ARC Review: Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Saints and Misfits
Author: S.K. Ali
Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Stars: 3/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Saints and Misfits is a feminist book about a Muslim teen struggling with identity. While I enjoyed the concept and the main character, I found the book’s pacing to be a bit slow. This is an important read, however, and one of very few Muslim YA books that I have seen.

This book is all about the life of a Muslim teen. Janna figures out her own identity while dealing with feelings that slightly go against her religion. She also deals with the recovery process of attempted rape and tries to get the other members of her community to believe that the man is not the saint that they all believe him to be. This is a powerful feminist story that does a great job of explaining Islam in a simple way.

I enjoyed Janna’s character. She is a photographer and a book nerd and is easy to relate to. She is also so sweet and takes care of an old man in her spare time. What I also enjoyed about Janna’s character is the fact that she is so dedicated to her faith. She is sure to follow all the rules to protect both her image and the reputation of her community. Janna’s voice is just so clever and sarcastic, which I love to see in a book.

My main issue with the book is the pacing. The book just seemed to drag on, and I was having trouble focusing on it. I also had no idea that sexual assault would appear in the story, so this is just a heads up to anyone who could be triggered by that. As well, Janna’s family is oblivious to all the hints that Janna was assaulted and the way she acts around her attacker. I didn’t find this very realistic, and I feel like at least one of her friends would have noticed the change in behaviour.

Saints and Misfits is the story of a Muslim teen finding her way through life. I enjoyed the main character and her generous personality, but found the book’s pacing to be too slow for my liking. I would still recommend this book, however, because it tackles some important topics and has some powerful messages.

ARC Review: Amish Guys Don’t Call by Debby Dodds

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Title: Amish Guys Don’t Call
Author: Debby Dodds
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads):  Samantha is already facing scrutiny and anxiety at the start of her junior year, as she’s finally been accepted into the popular girls’ clique called “The Sherpas.” But when she realizes that her new boyfriend Zach was raised Amish, Sam must tackle a whole new set of challenges. Zach has chosen not to end his Rumspringa, instigating a potential shunning from his family. Not only that, but Sam’s new friends can’t miss this opportunity to tease and torment her.

Sam has never really come to terms with her parents’ divorce, so when her world crashes down on her in the form of cyberbullying and Zach’s apparent return to the Amish community, she reverts to old, illegal habits. Does Sam even want friends like these? And, will her cross-cultural love with Zach find a way?

Goodreads | Amazon

There is something intriguing about a culture that lives among us, yet is different in so many ways. Amish Guys Don’t Call is a powerful story that explores the Amish way of life, however, it also shows the reader that deep down there is a similar desire in all of us to be accepted by our friends and family. As well, the characters are well-developed and relatable, making this book an enjoyable read.

Having lived near a Mennonite community my whole life, I have an idea of the small town setting of this book from my own experiences. Dodds really takes the time to educate her readers on many aspects of the Amish and their beliefs. The differences between the Amish and Mennonites that are also described surprised me, and I have a new appreciation for the people that I see in horse and buggy on a daily basis.

The budding relationship between Sam and Zach is so sweet. Zach is quite old-fashioned and treats Sam with so much respect. Both of these characters are dealing with feelings of not being accepted by their friends and family. It is so interesting how Dodds shows two different worlds and how they both have this similar issue. It is the forgiveness that is so important in the Amish culture that seems to pulse throughout the novel, and makes it one to learn from.

Sam is a character that is easy to identify with. She has some flaws, yet is also a head strong and intelligent teen that simply wants to fit into this new town she is living in. When things start to go wrong, she discovers that there are many people that she can lean on. This book is truly inspiring for anyone who has dealt with any form of bullying.

Amish Guys Don’t Call is a unique book that explores different cultures and shares it similarities. There are interesting and relatable characters that make the book enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone wanting to read a contemporary that is a little bit different in concept.

