Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Blog Tour Review: Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

Today I'm thrilled to be part of the Simon & Schuster Canada blog tour for Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius. Be sure to check out all the stops on the tour!

Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius
Series: Standalone
Published: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
289 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult/Retelling
Acquired this book: From Simon & Schuster Canada as part of the blog tour
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon CAN || Amazon US || Chapters/Indigo}
Visit the Anne and Henry book page on Simon & Schuster Canada

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time. 


I was intrigued the minute I heard about Anne & Henry and learned it was a retelling of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. As a history nerd who’s fascinated with the Tudors (even more so after visiting the Tower of London and Windsor Castle this past summer), I couldn’t wait to see how Dawn Ius would handle a modern-day retelling of this infamous historical couple. I think it’s important when going into this book to remember it’s a retelling and that the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is not a fairytale, it’s not an epic romance, it’s not an example of a healthy relationship, or one with a happy ending. The royal court would have been full of duplicitous people, scandal, and intrigue, and I think Ius did an absolutely brilliant job of translating that to a modern day story featuring teenagers.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. I couldn’t imagine Henry and Anne’s story being told in modern times, especially in a high school setting. Within a few pages, I was completely hooked. Anne and Henry both fascinated me - they were far from perfect, but that was one of the things I liked most about them. I was sympathetic toward them almost immediately. Henry had big shoes to fill, and Anne had a colourful past she couldn’t seem to distance herself from, despite moving to a new place and not knowing anyone. 

When Anne and Henry met, they knew they shouldn’t be together for various reasons. When they actually were together, they knew things would be difficult, but they couldn’t stay away from each other. They were drawn to each other and although they tried to fight the outside forces trying to keep them apart, they were doomed from the start. The volatility of their relationship and the catty behaviour of the people around them worked really well in a high school setting. Between raging hormones, rumours, and misconstrued situations, there was plenty of realistic high school drama.

Anne & Henry completely sucked me in from beginning to end. I was impressed not only with Ius’s beautiful writing, but with her ability (not to mention the guts!) to tackle a story that’s completely unconventional in YA. There were so many great little details that made my inner history nerd squeal in delight. The ending in particular had me actually hooting with pleased laughter. I thoroughly enjoyed Anne & Henry, and hope many readers will give it a chance and enjoy it as much as I did.

The entire jacket (including the flaps), plus the spine of of Anne & Henry are gorgeous. I'm so glad I have a hardcover of this book (thank you Simon & Schuster Canada!) to proudly display on my shelves.

Since Anne & Henry is a modern-day retelling of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, the clever people at Simon & Schuster Canada created these text convos (using actual conversations form the book) between the characters. What's more modern than text messages, right? Enjoy!


Have you read Anne & Henry? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Are you a history nerd like me? What's your favourite retelling, modern-day or otherwise? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Update + Link Soup

Hi guys! I took an unexpected hiatus on the blog last week. I didn't have anything scheduled, and I've been so busy doing final revisions of Something in the Air, I didn't have time to post anything. Sorry about that!

I'll be back this week with a review of Anne and Henry by Dawn Ius for Simon & Schuster Canada's blog tour and a Wanderlust Wednesday dedicated to Algonquin Park, where I spent the day yesterday with my bff.

For now, I have a few things to share with you.
  • I'm almost done final revisions of Something in the Air, which means it's almost ARC time! The book will be up on NetGalley in the next couple weeks, so be sure to watch for that. If you're not on NetGalley, you can request an ARC directly from me here.
  • Besides Something in the Air, I have something else releasing soon: a boxed set of the Angel Island series! I'd been toying with the idea for awhile, and a few author and reader friends suggested I compile the three books into one set, so I did. The set will be releasing October 19th, and I'm looking for bloggers to help promote it. If you're willing to post about it on your blog between October 19th and 23rd, you can sign up here.
  • I've really been slacking on promotional things this year, so I'm getting into promo mode before the release of the Angel Island box set and Something in the Air. I'm resurrecting my newsletter, and I've created a group on Facebook called Marie's Sweeties, where readers can hang out, chat about books, life, movies, TV, music, or anything at all. I'll also occasionally post a few exclusive things in there (excerpts from books, projects I'm working on, special promos, giveaways, etc).
  • When I released Waiting for the Storm I created the Angel Island Street Team. Clearly I wasn't thinking ahead, so I've created a new, general Street Team for people who'd like to help promote my books. Street Team members will get first dibs on ARCs, swag, mention in my books, plus my eternal gratitude in exchange for helping spread the word about my books, sales, promos, news, etc. If you'd like to be part of my Street Team, you can sign up here.
  • I designed the cover of my friend/critique partner Lilly Avalon's upcoming NA book Can't Stay Away. It's such a gorgeous cover *she says modestly*. I've never wanted to keep a client's cover before, but I'd have kept this one for myself if I could have! FMR Book Studio is hosting the cover reveal, which will happen October 15th, and you can sign up here if you're interested.

