Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Book Review: (Don't) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health by Kelly Jensen


Publish Date: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Series: None
Source: ARC from publisher in exchange for honest review

Goodreads Synopsis:

Who’s Crazy? What does it mean to be crazy? Is using the word crazy offensive? What happens when such a label gets attached to your everyday experiences?In order to understand mental health, we need to talk openly about it. Because there’s no single definition of crazy, there’s no single experience that embodies it, and the word itself means different things—wild? extreme? disturbed? passionate?—to different people.(Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a conversation starter and guide to better understanding how our mental health affects us every day. Thirty-three writers, athletes, and artists offer essays, lists, comics, and illustrations that explore their personal experiences with mental illness, how we do and do not talk about mental health, help for better understanding how every person’s brain is wired differently, and what, exactly, might make someone crazy.If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health, or know someone who has, come on in, turn the pages, and let’s get talking.

My Review:

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy is an anthology written by so many people. People who are famous and whose names you’ve probably heard of (Libba Bray, Kristen Bell etc). It’s written by people who have been told they are crazy and need help. It’s written by people who have gotten help professionally or just through friends and family support. It’s written by people like you and I.


Mental health is everywhere and it used to have such a stigma attached to it (it still does but it’s getting better). We need to continue talking about all of the different ways people struggle with mental health. We need to encourage everyone that you are not alone. And it’s books like this one right here that can help!

I would say that my mental health for the most part is in good shape but I had a bit of an eye opener reading this book, because my husband suffers from (self-diagnoses) OCD, and to be honest I never really thought of it as a mental health issue. I thought it was just an annoying trait that was hard for me to deal with some days. But there’s a really good piece in this book about Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and it made me realize that it’s more than just “an annoying trait”. It really made me stand back and look a little harder at everything that goes on in a daily basis. It also made me think about what he goes through on a daily basis and now I try to help him out (and support) as much as I can. That’s the thing with mental health, it can affect anyone and there may or may not be obvious signs. The struggle can be internal or hidden with smiles and laughter and what most would call “normal behaviour”.

We need to continue to show awareness about mental health and even if you just pick up this book, read it, talk about it, and /or pass it on you’ll be doing something. This isn’t a “self-help” book that will feel dry and boring, it’s more than that! I cried and laughed throughout it. I was able to learn a bit about mental health and I encourage everyone to read this!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Book Review: Tell Me No Lies By Adele Griffin

Publish Date: June 12th, 2018
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Series: None (though it is a companion to Be True To Me)
Source: ARC from publisher for honest review

Goodreads Synopsis:

A riveting novel about secrecy, complicated friendships, and heartbreak, set against the iconic backdrop of the late 1980s.
 
Lizzy Swift is a senior in high school, emerging from her nerd chrysalis to become a social butterfly. She starts dating popular Matt Ashley, whom she’s been pining for since freshman year. She’s delighted when rebellious new girl Claire Reynolds introduces her to Center City Philadelphia—clubs, street life, and the eye-opening art scene. As Lizzy begins to question her own long-held dreams, the changes in her life mirror the upheaval of a decade marked by a drug epidemic and the AIDS crisis. She’s no longer sure of her Ivy League ambition. While she has a special connection with Matt, something’s missing. And Claire carries around a mysterious sadness and talks about a breakup so bad she changed schools—but she won’t tell the whole story. Lizzy wants Claire to confide in her, even as she keeps her own embarrassing secrets.  
Before too long, the heady thrill of her new life starts to crumble under insecurities and deceptions.  When the truth emerges from the wreckage, will it be too late for Lizzy, Claire, and Matt to save their love and friendships?
Tell Me No Lies, a companion to the acclaimed Be True to Me, is a novel of unflinching emotional honesty about secrecy, lies, love, and identity.


