Thursday, February 27, 2014

Canadian Books Don't Get Enough Buzz

The Fallen World trilogy by Megan Crewe is fantastic. As are many Canadian YA books (Courtney Summers anyone?) so let me introduce you to this wonderful series:
It starts with an itch you just can’t shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you’ll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.
And then you’re dead.
When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.
Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.
The first book is told through journal entires, but that’s just the beginning. This series takes us through the East Coast of Canada to Toronto. It’s a great apocalyptic thriller in a world where something like this could really happen. Love, drama, a girl trying to save the world, this book’s got it all. So what are you waiting for?
The third book just came out a couple of weeks ago and I’m reading it now. I know I’ll be sad to see this series end, but it comes with the chance to meet Megan. She’ll be having a book release party on March 8 in Toronto and I highly recommend you take this opportunity to see her!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Cress

Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: February 4, 2014
Hardcover, 550 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Everything about this series is perfect. Fairy tale retellings, dystopian world, a plague, an evil queen from another planet and cyborgs and wolves, oh my! When I first picked up Cinder, I wasn't sure if I would like a cyborg Cinderella, but boy was I wrong. And it just got better after that with Scarlet, red riding hood for a new age. Throw in Levana, an evil queen from the planet Luna and some genetically altered man-wolves, and suddenly I was thrown into a world I never wanted to leave. When Cress was announced as being a retelling of Rapunzel, I knew I had found my new favourite series.

There is something very refreshing about a book that focuses on the mission at hand and not the love story. Don't get me wrong, I love a good love story, especially a fairy tale, but Meyer has woven such a wonderful world that yes I want to read about kissing, but I also really want them to destroy Levana and find a cure for the plague. But I do love Cinder and Prince Kai, a couple that against all odds will hopefully come out on top. And Scarlet and Wolf gave me chills with their sexual tension, and don't even get me started on Cress and Thorne because they are absolutely adorable together. The love stories are important and even better there aren't any love triangles - boys and girls can really just be friends! - but the real adventure is about trying to win the war over Luna. With each new book, we are introduced to a new character who is going to play a big part in doing so. The group keeps getting bigger and new mysteries are solved and I just know it's all leading up to something huge and wonderful. 

Cress is a beyond wonderful character. She is sweet and somewhat naive, having lived in a satellite all her life, but she has watched and learned about the real world and when she finally gets to be a part of it, she is intrigued and amazed. While her and Thorne are wandering through the desert, she can't help but all in love with the earth, even if it could kill her. She is an intelligent girl, able to hack into security systems. Though she gets into some trouble, she is smart enough to figure a way out. I only have love for Cress, she is one of my favourites and the perfect counterpart to Cinder and Scarlet. 

Meyer has made these fairy tales her own. She has only vaguely taken the characters and stories, but everything else is her own. If you are familiar with the original fairy tales, you'll see the small similarities throughout the novels. In Cress, Thorne being blinded is an ode to the original tale, among other things. It's small, but I love how she's incorporated it into the novel. The third person narrative works really well with this series, giving us insight into every character involved. I can't wait to find out how everything will come together. I hope they find the antidote, I hope Wolf reunites with Scarlet and I hope Thorne gets his sight back. All in all though, I hope everyone gets their happy ending. 

"Do you think it was destiny that brought us together?"
He squinted and, after a thoughtful moment, shook his head. "No. I'm pretty sure it was Cinder.” 

Also, I could include so many quotes at the end of this, because all of it was so good. And I'm meeting Marissa this evening, I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Ignite Me

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page

My current read is:
Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)
Tahereh Mafi
Published: February 4, 2014
Paperback, 408 pages

Teaser #1
He charges forward, closing the gap between us and tackling me in a hug so fierce he practically cuts of my circulation. "Holy shit it's good to see you," he says, breathless, squeezing me tighter. (page 74)
Teaser #2
"No," I say. "I don't. And I just thought you should know I'm not trying to fix you. I don't think you need to be fixed. I'm not trying to turn you into someone else. I only want you to be who you really are. Because I think I know the real you. I think I've seen him." (page 184)
Ok, these are teasing me! I can't wait to dive further into this book. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Cold Spell

Cold Spell
Author: Jackson Pearce
Published: November 5, 2013
Hardcover, 323 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.

