10/22/18

Marko Monday [32] - The Wonky Donkey

Man, oh man, it's been a while since I've shared a Marko Monday post!  As soon as The Wonky Donkey arrived in the mail, I just knew that it would be the next book I'd post on here.  In all honesty, Marko's love for books has been a bit hit and miss lately -- he still loves to sit and read on his own, but is less and less inclined to be read to.  Even bedtime stories are usually him "reading" to us -- and sometimes I suspect it's a bedtime stalling technique because his version of the book is about 50 times longer than our version!  But when The Wonky Donkey arrived in the mail, he asked me to read it to him right away and giggled along with the story.  We had previously watched the Scottish grandma reading to her grandson on YouTube (video linked below) so he knew what to expect from the story, but it was still a lot of fun to read along and try to say the tongue twisting lines as quickly as possible. 

Last month, Marko started kindergarten! I'm still in disbelief that my little man is so grown up but I have been absolutely blown away by his maturity in tackling this big life change. Of course, there's still lots of room for growth (like remembering to bring home his jacket and all his Tupperwares) but I've loved watching his world open up. He has a new best friend (the first friend that isn't a child of a friend of ours) and his teacher says that the two of them are stuck like glue to each other and will be BFFs for life. He survived his first field trip to the apple farm where they learned about the life cycle of a seed and the importance of bees, although he brought home a diagram he'd assembled and apparently the life cycle starts with an apple pie. If the next 13 years are as awesome as the first two months of kindergarten have been, BRING IT ON. Marko can handle it.


And, as promised earlier, here's the Scottish grandma -- I dare you not to giggle uncontrollably while watching her try to read The Wonky Donkey!


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10/17/18

A Very Large Expanse of Sea - Tahereh Mafi


A Very Large Expanse of Sea the story of a Muslim American teenager in 2002, just after 9/11. Shirin's character is loosely based on Tahereh's own teenage self and her book is a fictionalized autobiography, as Shirin also loves to breakdance and shares many experiences that the author suffered through in an America that became deathly afraid of terrorism and anyone that seemed "different."  As a proud hajib-wearing Muslim teenager, Shirin's strength is so admirable and I found her character incredibly inspirational.  She's a bit abrasive because she speaks her mind but she's also incredibly proud to be herself, even if being herself makes it harder for people to accept her as she is.

I've read a few #ownvoices books this year and this one is the best one I've read.  Although I'm not a Muslim American teenager, I feel like this book would have been really helpful to read in a post 9/11 world, not only for Muslim teenagers who experienced the world looking at them differently, but also for non-American teenagers to read and understand why so many of the racist assumptions about Muslim people are so, so wrong.

It's always interesting to see an author depart from the type of writing that has made them famous.  A Very Large Expanse of Sea is NOTHING like the Shatter Me trilogy, but in the best possible way.  Tahereh has demonstrated that she can do no wrong when it comes to writing a brilliant story.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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10/16/18

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom

Oh Mitch Albom, what do you do to my heart?

Twice this year, I have had my heart torn out by one of his books.  Earlier this year, I read The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, which is now one of my favourite books of all time.  Then, I found out that there would be a sequel to The Five People You Meet in Heaven, another of my favourite books of all time.  I decided to reread Five People before I dove into the sequel and I'm so glad that I did.  The first book tells the story of someone making the journey into heaven and encountering five people along the way who are all people he knew or met during his live and each person has a lesson to teach him about his life.  The second book takes us along a similar journey and the main character is one from the first book (I won't say who so that I don't spoil anything!)  When I read the first book, I was on a ferry and I sobbed my heart out in public ... so I made sure I read the second book in the comfort of home, armed with tea and tissues, and let's just say that I'm glad I wasn't such a mess in public this time!  Mitch Albom knows how to write a soul-crushing story ... he rips my heart out, stomps on it, and then stomps on it one more time for good measure.  Yet I always keep coming back for more because he's such an incredible storyteller.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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10/2/18

Broken Things - Lauren Oliver


Before I Fall remains one of my all-time favourite books. Delirium stole my heart and the follow-up books were solid. Yet, for some reason, every other Lauren Oliver book that I've read since then has fallen somewhat flat for me. I keep going back to her work, desperate for that insta-love that I felt during the opening pages of Before I Fall.

