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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Thoughts: Looking for Group by Rory Harrison


Dylan doesn’t have a lot of experience with comfort. His room in the falling-down Village Estates can generously be categorized as “squalid,” and he sure as hell isn’t getting any love from his mother, who seemed to—no, definitely did—enjoy the perks that went along with being the parent of a “cancer kid.”

Now that Dylan’s suddenly in remission, all he’s left with is a lingering OxyContin addiction and a hunger for something—anything—but the life he’s known.

His only escape has been in the form of his favorite video game—World of Warcraft—and the one true friend who makes him feel understood, even if it’s just online. Dylan met Arden playing Warcraft, and now he wants to take her on a real mission, one he never thought he’d live to set out on: a journey to a mysterious ship in the middle of the Salton Sea.

But Arden is fighting her own battles, ones that Dylan can’t always help her win. As they navigate their way west, they grapple with Arden’s father (who refuses to recognize his daughter’s true gender), Dylan’s addiction, and the messy, complicated romance fighting so hard to blossom through the cracks of their battle-hardened hearts.

Hey Friends,

I had no intention of reading this book. In reality I hadn't heard a thing about Rory Harrison's Looking for Group until it came in my Quarterly Box. Even when it came, I thought maybe I would never get to it. However, after a couple weeks, I decided to give the first 50 pages a try.  I enjoyed those 50 pages enough to keep reading.

Looking for Group is a story about a boy who has miraculously defeated cancer and is now trying to navigate life. Looking for Group is about a girl who was born a boy trying to find a community that accepts her. The two have found one another through their video game. They have now come together in real life- on a quest of self discovery.

I liked this book, I didn't love it. It was a very meh book for me. Even now I find the story fading from my mind (and I've only finished it a few days ago).  I liked Dylan, he has just come through a very taxing time and his support team (ie/ his mother) was crap. I am going say this right now- Dylan DOES NOT have a drug addiction. I do not understand why this is even presented in the synopsis. His addiction does not exist. I needed to get that off of my chest.

As I said, I liked Dylan and I liked Arden and I liked their relationship. Dylan identifies as gay and is confused when he finds himself attracted to Arden- who is a transgendered. Dylan's struggle with this was pretty amazing to read. He really was unsure if he was being an ass in his feelings for Arden- he recognized her identity as a woman and respected that, but physically she was still male and he was so worried he was being disrespectful- he could not figure out his feelings. This is my favourite part of the book.

Really, not a lot happens in the Looking for Group- there isn't any real struggle to be found in the book. I understand this story is supposed to be a coming of age tale, but I didn't really get much of that either. It's not a bad story, it's just not very believable- it didn't feel authentic. However, in saying that- I am glad this book exists and I am glad that it features two protagonists that are vastly underrepresented in YA literature.

Overall, Looking for Group may not have been the best book I've ever read. But I was never bored while reading it- I still enjoyed it. But it wasn't a memorable story for me.

~Happy Reading Everyone


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz




Deep beneath the waves, King Triton’s powerful trident has passed through the magical barrier that surrounds the Isle of the Lost—keeping villains in and magic out. And when Mal’s longtime rival Uma, daughter of Ursula, gets wind of this, she can’t believe her luck. The tide has dragged in something good for a change, and Uma is determined to get her wicked hands on it. But first, she needs a pirate crew.

A storm is brewing back in Auradon, and when Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay hear that the trident has been washed away, they realize they’ll have to find it before anyone from the Isle does. Luckily, they seem to have a talent for locating missing magical objects.

As Uma readies for the high seas alongside Harry, son of Captain Hook, Gil, son of Gaston, and the toughest rogues on the Isle of the Lost, the reformed villains of Auradon devise their own master plan. And with King Ben away on royal business, they won’t have to play by all the rules. Using bad for good can’t be totally evil, right?

The thrilling, perilous race to the trident puts old friends—and current enemies—against each other with the future of Auradon on the line. Both teams might like to make waves, but only one will come out on top of this one.



Hi everyone,

Today I'll be reviewing the third book in the Descendants book series. Let's just start off with how much I loved the Disney channel movie (yes I'm 27 and probably shouldn't be watching it, but it's Disney so I have too), or just how excited I am for the sequel this summer!

The first two books in the series were fantastic and I thought it was just a fun idea to have a book series for this world. Seeing how my favorite Disney characters grew up and having kids just honestly makes me feel, well, old. Beast shouldn't have a teenage son named Ben, because that just means I'm super old...

But enough on that.

I loved the addition of Uma, daughter of Ursula. What a great antagonist! (Side note: can't wait to see her in the new movie this summer). I was also happy Lonnie was in this one as well. I just wish Ursula herself would have been included; imagine the terror that would have been brought to Auradon if she had made an appearance! I think too, Uma was too much focus of the story; I wanted more Evie, was she even in this?

