Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: It Happened on Love Street by Lia Riley

It Happened on Love Street by Lia Riley
Series: Everland, Georgia #1
Published: April 25th, 2017
Publisher: Forever
368 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Acquired this book: Via NetGalley in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}


The most romantic place she never wanted to be . . .

Pepper Knight moved to Everland, Georgia, as step one in her plan for a successful legal career. But after this big-city gal's plans go awry, going home with her tail between her legs isn't an option. So when the town vet--and her sexy new neighbor--offers Pepper a temporary dog-walking job, she jumps at the chance. No one needs to know that man's best friend is her worst nightmare . . . or that Everland's hot animal whisperer leaves her panting.

The last thing Rhett Valentine wants is to be the center of small-town gossip. After his first love left him at the altar, he's been there, done that. These days, life is simple, just the way he likes it. But sultry southern nights get complicated once sparks fly between him and the knockout next door. When she proposes a sexy, secret fling--all the deliciousness and none of the prying neighbors--it seems too good to be true. And it is. Because Pepper's determined to leave Love Street, and when she goes, she just might take his heart with her . . .


I’ve been a huge fan of Lia Riley’s since her debut novel, Upside Down. I love that with each of her new series, you never quite know what to expect. Wherever her books are set and how ever different the characters and plots are, a few things always remain: humour, great characters, swoons, and super hot sexytimes. Those are four things I know I can count on when I pick up a book by Lia Riley, and that remained true with It Happened on Love Street.

Pepper had no intention of staying in Everland. Besides the fact she’s a big city girl and doesn’t think she’s cut out for life in a tiny place like Everland, she also needs to work, and not just at any job - she needs to make enough money so she’ll be able to support her dad and sister someday. She’s always been the steady and dependable one, thinking her family is her responsibility, and making her life choices based around that fact.

Pepper was a hoot. She was such a fun, feisty character, and I found her easy to relate to. My situation isn’t the same as hers, but I’ve felt the weight of responsibility toward family, so I understood her motivations. Rhett had his heart broken in a very public way many years ago and ever since then, he’s tried to live under the radar - something that’s hard to do in a town as small as Everland, especially with nosy neighbours and plenty of town gossips. Pepper and Rhett are a bit misguided because of things they’ve gone through and how they think things should be handled. When they meet each other, their cautious natures are put to the test. I enjoyed the progression of their relationship.

This book was so much fun. It had me laughing from pretty much the first page. Besides Pepper’s hilarious inner dialogue and some of the mishaps she experiences, the quirky secondary characters were highly entertaining.

If you’re looking for a sweet, sexy, laugh-out-loud funny small-town romance with a fun premise and an equally fun cast of characters, be sure to pick up It Happened on Love Street.




Have you read It Happened on Love Street? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? What's the last book that made you laugh out loud?
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Spotlight: Now You Can See by Jessica L Tate

Tomorrow is publication day for Jessica L Tate's debut poetry compilation, Now You Can See. Full disclosure: I'm not normally a big fan of poetry (with a few exceptions, including Maya Angelou, who I was obsessed with in high school), but because Jessica (also known as Jessica Sankiewicz) is a friend of mine as well as my critique partner, I was happy to read Now You Can See, and was very pleasantly surprised. As a whole, it tells a poignant story of a young woman experiencing love, heartbreak, anger, confusion, and ultimately acceptance. 

Read on to find out more about Now You Can See.

Author Jessica Sankiewicz makes her poetry debut with a compilation of poems from her twentieth year. Now You Can See tells the story of a young woman caught between two worlds and her journey to reach some sort of clarity.
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Buy Now You Can See: Amazon | Kobo

Jessica L. Tate is the author of the poetry compilation Now You Can See. She also writes fiction under the name Jessica Sankiewicz.




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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Review: Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough

Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough
Series: Standalone
Published: April 4th, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
336 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult/LGBTQ
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

A story about falling in love, literally.

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. Her dad is on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, so Del’s managing the family café in his absence. Easy, she thinks. But what about:
- homework and the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell
- or how one of Del’s best friends won’t stop guilt-tripping her
- and her other best friend is so in love with his tutor he might go to jail for her if Del doesn’t do something

But who cares about any of that really, because above all else, she can’t stop thinking about beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street until one day Rosa comes in the café door . . .

And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?


 

 

Get it Together, Delilah! was absolutely delightful. It was different from a lot of the YA I’ve read over the past few years. It tackled a lot of big things in an honest way, which I loved.