ARC Review: Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories by Fany Gerson

I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories
Author: Fany Gerson
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): A collection of 60+ flavor-packed recipes for ice creams and frozen treats rooted in Mexico’s rich and revered ice cream traditions.
This new offering from the incredibly popular baker and sweets maker Fany Gerson, the powerhouse behind Brooklyn’s La Newyorkina and Dough, showcases the incredibly diverse flavors of Mexican ice cream while exploring the cultural aspects of preparing and consuming ice cream in Mexico. Gerson uses unique ingredients to create exciting and fresh flavors like Red Prickly Pear Ice Cream,
Oaxacan-style Lime Sorbet, Avocado-Chocolate Ice Cream, and Rice-Almond Ice Cream with Cinnamon. All recipes are created with the home cook in mind, and written in Fany’s knowledgeable but accessible voice. Mexican Ice Cream features vibrant location photography and captures the authentic Mexican heladerias that Gerson has been visiting for decades. For anyone looking to up their summer ice cream game, this is the book.

Goodreads | Amazon

If that cover doesn’t grab your attention and get you excited for summer and the days of licking endless ice cream cones, the contents of Mexican Ice Cream surely will. When I first saw this book I was intrigued by the concept that there is such a thing as Mexican ice cream. After reading the stories, lusting over the images, and creating my own taste of heaven, I am excited to try more of these interesting recipes.

I have never been to Mexico, or New York for that matter, so this whole new world of flavours really took me by surprise. The author, Fany Gerson, is the owner of La Newyorkina, a little ice cream shop in New York that sells all sorts of Mexican treats and ice cream. This second book that she has written not only contains many different recipes for creating gelato, sorbets and ice cream, it is prefaced with some historical information on how ice cream in Mexico all began. Gerson also tells of her own inspiration in setting up her shop, making this book more than just a book of recipes.

 

gelato

 

I don’t actually own a fancy ice cream maker, mine is a hobby shop special that you have to shake to create your ice cream. Without the aid of an easier method, I did try creating the Lime Gelato with Chia Seeds recipe and it turned out quite well. The fresh lime zest gives it so much flavour and the chia seeds make for a really interesting texture.

 

If you are a fan of summer treats and ice cream, I highly suggest checking out Mexican Ice Cream. The images are beautiful and you will come away with some interesting facts about this traditional Mexican food. After I give my arms a rest, I am going to give the Spicy Watermelon Sorbet a try!

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I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

Friday Reads #12: Amish Guys Don’t Call by Debby Dodds

Friday Reads

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

35276607Summary (from Goodreads): Samantha is already facing scrutiny and anxiety at the start of her junior year, as she’s finally been accepted into the popular girls’ clique called “The Sherpas.” But when she realizes that her new boyfriend Zach was raised Amish, Sam must tackle a whole new set of challenges. Zach has chosen not to end his Rumspringa, instigating a potential shunning from his family. Not only that, but Sam’s new friends can’t miss this opportunity to tease and torment her.

Sam has never really come to terms with her parents’ divorce, so when her world crashes down on her in the form of cyberbullying and Zach’s apparent return to the Amish community, she reverts to old, illegal habits. Does Sam even want friends like these? And, will her cross-cultural love with Zach find a way?

Goodreads | Amazon

There is something about the Amish way of life that is so intriguing to me. I have often wondered what it would be like to give up modern conveniences, although I don’t think that I would survive without my phone! This book has such a unique concept and I am learning so many things about the culture. I have yet to reach the part that deals with cyberbullying and I am curious as to how this will play out.

Book Beginning:

It wasn’t like we’d seen them pull up in a horse and buggy or anything, but their Amish-ness was unmistakeable.

Friday 56:

“Denying technology instead of using it wisely just seems lobbich, um, that means silly.”

“I love learning Pennsylvania Dutch words and expressions,” I told him, leaning into him again, even closer, if that was possible.

Cinematic Book Trailer: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Recently, I was contacted by Film 14, a professional producer of book trailers, regarding the book trailer that they created for Emily Barr’s The One Memory of Flora Banks. I absolutely adore this book, and if you haven’t read it yet, it should be one that is on your TBR. The cinematic trailer created by Film 14 is absolutely stunning and captures the book perfectly.

About the Book

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Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Summary (from Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

About the Author

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Emily Barr is a British author and former journalist. She started writing fiction after backpacking around the world, a trip that formed the background for her first, award-winning novel Backpack. She has now written 13 books, most recently The Sleeper, the story of two strangers meeting on an overnight train with dramatic consequences. She has also written Blackout, a novella in the Quick Reads series. Emily has three children, and lives in Cornwall in the UK. To learn more visit: www.emilybarr.com.