My only other negative was that this book had a lot less humor and jokes in the dialogue. Book one was so much funnier in comparison and I'm wondering if this is due to just where the book flows in book chronologically; it'll be between the second book and the upcoming movie. I get they wouldn't want to spoil any of the movie plot, but a few more jokes or digs at the parents would have been nice. I always enjoyed when Mal would make fun of her mother.

I loved all the little Disney references throughout; they did this with the other two books and I'm glad that it was included in this one. The beginning mermaid festival reminded me of the beginning of The Little Mermaid movie and the whole setup of how Ariel meets Eric.

It's such a fast plotted book that I read it in a day and a half, because I didn't want to do anything else but read it. That's what so great about these books and the uber amount of Disney goodness that is inside them. I remember reading the first one and thinking I was back in junior high, because that's just how much I loved it.

I missed the plot being set in Audadon though; I loved the idea of ships and getting to visit the Isle again, but Audadon remembered me so much of Halloweentown that I wanted more of the plot to be set there.

This was a great summer read and high on my to-read list. It was one book I actually made myself read the day it arrived in the mail; I didn't want it to be like the others where I pre-order and then forget to read it until Christmas. I'm probably just so excited for the movie the book couldn't wait.

If you liked the movie or the first two books I can see you liking this one. No it's not as good as the other two, but still an enjoyable read as we get to see what the crew gets up to in-between the movies.

4 out of 5 star read for this.

Until my next review,

Stefanie

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: A New Model:What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like by Ashley Graham & Rebecca Paley




Ashley is on the leading edge of a new generation of women breaking ground and demolishing stereotypes, transforming our ideals about body image and what is fashionable. A woman who proves that when it comes to beauty, size is just a number, she is the voice for the body positivity movement today and a role model for all women—no matter their individual body type, shape, or weight.
In this collection of insightful, provocative essays illustrated with a dozen photos, Ashley shares her perspective on how ideas around body image are evolving—and how how they aren’t; the fun—and torture—of a career in the fashion world; her life before modeling; and her path to accepting her size without limiting her dreams—defying rigid industry standards and naysayers who told her it couldn’t be done. As she talks about her successes and setbacks, Ashley offers support for every woman coming to terms with who she is, helps her bolster her self-confidence, and motivates her to be her strongest, healthiest, and most beautiful self.


Hi everyone,

I'm about to get real here: I've never been one that's had high self-esteem or really ever been comfortable with myself. It's taken me a couple years now to finally be able to not constantly critique myself. When I heard this book was being published I knew I had to read it.

I'm so happy I did!

This book was beyond excellent. Ashley Graham is not only one of the best role models out there, she faces the harshest critics around. I was actually just talking about this issue with my co-workers about common sense and online haters. Every year there's always someone that posts about being nice to people at the beach and not to hate if someone is wearing a two-piece. The fact that people even need to post this disgusts me; we shouldn't have to post pictures telling people not to shame other people, but then again common sense these days is unfortunately not very common. I can only imagine the haters Ashley Graham has to deal with on a daily basis and publicly too. I can't imagine dealing with all those online trolls when it came to her Sports Illustrated cover and all the hateful words she received from it. She includes some of the comments in this book and I myself, couldn't believe them.

Ashley is one kick-ass bad-ass and I want her as my best friend.

After reading this book I've really taken on a "I don't care what people think of me" attitude; I'm focusing on doing me and not caring about what haters think. Ashley Graham is so good at dealing with the haters and for all the body positivity she's promoting, and I think this book came at just the right time. Not only did I devour it in one sitting, but I loved just how positive Ashley is about her own body. I loved the pictures included and it was really interesting to read about how she met her husband. I loved the Beauty Beyond Size movement because really, beauty has no size. Everyone is beautiful just the way they are.

I realize this review is a bit shorter than normal and less of a review than a soap box moment to promote body positivity and being happy with yourself, but I feel like most people have a moment in their lives where they don't like themselves. I feel like everybody should read this! Honestly, I felt happy while reading this book and couldn't help but smile after finishing it and feeling like I am enough, not matter what people say.

Not in a while have I related to a book so much. While some chapters are on her modeling career and  I couldn't connect with those on a personal level, all her personal tales on life was a breath of fresh air. This one will be on my bookshelf for a long time and will be one I pick up when I need a reminder that I am awesome the way I am- and everyone is awesome the way they are right now in this current moment (that wasn't meant to sound preachy, hope it didn't.).

Solid 5 out of 5 stars.

Let me know if you've had the chance to read this book; I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Until my next review,

Stefanie

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sara's May Wrap Up






Hello Friends!