Broken Things started out promising with the story of a teenage girl who had been murdered and her friends were suspects. I immediately felt like it was going to be a reincarnation of Before I Fall because the girls weren't all that likeable and the girl who died even less so. But it quickly morphed into a magical realism story that fell absolutely flat for me. It reminded me a lot of The Hazel Wood, which I really didn't like when I read it a couple of months ago. The chapters are also intermingled with excerpts from a fictional fantasy novel and fan fiction that the characters wrote based on the novel, which reminded me of Fangirl (again, not my favourite book). So for fans who want The Hazel Wood blended with Fangirl, this book may be totally your cup of tea, but it wasn't mine.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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9/18/18

Top Ten Books On My Fall Reading List

Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl!  This week's topic is the ten books that I'm looking forward to reading this fall.  There is nothing that I enjoy more than making a list of books to read, even if most of the time I don't end up reading my planned books at all!

1. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
I had originally planned to read both Mistborn books in September, but I already know that I'm not going to make that goal. I needed a breather after finishing The Well of Ascension, but I know that I'll be finishing up this beautiful trilogy before winter arrives.

2. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
I picked this up over the summer and was enjoying it and I'm not entirely sure why I set it aside.  I really do want to read this book, and possibly even the second one if I enjoy it.

3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This is the Big Book Buddy Read on Instagram in October and there's a bookstagrammer who set up a group chat to discuss the book as well. It's one of the 18 books I planned to read in 2018 (as are all the ones above, and some others on this list) so I gotta get going on this list if I'm going to finish it (and one of these years I would like to actually do that!)

4. Velveteen by Daniel Marks
Another book from my 2018 list but it's a little ghosty or creepy, so I think it'll be perfect for October.

5. Wildcard by Marie Lu
This arrived in the mail this week and I'm already so tempted to crack it open. But I'm reading only contemporaries this week so I have to wait.  But next week it's ON.

6. Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema
This book was on my list of 16 books to read in 2016.  2016.  I cannot go into 2019 without reading this book.

7. The Revolution of Marina M by Janet Fitch
White Oleander is one of my top, top favourite books of all time and I can't believe that I have had this book for close to a year, yet it remains unread. I feel like this would be a good November book?  Crisp and cold outside with a Russian Revolution setting?

8. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
This is another top priority book for me in the coming months as I REALLY want to watch the TV show!

9. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
Totally knocking this series off the list when my copy arrives.

10. Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
See above!

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9/12/18

I Do Not Trust You - Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour for I Do Not Trust You by writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz.

About the book:
Memphis "M" Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she's awesome.

Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M's tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can't trust him.
Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?



About the authors:
LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.
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9/11/18

Saving Winslow - Sharon Creech

One of my favourite things about middle grade is how sweet and innocent the stories are.  Saving Winslow is exactly that: sweet and innocent.

I've read a couple of Sharon Creech's books and enjoyed them both so I knew I would enjoy this one too.  Then I saw that the book is recommended for fans of Charlotte's Web and The One and Only Ivan and my expectations went through the roof.  While I wouldn't saw I loved Saving Winslow as much as its comparison stories, it was still super sweet and gave me all the warm fuzzies.  There is something super sweet about a child's relationship with their first pet.  Winslow is a donkey, and a sickly one at that who isn't expected to live long.  I suppose this is where the comparison to Charlotte's Web comes in because, just like Wilbur, Winslow is constantly on the verge of not staying alive until the end of the book.  I didn't connect with Winslow the same way I connected to Ivan though, so that comparison fell a bit flat for me.

If you like your middle grade sweet and innocent and you enjoy a good animal story, then do yourself a favour and pick up Saving Winslow.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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9/4/18

Sadie - Courtney Summers

My experience with Sadie perfectly exemplifies why a book has to be read at the exact right time.  I dove into ARC August by picking up Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter, which is an adult thriller, and I DEVOURED it in two days.  Since Sadie was next in the review queue, I picked it up next but just couldn't get into.  I decided I had time to read other things and give it a second shot later in the month.