But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.

If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?

Fairytale retellings have always interested me. I find myself automatically drawn to them and hoping for the best. Jackson Pearce is leading the pack with her series of four that interlock into something much bigger than just a fairytale. Unfortunately, I read them out of order and I'm wishing I could go back in time and have a do-over since the series would make so much more sense to me if I had. I knew they would all connect, but I had no idea how well they would connect together. Sisters Red started off the series with a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and introduced us to a world where werewolves lurk in the woods and are attracted to girls in red. I don't have a review for this one, but it was fantastic. I wasn't interested in reading Sweetly, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, so I skipped it and went straight to Fathomless, an interesting take on The Little Mermaid. It didn't blow me away as much as the first, but it connected the worlds together with mention of the werewolves again. I didn't realize how it connected so well to Sweetly as well since I hadn't read it (I've read it now, review to come) So when I picked up the final book in the series, Cold Spell, excited for a retelling of The Snow Queen, I couldn't fully appreciate everything Pearce has done with this series.

I fell more in love with the story of The Snow Queen after watching Frozen (because let's face it, that movie is amazing) and was excited to know Pearce had a retelling of it as well. Kai and Ginny have been friends forever and have only recently taken it further. A strange cold has taken over the town and when a mysterious girl named Mora shows up and suddenly Kai is gone, Ginny knows the woman has taken him and she'll do anything to get him back. Setting out on her own, she quickly makes some friends, some enemies, and slowly unlocks the mysteries surrounded his disappearance. I loved that this one connected so much to Sisters Red, as we meet some of the characters' family and learn more about fenris(werewolves) hunting. We finally get a connection to all the books like finding out about the ocean girls and how the fenris play into the whole thing.

The supporting characters were wonderful in this one. Ella and Luke took Ginny in as family and they were willing to help her with whatever she needed. Ginny has lived a pretty sheltered life, so it's a good thing she had people helping her because she couldn't do much on her own. Throughout the novel, we see Ginny realizes a lot about herself, she didn't really have a plan for her future as she was living through Kai most of the time. It's nice to see her character develop over the novel, coming into her own by the end, realizes she wants Kai, but doesn't need him. We also have the chance to view the story from Mora's viewpoint, given more insight to the background of the ocean girls from Fathomless, and how she in turn became the snow queen. It was a nice take on the fairytale, giving it an updated feel and much more mystery. Pearce has a way of taking something that is old and beloved and turning it into her own creation. She takes the fairytales and keeps them as a background to her own story. This is hard to do, since I've tried writing retellings and end up jut rehashing the story. She has made them all her own and this series connects and weaves together to form a much bigger story than any of the fairytales can be on their own. I recently read that she'll be writing a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, so I'm excited to see how she'll play that card.

“You know I’m in love with you, right, Ginny?” He’s looking at my knuckles, running his thumb across them. His eyes flicker to mine. It’s the first time he’s said it aloud, or at least, aloud and meant it like this. “I’ve always been in love with you.” 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Review: Fire with Fire

Fire with Fire
Authors: Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Published: August 13, 2013
Hardcover, 528 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn’t exactly go the way they’d hoped at the Homecoming Dance.

Not even close.

For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it’s not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie’s meaner than she ever was before.

And then there’s sweet little Mary…she knows there’s something seriously wrong with her. If she can’t control her anger, she’s sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it’s not just that Reeve bullied her—it’s that he made her love him.

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. The girls are up to the task. They’ll make Reeve fall in love with Lillia and then they will crush him. It’s the only way he’ll learn.

It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn...

The first book in this series,  Burn for Burn, set up life on a small island and a plan for revenge that went horribly wrong. Now Lilia, Mary and Kat are back, cleaning up their mess and trying to figure out a new plan of attack. You think these girls would learn, but they just keep getting themselves deeper and deeper. Things get even more complicated in this book - feelings are involved, friendships are tested, and suddenly it's not so easy to see who the good guys are and who are the bad. 