I think that's it! Thank you in advance to anyone willing to sign up to help spread the word about my books. I hope to see a lot of you in my new Facebook group!


Friday, September 25, 2015

Review: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
Series: Standalone
Published: September 8th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
368 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}

Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.   

After staying up way past my bedtime to finish Fans of the Impossible Life, unable to put it down until I found out what happened, I felt like I’d been on a roller coaster ride. This book is unexpected. It’s beautiful even when it’s showing some ugly things. It’s funny and sad, heartbreaking and hopeful. It’s loud and it’s quiet. It’s a mass of contradictions, and when I finally set my Kindle down, my mind was whirling with thoughts. I still have Mira, Jeremy, and Sebby on my mind, and think I probably will for a long time to come.

I have a feeling Fans of the Impossible Life is a book you’ll either understand or you won’t. I could see how people wouldn’t click with it or connect with the characters. I clicked with this book almost immediately and spent a lot of it nodding along and wanting to gather these characters close and hold onto them forever. They were broken in so many ways, they’d all been through a lot, and yet they kept going, kept getting up in the morning and living even when it was the hardest thing in the world to do.

There’s not a lot I can say without getting into spoiler territory, but here are some of the things I loved about Fans of the Impossible Life:

-It has a spectacularly diverse cast. There's a variety of queer characters, Mira is biracial and half Jewish, one character has gay dads, plus the story deals with depression and other mental health issues.
-Scenes that were silly and beautiful and magical and encompassed what it’s like to be a teen, to be damaged, to love and trust people enough to open up to them and let them into the mess of your life.
-The underlying theme that it’s okay not to be okay. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t really have to have any of the answers, you just have to keep living.
-Unexpected sexytimes. I loved these scenes because they were kinda messy and real and made my eyes go wide like WHAT IS GOING ON IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING.

Fans of the Impossible Life made me run the gamut of emotions. It’s a bit of a mindfuck, but in the best ways. It’s bold, it’s beautiful, it’s painful, it’ll break your heart and also heal it. I love this book so much, and even though I know not everyone will feel the same, I highly recommend it. Go into it with an open heart and an open mind and no expectations, because this book will take those expectations and twist them along with your heart and mind. 

Have you read Fans of the Impossible Life? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wanderlust Wednesday Review: Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St John Brown


I'll be honest: visiting Japan has never really appealed to me. I'm not sure what it is - the fact it's so far away, or maybe just because I've always been interested in (*cough* obsessed with) the UK and Europe. But after reading Brenda St John Brown's Swimming to Tokyo, I feel like I've actually been to Tokyo. For that reason, I'm pausing from Wanderlust Wednesdays dedicated to my trip to London, Paris, and Rome, and doing a special review edition of Wanderlust Wednesday.

Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St John Brown
Series: Standalone
Published: July 28th, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
235 pages (ebook)
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Acquired this book: Bought
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

The rules for swimming are simple:

Rule #1: There is no lifeguard on duty.

Since her mom died three years ago, nineteen-year-old Zosia Easton’s been treading water. Living at home. Community college. Same old Saturday nights. So when her father breaks the news he’s taken a job transfer—and by the way, it means renting out the house that’s been her refuge—a summer in Tokyo feels like it just might be a chance to start swimming again.

Rule #2: Beware of unexpected currents.