When I picked Sadie back up, it sucked me right into the story.  Reading a YA thriller right after an adult thriller was setting up my reading experience for failure and I'm so glad that I set it aside for a time when I'd feel in the mood.

The writing style in Sadie is so unique!  I've loved all of Courtney's previous books, but this one stands out as being different from the rest of her work.  The story intermixes the script of a serial podcast with chapters narrated by Sadie.  At the beginning of the novel, we find out that Sadie has gone missing.  The podcast narrator is searching for her after her disappearance and interviewing people from her life as well as people she's crossed paths with after she left home.  The chapters narrated by Sadie start after she's left home.  The narrative as these two timelines interweave, overlap and reveal pieces of the puzzle that fall into place one by one is absolutely GENIUS.  I was a fan of Courtney's before but now all I can do is bow down in front of her master literary skills.

Sadie is unlike any other YA book I've read and unlike any other thriller I've ever read.  The publisher also produced a serial podcast that is available through iTunes.  I've only listened to the first one, but I love the mixed media aspect and the way it mirrored episode 1 in the book.  The mixed media aspect is so unique and I feel like this would be a lure for kids who "don't read" -- that the idea of being able to listen to parts of the book, but reading the extra chapters, could be a great introduction into the wonderful world of books and reading.

I could rave and rave about this book all night, so let me just leave you with this: please, please, please do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of Sadie.  I promise you that it'll be worth it.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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9/1/18

September TBR

I took the summer off my monthly TBRs and just gave myself some vague summer goals -- and I did quite well!  The one area that I'm lacking is in series books, so I thought it would be a good time to finish the Mistborn trilogy (I can hear you cheering!)


I read my first Brandon Sanderson book, Mistborn, last September.  I broke the book down into 30ish pages per day, determined to tackle this intimidating book.  I've shared before on here that high fantasy intimidates the crap out of me, but I've truly fallen in love with some of the fantasy that I've read lately (A Darker Shade of Magic, I'm looking at you).  Brandon Sanderson is such a beloved author and I was equally terrified of being the one person who didn't absolutely adore his books.  I adored Mistborn and I can't believe it's taken me this long to get back to the world.  I'm tackling this series in roughly the same way I did last year -- I've broken my reading down into roughly 70 pages per day and I am so excited to get back to Kell and Vin and this incredible world (the fact that I still remember the characters' names a year later speaks VOLUMES about my engagement with the first book -- usually I've forgotten the characters' names by the time I mark the book as read on Goodreads!)

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8/31/18

July & August Wrap-up

I totally did not finalize my July wrap-up in time, so I've combined it with my August wrap-up for a look at what I read to beat the heat this summer...

July


I did it you guys.  I DID IT.  I read Lonesome Dove.  In addition to that 950 page behemoth, I also managed to polish off nine other books!  And DNFed two books ... all in all, a productive reading month!


1. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
I saw this book all over Bookstagram and bought it on a whim!  I didn't realize it was a spinal cord injury recovery story so I braced myself for a Me-Before-You-esque experience, but it wasn't like that at all.  The story ended in a completely different way than I had expected and it was a really refreshing difference.  I liked it so much I bought another of her books!


2. The Hazel Wood
I barely made it through this book.  In fact, I can honestly say that I listened to the first half and then skimmed the second half of the book.  In fact, I didn't really even skim the last half, I tried to read the last three chapters to find out what happened, and then realized after reading a page that I had zero interest in reading any more.  Normally, I'd count this as a DNF, but I read half and it was a slog to get through the half that I did read, so I'm counting it as a completed book.


3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
After the disaster that was The Hazel Wood, I loved loved LOVED this book.  Loved it so so much.  I listened to some on audio while driving, then flipped back to the physical book on the train.  I ADORED this book and the story stuck with me for a while after I finished reading it.

