty ideals of what people should be.

So thank you, author, for reminding me that there is nothing wrong at all with anyone of any gender who feels so deeply that it shows. In fact it is downright refreshing, as was much of this book.

It’s not your run of the mill oh let’s meet and fall in love kind of book. It is awkward, as romance can be awkward. It is angsty, and in some ways it hurts, but when it’s going good, it’s going extremely well. This book felt good to read. So good in fact that I read it twice.

Once I realized that I suck, the book got better. It’s a challenge in a way, and I’m not sure the author intended that but I would like to thank Mary H.K. Choi nonetheless because she re-opened my heart in a way, and I think that’s really all I can ask for.

So this cynic would like you all to read this book. Please. With an open mind.

Received an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Book List 2018

Review: A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell

36502081Title: A Study in Honor

Author: Claire O’Dell

Genre: Dystopian, Holmesian, Mystery

Set in a near future Washington, D.C., a clever, incisive, and fresh feminist twist on a classic literary icon—Sherlock Holmes—in which Dr. Janet Watson and covert agent Sara Holmes will use espionage, advanced technology, and the power of deduction to unmask a murderer targeting Civil War veterans.

Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in the throes of a fraught presidential election. Homeless and jobless, Watson is uncertain of the future when she meets another black and queer woman, Sara Holmes, a mysterious yet playfully challenging covert agent who offers the doctor a place to stay.

Watson’s readjustment to civilian life is complicated by the infuriating antics of her strange new roommate. But the tensions between them dissolve when Watson discovers that soldiers from the New Civil War have begun dying one by one—and that the deaths may be the tip of something far more dangerous, involving the pharmaceutical industry and even the looming election. Joining forces, Watson and Holmes embark on a thrilling investigation to solve the mystery—and secure justice for these fallen soldiers.

Review: 

This is a futuristic sci-fi/dystopia genderbent and relatively awesome book.

Watson is more cynical than ever within this book, and if possible even tougher than in the originals. She is a woman who is near broken but still refuses to give up. She’s got gumption, shall we say.

Holmes is a little more…blase in this novel than in other Holmes novels or reiterations. I did wish that more of her was seen in this book as I did not really get attached to her in any way in this novel because to be honest she wasn’t in it too often.

That being said I don’t think this book lacks because of the lack of Holmes, as Watson’s introspection, and the characterization of her is enough to satiate me as a reader.

The nature of this book is woven in mystery and questions, and not all of them get answered, but not in a bad way, just in a way that definitely made me want more of this book so I do hope it may be the beginning of a series.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book List 2018

Review: City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

city of the lostTitle: City of the Lost

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Mystery

Summary: Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. But that’s not why she’s on the run. Her best friend’s ex has found Diana again, despite all Casey has done to protect her. And Diana has decided the only way she’ll ever be safe is if she finds the mythical town she’s heard of where people like her can go to hide. Turns out the town really exists, and will take Diana, but only if Casey, a talented young police detective, comes too.

Imagine a hidden town, isolated in the Yukon wilderness, where everyone is pretending to be someone they’re not. Even good people can get up to some very bad stuff. The laconic town sheriff dispenses his own frontier justice, but he’s more accustomed to sobering up drunks in the horse trough, than attempting to solve the series of brutal murders that has rocked the town. As much as he hates it, he needs Casey. As for Casey, coming to the far North may have started out as a sacrifice she was willing to make for her best friend. But maybe, just maybe, she needs Rockton as much as the town needs her.

Reviews:

This is my third time reading this book. I still “Oh my god” and flail at the right times, or attempt to hide from what’s going on even though I’m holding the book in hand which is quite a feat as I’m sure you can imagine.

Kelley Armstrong has never done me wrong, and this series is no different. It is electric, fresh, and so well written I wish she would lend me just a tiny bit of her writing mojo so that I could write something just half as good as this.

This book has characters who are all entirely independent and different from each other, but share a very human commonality; they are in situations beyond their control and trying in spite of it. Their vulnerability does not become weakness, instead it becomes something that gives them strength.

I could gush for hours about Casey, and Dalton, but frankly, I think you would get sick of it. But I love them so much. And Anders.

The setting is a Canadian one, but a Canada unfamiliar to someone like me. It is wilderness, and beauty and danger all rolled into one. It is solitude and isolation. This world is an adventure, rife with adversity and yes, in this case, murder.

