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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.

With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.

ARC provided by Raincoast Books/ Swoon Reads

Hi everyone,

I feel like I haven't blogged in quite some time and that's when I realized I haven't. Life basically got in the way and I haven't actually been reading that much and when I was it was a bunch of non-fiction books I picked up from the library or me trying really hard to work on my re-reading challenge.

One of the few new fiction books I did read was Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock. We all know how much I love a good relationship-starts-off-by-hating-one-another-and-they -eventually -grow -to- stand- each- other- and- maybe- even- end- up- loving- one- another-stories (was that I bit too much, I apologize). These two are initially set up because they are forced to work on a project together and this just brought back so many memories I have of being partnered with someone who I knew wouldn't do any of the work, but because I didn't want to fail, got a solid A while doing nothing. I loved this concept because it really forced Jenny and Chance to be stuck together and forced to have small talk just to get their assignment done, so of course this one was going to be one of my favourite books ever, right?

Not so much, which hurts me to say.

The relationship felt so forced and I didn't buy it or how quickly Jenny and Chance went from not speaking to one another (I got the impression they barely knew the other one existed despite going to the same school together for quite some time. I get not talking, but I knew everyone in my grade back when I was in high school and I didn't talk to everyone), to the entire school believing they were indeed best friends. Um no, that doesn't make sense at all; it felt like overnight everything changed. I mean maybe the entire school was being Punk'd or something: Like surprise, Jenny an Chance were secret friends the entire time! PLOT TWIST! I actually think I would have rather enjoyed that.

I understand that teens are mostly in their own little words and don't care about other people besides themselves and their inner circles, but I feel like somebody would have said something. It didn't really feel like a genuine school setting to me. I mean, wouldn't it make sense that Jenny's actual real best friend say something or even question her about it? Nope, it was like Kasey (I believe that is her name. To be honest she felt like she was added for convenience of Jenny having a friend) was okay with everything that Jenny told her. Robot friend maybe?

There's one thing Jenny does that felt so completely out of character for her, but I'm not going to say what it is; you'll have to read it yourself to find out!

What also really bothered me,  was at times I felt Chance did not act like a 17 year old or that Jenny would randomly use dialogue that wouldn't be said by her. It was almost like the author morphed the two together and took characteristics from each. Chance would go from describing the wallpaper in Jenny's bedroom, to Jenny randomly dropping the F bomb.

What I did enjoy was how the chapters alternated between Jenny and Chance; I thought this brought a great insight into what each was thinking at all times and not just how the main character perceives the other one as.

I also enjoyed how this book was able to bring back so many memories of being back in high school. I can't say I had the same experiences as Jenny at her age, but it brought me back to the somewhat shy but had an attitude teenager I was.

I can see how this book some readers will love and others won't; you gotta enjoy how books can do that to people!

2 out of 5 stars.

Until my next review,


P.S. I hope everyone is having a great summer!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Mini Thoughts: Simon & The Upside by Becky Albertalli

Hi Friends,

If you were here for my June/July wrap up than you know that I listened to both of Becky Albertalli's novels on audiobook at the end of July. I had planned on reading just the Upside of Unrequited (I even checked it out of the library). In the end, I decided I wanted to read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda first. As soon as I finished it, immediately went onto The Upside of Unrequited.

Today, I bring you my mini thoughts on both of them. Cause they were both pretty amazing.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

I don't know why I didn't read this book before now... I really don't. Maybe I was leery of all the hype. Maybe I thought I wasn't going to like it. I don't know. In the end I loved this book- plane and simple.

Simon was a lovely little character and I really enjoyed his voice. He was sweet and genuine and an all round nice guy. I really wanted him to be my friend. I loved his inner conflict when it came to him being blackmailed, his desire to protect both his friends. I loved how he owned it (for the most part) when he screwed up or maybe made some bad decisions. I loved how he dealt with his whole coming out. He didn't shy away from it, I really appreciated it.

What also really made Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda so great was the supporting cast. Simon's friends were amazing, and supportive and encouraging. Simon's parents- LOVED them!! His parents are very present in this book. Which is not always in the case in YA- this a HUGE pet peeve of mine, the lack of parents, like seriously. That is not the case in this book, the grownups are there and they have a say. Simon's parents were lovely.