Delilah was a fantastic character. She had a great voice, and I connected with her easily. She was flawed, she made mistakes, she had moments where I alternately wanted to smack her upside the head and hug her tight. Her emotions rang so true to me. It was largely because of her flaws that she felt like such a real character. She was a teenage girl and she had teenage girl reactions and emotions - anger, confusion, lust. It made her easy to root for and I wanted to see her succeed because she tried so damn hard, no matter what crap life threw at her - homophobic jerks, absent parents, struggles at school, issues with friends. While Delilah was well fleshed-out and had a great character arc, and we got to know other characters, particularly Charlie, more in depth, I wish we’d seen more of Rosa and gotten to know more about her other than the fact she was smart, beautiful, could dance, wanted to save the library, and Del was in love with her. I appreciated the struggles they faced and the fact the story dealt with one character who was openly gay and another who wasn’t, but I would have loved to see more of them together and learn more about Rosa as a person.

I wish there were more books like Get it Together, Delilah. While I’d love f/f that focuses more on the romance, I’m still grateful for books like this, with a normal teenager doing normal teen things, having a life, dealing with real problems, and also falling in love. It's cute and sweet and mostly uncomplicated, and leaves you feeling good. I understand there’s a need for coming out books and for honest discussions about homophobia, but I’m always happy to read a book where a gay teen is already out and they accept who they are. Delilah definitely had to deal with homophobic jerks, but the story was about so much more than that. 

There are other things I’d like to talk about, but I feel like I’d be getting into spoiler territory, so I’ll just say this: if you enjoy contemporary YA with realistic characters and real-life struggles, read Get it Together, Delilah! This book is charming, funny, sweet, and memorable. I look forward to more books from Erin Gough in the future.



Have you read Get it Together, Delilah? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you have a favourite f/f YA book?
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Series: Standalone
Published: April 11th, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
352 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}


Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. 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. 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 a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

 
 
From the synopsis of The Upside of Unrequited and things I’d heard early readers saying, I knew I’d love this book. I adored Albertalli’s debut, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so that added to my confidence I’d enjoy this book. I honestly wasn’t prepared for just how much this book would affect me. How much I’d love it. I didn’t just like and connect with Molly, I AM Molly. I’m the fat girl. I’m the one with the unrequited crushes (and a lot of them...I’ve always been famous among my friends for my crushes, just like Molly). I’m the one who often feels like she’s being left behind. I feel like Becky Albertalli wrote this book just for me, and it’s a really long time since I felt that way. It’s also been ages since I didn’t want a book to end, but I didn’t want this book to end; I could have read about Molly and her family and friends forever. I loved this sweet, hilarious, heartfelt book from the first page to the last.

A million little things made me love The Upside of Unrequited. Molly’s crushes, her love of Pinterest, her sense of humour, her intelligence, her friendships, her family. This book had one of the best, most diverse and complex cast of side characters I’ve ever read. Each character had a purpose, and each one of them leapt of the page. Besides Molly being relatable, the situations she dealt with were realistic and relatable. They were things we all experience - change, growing apart from your friends or even your family, learning to deal, figuring out how and even if you fit. The romance was beyond adorable and made me giggle and swoon and happy sigh. There was a perfect amount of tension and enough conflict to make you wonder how or even if things would work out for Molly. I also loved the tie-ins with Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

One of the many things that stood out to me (as much as I’d like to touch on all of them, I can’t or this review would be endless) was the fact Molly’s weight never became an *issue*. She knew she was fat, she had moments of being self-conscious, and she worried her weight could be a reason for all the unrequited crushes, but not once did she think she should lose weight because it would make her happy or make boys like her or make life easier. I admired that so much. There are so few books with main characters who are fat, and most of them turn it into a ‘book that deals with weight issues’ but in this case, it was just one of many things about Molly, a part of the whole. As a girl who’s been fat her whole life, I appreciated that so much.
    
This book left me feeling warm and fuzzy, airy and light, happy and hopeful. It’s rare to read a book that packs such an emotional punch without being full of tragedy or major drama. Albertalli perfectly captured not just the teen experience, but the LIFE experience - confusion, lust, heartache, joy, hope, love, and every other emotion you can think of. This is one of those books that while it’s meant for teens and I feel like it’s a must-read for teens, it will be a story just about anyone can connect with. We’ve all been through at least some of what Molly goes through during the course of the story. I’m nearly twice Molly’s age, but I saw myself reflected in so many of her thoughts and actions. So much so, in fact, that this book had a huge emotional impact on me. I found myself crying through a lot of it - not because it was sad, but because Molly’s emotions rang so true and because I’ve been where she was and often felt very alone. Her journey was beautiful and poignant and left me with such a wonderfully hopeful, happy feeling.

I didn’t think Becky Albertalli could top Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but I loved The Upside of Unrequited even more than Simon. Simply put, this book is perfection. If I could go back in time and give any book to Teen Me this would be it. Honestly, though, 33-Year-Old Me needed it just as much as Teen Me would have. I can’t often afford to buy physical copies of books after reading an eARC, but as soon as I was done reading The Upside of Unrequited, I got online and bought a copy. This is a book I need to own, need to see on my shelf every day, and need to reread. Whenever I’m feel hopeless or down, I’ll think of Molly and I know I’ll smile.