-- Wild Beauty
I read 50ish pages of this book back in March and then set it aside.  After a few months of looking at it on the shelf with the bookmark sticking out, I realized that I had zero interest in finishing this book so I decided to officially DNF it.  

-- Halo
I had a feeling I wouldn't like this book so I decided to give it a chapter or two.  It reminded me too much of Luxe, so onto the DNF pile.

 

4. The Simple Wild
5. A Very Large Expanse of Sea
I was so excited to jump into ARC August that I had to read a few in July too!  My review of The Simple Wild was posted earlier this month, but A Very Large Expanse of Sea won't be reviewed 'til October.


6. George
I was spending some Audible credits and then saw this book on sale.  It was all over the blogosphere (last year?) as an excellent transgender book for middle grade.  I thought this book was so sweet and it gave me all the fuzzies.


7. Roomies
This book was all over Bookstagram too (this is where I get lots of my book recommendations these days!) and I was in the mood for some summery romance novels, so I put a few on hold at the library.  I loved this book so much that I bought a copy for a friend of mine and put a few more of Christina Lauren's books on hold at the library.


8. Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
This book was one of my 18 books to read in 2018 and I knew I would read it this summer.  I've enjoyed all of Sarah's books, but this one had an essence that reminded me a lot of classic Sarah Dessen circa The Truth About Forever.  I LOVED IT.


9. Nocturnal
I read Wild Is She in March this year and adored the imagery and the beautiful poetry.  Nocturnal lacked that beautiful coffee table book vibe, but was still a solid collection of beautiful poems.


10. Lonesome Dove
It honestly doesn't matter if I meet any of my bookish goals this year because I READ LONESOME DOVE. Just like last year, when I finished Shantaram, I feel this huge sense of accomplishment.  But with Shantaram, I'd been intending to read for five years, I've been intending to read Lonesome Dove for 13 years.  A HUGE accomplishment and it was so worth it -- what an epic, sweeping journey.

August 


1. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
My friend was spending her Audible credits and picked this up.  I mentioned that I had an ebook version and she suggested that we read it together.  I'd read a chunk of it earlier this year on audio and was waiting for my turn in line with the audiobook, but I already couldn't remember what had happened so I knew I'd have to start it all over.  I decided to dive into the audiobook and I was immediately hooked into the story.  The first part was a quick read as the storyline came back to me as I read, but I was quickly unable to put the book down and I TORE through it.  I was just approved for an egalley of Kate's 2019 release and I can't wait to read it!



2. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
When Ginger @ G Reads Books recommends a romance, you know it's gonna be a good one and this one was no exception.  A little racier than some of the romances I've read lately and I absolutely LOVED the #ownvoices aspect (the narrator and the author are both on the autism spectrum).

3. Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
4. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
-- I Do Not Trust You by
5. The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
6. Sadie by Courtney Summers
My ARC August wrap-up, basically!  Totally rocked my goals and stay tune for reviews except for Pieces of You, which has been posted already!


7. Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren
After reading Roomies, I've put all of Christina Lauren's books on hold at the library.  Sorry, not sorry.



8. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull
I have an incredible boss and she keeps recommending Ted Talks, inspirational YouTube videos and books to help me grow professionally.  I enjoy non-fiction on audio and I had a backlog of credits so I've purchased some of her recommendations and I hope all of them are as good as Creativity, Inc.


9. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Lauren @ Lose Time Reading doesn't recommend and rave about a book unless it's a really good one, so when she told me how much she loved The Marrow Thieves I put it on hold at the library right away.  The premise of this book absolutely blew me away.  It's a post-apocalyptic Canada where people have lost the ability to dream and this ability can only be regained through harvested bone marrow from Canada's Indigenous people.  The parallel between the experiences of the characters in the book and Canada's history with residential schools is horrifying and realistic.  My heart ached throughout the book and the only thing that kept me from ending up in tears was the fact that I wished the book had more pages so that I could have developed a deeper relationship with the characters.