Praise

“Mesmerizing, electric, and achingly lovely, The One Memory of Flora Banks is unforgettable. One of the best YA novels I’ve read in a very long time.” —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places

 

Waiting on Wednesday #109: Piper by Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg

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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:

34272550Title: Piper
Authors: Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: October 31, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): #1 New York Times bestselling author Jay Asher and co-author Jessica Freeburg brilliantly reimagine the classic Pied Piper legend as a powerful graphic novel about loneliness, love, and vengeance. Fans of Neil Gaiman and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll will devour this eerie, atmospheric retelling.

Long ago, in a small village in the middle of a deep, dark forest, there lived a lonely, deaf girl named Maggie. Shunned by her village because of her disability, her only comfort comes from her vivid imagination. Maggie has a gift for inventing stories and dreams of one day finding her fairy-tale love.

When Maggie meets the mysterious Piper, it seems that all her wishes are coming true. Spellbound, Maggie falls hard for him and plunges headfirst into his magical world. But as she grows closer to the Piper, Maggie discovers that he has a dark side.

The boy of Maggie’s dreams might just turn out to be her worst nightmare…

With striking illustrations from Eisner-nominated artist Jeff Stokely, Piper is an exciting new departure for Jay Asher that deftly touches on the same themes of truth, guilt, and redemption that made Thirteen Reasons Why a beloved bestseller.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Thoughts:

I am so excited for this Pied Piper retelling! I love Jay Asher’s books, and I have very high hopes for this one. I am interested in Piper’s secret dark side and the mystery that I’m sure will surround his character. This is also a graphic novel, which I don’t read too often, so this is a bit out of my comfort zone in terms of style. I can’t wait for this book to come out this fall, and I’m sure that I will be impressed.

ARC Review: Perennials by Mandy Berman

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Perennials: A Novel
Author: Mandy Berman
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Stars: 3/5

Summary (from Goodreads): The quintessential summer read: a sharp, poignant coming-of-age novel about the magic of camp and the enduring power of female friendship, for readers of Stephanie Danler, Anton DiSclafani, Jennifer Close, and Curtis Sittenfeld

At what point does childhood end and adulthood begin? Mandy Berman’s evocative debut novel captures, through the lens of summer camp, a place that only appears to be untouched by the passing of time, both the thrills and pain of growing up.

Rachel Rivkin and Fiona Larkin used to treasure their summers together as campers at Camp Marigold. Now, reunited as counselors after their first year of college, their relationship is more complicated. Rebellious Rachel, a street-smart city kid raised by a single mother, has been losing patience with her best friend’s insecurities; Fiona, the middle child of a not-so-perfect suburban family, envies Rachel’s popularity with their campers and fellow counselors. For the first time, the two friends start keeping secrets from each other. Through them, as well as from the perspectives of their fellow counselors, campers, and families, we witness the tensions of the turbulent summer build to a tragic event, which forces Rachel and Fiona to confront their pasts and the adults they’re becoming.

A seductive blast of nostalgia, a striking portrait of adolescent longing, and a tribute to both the complicated nature and the enduring power of female friendship, Perennials will speak to everyone who still remembers that bittersweet moment when innocence is lost forever.

Goodreads | Amazon

If you are longing for the days of summer camp, this might be the book for you. There are some really interesting and quite a few diverse characters to learn about. However, Perennials seems to start off following Rachel’s young adult years, but then becomes a scattered tale of events. The book contains multiple perspectives, and while the main story is intended to relate to Rachel and her experiences, it seems that there are many narratives that don’t fit together all the time.

The setting of Perennials is the lower Berkshires – the perfect backdrop for a book of summertime adventures. Berman has captured this idyllic spot in Connecticut quite well through her descriptions of the region. The book will most definitely have you longing for a trip to this mountainous and quaint region of the U.S.

Rachel is definitely the most developed character in the novel, and the book follows her years as a young adult. At times she is very dislikable, and at first it is to show that she is learning from her mistakes. However, once she is in her 20s and is still acting inappropriately, the character becomes strange and hard to follow.