Finn O’Leary has spent God knows how many years trying to drown out his past. Juvenile detention. Bad decisions. Worse choices. He’s managed to turn it around – MIT, Dean’s List, a sexier-than-thou body with a smile to match – at least on the surface. When his mom asks him to spend the summer with her, Tokyo seems as good a place as any to float through the summer.

Rule #3: Swim at your own risk.

Swimming to Tokyo wasn’t what I was expecting. I’d heard great things about it and many of my blogger friends loved it, but for some reason I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I don’t think the synopsis does it justice; this book is emotional, funny, sexy, sweet, and swoony. It incorporates all the things I love best about New Adult books, and does it in a fascinating setting that’s different from the typical European or US summer vacation books.

This is a story that starts out quiet and kind of sneaks up on you. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into Zosia and Finn’s story and fall hard for them. St John Brown managed to take a trope I’m mostly tired of seeing - tortured hero who doesn’t believe he’s good enough for the heroine and doesn’t want to be with her for her own good - and turn it on its head. Finn completely stole my heart. He was serious and intense, but had all these unexpected sides to him, and so much depth. He was flawed, believable, and genuine. He was damaged and it affected his life and relationships, but Zosia had this unexpected way of getting past his defenses and making him lower his guard. I loved these two together, whether they were exploring Japan, hanging out, driving each other crazy, or having super steamy sexytimes (the way the physical relationship was handled was one of my favourite parts of the book, and was beyond sexy). I thought the progression of their relationship was believable and it was a pleasure to watch. 

I also really enjoyed watching Zosia grow up in a lot of ways. She’d been through a lot and was trying to cope with the heartache she’d experienced. I liked her relationship with her best friend and grandmother, and found the dynamics between Zosia and her dad interesting and believable. I loved watching her become independent, stand up for herself, and forge her own path.

Swimming to Tokyo has well fleshed-out characters, an interesting setting, and manages to bring both the feels and the swoons. It has a lot more emotional depth than I expected, and I love that it had the ability to make me grin, laugh, and tear up. This is one of my new favourite NAs, and I'm eager to see what Brenda St John Brown writes next. In the acknowledgments she says she'd love to write a book set in Paris, and let me just say I am so here for that!

Have you read Swimming to Tokyo? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you ever been to Japan? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR Edition

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

~Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR~

Since the majority of the books I read are ebooks and/or review books, I've decided I want to read more books I own. I'm horrible about desperately wanting books, buying them, and then having them sit on my shelves for ages without reading them. I also decided with Halloween coming, I'd try to read a few paranormal books from my shelves since I mostly read contemporary and have neglected my precious paranormal stories.
  • Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
  • Dark Mirror by MJ Putney
  • This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
  • Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
  • Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

If there's one thing I know a lot about it's being a fangirl!
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell ~ I haven't read any of Rainbow's books, even though I own Fangirl and Eleanor and Park. My bff Jessica and I are going to be doing a buddy read of Fangirl in the next couple weeks, though!
Someone wanted to be part of my TTT photo shoot!

  • Sweet Madness by Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver
  • One Life by AJ Pine
  • Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
What books are on your fall TBR? Have you read any of the books on my list? If you did this week's TTT feel free to leave a link so I can visit you!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Series: Standalone
Published: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
416 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

{Read my 5-star review of Twenty Boy Summer}
The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .     

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler is an absolutely gorgeous story. The only other book I’ve read of Ockler’s so far is Twenty Boy Summer, and I couldn’t imagine loving another book of hers more than that, but I did. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids completely enchanted me and stole my heart from beginning to end.    

Elyse d’Abreau’s is defined by two things: the sea, where she was born, and her beautiful singing voice. Her identity is wrapped up tightly in music and the sea. Except that both have betrayed her in a way, leaving her with no voice and scars that are both physical and emotional. She leaves her home and family in Tobago and moves to Atagatis Cove, Oregon. She needs to figure out who she is without her voice, without her music, without her family, and what her future holds now that the future she thought she had has been ripped away from her. 