What I love about these girls is that they are drastically different yet find a way to be really good to each other. Lilia is from the rich part of town, a promising future at an ivy league college and a good family life. Kat isn't as lucky, living with her dad and brother and knowing she'll be stuck on the island forever. And Mary, her life in ruins, misses her parents and worries about these strange powers she seems to hold. But they all smile to each other and meet up in secret still, even though they know they don't have to, and continue to plot revenge on those who have wronged them. They stick up for each other even when their plans don't work out. 

The story seemed to drag on at points and I'm nut sure this book really needed to be 500 pages. It was nice to get some more background on each of the girls and there was definitely some build up for the final instalment, but there was also a lot of filler. We got to learn more about Mary's ability and some family history that may explain it. Her powers almost seem to be holding this story together as I know they will end up playing a much bigger part in the end. There are a lot of intermixing of lives in this one. Lilia and Reeve get closer than they thought they would, a plan for revenge that doesn't turn out quite right. Mary is left wanting Reeve yet also wanting to hurt him. And Kat wants Alex but Alex is still hung up on Lilia. For an island so small, there's an awful lot of drama, but it was entertaining to read and leaves a lot open for the finale. The plans for revenge keep going wrong so I'm curious to see if the girls will finally give up or if they will try to come up with a different plan. There is so much character development and so many different plots that it's hard to believe it will wrap up in one more book. This is the kind of book you need to read instead of just reading reviews about. It's hard to explain and it's worth diving into. The last book should be an explosion and I can't wait to see how this will all wrap up. There's really no way of guessing the end to this series, seriously, these girls keep you guessing until the end!

“It’s all about attitude. You act like you’re the shit and guys are so dumb they’ll totally believe it.” 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published: June 14, 2012
Paperback, 416 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

This book beat every expectation I had for it. I went into it looking for a light fluffy read and ended up with a book that will stay in my mind forever. This is a Romeo and Juliet story for the new age. Samantha has been told all her life to stay away from the Garretts next door. They are the opposite of her clean house and small family, loud, messy and kids continuously being added to the family. Sam has spent her whole life watching the Garretts from afar, wishing for a life more like theirs. Then one day she finally meets one of them, Jase, and suddenly her life is very different - full of secrets, kids, and stolen kisses. The Garretts quickly welcome her into their family and she gradually moves away from her own. Soon the families come together in the worse possible way and Samantha has to decide where her loyalties really lie - with her politician mother or the family that has taken her in as one of their own and the boy she loves more than anything. 

The romance between Samantha and Jase is adorable. They've lived next door to each other for a long time but have never met and when they finally do, it's like getting hit by a truck. Jase is welcoming and helpful, inviting her into his house and making her feel at home. Their love is refreshing, there are no awful undertones and the only problem they really have is the fact that Sam's mother doesn't approve of the relationship. They fall in love quickly, as most young lovers do, and when they decide to take it further, they are both consenting and the moment is tender and loving. Fitzpatrick wrote a couple who live and act like real people and it was fantastic to read. The antagonist is unlikely, which is also refreshing, and he creeps into the story without notcie. He could easily have been another guy Sam's age, or one of Jase's family members, but instead he is a cunning, evil man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. The secondary characters really help this book. The whole Garrett family is unique and each one flies off the page. George is a curious child who takes everything you say very seriously. Andy is just starting to date and doesn't know how to handle it. It's nice seeing characters with distinct personalities and each character in this book is very well written, including those we don't like very much.

I won't lie when I say I thought this would be a cute, light story with a very happy ending. This book was so much more than I thought it would be. Things happen that shocked me and I wondered how anything would be okay with Sam and Jase after the incidents. This is the perfect story of young love with the real threats of life taking that away. Definitely a contemporary to remember. I can't wait to see what else this author can do!

“I don't know. I didn't have that choice. But I know what's happening now. And I'm choosing to stay with you.” 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: On the Fence

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine, where we spotlight an upcoming release we are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is

On the Fence
By Kasie West
Paperback, 320 pages
Expected Publication Date: July 1, 2014

From Goodreads:

She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

Looks like another cute, light contemporary from West. The Distance Between Us was adorable and fun and I can't wait to read more from her!