My Review:

First off, this book is set in the 80's, which sounds super cool, but I didn't actually get an 80's vibe very much. To be honest, when it's mentioned about the yearbook I had completely forgotten about it up until that point. I would have loved a more nostalgic feel.
I've had a hard time figuring out if I truly liked Tell Me No Lies. I enjoyed reading it, yes but I couldn't commit to any one character, or theme. I would have loved to see more between Lizzy and Theo, I was hoping that their story would take more of a front line. The relationship between Matt and Lizzy began so fast, that I forgot she was pining over him for so long, but I did like their fun, playful relationship. The banter between them at times was cheery and heartfelt.
I feel like with all of the hard topics in Tell Me No Lies; epilepsy, suicide, AIDS, sex, trying to fit it, etc, Adele Griffin did a great job with keeping the book light. While tackling tough issues, I never felt uncomfortable or eager to read past that part. And I think that was the point with this book.
While Tell Me No Lies will not go on my favourites list, I think it's worth a read if you come across it yourself. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Cover Reveal: Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry


IT'S HERE....



About ONLY A BREATH APART:
Are our destinies written in stone? Do we become nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophesies of other people's opinions? Or can we dare to become who we believe we were born to be? 
Jesse dreams of working the land that’s been in his family forever. But he’s cursed to lose everything he loves most.
Scarlett is desperate to escape her “charmed” life. But leaving a small town is easier said than done.
Despite their history of heartbreak, when Jesse sees a way they can work together to each get what they want, Scarlett can’t say no.Each midnight meeting between Jesse and Scarlett will push them to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other.

You can pre-order Only A Breath Apart below.

Amazon * Kobo * Google Play * Chapters *
B-A-M * Barnes & Noble * iBooks *


Gritty and real, Only a Breath Apart is a story of hope conjured from pain, strength drawn from innocence, and love earned from self-respect. Beautiful, poignant, and fierce.”
―Kristen Simmons, critically acclaimed author of the Article 5 series

Katie McGarry Bio:
Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.
Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine's 2012 Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.


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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Book Review: Save The Date by Morgan Matson


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: June 5th, 2018
Series: Stand alone
Source: ARC / e-galley from Netgalley in exchange for honest review

Goodreads Synopsis:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.
The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.
There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.
There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.
Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.
Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.
 


My Review:

Save The Date is a perfect summer read! I've said this before about another Morgan Matson read, Since You've Been Gone. But it's true, there is something summery and flirty about these books, like they need to be read outside on a warm, bright, sunny day. I had a lot of fun reading this book, and I was able to paint the picture in my head so clearly. With the playful banter between the family and the running around on the wedding day, it played out like a movie in my head. The only (minor) thing that I didn't love about Save The Date was it's predictability. There were so many obvious things about to go wrong, and each and everything that could, did. I'm not sure if Morgan Matson did this on purpose, or not, but I found that to get a little boring after the first few incidents.

Charlie is a fun, helpful and eager to please kind of girl. She would do whatever it takes to make the wedding weekend perfect, and to make sure things are running as smoothly as she can make them. And with everything going on in the upcoming days to the wedding, this keeps her extremely busy, almost too busy for her best friend Siobhan (who didn't play a huge part in the book and we could have done without her as the BFF, in my opinion). But along the way she learns that not everyone is as they seem, and sometimes you find friendship in the strangest of times. 

Overall, Save The Date is a fun read, especially if you have a big family (extended in my case) because you can so easily relate to this family - the lame jokes from one person (J.J), the b/f or g/f brought into all the inside jokes etc (Brooke), the noisy kitchen (everyone!!), the fun and exciting games (capture the flag) - it's all there. Though if you are planning your wedding this summer, maybe don't read this one right now, you don't want to start thinking that EVERYTHING can (and will) go wrong!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi


Publish Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC ebook from Netgalley

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


My Review:

I actually found this book super hard to get into. In fact, I couldn't. I tried so many times at first and found myself thinking of just about anything else. I knew I needed to read it for NetGalley and get a review up, so one night, I started again. Once I set my sights on actually reading it, I found that I was enjoying it! It was funny, heartfelt and I was finally looking forward to being able to read, and then it "expired" and I couldn't read my galley copy any longer! 
So to be honest, I can't write a fair review. I will say I have heard amazing things about Emergency Contact and the reviews are so good. I'd love to pick up this book at some time, and give it a second chance for sure!
If you've read it, what did you think?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Blog Tour: A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers




Publish date: Mar. 13, 2018
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Available in Canada through Thomas Allen & Son
Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC from publisher for honest review and participation in blog tour

Goodreads Synopsis:

The story of a girl who—thanks to her friends, her famous dad, and a chance encounter with a whale—learns the true meaning of family.
Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher loves possibilities: the possibility that she’ll see whales on the beach near her new home, that the boy she just met will be her new best friend, that the photographers chasing her actor father won’t force Nat and her dad to move again. Most of all, Nat dreams of the possibility that her faraway mother misses and loves Nat—and is waiting for Nat to find her.
The thing is, Nat doesn’t even know who her mother is. She left Nat as a baby, and Nat’s dad refuses to talk about it. Nat knows she shouldn’t need a mom, but she still feels like something is missing.
In this heartfelt story about family, friendship, and growing up, Nat’s questions lead her on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life forever.

My Review:

Nat has to move around a lot due to her larger than life famous dad, XAN. So she knows that making deep rooted friendships isn't worth the heartache in the end. But when they move to Canada and a chance encounter in the girls bathroom leads to meeting Harry, things turn out to be more complicated than she expected. Nat feels a connection to Harry that she hasn't felt since her BFF Solly in her last hometown, but things are different for Harry, who was actually born Harriet. He's struggling with his parents not accepting that he identifies as a boy, and feels like he'd be better off hanging out with the guys at school then with Nat. Nat doesn't care about any of that, she just wants to be friends with him and share her excitement about the whales that she can see at the beach by her trailer. (Her middle name is Baleine after all).

There is so much to be taken from A Possibility of Whales and I loved every part. Xan (a famous, single dad) had such a great relationship and playful banter with Nat. I enjoyed seeing the single dad take on the role of single-parenting a young girl. We see acceptance and diverse characters and friendship in the strangest of places (Bird). This is definitely and book that young and old alike should read. Part of me wishes that Harrys story came through a little more than it did as I really liked him and wanted more, but I understand this was Nats story!

I loved Karen Rivers writing too, I felt as though I could see the whales she was describing when Nat saw them. There was an ease to the writing and reading. I hope you all get a chance to read it (read to the very end of this post!) and I hope you share with someone who could use a read like this one!  

 
Q & A WITH KAREN RIVERS


Question - There's a lot of words in different languages (Japanese, German) in your book, did you have  to research this beforehand or were they words you knew before? If so, how / why?
Answer - I’ve always been a collector of words. A long time ago, at an estate sale, I picked up a dictionary, which was a collection of words that don’t exist in English.  It had never occurred to me before then just how much language shapes and validates feelings and emotions. By not having words for certain things, they almost don’t exist.  For example, the Japanese have a word for the beauty of aging, imperfection, transience (wabi-sabi) and I think the fact that English is missing such a word is a reflection of how much we cling on to youth as our standard of “beauty”.   I love the depth that these non-existent-in-English words bring. So to answer your question, a lot of the words were words I already knew, but I definitely made use of the Internet to find ones that were unfamiliar to me that fit with Nat’s life, that described things she was experiencing that English lacks the words for.     

Q - Did you feel like this book needed to be written now, more so than ever with the LGBTQ+ community so strong (and becoming stronger) or was this a book you knew you would write regardless?
A - I did not set out to write a book about the LGBTQ community.  I set out to write a book about the complications of puberty in 2018 vs. puberty in 1970 (when ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET came out).  ARE YOU THERE GOD is still a quintessential coming-of-age, puberty book, but it’s very much a cis-gender story; it leaves too many people out. I wanted to write this as both a nod to that book, which meant so much to me when I was 12, and an exploration of how things are also so very different now.  Margaret’s family was “controversial” because her parents were of different religious faiths, but in hindsight, her family looks extremely traditional. Nat has a single dad, who is also famous, a very non-traditional structure. Harry has a more traditional family, but he has to fight for their acceptance of who he is.  At its heart, this is a book about relationships, about acceptance, about self-discovery. So to answer your question, I would have written it regardless. It’s interesting to me that Harry’s story, which is a secondary thread in the book, is the one that I’m getting the most questions about! I love Harry, I’m happy he’s getting the attention, but it also speaks to the fact that there is such a dearth of books for middle grade audiences that feature trans characters at all.   

