Waiting on Wednesday #96: I See London, I See France #1 by Sarah Mlynowski

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

26117336Title: I See London, I See France #1

Author: Sarah Mlynowski

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: July 11, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Timesbestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thoughts: 

This sounds like the perfect summer in the perfect summer book! I am looking forward to reading some summer-themed contemporaries this year and this one just screams, “pick me!” I have often enjoyed Mlynoswki’s YA novels and this series seems like a fun, upbeat type of read. Definitely one that I will have in my beach bag.

Tidbit Tuesday #9: 5 YA Retellings to Look For in 2017

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Tidbit Tuesday is a feature on The Candid Cover spotlighting and reviewing bookish events, news and bits of books.

With the live action Beauty and the Beast moving opening soon, I figured it is only fitting to feature some retellings that are getting me just as excited! If I were to pick one genre that is my absolute most favourite of them all, it is a retelling. There is something exciting to me about reading a timeless tale that has been completely reinvented. Sometimes I will admit there can be disappointment with this genre, but most of the time I am totally swept away.

Here are a few YA Retellings that have yet to be released, but are already piquing my interest:

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Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer releases on April 11th. This is one Sleeping Beauty story that sounds as though it is going to be creepy and darker than the original tale. I can’t wait to read it!

Hunted by Meagan Spooner releases on March 14th. This Beauty and the Beast retelling is coming out just a few days before the film. So, I suggest that this is one book you try to tide you over if you are a fan of the Beauty and the Beast story.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao releases on October 17th. This fantasy is a reimagined Evil Queen from Snow White story that is based on Asian folklore. How amazing does that sound?

Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen releases on September 12th. This fantasy is said to be a Beauty and the Beast origin tale. I am not sure that I have read anything that gives insight to how the story might have begun. I am really looking forward to reading it. There is no cover for this book yet, but Jensen’s Pinterest board does give some hints about the content of the story.

Piper by Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg  releases on October 31st. I stumbled across this new graphic novel that reimagines the story of the Pied Piper when looking up information about Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. The fact that it is a love story that has a main character who has a disability is really intriguing to me. We are still waiting on a cover for this one as well.

ARC Review: So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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Title: So Much Love
Author: Rebecca Rosenblum
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (From Goodreads): When a young woman named Catherine Reindeer vanishes without a trace from her small town, those who know her are left to cope with her absence. Moving back and forth from her outer circle of acquaintances to her closest intimates, Rebecca Rosenblum’s first novel reveals how the lives of those left behind can be overturned in the wake of an unexplained disappearance. But at the heart of the novel is Catherine’s own surprising story of resilience and recovery.

When a final devastating loss after months of captivity forces her to make a bold decision, she is unprepared for everything that follows her dramatic escape. Woven throughout are stories about a local female poet who was murdered decades earlier, a woman whose life and work become a lifeline for Catherine during her darkest hours—and who may ultimately hold the key to Catherine’s quest to find solace in the aftermath of unimaginable tragedy.

So Much Love is a haunting novel of longing and loss, the necessity of bearing witness, and how the stories we tell have the power to shape our lives.

Goodreads | Amazon

One thing that makes a great thriller is a story that has so much potentiality for the reader. The possibility that one might be kidnapped is a terrifying thought and the main character in So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum is one who has great strength in spite of her fate. This novel is beautifully written and contains so many Canadian references, that will make many Canadian readers envision some of the setting with ease.

Catherine Reindeer is really quite a unique and interesting character. Her quirky personality and determination to obtain her degree at her own pace are admirable and earns her the affection of those in her life. The connections that she makes with a dead local poet’s poems helps her to persevere the darkest moments of being held captive and later help her to heal.

Told in alternating points of view, this novel gives the reader many layers to the mystery of how Catherine disappeared and the mindset of all those affected by her disappearance. Even the POV of her perpetrator is given, which is a little bit creepy, but definitely gives insight into why he commits the crime. Also, So Much Love contains so much symbolism pertaining to colour that makes the novel really interesting and creates a deeper understanding of the characters and setting.

There is something about a familiar setting that grabs a reader’s attention. While reading So Much Love, I felt as though Rosenblum really captured small town Canada with references such as Tim Horton’s and Shopper’s Drug Mart. The picture that she paints of this small town in western Canada are gorgeous and despite the dark nature of the story, these aspects were a lot of fun to read.