What books are you waiting for?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Published: March 2, 2011
Paperback, 277 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Lennie plays second clarinet in the school orchestra and has always happily been second fiddle to her charismatic older sister, Bailey. Then Bailey dies suddenly, and Lennie is left at sea without her anchor. Overcome by emotion, Lennie soon finds herself torn between two boys: Bailey's boyfriend, Toby, and Joe, the charming and musically gifted new boy in town. While Toby can't see her without seeing Bailey and Joe sees her only for herself, each offers Lennie something she desperately needs. But ultimately, it's up to Lennie to find her own way toward what she really needs-without Bailey.

Grief steals you. It engulfs you and won't let go no matter how hard you try. It is a character in your life, following you around wherever you go with no means of escape. Grief is hard to write properly. It needs to be a character in itself, it needs to fill the pages with its darkness in order to feel real. I haven't experienced real grief, I have not lost any beloved family members, but I know how it eats away one's soul. I know that there is no real escape from it. Writers write about grief a lot, trying to capture just how soul sucking it really is. I have no read another who captures it quite like Nelson does and it is beautiful in its darkness. Lennie's older sister Bailey died suddenly one day while at college and life hasn't been the same since. Without much family left, Lennie feels completely alone, drowning in her sorrow and killing those around her. She shuts out what's left of her family and takes her grief out on random pages or coffee cups or trees, leaving notes and poems scrawled for Bailey. The only person she feels knows what she's going through is Bailey's (ex)boyfriend, Toby, whom she find comforting and just what she needs. Toby knows everything about Bailey and she knows she can talk to him about anything, remember Bailey through him. The new guy at school, Joe, is the exact opposite. He never knew Bailey and Lennie feels completely different around him, living in a world without Bailey isn't so hard when she isn't constantly reminded of her. Lennie has different feeling for each boy, and each boy brings out something different in Lennie. Processing grief isn't easy, but with the help of the people around her, maybe Lennie will make it through.

Lennie's reactions to her sister's death are so realistic, I can't believe this isn't a true story. She shuts people out, including her grandma and uncle, and tries to reach out to her dead sister through writing, in some small hope that it will make her better. She leans towards Toby because it is the comfortable thing to do. They can talk about Bailey freely, their grief the same, and the can hold each other under it stops hurting. But Toby also brings out the worse in her grief, as he sees Lennie as Bailey and not as herself. Joe on the other hand, is a healthy way of her dealing with it. She can be herself around him, no Bailey to be compared to. In him, she finds her love for music reinstated and a new outlook on life. It's not easy for her to choose who to go to, which is completely realistic. As we know, I'm not a fan of love triangles, but this one made so much sense. Toby represents a life with Bailey and Joe represents a future without her. It's hard watching Lennie try to become who she has to be without Bailey, but it's also amazing and heartbreaking. Nelson has a way with words to make something simple and routine feel like it's coming off the pages. Comparing Lennie to a houseplant and using her grandma's garden as the centrepiece to the whole story rounded this story out and separated it from others. The poems and miscellaneous writings that Lennie leaves all over the town are endearing and heart wrenching, words of a broken girl trying to piece herself back together. They broke up the novel nicely and worked well with each chapter to reveal more of the story as it went along. Everything came full circle at the end, making this book unforgettable and perfect. I was rooting for these characters from the beginning and I was hoping that Lennie would finally get to a point where she knew she could continue living without Bailey, no matter how hard it would be. We are intrepid, we carry on, no matter how badly we want to give up. This is a wonderful representation of family, love, loss, and eventually - acceptance. 

“Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes part of you, step for step, breath for breath.” 

“Remember how it was when we kissed? Armfuls and armfuls of light thrown right at us. A rope dropping down from the sky. How can the word love and the word life even fit in the mouth?”