10. Days of Awe by Lauren Fox
I picked up this book after Rachel Del posted about it on Instagram.  She mentioned that she'd finished it and wanted to talk to someone about it.  It's a weird one to write about and I feel the same as she felt when I was done.  It's a funny book, but it's written about relationships that are disintegrating, so I am kind of fascinated by the way the author managed to imbue such a sad book with moments of clarity and humour.


11. The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen
September's book club book.  Honestly, the most boring thriller that I've ever read.  It took well over 100 pages to get the story going and I figured out each and every twist way before they actually happened.


12. Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino
After I finished The Girl I Used to Be on my trip to LA, I wanted something sweet and romantic to read, so I dove into Swear on This Life.  I was sucked in from the very first page and I tore through it in just a couple of days.

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8/21/18

Pieces of Her - Karin Slaughter


I read Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter and was absolutely enthralled so I picked up a bunch more books by her.  I've only read one other (Triptych) but I already know she's a favourite.  When I received my approval email from Edelweiss for Pieces of Her, I actually squealed out loud.

Years and years ago, I was the biggest James Patterson fan.  I DEVOURED his books and I couldn't get enough.  After Marko was born, I picked up one of his books on a whim and I couldn't get past the second chapter!  (I actually wrote a whole post about this!)  My reading tastes changed significantly once I became a mom and I just couldn't handle the gross factor of his books.  But I missed the un-put-downable quality of a well-written thriller.  I've found that quality in Karin's books and, even though she writes about some truly awful situations, there's something about her writing that is compelling and not just gross-out for the sake of making the writer squirm.  It's a fine line between the two and Karin's books perfectly walk the line.

Pieces of Her throws you right into the action when a mother and daughter are having lunch and a crazed gunman starts shooting.  Immediately, you're thrust into the story of the daughter trying to figure out who her mom really is, based on the way that she reacts to this terrifying situation -- not like a speech therapist should react.  I was absolutely captivated from page one of this book and I couldn't put it down (my husband will vouch for this fact, as I kept repeatedly telling him "just one more chapter" while more or less ignoring him all weekend!)  If you love a good thriller and haven't yet picked up one of Karin's books, please do it.  She's amazing and I'm so grateful that I still have lots of her backlist titles to read.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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8/14/18

Blind Kiss - Renee Carlino

I read my first Renée Carlino book en route home from one of my best friends' wedding in Ontario.  My flight got delayed after my first stop in Calgary and I sought solace in a light contemporary novel because I just really wanted to get home.  I enjoyed it but I was also so tired by the journey and the delays that I think the exhaustion prevented me from enjoying it to the max.

I honestly don't know what prompted me to request Blind Kiss for review since my first experience with Renee didn't make me jump for joy, but HOLY SMOKES am I glad that I read this book.  I gobbled it up over one weekend and I could scarcely put it down.  Not only that, it made me cry on THREE separate occasions.  It was an emotional roller coaster and one of the best adult contemporary romances I've read.

The story is told in alternating timelines which is a trope that I love.  I love being in the present and knowing that certain things are going to happen, but then blasting back into the past and trying to piece together the storyline to figure out how we're going to get to the present.  Penny and Gavin meet during a psychology experiment: to kiss a stranger blindfolded.  What follows is a friendship like no other as they help each other through so many ups and downs.  I loved that Gavin wanted more out of their friendship but Penny had such solid reasons for wanting to remain friends -- yet I still kept fighting for them.  I don't want to say much more lest I spoil things but the storyline plays out perfectly and I wouldn't have changed a thing.  And did I mention that this book made me cry THREE TIMES?!?  Beautiful, just beautiful.

Pack this one into your beach bag alongside a package of kleenex and some oversize shades to hide your puffy eyes.  It's contemporary perfection and I cannot wait to read more of Renée's works!

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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8/9/18

The Simple Wild - K.A. Tucker

If you've been anywhere near any type of social media this year, you've seen people rave about The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.  I read it earlier this year and it blew me away, totally lived up to the hype, etc. etc. etc. So when I picked up The Simple Wild, I have to be perfectly honest and admit that I was expecting something in the realm of The Great Alone and the book disappointed me in that regard.