The wild awakens something in people that might not have been there before in this novel, or was it always there? And it just needed a push? That is the ultimate question.

Do yourself a favour, and pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

Book List 2018

Review: Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

almost midnightTitle: Almost Midnight

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Summary: Midnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time . . .

Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

Midnights was previously published as part of the My True Love Gave to Me anthology, edited by Stephanie Perkins and Kindred Spirits was previously published as a World Book Day title.

Review: 

Midnights is a beautifully written story, spanning many years, and all the same characters as they change throughout time. But some things, such as love, definitely stay the same, even flourish.

It is heart-warming, and wonderfully written by one of my favourite authors. Rainbow Rowell is a master when it comes to language, and making her readers feel something. This is sweet, cute, and to the point with a hint of nostalgia.

Kindred Spirits is a tribute to fandom, to the people that follow it, and love it, sometimes to their own sleepy detriment.

It is also a tribute to Star Wars, and what that franchise, and its characters has come to mean for the fans. It was sweet, and well written with just the slightest bit of conflict.

To me it was very Breakfast Clubesque, but with some awesome fandom references.

 

Book List 2018

Review: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

wild beauty.jpgTitle: Wild Beauty

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Favourite Quotes: 

“Even in its first faint traces, love could alter a landscape. It wrote unimagined stories and made the most beautiful, forbidding places.”

“As though their daughters loving men and women meant they wanted all of them in the world. There was no way to tell their mothers the truth and make them believe it, that hearts that loved boys and girls were no more reckless or easily won than any other heart. They loved who they loved. They broke how they broke.”

Review:

This book is just as beautiful as it’s cover, and filled with so much emotion that it was palpable. McLemore has a style that is all her own, mixing a contemporary writing style with that of all the classic fairy tales.

It runs the gamut of emotions, from happiness, to grief, and everything in between, but within it all is a thread of hope. It will make you feel for the characters within, and make you want to wrap your arms around them and hold them to make it a little better, if you can.

This is also a really good introduction to magical realism for those who might not have been interested in the genre before, as it is written in a way that gently guides you into the journey that these characters are going to, without seeming too overtly strange or otherworldly.

The characters are individual, and their struggles are painful, agonizing, really, and they are written so realistically. This book is just awesome.

 

Book List 2018

Review: All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

all these beautiful strangersTitle: All These Beautiful Strangers

Author: Elizabeth Klehfoth

Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Scandal

Release Date: July 10th, 2018

Summary:

In the last day of summer, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Allister Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New Englandschool she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.

Review:

This book was awesome. I delved into the pages, and the plot and the history of the story. The imagery that surrounded me was at times muted, and sepia toned, old memories brought to the forefront in the in between chapters; at other times it was vivid, and vibrant filled with fear and excitement.

The plot is a strong one, a mystery woven together eloquently, pulling the reader in and making them wish to stay to just learn a little bit more. There is scandal, and controversy and wonderment.

The characters are flawed, and spoiled and rich, but not unchanging. They grow between the words, and flourish, but aren’t without their shame.

Overall this is a book that is meant to draw you in and keep you there.

It is good for fans of YA fiction, of mystery, of suspense. It is cerebral in its intensity.

My only question remained: What happened to Dalton?

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Book List 2018

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

truly devious.jpgTitle: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Mystery

Summary: 

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Review:

Love it. Love it. LOVE IT.

This is not my first Maureen Johnson book, and though I was initially sad about not getting another Shades of London book in early 2018 I am certainly not disappointed.

Also, some people say don’t judge a book by a cover, and I try not to but can we take a moment to just stare at the eye catching cover of this book, because it is gorgeous. The blue drew me right in.

I also ended my supposed book buying ban for this book. I decided I needed it that much.

It was definitely worth the money and then some. In fact I bought it as an eBook and I have already decided I need a physical copy so I can lend it to everyone right this moment.

Ellingham Academy is attractive to someone who likes mysteries like me, and I guess Stevie. A supposedly solved but not really solved mystery? Is there anything better in this world.

(Well, I guess a world without killers would be good actually. Like…optimal…)

Stevie is a character I can identify with. While I appear normal, I am often the most awkward human in the room, with some really odd interests.

The other characters in this novel, without giving too much away are also interesting in their own right, each with their own uniquely defined personalities. And some of them don’t seem like they should be trusted.