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Love Letters to the Dead

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine, where we highlight an upcoming release we are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick:

Love Letter to the Dead
By Ava Dellaira
Hardcover, 323 pages
Expected Publication Date: April 1, 2014

From Goodreads:

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

Some really big celebrity names in this one and this seems like such a great concept. I'm eager to see what she will write, how she feels about each of these people, and how she will eventually accept her sister's death. Looks like it will be a tearjerker!

"I know I write lettersto people with no address on this earth, I know you are all dead. But I hear you. I hear all of you. We were here. Our lives matter."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that will make you cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where we discuss bookish topics every week.

This week's topic is Top ten books that will make you cry

1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green: This is the perfect book. Yes you'll cry, you may even throw it across the room, but boy will you be glad you read it.

2. The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson: Grief and acceptance are huge parts of this book. You'll laugh and cry and end up with a warm fuzzy feeling when you're done.

3. If I Stay - Gayle Foreman: A girl in a coma looking at her life and deciding if she should keep on living or not. Need I say more?

4. Send Me a Sign - Tiffany Schmidt: Another cancer book because these ones make me bawl. This one is wonderfully written and has stayed with me long after reading it.

5. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: I watched the movie first (many a times) and when I finally read the book I thought I'd be prepared for what I knew would come. I was not. Needless to say my pages are wrinkled from my tears now.

6. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: These two kids got to me. Eleanor's home life was awful and there was nothing Park could do to save her. The ending killed me. I want a re-write!

7. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers: Awful things happen to people who used to be awful. But some people change! The agony I felt for the character in this book, as well as all of Summers' others is so real that I thought it was happening to me.

8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: I'm sure if I cried the first time (probably) but I definitely cried the second time I read this book. Why, Suzanne, why?

9. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan: He's an evil man and I should really read The House of Hades so I can control these feels.

10. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver: I wanted a different ending so badly for this book even though I knew it was impossible. Amazing prose, amazing characters, and still one of my favourite Oliver books to this day.

Who doesn't love a good cry? What are some of your favourite tearjerkers?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: Attachments

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Punslished: April 14, 2011
Paperback, 336 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

When you work at a newspaper office, there's only so much you can do to entertain yourself. Go on Facebook, take a lot of breaks or send out emails to your co-workers. And if you're friends with someone you work with, why not chat through emails even though you aren't supposed to be sending out personal ones? Ya, someone is monitoring it, but you really need to talk to someone about your day or your love life. Jennifer and Beth love to email each other and they get as personal as it comes. Lincoln, the new email security officer has been reading their emails for a while. He should have flagged them the first time one popped up, instead he just read it, and read the next, and now there is mention of him in the emails but it's too late to introduce himself to Beth, whom he's falling for. The more he reads, the more he wants to say something and as their lives drift slowly together, maybe there's a chance of finding a love that they didn't even know could exist.

Rowell has a fantastic way with words. I fell in love with her teen novels, Eleanor and Park and Fangirl, and I'm happy to say I loved this one just as much. It started off different than most books I've read. Jennifer and Beth conversations are solely through their emails so what we know of them is the same as what Lincoln knows. Lincoln's story is written in narrative and we quickly learn about his past and how he ended up working overnights at the newspaper. We see exactly how Lincoln thinks about these girls, knowing more about their love lives than most others might. He knows that Jennifer doesn't want kids and that Beth isn't as happy as she could be. But the more he reads them, the more invasive he feels, especially once he decides he wants to meet Beth. I was waiting and hoping for the moment that they would finally meet. There are few parts where they see each other but don't know it, and the dramatic tension is perfectly written. The events that transpired made me think they may never meet and I was worried about how it would all play out. There were funny moments and sad moments and moments that made me want to re-read the sentences because they were beauitful. This is a book that proves that not all relationships are created equal. We all meet people different ways, there is no right or wrong way to fall in love. And though this one was a little out of the ordinary, it felt real and gave me butterflies. 