So Much Love is a thrilling literary fiction that is captivating and well-written. The strong-willed main character and Canadian setting make this novel intriguing and interesting. The theme is one that is not easy to read, but the wonderful story telling makes this book a must-read.

Audiobook to Movie Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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Don’t Judge a Book by its Movie is a feature on The Candid Cover spotlighting and reviewing book to movie adaptations. 

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I attended an advanced screening of this film on February 19, 2017 in Toronto, ON.

Author: Lauren Oliver
Narrator: Sarah Drew
Publisher: Harper Audio
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Liv Hewson, Jennifer Beals
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Screenplay: Maria Maggenti

Summary (From Goodreads): What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death-and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Goodreads | Amazon

If you have been following along with this feature for a while, you may have noticed a theme: most movie adaptations of books are usually not as good as the original text. I am thrilled to announce that the movie adaptation of Before I Fall does not fall into this trap. The audio version of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is an incredible and powerful story that delves deep into how our actions affect the lives of others. The film, Before I Fall is a brilliantly adapted movie that is diverse and contains wonderful acting.

This past summer, I devoted time to listening to the audiobook of Before I Fall and let me tell you it is quite a commitment to listen to a 12 1/2 hour story. The first thing that draws me into an audiobook is the narration and Sarah Drew narrates the book beautifully. The main character, Sam, is one that listeners will most likely not relate to at first due to her essentially “mean girl” attitude. However, as the book progresses and Sam relives the day over and over again, the real Sam begins to emerge and it is in her desperation to set things right that she redeems herself. This is a story that is gripping and haunting, while exposing the truth behind Sam’s death.

It is so exciting when you see a movie adaptation that is so well done. Honestly, I would sit through a 10 hour movie if it meant the screenplay would follow the book to a tee! However, there is not much of a chance for that to happen. Maria Maggenti has chosen many aspects of the original story to include in the film and has kept the “bones” of the novel that Lauren Oliver wove into Before I Fall. Interestingly, the film seems to be more diverse than I perceived the book to be and it makes the story that much more compelling. Also, the acting is fantastic and Zoey Deutch portrays Sam perfectly.

This is absolutely one movie that I can say is a fantastic adaptation. It is not necessary to read the book before seeing the film, but I highly suggest it. There are many details that have been omitted from the screenplay that add to the understanding of the story, but are not needed to enjoy this film. I am looking forward to seeing this one a second time. It is that good!

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Book Giveaway Hop: March 2017 New Releases

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Welcome to the March 2017 New Release Giveaway Hop hosted by It Starts at Midnight!

Spring is in the air and I cannot wait for the days of sitting outside with my book on a warm, sunny day! We have had some unusually warm weather here in Ontario, but not quite the type of reading outside and relaxing kind of weather. I am really thrilled about so many of the books coming out in March. There really is something for everyone to enjoy. Strange the Dreamer and Goodbye Days are at the top of my TBR, for sure.

This giveaway is open to international entries, as long as The Book Depository ships to you! You can enter to win any book published in March 2017 that you are most excited for worth up to $20 CAD. The winner will have 48hrs to respond to a notification email with their address and choice of book. Rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to discover the other amazing giveaways along the hop!

Waiting on Wednesday #95: What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

30199656Title: What to Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 11, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

Goodreads | Amazon

Thoughts: I really enjoy a great contemporary read during the summer and this book seems to have all the elements required. A little bit of drama, a little bit of mystery and an interesting friendship sound right up my alley. Also, that cover is super cute and is what drew me into this one immediately. Looking forward to adding this one to my summer TBR, for sure!

Tidbit Tuesday #8: KCP Loft a New YA Imprint to Get Excited About!

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Tidbit Tuesday is a feature on The Candid Cover spotlighting and reviewing bookish events, news and bits of books.

You may be aware of the new YA imprint coming to us this spring from Kids Can Press, KCP Loft, but did you know how many amazing titles they are publishing soon? I was very fortunate to receive a few of them for review and let me tell you, they are going to be ones that you will want to add to your TBRs if you haven’t already.

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Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi sounds like a gripping story that deals with mental illness and suicide. Releases May 2nd.

Keeping the Beat by Marie Powell seems like a perfect summer read that contains a murder mystery and takes place in Hollywood. Releases April 4th.

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant is about a math genius who has psychic powers. The whole concept and the paranormal aspect has me really intrigued! Releases April 4th.

Textrovert by Lindsey Summers is a YA contemporary that looks to have an interesting protagonist and a love story. Releases May 2nd.

 

There has also been some exciting news recently about some future publications as well!