Q - A Possibility of Whales is a coming-of-age novel, dealing with things such as feelings, love, and becoming a woman. As a woman yourself, you would have dealt with all of this already, why relive it in a novel?
A - When I was growing up, I never really felt okay in my own skin.  I was always an outsider, an observer, one-step removed from what was going on around me.  I want to write books for kids who are like I was, kids who are saying, “Am I okay? I don’t think I’m okay.”  I want to tell them, “You ARE okay. You will be. You are going to be just fine, better than fine. You’re great.  Things will get better and easier.” No one thinks they are “normal” in middle-school. Some people are outwardly different, a lot of people feel inwardly different.  Puberty throws yet another wrench into the whole mix. I write everything I write to say, “I see you. You’ve got this.”


Q - How did you come up with the idea of this book? What were your inspirations?
A - I’m a single parent myself, and my son is 12.  I know firsthand the complications of puberty in a single-parent family when that parent is a different gender than you are.  I was thinking about that, and about ARE YOU THERE GOD ITS ME MARGARET, and how I wanted to take on something similar, but I’d give my “Margaret” a single dad.  It blossomed from there, but I think it’s fair to say that was the seed.

Q - What do you hope kids (or adults) reading A Possibility of Whales will take from it?  
A - I hope they fall in love with it.  This book was a joy to write and I love the characters so much that I want everyone to see them, to love them, to care about them and their journey.   

Q - Why whales? Are they your favourite animal? Is there a deeper / more powerful meaning behind the whales?  (By the way, I love Natalia's middle name!)
A - Whales are very meaningful to me and always have been.   I’m drawn to them, fascinated by them, mystified by them.   They are incredible. In some First Nations’ traditions, the orca symbolizes family, which I love. I have always see whales as harbingers of good things, of luck and love, of connections.   They are our connection to the sea. We are all bound together on this planet.
Q - If you had to describe A Possibility of Whales in one sentence, what would it be?
A - I’d say it was ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET for the new generation, with The Rock playing a supporting role.  ☺

Q - Have you googled yourself?
A - Of course!  I don’t always recommend it.  While it can be wonderful and validating and magical to find comments that kids have left about the books, some of the adult comments can be crushing and demoralizing.   Proceed with caution. This is a job where we lay our souls open; we give away our hearts. When you are writing with everything you have, non-constructive criticism can be more painful than you’d think.

 
Q - What is your super power?
A - Being able to pretend that awkward things didn’t happen.  (Coincidentally, that is also the superpower of the main character in my upcoming YA, YOU ARE THE EVERYTHING.)  


Q - E-books or physical copies?
A - I love e-books.  I travel often enough that having an e-reader has changed my life.  No longer am I hauling 50 pounds of books in my suitcase! I love to read, I’m not fussy about the way the words finds their way into my life.


Q - When you aren't writing, what are you doing?
A - I teach writing at the university in my home town for half the year but I’m mostly ALWAYS writing. I spend a good portion of time taking long walks in the woods, which is also “writing”.  It’s how I work out the details, by stepping away from the keyboard, by simmering the ideas. I’m also a single mum, so I’m hanging out with my kids, who are 10 and 12.


Q - Favourite book of all time?
A - Too hard!  Middle grade?  When I was a kid, I was devoted to A WRINKLE IN TIME.   Now I’d put Rebecca Stead and Kate DiCamillo on the top of my list, anything they write, I will read and love and be amazed by. Tracey Baptiste’s Jumbies books are so magical and compelling.  Kate Messner’s Exact Location of Home was a favourite this year. Ali Benjamin’s Truth About Jellyfish was my daughter’s favourite. Melanie Conklin’s Counting Thyme is lovely. Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together was one of my favourites.  I’m blown away by the incredible wealth of middle grade books coming down the pipe. Oh, Laurel Snyder’s Orphan Island! I wish these books had all existed when I was a kid.


