Review: Kasie West novels

A little while ago I was lucky enough to receive a copy of By Your Side by Kasie West and I absolutely adored it, so last month I departed on a path through quite a few of her books. So here are my thoughts and feelings on her works, and my excitement for her upcoming book.

the distance between usTitle: The Distance Between Us

Genre: Romance, YA

Summary:  Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

My thoughts: 

I quite enjoyed this novel. It is an interesting take on the old school trope of the rich “saving” the poor, in that it turns it on its ass. I won’t go into details because I don’t believe in spoilers.

I will let you know that Caymen is a character with a lot of strength, that the romance in this book is not overly schmoopy and that I read it so quickly I immediately went back and read it again.

Xander is a character that is more insecure than he seems, but with a certain charm and wit about him.

This is a story about family, and how sometimes even when we know them we can’t always know them as much as we should, or as deeply as we should.

This is good for anyone wanting a quick read, who likes rags to riches stories, but wants something with a little bit of a different ending for that familiar trope.

Continue reading “Review: Kasie West novels”

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Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

leahTitle: Leah on the Offbeat

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA Fiction, Romance, LGBTQIA+

Summary:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Review:

Leah is such a smartass and I love her. She is also bitter sometimes, which causes me want to give my head a shake, reach into the book and tell her to buck up. To trust the people she is friends with to accept her for who she is, her whole identity.

This book is filled with strife, and palpable angst. It is a young adult book through and through but yet is so very identifiable.

We’ve all had feelings for people we maybe shouldn’t have feelings for, we’ve all loved people who maybe we shouldn’t love.

This book is not as light as Simon, which is amazing to say, because Simon is not light. But this is heavy, and emotional, and often at times because of how frustrated I would get with the characters, was very hard to read.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, and that it was not well written because it definitely was. Becky Albertalli is one of my favourite writers, and I’ve pretty much established that I will read anything she wants to write. Literally anything.

This book is good. It’s solid. Read it.

 

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

30653853Title: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA, Romance, LGBTQIA+

Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Quotes I love:

“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”

Review: 

It’s so sad in a way that I empathize and understand so much of the quote above now at 30 as I did when I was a teenager. Especially given that I’ve always been a few pounds or more over the average.

The characters in this book are not overly suave, they’re not perfect and sometimes they are awkward and yet they are always endearing.

Molly is so familiar to me, she is like a friend I grew up with, but in reality she is so much like I was that I can’t help but feel so amazingly attached to her. Becky Albertalli excels at writing extremely human characters who you can identify with.

They get angry with each other, they fight and they care so much and it made me, as a reader, care about them as if they were real, living people.

Reid is just adorable, actually they all are.

Read this book if you want to feel something real, and then feel something that makes you feel good.

Also, cannot help but love the appearance of Simon, Blue and Abby. This is a book I will keep on my shelf, and pick up again and again to read and try and make other people read.

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.

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.

Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

jackaby.jpgTitle: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter

Genre: Supernatural, Mystery

Summary: Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings.

Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose.

The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local authorities–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–seem adamant to deny.

Review: 

This book was absolutely, positively lovely. Also let’s all take a moment, scroll up, and truly admire the beauty that is the cover for this novel. It is what captured my attention, and my inattention to detail caused me to order two copies of the pretty book, months apart, and give the extra to my sister. (She still hasn’t read it, but I’ve already told her she must!)

I read this in split sittings which made me sad because I really did not want to put it down. But sadly work exists because I have not yet won millions of dollars. Or even a single million.

Therefore I snatched as much time as I could to devour this book as though I myself, was a hungry supernatural creature. The writing is filled with warmth and wit. The setting is explained so well when I closed my eyes I could see it as though I was there.

Jackaby is an amusing character, who is adorably awkward, and does not know how to be complimentary.

Abigail is interesting, and is definitely learning who she is. I hope that she has more character development in the next books.

Jane was actually one of my favourite characters, very vivacious despite her circumstance (no spoilers 😉

This book is a good mystery, a good supernatural novel and very good at pointing out the hypocrisy of how people used to be (and some still are). It is one of those books, where if you don’t have the next one you will be tempted to weep. Not that I did that…or anything…

It is also intensely re-readable. Just go pick it up.

 

Review: “Rituals” by Kelley Armstrong

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Title: Rituals

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Defying genres and taking names.

Summary:

Olivia Jones must make a choice. Caught between two rival supernatural forces, Liv was granted a brief period in which to make her decision. Now that time has run out. Whichever side she chooses, someone she loves will pay. Her lover, Ricky. Gabriel Walsh, the man she knows she cannot, must not love. Her parents, already trapped in prison.

And now there is a new, terrifying power rising – one that doesn’t distinguish between good and evil intentions. It feeds on chaos and destroys without mercy. Unless Liv acts fast, no one will survive. In this gripping thriller, international bestselling author Kelley Armstrong brings the Cainsville series to a powerful, richly rewarding climax. 

Review:

What should I say about this book? The last in a beloved series, whose characters I held close as though they were friends I wished to cherish.

This is a book that grasped me from the first word. It fulfilled my hopes for the three main characters, and yet it still left me wanting more. I am not one who wants to let go, and these stories and characters are going to be hard to let go of, even those I don’t like.

The plot was strong, twisting and turning, introducing new characters still, who I loved (some of them) and abhorred (one of them) which really is just the mark of good writing.

Liv, Gabriel and Ricky are each so different, but carry some similarities, and in this book you get to see what characteristics they’ve taken on from each other.

The thing that I think I appreciated most about this book is how there was humour imbued within it, even when bad things were happening it didn’t feel too dreadful and heavy.

I understand Kelley Armstrong will be writing more short fiction in Cainsville, which is good, because I don’t yet want to leave.