 

I am super excited to read these titles and I think that this imprint is going to give us some inspirational and entertaining books. Check out the trailer below for more details!

ARC Review: Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

26138370Title: Seven Days of You
Author: Cecelia Vinesse
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Seven Days of You is a cute contemporary about moving away. I loved the Japanese setting and all the culture in the book. I did find the main character to be annoying, but I still really enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

This book has a really intriguing concept! Basically, it tells the story of a girl who has seven days left before she leaves Tokyo. When an old friend moves to Japan just as she is about to leave, their relationship develops at the most inconvenient time. I found this idea to be so sweet, as Jamie and Sophia try to spend as much time as possible together before Sophia has to go. Her departure is so much harder because she is moving to a different continent, so there is more to lose. There is so much drama and fluff in Seven Days of You, which created a nice balance and made this book so enjoyable.

I absolutely adored the Japanese setting in Seven Days of You! Japan has always been somewhere I want to visit, and I feel like Cecilia Vinesse did a nice job transporting the reader there. The descriptions of the attractions and the food seemed so real and made me want to go to Tokyo even more. I haven’t read too many books set in Japan, and I would definitely like to see more of them.

One of my only issues with this book was the main character. Sophia is not the ideal main character, as she is selfish and doesn’t treat her friends with very much respect. She is also annoyingly clueless and struggles with choosing between the boy who is actually nice to her and the boy who lied to her. She does have some redeeming qualities, but her immaturity and rudeness sort of overpowers them.

Seven Days of You is a cute contemporary about a girl with seven days left before she moves away. I loved the setting and the concept, but the main character didn’t do it for me. However, the book is remains enjoyable, and I would still recommend it.

ARC Review: Botanical Beauty: 80 Essential Recipes for Spa Products by Aubre Andrus

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Title: Botanical Beauty: 80 Essential Recipes for Spa Products
Author: Aubre Andrus
Publisher: Capstone
Publication Date: March 1, 2017
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Soak, scrub, and soothe your way to relaxation with simple homemade spa recipes from award-winning author Aubre Andrus. Using some of nature’s best ingredients, such as beeswax, sugar, coconut oil, shea butter, avocado, sea salt, essential oils, and more, craft everything from a Cooling Peppermint Hand Cream to a Vanilla Honey Body Scrub. Make practical products, like your own all-natural Bugs-Be-Gone Insect Repellent, Minty Homemade Toothpaste, and Natural Shaving Cream. Or pamper yourself after a long day with a Re-energizing Tub Tea, Lovely Lavender Bath Salts, and a Deep Conditioning Treatment. Nourish your body from head to toe with these organic, handmade recipes and crafts, or package them as a gift to share a fresh, fun spa experience.

Goodreads | Amazon

This is not a book that I typically review, but when I saw it on NetGalley, I couldn’t resist checking it out for all of those awesome DIY spa recipes! Botanical Beauty has a multitude of great recipes and ideas to make your own bath bombs, lotions and many other beauty products. This book is gorgeous and contains very simple instructions and tips. The only criticism that I have is the fact that some of the required items, such as essential oils are quite expensive.

If you are like me, bath bombs and salts have become a frequent purchase that can really add up. For gift giving, they are my favourite go-to items. Since I have had a copy of this book since before the holidays, I was able to create a few of the recipes for friends as gifts. Not only did I have fun, these gifts were just a little bit more special, as they were handmade.

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Many of the ingredients are most likely already in your cupboard, making many of the recipes super easy to put together. The tub teas are a mix of sea salt, oatmeal and essential oil. They are not only easy to make, they are customizable, as you can choose the scent that you would like. I have had lots of great feedback as well and I can honestly say that they are soothing and skin softening.

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While there are quite a few bath products and gifts that can be made with just a few ingredients from your kitchen, some of the more elaborate recipes will require a trip to a natural food store. Items such as coconut oil, shea butter and essential oils are needed to create the lotions and lip balms. I found that a few of these products were a bit more pricey than I expected, so I suggest that you shop for deals or investigate the cost of the necessary items ahead of time. It is definitely worth the cost up front if you do intend on making a large quantity of certain recipes.

If you are looking to try your hand at creating some of your beauty products, I highly suggest checking out Botanical Beauty. This book is jam-packed with recipes that are easy to follow and the images are also quite stunning. I have been whipping up quite a few of the tub teas and while I love shopping for those expensive bath products, these recipes are fun and definitely well-received gifts!