I adored Elyse. She was smart, strong, and brave. The lessons she learns through the course of the book range from small, quiet things to huge lightbulb realizations. She learns so much about herself, as well as lessons about family, friendship, love, and life. I loved her relationship with Christian and that he was more than he appeared to be. Elyse needed someone like him - someone to see her, listen to her, and really be there for her. Their tentative friendship and then blossoming romance was a joy to watch. There were other stellar characters in the book, too - Elyse’s aunt and cousin, Lemon and Kirby, her new friend Vanessa, and my personal favourite, Christian’s little brother Sebastian. That kid was ridiculously cute, plus so intelligent. I loved his passion and excitement, and how easily he accepted Elyse and never seemed to notice her differences. All the side characters had a purpose in the story and added something special. They each had something to teach Elyse, and they helped her in many ways.

Besides the unique story and the fantastic characters, the writing was beautiful. This story was so full of emotion and made me feel so many things. I laughed and cried. I loved how sex-positive the story was and that Ockler didn’t shy away from portraying a healthy, safe sexual relationship. I also enjoyed the slow unfolding of what happened to Elyse to make her lose her voice. It, along with many other aspects of the book, was heartbreaking. I also loved learning about Trinidad and Tobago and what life was like for Elyse there. It was so vivid and descriptive, I could picture it all perfectly.

On a personal note: My brother is deaf, and while he has some speech, he won’t talk in front of everyone. Growing up with him and being surrounded by other deaf people, I can easily imagine how frustrating, saddening, and even maddening losing her voice must have been for Elyse. To not be able to speak, whether it’s a simple hello, or pouring your heart out, is huge.
When some people realize you can’t speak, they dismiss you, assume you’re stupid, or don't want to be bothered trying to communicate. I’ve seen all of this firsthand. Unless you’ve seen or experienced it, it might be hard to understand, but I think Ockler did a fantastic job of showing Elyse’s situation and the effect it had on her.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a beautiful story about conquering fears and finding your voice. These characters and their story will stick with me for a long time. This book is not only one of my favourite books of 2015, it’s earned a spot on my list of all-time favourites.

Have you read The Summer of Chasing Mermaids? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fantastic Friday #6: Funko POPs!

Fantastic Friday is a semi-regular feature here on Ramblings of a Daydreamer where I showcase fantastic things - could be things I've done recently, places I've gone, a new song I like, a movie I've seen, books I've read, blog posts from around the blogosphere - anything at all!

It's been ages since I did a Fantastic Friday. In fact, the last one was at the end of May - oops! I was inspired by a post Wendy at A Cupcake and a Latte did a few weeks ago where she shared her POP collection.

I didn't have much interest in POPs when they first started coming out. I saw them here and there and thought a few were cute, but I didn't pay much attention to them until the Harry Potter ones released...and then a new obsession was born. 

I ordered Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Hagrid first...

Then saw that HMV had an exclusive Dean and Sam Winchester set, which was cheaper than buying them separately...

Then discovered there was a Robin Hood POP. Robin Hood has been one of my favourite movies for as long as I can remember, and it's hard to find memorabilia, apparently because it's one of the less popular Disney movies (which I don't understand). I had trouble finding him, but then Amazon finally got it back in stock and I had to have him!

Then when I went to visit my friend Krista in Kingston, I was telling her about the Loki POP and how I wanted to get it for her (she's obsessed with Loki - and Tom Hiddleston - and was the one who got me into superhero movies), but was having trouble finding one. We went shopping and guess what we found? Loki! So we each got one....


And finally I found Anna for half price at Carlton Cards one day (she's got a few little imperfections, but HALF PRICE, I'm not going to complain). Then I needed to have Elsa (for obvious reasons, plus my 5-year-old nephew was upset thinking about Anna being lonely)...

A little POP photography fun...

Krista's cat Loki meets Bobblehead POP Loki...

POP Wishlist:
All images taken from Funko.com


POPs I'd like to See:

  • Anne Shirley, Diana Berry, and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables
  • Lorelai and Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls  (I actually had a dream about these one night; Lorelai had a coffee cup and Rory had a book - so cute!)
  • Jareth, Sarah, Hoggle, and Ludo from Labyrinth
  • Maid Marian and Little John from Robin Hood
  • Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter
Do you collect Funko POPs? How many do you have? Which ones are high on your wishlist? What characters do you wish they'd turn into POPs? Do you collect anything else? Let's talk here or on Twitter!
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