Albertalli addressed a satchel full of real "issues" like blackmail and bullying and sexuality, and she makes them accessible to readers. These were realistic situations that I am sure most kids could find themselves in. I loved that while this book was dealing with some pretty serious themes, it was still fun and witty and such a joy to read. It wasn't a heavy read by any means.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Immediately after I read Simon I jumped into The Upside of Unrequited, and I am SO glad I did. I wasn't ready to let go of all things Albertalli. I was pretty certain I was going to love this book, and super eager to get it started.

I'll say right off the bat that I didn't love this one AS much as I loved Simon, but, I still found it pretty spectacular. I think a lot of what makes this story so incredible is how easy it is to relate to Molly. I was Molly when I was 17. I was a chubby, self-conscious teen. I was the queen of un-reciprocated crushes, and I never felt confident enough to put myself out there. Molly's story and her journey felt very familiar to me. This is SUCH and important feature of this book. It's very much a "you are not alone" kind of story, particularly since Albertalli is speaking from her own experience.

Again, I really loved the adult presence of this story. They were there and they were real and they had a voice. I adored Molly and Cassie's Mums, I loved how both of them had a very real parental role in the lives of their children (I have read some books where the non biological parent isn't really treated as a parent- this is not okay).  I think this is one thing I really find amazing with Albertalli, she recognizes the importance of parents/adults in her story. She knows what their role is and she uses it.

Overall, both of these books, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited, do an amazing job at engaging in an important conversation about extremely relevant situations. But she still presented them in a fun and interesting way. I loved it, and I hope you all will to.  I certainly have every intention of rereading both of these books often.

~Happy Reading Every One

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sara's June/July Recap

Hello Reader Friends.

It's that time again- monthly recap.Well two monthly recaps actually. I don't plan on making this a huge long post. I am aiming to keep this brief.

June was kind of a wonky month for me- I took an intensive summer course through the university, which kicked my butt. I essentially spent the majority of my time working and studying.  The whole month is kind of a blur really.

July was better, I was done with the course, I took some time off work  (like one day). I went to a Cirque de Soleil show- Kurios, I attended the Winnipeg Folk Fest and saw my love City and Colour. I binged watched Big Little Lies (what a show), spent a few days on the beach, went to a mini film fest. It was kind of a busy month if I really think of it. But good, really good. 

The Books:

Number of Books Completed:

Physical Books:


Physical Books: 

Looking for Group by Rory Harrison (3 Stars) 
Taking Turns by JA Huss (3.5 Stars) 
Nanny With Benefits by London Hale (3.5 Stars) 
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrois (4.5 Stars) 
Until it Fades by KA Tucker (3 Stars) 
Cocky Client by Whitney G (3.5 Stars)

Favourite Read

This is such an important book. Deals with teen dating violence. I go into a lot of detail in my review. This book. It was a lot. 

The Audiobooks: 

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (5 Stars)
Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren (2 Stars) 
The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale (2.5 Stars)
Park Avenue Prince by Louise Bay (3.5 Stars) 
The First Taste by Jessica Hawkins (3 Stars) 
Stardust by Neil Gaiman (4 Stars) 
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (4.5 Stars) 
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (4.5 Stars)

This book was AMAZING! Seriously. I read both of Albertalli's books one right after the other and I loved them both. But there was something about Simon that was just SO special. This book is totally worth the hype. 

2017 Resolution Update: 

If you want to see a complete list of my goals check them out here

So, I am little behind- on like everything. I am three books behind on my Goodreads challenge- I am fairly confident I'll catch up. As you can see, I've been totally on the audiobook train these days. I generally am only really "reading" while at work, I am also pretty sure the majority of the audiobooks I listened to were either new buys or from the library (well, one was from the library).  I think the only goal I am succeeding on is the read one 2017 release a month, I've read a bunch of those.

My goal for August is to read more physical books and to catch up on my Goodreads reading challenge. I am not doing great, but I have a plan. 

June on the Blog: 

July on the Blog: 

Stefanie's been the blog's saving grace these past couple months. I love having her here and I hope you do to. With that being said, I am hoping to pick up my blogger boots.  

~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