Q - Chocolate or Candy?
A - Chocolate.  But also gummy bears, they are my revision candy.
 
Q - Read the book first, or watch the movie first?
A - Always the book.  I almost never see the movie.



Get Your Copy Today!



About Karen Rivers:
Karen Rivers’s books have been nominated for a wide range of literary awards and have been published in multiple languages. When she’s not writing, reading, or visiting schools, she can usually be found hiking in the forest that flourishes behind her tiny old house in Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her two kids, two dogs, and two birds. Find her online at karenrivers.com and on Twitter: @karenrivers.


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Tourwide Giveaway

The winner will receive:
1 signed hardcover copy of A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers

Details:
- Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
- Giveaway ends Mon. Mar. 19th @ 12AM EST
- Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email and will have 24
hours to claim their prize.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Review: Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker

Publish Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 448
Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC Netgalley from publisher in exchange for honest review

Goodreads Synopsis:

Making a Murderer meets Scandal in this story of police corruption, family secrets, and illicit affairs from bestselling author K.A. Tucker, celebrated for her “propulsive plot twists and searing seduction” (USA TODAY).

Noah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that's been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family's life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.
Gracie Richards wasn't born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it's all she knows anymore. At least here people don't care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive...until a man who clearly doesn't belong shows up on her doorstep.
Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department's dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined.
Complex, gritty, sexy, and thrilling, Keep Her Safe solidifies K.A. Tucker's reputation as one of today's most talented new voices in romantic suspense. 



My Review:

Keep Her Safe, a new suspense novel by best selling author K.A. Tucker came out today! As many of you know, I love this author. The talent she exudes in her work is amazing. (Ten Tiny Breaths series will prove this). So obviously, I was happy to get the ARC of Keep Her Safe and provide a review for you all.

Noah Marshall has had an easy life. His mother is the chief of the police department and they live a pretty normal life in Austin. Friends, sports and school are life for him. He is a polite, handsome Texan with a good head on his shoulders. One night Noah's mom, Jackie, in a drunken state reveals some things to Noah that he doesn't quite understand and brushes off but in a flash his life is turned upside down and he comes to realize that it wasn't all just gibberish.

Gracie on the other hand lives in a trailer park where she doesn't know if her mom will make it day to day, or even hour to hour sometimes. Life has been harder for the both of them since Abe, a loving father and husband was murdered on the job on the Austin PD. Gracie is tough and sassy (she has to be to keep her neighbours honest). She takes care of her mom, herself and a stray one-eyed dog. So on the day Noah arrives on her doorstep, all guards go up and Gracie reverts to her protective self. Little do they know that their lives are about to change forever. From that moment, it will bring Noah and Gracie together in ways they never thought possible and will reveal answers to questions neither of them ever thought the need to ask.

Keep Her Safe is written through many POV's. We get Noah, Gracie, Abe and Sheriff Marshall. I love when authors do this, and can pull it off. I love how we get a full 360' view of the story being told. I did find a few of the parts of the book to be predictable early on, but it didn't ruin it for me. I still felt it when K.A. Tucker confirmed in writing what was going through my head.

Keep Her Safe has been listed as a romantic suspense, and yes, there is romance but it doesn't overpower the book. And it's not super gushy romance either. It's a mature, ever developing kind between some pretty awesome characters. There was enough to remind you that you are reading K.A. Tucker. (Again, read Ten Tiny Breaths series!)

While I wasn't a huge fan of K.A. Tuckers thriller, He Will Be My Ruin, I was a tad worried Keep Her Safe wouldn't live up (being it was a suspense novel) but I was wrong. Keep Her Safe was written with more finesse, more"umpf" and way more wow factor in my opinion. And I would happily recommend Keep Her Safe for any fan of K.A. Tucker, any fan of suspense or romantic suspense.


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