I am- like most of you, I'm sure- astonished that it is already June.  How? This year is just flying by. I am can barely handle it. May was a fairly good month, busy, but good. Over the long weekend some local bloggers and myself were able to have dinner with Canadian author Kelley Armstrong, and it was pretty fun. She was in town for KeyCon, and we spent a few hours discussing books, book conventions, what actually goes into making a book into a movie (it's a long and complicated process), and so on. She was lovely and as always it was fun to hangout with my local blogging buddies. Other than that, May was pretty quiet.


 In May, I binge watched iZombie. I started watching this one by accident and got totally hooked. I was SUPER tired one day and needed something mindless to watch. In comes iZombie.  I watched one episode and than three others, before I knew it I was completely hooked. The show is so clever and funny. I love Olivia and Ravi and Clive- Okay, I am just a fan of everyone. Yes, I know this show isn't for everyone, but it was fun to watch. I am not completely caught up, but I am done with the first two seasons.




The Books:

May was an odd reading month for me. It was completely taken over by Sarah J. Maas. Yup, I read over 1300 pages of Maas text this past month. It was kind of crazy. A Court of Wings and Ruin took me ages to read, I think maybe 2 1/12 weeks, not because I didn't like it/couldn't get into it, only because it was SO long, and I could only read in short bursts. Whew, it was good though.  After that, I went into a kind of bookish hangover and read a lot of crap-  I discovered that Apple has a Kindle app, and I could download it onto my phone, and get all the $1.00 romances I want. So, I read a few.


Number of Books Completed:
 8

Physical Books: 
5

Audiobooks: 
3

Physical Books: 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (5 Stars)   Reread
The Dilf by London Hale (2 Stars)
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (4.5 Stars) 
Daddy's Best Friend by Londan Hale (3 Stars) 
The Guest House by Sasha Jayne Moretti (3.5 Stars) 


 Favourite Read 




I reread A Court of Mist and Fury in preparation for A Court of Wings and Ruin. It was great.  I did not imagine how good it was the first time. This was a great reread, and this is for sure my favourite of the three. 

Audiobooks: 

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (5 Stars) 
The Unseen World by Liz Moore (5 Stars) 
Seasons of Love by Harper Bliss (3 Stars) 

Favourite Listen of the Month




I have been wanting to read this book for years. I am pretty sure this Russian classic has been on my yearly TBR for the last five years. I finally got to it. It was kind of incredible. Lolita is such a disturbing novel with really messed up content. But there was something about this book. It's wicked and heartbreaking,  SO beautifully written. Anyone who has read Lolita will know what I am talking about. Yes, I am conflicted about liking this one SO much, but I just did. 


2017 Resolutions Update: 

For a full overview of my 2017 goals go here.  

Well, May was an interesting month for my goals. I am a couple books behind on my Goodreads goal of 100 books, I am not to worried about this, I am fairly confident I'll catch up by the end of July. I continue to read more books than listen- this might change this month, but meh. I read at least one 2017 release- A Court of Wings and Ruin. All three of my audiobooks of the month were off my audible library's backlog- I still have a ways to go, but I'm getting there. I may break my buying ban (let's be honest, I already have). And I read Lolita- which was on my list of seven (I only have 3 more from that list to read and more than half a year left to do it). Overall, I am feeling pretty good about my goals this year.  

I have pledged to read 50 pages a day- this may seem not very difficult, but I am very easily distracted and forget to read on some days (I have failed a couple days already), but we shall see. I like giving myself little goals. I even created a tracking spread in my bullet journal- I am very pleased with it.   

May on the Blog 


That's it for my wrap up, I hope you enjoyed. I am busy with a few things in June, which might hinder my reading time, but I'm hoping to read some pretty great books anyways. 

~Happy Reading Everyone

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Stefanie's May Wrap-Up


 Hello everyone,

First off; how is it already June? I feel like it should be April. I can't even believe it. Since I work at a junior high, I can't even begin to fathom that exams are looming and before I know it, it'll be July. Honestly I have no idea where the year went. I hope everyone had a great May; I can't wait to see what June will bring us (hopefully nice warm beach approved weather). 

Here's what I read in May:

A New Model by Ashley Graham

Caramel Crush by Jenn McKinlay

Doing It by Hannah Witton

A Wilder Life by Celestine Maddy

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

The Soul Searchers Handbook by Emma Mildon

The Mark by Jen Nadol

Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund

Do Your Om Thing by Rebecca Pacheo

Total Books Read: 12

Book of the Month:


It was another hard choice for my favorite read of the month; May was filled with yet another month of mostly great reads. I got back to my goal of re-reading a book weekly (I know I'll catch up during the summer when I plan to try to re-read two books a week). 