Read my review of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Buy Simon ~ Amazon || Chapters

Have you read The Upside of Unrequited? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda? What's the last book you really connected with?
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? #8

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Book Date. The idea is to share what you've read lately, what you're currently reading, and what you plan to read next. I love seeing what other people are reading and then adding to my never-ending TBR, so I thought this would be a fun meme to participate in each week!


What I Finished Reading:
  
  • Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham ~ A fantastic Canadian historical fiction novel about the Acadian Expulsion in the 1700s
  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli ~ This book is perfection. It's been a long time since I connected so strongly with a book. My review will be up tomorrow.
What I'm Currently Reading:
It Happened on Love Street by Lia Riley - I love Lia Riley's books and I'm really enjoying this cute, funny, sexy romance

What I Plan to Read Next:
The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie ~ I loved Skrustskie's debut, The Abyss Surrounds Us - pirates, sea monsters, and kick-ass girls. I feel like I've been waiting forever for this sequel, and I can't wait to dive in.


Recently on the Blog:

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the books I've been reading? I'll be doing the rounds of fellow It's Monday! What Are You Reading? participants, but in case I miss you, be sure to leave a link below so I can visit you! Also, if you did a general weekly recap, feel free to leave a link so I can check it out!
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: A Brit Unexpected by Brenda St John Brown

A Brit Unexpected by Brenda St John Brown
Series: Castle Calder #2
Published: April 10th, 2017
Publisher: Self-published
250 pages (eARC)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}
 


How do you know when a fake relationship turns into a real one? #AskingForAFriend

Claire is not:
- A natural athlete
- Very good with mornings
- Greyson Vaughn’s real girlfriend

But she pretends to be his girlfriend on television. And Twitter. And the gossip websites that question Every. Single. Thing. about his movie star existence. Including the question on everyone’s lips — #WhosThatGirl?

Enlisted by her grandmother to act as Greyson’s “mysterious English girlfriend” during a weekend at Castle Calder, Claire agrees to help the Hollywood hottie combat rumors of stalking his pop-star ex. She needs a distraction — from grad school, bills and her dull-as-dishwater love life — and, well, it’s only for a weekend.

Until Greyson asks her to continue the ruse through his upcoming London premiere. And another trip to Castle Calder for a sexy weekend escape. Where there are no cameras and no reporters. Nothing but the two of them and a “fake” relationship that’s starting to feel very, very real.

 
 

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Castle Castle series, A Brit on the Side. I loved Bea and Jasper, plus the story made me wish I knew a family like the St Juliens and could visit/stay at a place like Castle Calder. I was excited to return to Castle Calder in A Brit Unexpected. I’m happy to say I loved this standalone companion even more than the first book.

After his high-profile ex-girlfriend starts spreading falsehoods about Greyson that could hurt his career, both he and Claire get roped into a fake dating scheme in an attempt to help Greyson’s public image. What starts off as a wary, tentative arrangement quickly turns into something more.

I really loved these two. Claire had a great voice; she’s relatable, and her inner monologue was hilarious. I especially loved the creative (very British) expletives and alternatives. I’ve always had celebrity crushes and imagined what it would be like to date this actor or that singer, so this book appealed to me on that level, but it was more than that. Without being full of angst like a lot of books with a similar premise, it was a relatable story about two people who had reservations and made mistakes, but grew separately and together. Because Claire and Greyson seemed so real, it made them easy to root for.

I think one of the things that made this book so unique is the fact Claire is British, when usually these types of books feature American girls, who often view celebrities differently. I’ve heard countless times that Brits don’t get as star-struck as North Americans do (like, for instance, I know I’d make a complete fool of myself if I even met a celebrity crush, let alone got to date them...there would likely be tears and babbling and redder-than-a-tomato blushing). A lot of Brits are like *oh there’s Benedict Cumberbatch on the tube, no big deal* or *I just passed Tom Hiddleston walking down the street, how cool* whereas North American girls would be more likely to do a scream-faint-stalk combo. So I loved that while Claire had her moments of fangirling and being awe-struck by Greyson, she wasn’t the fall-all-over-yourself fangirl. Also, a lot of ‘real person dates a celeb’ stories have endless drama and ‘but other girls are so much prettier, why would he date me?’ and constant thoughts about the celebrity’s status. There was very little of that in A Brit Unexpected, which was refreshing.
A Brit Unexpected is an absolute delight. Fast-paced, funny, and sexy, this book is a refreshing change from the norm. It’ll definitely be one I recommend often to people looking for a well-written, engaging romantic comedy. 