Rowell writes uncommon romances, the kind that stick with us long after we've closed the book. They feel real because they happen in normal situation to normal people. Lincoln is not gorgeous and has been dumped. Beth is in an unhealthy relationship and doesn't feel as loved as she could be. Jennifer is happily married but that does not mean all is well. Real people with real problems just trying to get through life. And when love comes along, there is no side pointing you in the right direction, there are no guidelines or rules as to how it will all play out, it just happens, maybe in an instant, maybe over a few years, but when it does, you will never forget the moments leading up to it. And trust me, it's always worth it. Rowell has easily become one of my favourite authors and I can't wait to read her next book, Landline, which is due out in July 2014.

“There are moments when you can't believe something wonderful is happening. And there are moments when your entire consciousness is filled with knowing absolutely that something wonderful is happening.”

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Review: The F-it List

The F-it List
Author: Julie Halpern
Published: November 12, 2013
Hardcover, 256 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

With her signature heart and humor, Julie Halpern explores a strained friendship strengthened by one girl’s battle with cancer. 

Alex’s father recently died in a car accident. And on the night of his funeral, her best friend Becca slept with Alex’s boyfriend. So things aren’t great. Alex steps away from her friendship with Becca and focuses on her family. 

But when Alex finally decides to forgive Becca, she finds out something that will change her world again—Becca has cancer. 

So what do you do when your best friend has cancer? You help her shave her head. And then you take her bucket list and try to fulfill it on her behalf. Because if that’s all you can do to help your ailing friend—you do it.

There are a lot of "cancer" books out there. Some have become so popular (The Fault in our Stars) and others hang out under the radar (Send me a Sign) but they all have one thing in common: they will tug at your heartstrings and make you cry. There are some that read as a morbid tale, making everything in the story and everything you feel afterwards feel like death. I feel reluctant to plunge into some of them, knowing that I will be depressed and cry and someone may die, but I read them anyway and The F-it List takes everything that I love about reading these kinds of books and turns into a story of friendship and love with cancer hanging out in the background. It starts out with a blast. Alex's father has recently died so Alex is already in grieving. When she finds her best friend, Becca, in bed with her boyfriend. an unforgivable action, Alex blocks Becca from her life, spending the summer without her for the first time in forever. But when school starts up in September, Alex gets news she would never expect to hear - Becca got cancer over the summer. Finally realizing she needs to forgive her so that she can be with her friend during this time, Alex puts everything else aside to help Becca. Their relationship quickly goes back to normal, or as normal as it can be with cancer in between them. Becca shows Alex her bucket list and begs her to help her complete it just in case. It's takes some convincing, but soon Alex is ready to check some things off the list.

Becca's list is exactly what you'd think a teenage girl would have on her list. There are some silly things like eating a hot pepper and prank calling people, but there are also more important things like making love with someone you love. This book is written so perfectly for a cancer novel, completely turning it into real life with cancer. Becca does not let it rule her even as it eats away at her and Alex stays strong even when she can't bear to look at her dying friend. Becca takes to flirting with the boy next door and Alex starts spending time with a boy from school who she's seen at horror conventions in town. As much as they stick together, they also start new lives, exploring new things while checking off things from the F-it list. 

There is a lot of swearing and sex themes in this novel, and that may be different than what we see in most YA novels, but it's realistic. Teenage girls want to kiss boys, want to do more than that with them and anyone dealing with cancer would be angry. There are so many nerdy references, like comic books, horror movies and conventions. This added to the story so much giving it a life of its own and letting us focus on things besides the cancer. Every relationship in this feels real. Alex and Becca struggle to stay happy at times when there is so much to be unhappy about. Alex is still very guarded since the death of her father and even though she loves being around Leo, there are moments where he can't fix everything. I love their secret hiding place at school and I love how it becomes something so much bigger as the book goes on, especially when things aren't going so well with anybody. 

I won't lie when I say you'll cry, but you'll also laugh and smile and  get excited when they meet Bruce Campbell. Friendship isn't always easy and grief is harder to deal with than everything else. The only thing we can do is learn to survive after everything and learn to move on when we don't want to. This book made me want to write my own bucket list and do everything on it now just to be able to say I'm living life to the fullest. 

“I wished I could erase the message, suck the word “sorry” from the En glish language, and hack it to pieces with a rusty ax.” 

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