This book has three mysteries within it, and one of them doesn’t even seem mysterious at first. I was wrong in thinking that, and was rather delightfully surprised. That’s nice for me because I can be downright cynical.

Maureen Johnson is masterful in how the plot of the past case, and the new are woven in, connected to each other and drawing the reader into the novel.

Definitely a good read. I cannot wait for the next book.

Book List 2018

Review: Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

hardcore twenty fourTitle: Hardcore Twenty-Four

Author: Janet Evanovich

Genre: Mystery

Summary: Trouble comes in bunches for Stephanie Plum. First, professional grave robber and semi-professional loon, Simon Diggery, won’t let her take him in until she agrees to care for his boa constrictor, Ethel. Stephanie’s main qualification for babysitting an extremely large snake is that she owns a stun gun—whether that’s for use on the wandering serpent or the petrified neighbors remains to be seen.

Events take a dark turn when headless bodies start appearing across town. At first, it’s just corpses from a funeral home and the morgue that have had the heads removed. But when a homeless man is murdered and dumped behind a church Stephanie knows that she’s the only one with a prayer of catching this killer.

If all that’s not enough, Diesel’s back in town. The 6-foot-tall, blonde-haired hunk is a man who accepts no limits—that includes locked doors, closed windows and underwear. Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli isn’t pleased at this unexpected arrival nor is Ranger, the high-powered security consultant who has his own plans for Stephanie.

As usual Jersey’s favorite bounty hunter is stuck in the middle with more questions than answers. What’s the deal with Grandma Mazur’s latest online paramour? Who is behind the startling epidemic of mutilated corpses? And is the enigmatic Diesel’s sudden appearance a coincidence or the cause of recent deadly events?  

Review:

Janet Evanovich puts out a Stephanie Plum book and I buy it. I got this one because I heard Diesel would be back, and I’ve loved him since he first appeared. He was not disappointing here.

But Stephanie, girl, at some point you have to choose, and I’m beginning to think you should probably choose someone who isn’t Morelli or Ranger because it doesn’t seem to be working out too well for you. One of them doesn’t want you to do what you do so well (well sort of) and the other one won’t commit. It’s time.

This book was an amusing romp, and I did enjoy it. It was a nice quick read, and fast paced. The edition of zombies was amusing.

I think it might be time for a bit of a refresh in some way though.

Book List 2018

Review: Dear Dwayne, With Love by Eliza Gordon

dear dwayne with loveTitle: Dear Dwayne, With Love

Author: Eliza Gordon

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Summary: 

Wannabe actress Dani Steele’s résumé resembles a cautionary tale on how not to be famous. She’s pushing thirty and stuck in a dead-end insurance job, and her relationship status is holding at uncommitted. With unbearably perfect sisters and a mother who won’t let her forget it, Dani has two go-tos for consolation: maple scones and a blog in which she pours her heart out to her celebrity idol. He’s the man her father never was, no boyfriend will ever be—and not so impossible a dream as one might think.

When Dani learns that he’s planning a fund-raising event where the winning amateur athlete gets a walk-on in his new film, she decides to trade pastries and self-doubt for running shoes and a sexy British trainer with adorable knees.

But when Dani’s plot takes an unexpected twist, she realizes that her happy ending might have to be improvised—and that proving herself to her idol isn’t half as important as proving something to herself.

Review + Reactions:

I loved Must Love Otters. I adored Neurotica. I hungrily waited for Hollie Porter Builds a Raft. I DEVOURED this book.

I admit, I was unsure about the incorporation of one of my favourite wrestlers of all time, Dwayne Johnson otherwise known as the Rock who I have loved for many many many many years.

The man is good on the mic what can I say, and Eliza Gordon? Well she’s good with a pen (or keyboard). This story brings in the wit, and touching nature of her previous novels and amps it up to eleven.

The thing I love about Eliza Gordon’s writing is that her characters are not perfect. In fact they are perfectly imperfect.

Some of them don’t know how to commit, some of them don’t know how to talk about their feelings except to write them down, and all of them are characters I love.

This is a story of personal triumph, of realizing what you need to do to better yourself, and yes I was inspired while reading it. Without spoiling too much Dani’s story is one of personal adversity, and yes, getting in your own way. She does however manage to grow a whole lot, but not change completely.

Please just read it. Or any of her books, really, you won’t be disappointed.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.