A Brit Unexpected is an absolute delight. Fast-paced, funny, and sexy, this book is a refreshing change from the norm. It’ll definitely be one I recommend often to people looking for a well-written, engaging romantic comedy.
 


Buy A Brit on the Side: Amazon || Chapters
Read my review of A Brit on the Side


Have you read A Brit Unexpected? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? If you could go on a date with any celebrity, who would it be?
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham

Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham
Series: Standalone
Published: April 4th, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
313 pages (ARC)
Genre: Canadian Historical Fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Summer 1755, Acadia

Young, beautiful Amélie Belliveau lives with her family among the Acadians of Grande Pré, Nova Scotia, content with her life on their idyllic farm. Along with their friends, the neighbouring Mi’kmaq, the community believes they can remain on neutral political ground despite the rising tides of war. But peace can be fragile, and sometimes faith is not enough. When the Acadians refuse to pledge allegiance to the British in their war against the French, the army invades Grande Pré, claims the land, and rips the people from their homes. Amélie’s entire family, alongside the other Acadians, is exiled to ports unknown aboard dilapidated ships.

Fortunately, Amélie has made a powerful ally. Having survived his own harrowing experience at the hands of the English, Corporal Connor MacDonnell is a reluctant participant in the British plan to expel the Acadians from their homeland. His sympathy for Amélie gradually evolves into a profound love, and he resolves to help her and her family in any way he can—even if it means treason. As the last warmth of summer fades, more ships arrive to ferry the Acadians away, and Connor is forced to make a decision that will alter the future forever.

Heart-wrenching and captivating, Promises to Keep is a gloriously romantic tale of a young couple forced to risk everything amidst the uncertainties of war.



 

In 2015, I read and loved Genevieve Graham’s historical novel, Tides of Honour. I love historical fiction, and have always lamented about the lack of Canadian historical fiction. Not only was Tides of Honour set in Canada, it also featured an event I knew nothing about: the Halifax Explosion of 1917. When I learned Ms Graham was writing a novel about the Acadian Expulsion, I was ecstatic. My dad was from Shediac, an Acadian town in New Brunswick. One of his brothers is into genealogy and did thorough research on our family line, even creating a book that each family member has (considering my dad was the youngest of 16 children, this book comes in extremely handy!). One thing he didn’t talk about in the book was the Acadian Expulsion, but when I told him I was visiting France for the second time in 2015, he called me and gave me some new information about our family - where our ancestors came from in France, plus the fact at least one of our ancestors was part of the Acadian Resistance, along with the fact our family was sent to Boston during the Expulsion, where they lived with Native Americans before returning to Canada. My dad died long before my uncle did any of this research, but being a proud Acadian, I know he would have loved this information, and I’m positive he would have loved Ms Graham’s Promises to Keep, just as I did.

Promises to Keep started in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, an idyllic area with happy, flourishing families living comfortably off the land. They lived in harmony with the local Mi’kmaq tribe, and Amélie’s family in particular had close ties to the Natives. At the start of the story, the British Army had been a presence for awhile, but they didn’t interfere much with the locals. With new orders from the king, the Acadians' lives began to change in small ways that soon turned more drastic. The British wanted the Acadians' land, and they’d stop at nothing to get it.

I love that the story started with a view of what life was like pre-expulsion. Amélie and her family were happy and healthy, and they were proud Acadians. They never lost that pride, even when they lost nearly everything else. The beautiful life they lived was such a contrast to what unravelled throughout the book - their family being being ripped apart, and the misery, pain, and heartache that followed.

Graham did a fantastic job of weaving a story with strong characters, an engaging plot, and a sweet romance. I rooted for Amélia and Connor from the beginning, and my heart broke for all they had to go through together and separately. I loved how all the different elements of the story were twined together, creating something beautiful, complex, and meaningful. I truly felt for these characters - for the pain they had to endure, and the struggles they faced. Not only am I impressed with Graham’s storytelling ability, I’m also impressed that she managed to get so much story - and with such heart and emotion - into a relatively short book. So many stories like this drag on and end up overdoing it with historical detail, but Graham did a masterful job of balancing the historical aspects with the romance, action, and family aspects. 

In the last couple of years, I’ve (mostly) learned not to get my hopes up too high for books, but because of my personal reasons for being curious about Promises to Keep, my expectations were high. I can honestly say Genevieve Graham exceeded by expectations with this story. Promises to Keep is a beautiful, engaging story about perseverance, hope, strength, family, and love. I can’t recommend this book highly enough to fans of historical fiction.






 
Buy Tides of Honour: Amazon || Chapters
Read my review of Tides of Honour


Have you read Promises to Keep? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you enjoy historical fiction? What's an era or a specific historical event you'd like to see featured in a book?

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