Overall May was a quiet month for me. I saw the new Pirates movie. Was it the best movie of the series: no, but I still really enjoyed it and Jack was just as funny as ever. I watched a couple other good movies on Movie Central: Mistress America, Wild and The Shallows. I personally found Sully the Seagull to be the best part about that movie. I'm not much of a thriller movie watcher, but this one looked interesting from the trailer and I never got around to going to see it in theaters. 



    


And that's basically all I did; I never realized how boring my month sounded until I typed it all out. Now that the weather is finally cooperating I think I'll be outside more walking around and going to see some Goldeyes Baseball games (I love baseball!!). 

I hope everyone has a great June! 

Until my next review,

Stefanie









Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My Thoughts: The Unseen World by Liz Moore


The moving story of a daughter’s quest to discover the truth about her beloved father’s hidden past

Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David's mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David's colleagues. Soon after she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood.



This book... what can I say about this book? There have only been few books (recently) that have left me at a loss for words, like Liz Moore's The Unseen World. However, I still feel like I NEED to talk about this book, because honestly, this book is SO underrated and basically on no one's radar and that is such a shame.

First, The Unseen World spans a good chunk of Ada's life. It begins in the mid-eighties, Ada is twelve years old, living with her VERY eccentric single father. For all of Ada's life it has been her and her father, and his band of academics- and ends in 2016 when Ada is in her fifties (don't panic, it's not a massive book, about 450 pages). The story follows Ada as she grows up and begins discovering things about her father and their life that cause her to questions their quiet existence.

This book... during this entire reading (or listening process, I listened to the audiobook), there were several times where I felt compelled to stop listening, go to my bed, turn off all the lights and just cry, deep in the gut sorrowful sobs. Which leads you to believe that this is an incredibly heartbreaking story- it is, for sure, there are some very intense situations and emotions. But the story is more than a sad story- I promise. I just felt so much while listening- I would be at work battling tears, sniffling away and co-workers would walk by and awkwardly look at me (no one asked me if I was okay though-jerks). I never stopped listening though, I couldn't. 

There was SO much growth in this novel- Ada was such an incredible character- her life revolved around her father, David. When his mind began to falter, it was devastating. She was confused and restless and didn't really know how to do life. I felt like she responded in a really mature way for someone her age.  I adored Ada and I was glad for the incredible support system she had, Liston was a wonderful woman and I was glad for her presence in Ada's life.

This is a pretty slow burn novel, it's not face paced or action packed. But I never got bored, not once. The story is compelling enough to keep you reading.

A quick note on the audiobook narrator- Lisa Flanagan- She did an amazing job. Every character had their own unique voice- even Ada as she grew. I really think she did a huge service to this story. Well worth the listen. 

Overall, I adored The Unseen World, and I very glad to have read it. I want so many more people to read this and tell their friends to read it. 

~Happy Reading Everyone

Friday, May 26, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading



After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska's inside passage and Canada's Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

**Review copy received from the published for my honest review**


Hi everyone, 

Today I'll be reviewing an adventure story I'm so glad I got to read. Kitty Hawk is a book series focused on Kitty, a feisty adventurer and someone who I would love to be friends with. I can't lie; I don't think I've read another adventure series that has a girl as the main character. The second best part: the book takes place in Canada! 

I can only imagine what I'd be like if I got my pilot's license; I'd be flying everywhere looking for trouble (or should I say fun!). I mean Kitty gets herself into some trouble with how inquisitive she is about life, but that's what made it so much fun. Life really is one big adventure for Kitty to explore, and we as readers get to learn and explore along with her. 

My favorite part of this book was the short chapters. Mixed in with Kitty's first person narration, this entire book felt like an adventure journal and almost like one of those choose-your-own adventure books. I loved how maps and images were included throughout the pages and I hate (or love) to admit it, but I think I learned a whole bunch about whales from this book. 

Kitty was a fantastic main character. She was kind-hearted towards the whales, but tough as nails when she needed to be. She had a take-no-prisoners attitude! I loved it because it shows girls, that you can be a pilot in a male dominated field. 

My one negative is that Kitty had such an inquisitive mind, that her narration would jump back and forth and at times I had a hard time following along. Her mind jumped back and forth and it was like trying to follow the mind of a ten year old. I mean, it kept me interested to see where the story would go and I felt like she was reminiscent of Six from Blossom, with her fast talking and sharp wit. 

This is the first book of the Kitty Hawk series and I can't wait to read book two, just to see what trouble Kitty gets into next. I think I enjoyed it so much as well because I love traveling; granted I haven't been to that many places it felt like I went to the Yukon and Alaska with Kitty. I mean, don't get me wrong I'd take on criminals and stolen gold happily from the pages of a book or TV screen than in real life! 

Anyone looking for a great female-driven adventure story should check this one out.
Solid 4 out of 5 stars. 

Thanks to Books Publicity Service for providing me with a copy to read and review! 

Until my next review,

Stefanie


"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl