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Monday, May 22, 2017

My Very First Quarterly Unboxing






Hello Friends, 

This week I bring you something a little different. Today I am going to take you through this quarter's YA Box by Quarterly. It's a good one guys, be sure to keep reading.

There are a ton of literary subscription boxes available these days, so many options to cater to your wants and needs. It was a little overwhelming going through all the options- however, being in Canada, these options are SUPER limited, unless I want to spend a fortune. Unfortunately, there isn't a single subscription that is super accessible to us Canadians (at least none that I am aware of, if I am wrong, please enlighten me), the majority are American based who will ship to Canada, but the shipping costs are out of this world.  After looking at all of my options (or lack there of), I thought if I was going spend the money, I was going big. So, Quarterly it was. 

When I first heard about this box, I thought it was absolutely brilliant. An author curated box that arrives on your doorstep four times a year. 

if you haven't heard of  the Quarterly Literary Boxes before, here's the blurb found on the Quarterly website:


Receive three books a quarter, including a brand new release annotated by the author with hand-written notes, two more curated titles and delightful bookish goods—all delivered to your doorstep.


Doesn't that found fun?


The Box:
(Pardon the photos, it was gloomy and rainy today when I took them- I am also not a professional picture taker photographer). 



So this is what the box looks like when it comes to you. I had to go pick mine up from the post office, as I had to pay duty on the package. It's your general cardboard box, but it has the cute Quarterly packing tape along the edges. 


When you first open the box, this is what you see. I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I saw the Warcraft card sitting on top. But I was curious (and still am) about how it fits into the rest of the box.


Voila, this is the inside. I was very exited at this point. I loved seeing the handwritten letter from the author, and her little sticky note on the top of her book which reads, "Oi oi! Check out my annotations inside!



And the books. We get Rory Harrison's (the curator) newest release, Looking for Group, as well and two others which inspired her story: The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Nimona. I am VERY excited for all of these books. Rory's book is full of those blue stickies with her handwritten notes. It's pretty fantastic


The goods. There is a bookmark, a sighed book plate, some wall decals and more. 

I am actually pretty thrilled with this box. The whole concept is brilliant. I really loved reading the author's letter and seeing what inspired her story. I am a fan. My plan was to cancel my subscription after this first box, but I am not sure I will- I think I have been converted. 

Are any of you lit box subscribers? Any you know of I should give a try? Leave me a comment and let me know. 

~Happy Reading Everyone.





Friday, May 19, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo



Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa's perfect summer falls apart.

Forced to acknowledge that life is always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn't have to do it alone. With her friend Miller's support, she's determined to prove that she's more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she's finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she's ready for something real.



**Thanks for Swoon Reads/ Raincoast Books for providing the ARC**




Happy Friday,

Or should I say happy long weekend! I can’t believe its Friday and I’m so ready for the weekend. I’ve got no plans other than binge watch movies and read as much as I can.

I had the pleasure of getting an ARC of The Truth about Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo. I haven’t read any other books by this author before so I was excited to read a book by an author I’ve never read; plus that synopsis sounds amazing. I love books that take place at theme parks (couple other favorites of mine include Devoured by Amanda Marrone and How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer) and it probably has everything to do with how much I love Disneyland.

Alyssa was a great main character; while I didn’t love her at times, particularly when she went sorority/party girl, she still had a great work ethic and took her job as Cinderella very seriously. That was my favorite thing about her, I think for readers who read this will understand that hard work pays off and you shouldn’t take even a summer job lightly. I liked her too that she wasn’t perfect, but made sure she was the best version of herself she could be. She was so strong after her breakup and it was nice to see someone being able to bounce back in a positive way. Talk about epic girl power!

Jake was actually a terrible character and I disliked him from the very first page we got introduced to him. He was so rude and treated Alyssa like complete crap at times, when all Alyssa wanted to do was care for him and work on their relationship. Needless to say, glad he wasn’t around for the entire book.

Then there’s Miller; just his name screams nice and caring. I loved him and how much of a great friend he was to Alyssa. In comparison to Jake, he was the boy you want to know. He was there for Alyssa when she needed a friend and only ever wanted the best for her.

I really loved this book. The setting was my absolute favorite; from the apartments they all share as co-workers to the theme park itself; LOVED IT. That theme park man, I want to live there. Having just finished a musical, it was so cool to me to read about all the behind the scenes working of the park, including sets and costumes; and then the best part: secret tunnels! I know I read about secret rooms in Disneyland, so this only made me love this book more. However, some of the strict rules the cast have to adhere too seemed a bit too strict, but who am I say these aren’t actual rules that other theme parks make their employees follow.

This story was such a fun one and while I went in thinking it would be just pure fluff, it wasn’t. Included were some moments of realness, raw and emotional. Any book that deals with self-worth, body image and self-love really hits home for me. One of the strict rules the workers have to maintain is that all princess have to stay a certain weight and size. This is always a tough subject to write about and Cozzo did a really good job at exploring this topic.

I think anyone as obsessed with Disney as I am would love this book; not only that but it takes place in the summertime and I always get really connected to books that are written in the summer. I feel that summertime is a time when anything is possible.

Solid 4.5 stars out of 5 for this one. After reading this, I’m going to be reading Cozzo’s previous books and I hope they are as wonderful as this one.

Until my next review,

Stefanie

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill




Dating can be fun, but it can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. For Joss, ever since her longtime boyfriend cheated on her, she doesn’t want her last memory of a guy to be that jerk. Enter her college friend, Matt. They come up with a theory: after a bad break-up, a person needs to cleanse the palate with a little sorbet sex. Lovers for a night, but always back to being friends in the morning. The two can handle it because they have a contract: rules they wrote, rules they follow and rules they can sometimes bend. The arrangement works: everyone needs a little sorbet now and again … until it starts to be the only thing you want. And then Joss breaks the one rule they never wrote down: don’t fall in love.
 What a busy week this has been. We had the Annie matinee yesterday and the first evening performance; I feel like I hardly had any time to read (which sucks). Luckily after this Friday it’ll be back to normal (until next year) to my rather uneventful life, filled with watching bad made-for-TV movies and reading. I’m currently binge watching Blossom, since I realized this week that a channel has started to play two episodes a day of it.

What I did get to read is When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill. I loved her two books under the Ellie Czukas name: Ask Again Later and Top Ten Clues You're Clueless. Both five star reads, so when I spotted this at the library I knew I'd want to read it. The cover is really adorable too and I read comparisons to the Boomerang series by Noelle August (side note: I really enjoyed that series and it was the first new adult series I had read). 

Can I say though how this book made me feel like I was back in college and then at the same time made me feel very old. 

I was skeptically of Joss when we first got introduced to her; she seemed very self absorbed and had this feeling of arrogance to her. I know when she first met Matt she was in a relationship with someone from high school, but I don't even know how to explain it. She just seemed so self-righteous. Matt was a decent enough male lead, but I guess nothing from him really stood out. 

I think what also took away from the story was the constant back and forth to the present and into the past. We'd go from present day Joss and Matt to some random other relationship. Also those two at times seemed to be complete idiots (how do you not realize that you like the other person after 8 YEARS). I think too that it was just hookup with random other people, hook up with each other, and then go back to hooking up with other people. I also always love the friends to relationship plot line in books and movies (I mean I could write an entire post listing movies and book titles that use this. My personal favorite being the Melissa Joan Hart movie Drive Me Crazy) but this fizzled. I was hoping for a solid relationship story with the expected bumps along the way, but those bumps were complete cliches. Nothing new was brought to the table and I actually questioned if Matt and Joss were really suppose to be together. 

After reading this I guess all I can say is just how disappointing I am with this one. All those glowing reviews built this one up to be my next five-star book. I might check out one of her other new adult books Call Me Maybe, but I hope it doesn't turn out to be another pretty cover victim. 

2 stars for this one and based on how many books and movies that use the friends first relationship after premise, I'm going to bombard you with my favorite books and movies that use that. Beware though; it'll be pure fluff. 

Until my next review,

Stefanie

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Stefanie's April Wrap Up



Hello everyone,

I can't believe it's already May. I honestly have no idea where the time has gone (OK that's a lie; I've been helping with my school's musical as a stage manager and since January it's been nothing but rehearsals. It's been super fun and I can't wait to see what it all looks like when we open- in 6 days! May 10th. The school is performing Annie and I don't think I've been able to get Hard Knock Life out of my head since December. Anyone who loves musicals should come and see it!!! I'm not biased or anything but it's going to be a really good show ;) ) but I'm not complaining. I can't wait for the weather to be nice all the time and I just love when it rains in the spring.



April was another solid month for reading for me; I even managed to get in a couple non-fiction books that weren't cookbooks (I read and own a ton of cookbooks, it's kind of an obsession). I've always been interested in flowers and I read this awesome one called Florest Farms; all about her flower garden and company. I grabbed it from the library since I've followed her blog for about a year and I know it'll be a book I want for my own collection.


Here's what I read this month: 


Love Life Style by Garance Doré



Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund



For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund



When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill



How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake



How to be a Wildflower by Katie Daisy



Whenever I’m with YouW by Lydia Sharp



Dear Emma by Katie Heaney



The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms



You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life by Rebekah Borucki



Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein



The Real Me: Fashion, Fitness and Food Tips for Real Women - From Me to You by Vicky Pattinson



Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly



Total: 13


My Favorite Reads of the Month:

     

It's a tie; I couldn't pick between these two. Kelly Harms has become one of my favorite authors and I've loved the trilogy that Jody Hedlund has created with the For Love & Honor books (all taking place in the 1300s). Also honorable mention to How to Be a Wildflower; I follow Katie Daisy on Instagram and her work is amazing; this book is no exception. Not only did I want to go out and explore the world after reading this, but I was so motivated to get out of my comfort zone, which is what I think Katie Daisy wants you to do. 

Other than the musical, I haven't really done much else, other than attempt to keep a plant alive in my apartment. I'm trying really hard to do so before I start o get into my balcony gardening I have planned for the summer.
I hope everyone had a great April and for one last plug (I apologize) if anyone loves musical, go see Annie! It runs from May 10-12th. 

I'll be back next week for my next review.

Until then,

Stefanie











Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sara's April Wrap Up






Hello Friends, Happy May. I am just going to jump right in and get on with the recap. April was a little nuts. SO let's begin.

Firsts things firsts, I turned 30 in April (on the 7th)-- Wha?!?


I was little bit... uh, stunned that I was turning 30. But the day came and it turned out to be pretty fantastic. I have some truly amazing friends who made me feel incredibly special. So, 30 is here and I am feeling okay. I got a number of pretty great books as gifts, I think I'll showcase them in a separate post though.

A week after 30, a couple friends and myself took off to Vegas for the weekend. It was my first time to Vegas and what a whirl wind it was. It was an exhausting weekend.




A post shared by Sara (@jstanotherstory) on


After Vegas (as in after Easter, which meant Lent was over), I joined the team and flew through 13 Reasons Why


I have a few thoughts about this show, mostly in response to the critics. I read Jay Asher's book years ago- 2011 I think, and I remember the general concept of the story, but none of the details. So, I felt like I went into the show blind. I thought it was well done. I really liked Clay- or Dylan Minnette. He was a sweetheart. The show and its content are super controversial- but I think it has an important message.


The Books:

April was a significantly slower month than March. But as you saw- I was busy. BUT- I did a cool thing in April- I participated in my first Buddy Read, My internet BFF Aylee over at Recovering Potter Addict and I, took on the challenge of budding reading The Thief. Essentially this buddy read just comprised of us reading to a certain page and/or chapter that day. The two of use weren't always successful, but it was fun, and I would totally do this again.  

Number of Books Completed:
7

Physical Books:
5 

Audiobooks:
2


Physical Books: 

Confess by Colleen Hoover (3 Stars) 
The Chosen by JR Ward (4.5 Stars)
The Tycoon's Revenge by Melody Anne (2 Stars)
Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens (3 Stars)
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (4 Stars)

I don't have a particular favourite for this month-  I thought the latest installment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood - The Chosen - was a pretty great addition to the ever growing series (this was book 15), but it didn't blow me away. I am hoping to read some amazing books this next month.


Audiobooks:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (4.5 Stars)
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (3.5 Stars)

Favourite Listen


This book was SO good!!! I can't believe it took me SO long to finally get to. I loved the audiobook, all the narrators. I am pretty sure I loved Jesper's narration the best. There was really something great about the guy.  If you haven't read this... What are you waiting for? 


2017 Resolutions Update: 

If you want to check out my actual resolutions/goals for the year, check them out here.  

I think I did pretty good job with my reading goals this month. Without really even trying. 
I am on track for the my 100 book challenge. I have still read more books than I listened to- seeing as I only listened to two this month. I read two 2017 releases, The Chosen and Never Let You Go. I read one more from my list- The Thief, and I listened to ONE of my back listed audiobooks- Six of Crows-  I am getting there. 

I think I am going to keep with my audiobook buying ban for one more month. I also would like to read 7 books this month and listen to two from my back list I'm pretty sure this is doable.


That was my April I hope you enjoyed.

~Happy Reading Everyone

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake



All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn't have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace's mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.


***Thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers for this review copy***


Hi everyone,


I really hate the weather we're having right now. It's nice one day, snows the next and then we're back to somewhat nice somewhat cold temperatures. I think this messed up my normal reading schedule, because when it was nice out I went for 6km walks and then when it snowed (I really hate the snow), I went and binge read a whole bunch of books.

How to Make a Wish was one of those and I'm really happy I got a chance to read this one. I wanted to read this just based on that gorgeous cover. I'm also really happy I read this one because I'll be the first to admit, I don't always read the most diverse books and it was nice to read something out of my book comfort zone.

I loved the setting. I have a soft spot for any books that take place in a small town or secluded island/ There's just something about those settings I have a soft spot for. 

When we first met Grace I knew I'd like her. Her sarcasm was on point! I loved that her character wasn't perfect and how she, unfortunately, had to grow up way too soon, due to her mother's actions and the fact that her ex-boyfriend went and humiliated her after their breakup. I liked her toughness, she had all these walls up because of her mother and getting shifted around from place to place, which meant she wasn't able to put roots down and find her place. 

Grace's mother was far from the perfect mother; at times I really disliked her at how irresponsible she was in regards to parenting. Some of her dialogue was also so chill at times, I wondered if she actually took parenting seriously. Then she came around and I was able to see where she was coming from and that in her mind, she was doing the best she could being a parent and doing what she thought was right. It's difficult to find fault in her actions when for the most part, she's trying her best, even if I really wanted to jump into the book and tell her off. I guess my biggest problem with Maggie was her need to think she had to be with a man to feel validated and supported (at least that's how I took it), but at the same time I took this as her trying to provide for Grace. As you can tell, I have a strong love/ hate relationship with her. I really enjoyed reading about Grace and her mother's relationship; I actually really loved it. I feel like there aren't many books that deal with parent/ daughter relationships in depth and this one was just beautifully written. 

I loved the first interactions between Grace and Eva. I won't spoil anything but I will say the dialogue between the two made me end up with a wide smile on my face. Eva I thought was a great main character; I enjoyed that she wasn't perfect and had her own flaws and demons to deal with. I think I've read too many books where the characters don't have much to deal with and then make such a big deal about the simplest things. I really like Eva; she was really sweet when you compared her to Grace. I loved the contract between the two and I fully believed in their relationship. It was organic and drew over the book; no insta love or forced relationship for convenience here. 

I can't say I have read many LGBTQ* books before that portray an organic and honest relationship. The one book I read recently had such a forced relationship I didn't believe a word of it and it was just terrible. Also the characters were poorly fleshed out and were so mean to one another. How to Make a Wish is a great book for anyone to read. I found it refreshing, and I didn't find too many cliches. A solid 3.5 stars out of five. I didn't give it a full five stars because I did find some parts to be a bit boring and not necessarily needed to progress the story and I did find myself flipping over some scenes. The cover did match the sweetness of the book and that's what I was looking for. 

Until my next review,

Stefanie


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bookish Spotlight: The Unprotected by Kelly Sokal



They say motherhood changes you.

As a driven advertising executive, Lara James has always put her career before any plans for a family, preferring professional chic to stay-at-home style. But after her father’s death, she realizes she’s ready. More than ready, in fact. Yet pregnancy—something other women seem to accomplish effortlessly, even accidentally—doesn’t come easily to Lara. What began as an adventure quickly becomes a nightmare as she and her husband endure endless IVF treatments, hormone therapy, and devastating miscarriages.

When Lara at last becomes pregnant and gives birth to a daughter, Auden, she believes their determination has paid off. But Auden cries day and night, ear-shattering screams that strip Lara of her nerves and energy. Her life as a sleep-deprived new mother is unrelenting, and, guiltily, Lara can’t help but mourn for what she once had. With her marriage crumbling, Lara is increasingly driven to alarming thoughts and destructive actions she would never have imagined possible before now. Hanging on by a thread, it’s only in her darkest moment that Lara will discover the true depths of her love and devotion—and what she’s willing to face for the family she’s so desperately sought.

Hello Everyone!

I don't often do this pick a book out and feature it her eon the blog, but in the spirit of change, I thought I'd give it a go.

I don't think I have seen many books out there that focus on postpartum depression (that may be just be me and my little bubble though). When I saw talk of Kelly Sokal's debut, The Unprotected, on Twitter,  I knew it was something I wanted to explore. Mental health is a much discussed topic right now (as it should be), and I really appreciate it's presence in fiction. Postpartum depression is a very real condition and it appears in up to 20% of new moms, yet it still carries such a stigma.

So, I will be reading The Unprotected soon, and I would encourage any of you to join me. We can coordinate and maybe have a virtual book club of sorts.

I was lucky enough to grab a little sneak peak into the book- which I get to share with you all below. Enjoy



At thirty-nine years old, all Lara James wanted was a baby. The last two years of baby lust overpowered the previous thirty-seven of pleased childlessness. Her old self would be ashamed of her. Lara didn't care. She doubted the doctor behind the heavy doors, her husband, God, the universe, knew how much she wanted a child, what she was willing to offer in return. The defined curve of her bicep went underused. Her calves could bounce and dance. Unbidden, her hand curved into a loose cup, ready to support the warm, pulsing weight of a newborn skull. Iterations of the word baby or child tickled the soft inner flesh of her lips, waiting to be flung out into the world.

Lara still would not admit how desperate she was for motherhood, not out loud, even sitting quietly in the lobby of the One Hope Fertility Clinic. The calendar on her phone blocked out two hours for an "off-site meeting." Between Lara and Kathy, off-site meant anything from a lunch to woo potential clients, to Pilates, maybe a bikini wax. The dog-eared paper planner inside Lara's smooth briefcase read only: O.H. blood draw and intro. Her bank statements and health insurance forms, the step-by-step guide to filing fertility treatment reimbursement requests spoke the truth: $647 for six months of Clomid; ten ovulation test kits; eight double-pack home-pregnancy tests; co-pays to her ob-gyn; then the $275 out-of-pocket fertility consultation fee. A baby? Priceless. Will wouldn't look for those expenses; finance was Lara's domain. Nonetheless, she alternated between paying with credit and debit cards and handing the pharmacist cash.

Buy the Book:

Chapters/Indigo
Barnes and Noble

There you have it, a look into what I am looking forward to reading. I hope you will join me.

~Happy Reading Everyone 
"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