BUT WAIT. This does not mean that The Simple Wild is a disappointment in any way, shape, or form. The Simple Wild is NOT The Great Alone and shouldn't be compared to it at all. Yes, the books both take place in Alaska and are stories of families but the similarities end there. Alaska is a main character in The Great Alone, but in The Simple Wild, it fades into the background as a stunning backdrop to a heartwarming and heart wrenching story.

The Simple Wild is a beautiful father-daughter story that reduced me to tears on a couple of occasions and the story of a girl trying to find her self and her identity. The story is sweet and profound and absolute perfection from beginning to end. The only other K.A. Tucker book that I've read was a thriller last year and I'm absolutely blown away by how well she tackles both genres. If you're looking for me in the next few months, I'll be devouring her backlist.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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8/7/18

The Other Side of Lost - Jessi Kirby

This book.  OH THIS BOOK.  I feel like Jessi Kirby is such a phemonenal writer of YA contemporary, but her books don't seem to garner as much buzz as some other popular YA authors, like Morgan Matson or Katie Cotugno.  So instead, I feel like I need to climb up on top of a soapbox and yell for all the world to hear: IF YOU HAVEN'T READ A JESSI KIRBY BOOK, WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?

This book.  OH THIS BOOK.  I had started 9 Days & 9 Nights because its publication date was earlier, but something about this book was calling to me, so I thought I'd just read the first couple of pages and see what it was like.  Two pages in, I WAS HOOKED.  Mari is an Instagram sensation and the book opens with her composing photos and posts for her account.  I loved seeing the way her mind approached her online persona, and the way she as a person was disconnected with how she appeared to her fans online.  Then she posts a confessional video about how everything she posts online is a lie, and that she isn't the happy, carefree individual that she pretends to be online.  In the virtual aftermath of her video going viral, she makes a spontaneous decision to fulfill a life goal that she had planned to do with her cousin, a plan that had fallen apart both because of her estranged relationship with her cousin, and the fact that her cousin died in a tragic accident.  The life goal includes hiking the John Muir trail, an impressive 211 miles across all kinds of terrain.

All of this happens in the first few chapters of the book and what unfolds from there is a story of self-discovery and truth that is unlike any other book that I have read.  I'm already craving a re-read of the story, and can scarcely wait to get my hands on a physical copy so that I can go back and Post-it flag some of the pages ... and I'm not one to annotate books at all.  There's just something about this book that spoke to me on such a deep level -- there was a reason that this book was calling to me, and I'm so glad that I picked it up when I did.

To repeat my earlier statement, IF YOU HAVEN'T READ A JESSI KIRBY BOOK, WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?!  Start with this one, or start with one of her earlier books, but please please please give her a chance.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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8/1/18

August TBR - #ARCAugust

I think this is the second (or maybe third?) year that I've participated in ARC August but most years I unofficially participate.  I read as many ARCs in August as I can but I've never done any further online participation.  This year I am officially signing up (and you can too over at Read.Sleep.Repeat!) and am committing to reading as many ARCs in August as I can.

At the time of drafting this post, I have one more ARC left to read for August, which realistically may be finished in July, so for the purposes of this post, I'll only include review books that I need to read for September and October.

September ARCs:

Sadie by Courtney Summers
I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

October ARCs:

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
Damsel by Elana K. Arnold
When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

For the above books, I will most definitely read the two books for September.  I also plan to read The Ship of Brides, my one lone expired egalley on Netgalley, so that I can end the year with no expired ARCs to read.  Then, I'll read some, if not all, of the books on my October pile.  It's gonna be a fun month!

PLUS, if you haven't already done so, please go and check out the sign-up post on Read.Sleep.Repeat's blog -- there's going to be a bingo board and a giveaway and readathons!

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7/17/18

All Your Perfects - Colleen Hoover

It's been three weeks since I finished this book, and I'm still struggling to find the words to talk about my thoughts.  First of all, let me say that I have a bit of a complicated relationship with Colleen Hoover.  I've reviewed several egalleys of her books, and borrowed the rest of her books from the library.  I've loved some, and could barely force myself to finish some of her other books.  For this reason, her books are not ones that I would run to the bookstore to buy, simply because I never know what I'm going to find between the covers.  Even those that I've enjoyed are ones that I won't reread.  For example, I thought Hopeless was a wild ride, with tons of twists and turns, but there were moments where the dramatics of the relationship reminded me too much of the Edward-Bella dynamic.  Although I thoroughly enjoy the reading experience with most of Colleen Hoover's books, there's always something problematic between the covers that prevents me from loving the book unconditionally.

Then I read All Your Perfects and I fell in love.  Perhaps it's because this is Colleen's first adult novel, rather than new adult, like the rest of her books, but this book BLEW ME AWAY.  All Your Perfects is the story of a couple struggling with infertility.  Quinn and Graham's relationship begins in an unconventional manner (but what a "how we met" story!) and is in danger of falling apart completely because of the strains that their struggles to conceive has placed on their marriage.  While I was lucky to get pregnant very quickly once we started trying, I know that the struggles in this book are real and have touched the lives of several close friends.  I cried alongside Quinn during her journey and this book absolutely tore me to pieces.  Despite what I mentioned above about not rushing to buy Colleen's books, I finished reading this book and immediately preordered a copy for my shelves because this is the type of book that I need to hug in person.  And my ereader doesn't quite do the trick.

If you've struggled with Colleen's books in the past, like me, definitely give this book a chance.  If you've struggled with infertility, this book will likely tear your heart out, and even if you haven't been through a journey similar to Quinn's, this book will still wreck you emotionally.  As I said at the beginning of this review, it's been weeks since I finished it and I still feel a bit vulnerable emotionally and unsure of how to put my thoughts into words.  Let me just end by saying this: this is Colleen's best work to date and if she continues along this path, she will be my next auto-buy author.  I can scarcely express how much this book touched my heart and I can't wait to reread it when my copy arrives.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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7/10/18

Top 10 Best Books of 2018 (So Far!)

Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl!  This week's topic is the ten best books of the year (so far!)  I shared my third round of the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag last month (check it out here) so this will be a bit repetitive, but I can't stop sharing my love for these books...

1. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
This was one of the very first books I read this year and I feel like it set the stage for sweeping adult contemporaries.

2. When My Heart Joins the Thousand by A.J. Steiger
I will keep singing this book's praises from the top of every pedestal -- this book deserves WAY more bookish hype than it has seen so far.  It's young adult contemporary PERFECTION.

3. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
Another one that I will not stop talking about.  I've already bought four copies of this book: originally one for myself, followed by two more for friends and one for my sister-in-law.  It's THAT GOOD.

4. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
I read this in February (I think?) and immediately preordered a copy.  I'll be rereading it as soon as it arrives ... if I can stop hugging it first.

5. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I enjoyed some of Kristin's other books, including The Nightingale, but I was fully unprepared for how much I loved this book.  It BLEW ME AWAY.

6. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
One of my best friends recommended this book to me years ago and it took me just as long before I finally picked up a copy.  Boy oh boy was it worth the wait!  Sweeping, epic, historical and just the right amount of fantasy.

7. Renegades by Marissa Meyer
I loved Marissa before picking up this book and now she has firmly cemented herself on my favourite authors of all time list.

8. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
A coworker loaned me her copy of this book.  She told me that she didn't read much but she gobbled up this book in two days.  That was high praise but the book delivered -- I couldn't put it down!  I promptly ordered more of her books ... it was this book that prompted me to place my first Book Outlet order in YEARS.

9. Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Holy smokes, Lisa can write a heartwrenching story.  This one didn't start out as my favourite of hers because the characters were hard to love but I was sobbing by the end.

10. Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino
Besides Kristin Hannah, this is the most surprising book on this list.  I didn't expect to love this one as much as I did, but holy did I love this book.  I was in tears three separate times!

How about you?  Which books have blown you away this year?  Let me know in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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