One thing that is really enjoyable in contemporary fiction are characters that are relatable and engaging. Berman has created quite a few unique characters that will appeal to many. Having said that, while this book has encompassed many different perspectives, and makes for a diverse read, it seems to contain too many points of view. There are also no clear indications of a change in perspective, which makes it difficult to follow along with the events in the story. Multiple perspectives definitely add to an understanding of the plot, but when it becomes too muddled it can be too much for the reader.

Perennials is a contemporary novel that has a beautiful setting, diversity, and a summer theme. Although there seems to be the perfect elements for a great beach read, this one falls a little flat. The book has far too many perspectives and story lines to follow.

ARC Review: Internet Famous by Danika Stone

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Internet Famous
Author: Danika Stone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Since Internet Famous is the second book I have read by Danika Stone, I had an idea of what to expect. I definitely wasn’t disappointed in this story of a blogger who is struggling with an internet troll. The main character is warmhearted and relatable, and there are actually serious topics discussed in the story. This is a cute and quick read that is perfect for the summer.

This book is all about the life a teen blogger who a huge fanbase. She makes online friends who later become real life friends, but her fame isn’t all sunshine. Madi finds herself getting harassed by an internet troll who is capable of ruining her life, online and offline. Throughout the book, there are text messages, Tumblr posts, tweets, and Snapchats, which I found to be so entertaining. If you are a fan of fandom and internet books, especially Dankia Stone’s previous book, All the Feels, you will definitely enjoy Internet Famous.

I really enjoyed Madi’s character. She is a diligent blogger, a strong online student. and just so relatable. Madi is so caring towards her dad and her autistic sister, and is able to handle a situation when things go wrong. I loved her awkwardness and compassion, and she seemed so real to me. One of my favourite things about Madi is the fact that she actually acts like a teenager. I hate it when a YA character sounds like an old lady, so I’m glad that this book avoided that.

While Internet Famous seems like a light and fluffy read, there are actually serious topics discussed in the book. Cyberbullying plays a big part in this story, and it is so important to understand how to deal with an internet troll when it gets serious. Also, the main character’s sister has autism, and I feel like this book does a good job of portraying the importance of routine and what it is like if drastic changes occur. This book has the perfect balance of sweet and significant content, which I absolutely adored.

Internet Famous is the story of a teen blogger who is awkward and caring. It perfectly balances fluff and important topics, which I admired. I would recommend this to those looking for a good, current read this summer.

ARC Review: 150 Years of STATS Canada!: A Guide to Canada’s Greatest Country by Julia Davidovich

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I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: 150 Years of Stats Canada!: A Guide to Canada’s Greatest Country
Author: Julia Davidovich, Andrew Bondy, Thomas Eric Taylor, Samantha Montgomery
Publisher: Penguin Books Canada
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Stars: 3/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Canada’s funniest online sensation is back to celebrate the country’s 150th anniversary–bigger, bolder, and only 10% reused material!
Want to know what the hottest new Canadian apps are? Need a handy chart to help you decide what Can-Con music to listen to? How about the top Google searches across the nation? In this handy guide to Canada, the tireless experts at @stats_canada reveal all the must-know quirks from coast to coast to frigid coast. From helpful tips on the Vancouver housing market to planning the ultimate Montreal bachelor party, Stats Can is on the case. And discover just how Canadian you are with the official checklist, not to mention the Tim Hortons etiquette quiz. With crucial updates about Canada on its big birthday, and all the stats, charts, and graphs to back them up, 150 Years of Stats Canada! is the perfect way to celebrate everything we love about this great country.
Disclaimer: still 100.6% not affiliated with Statistics Canada

Goodreads | Amazon

If you have followed Stats Canada on Twitter, and not the actual Stats Canada, the parody account, you will already have an idea of what this book is all about. There are some funny moments that poke fun at all things Canadian, and while I did find myself chuckling a few times, there were also a few groaners. As with any satirical work, there is a tendency to go a bit too far and I found that some of the jokes were a bit offensive.

At first glance, and from the synopsis we are given a taste of what this book has in store for its readers. The top Google searches are hilarious, and I won’t spoil them here, as it is best to read them for yourself. There are also quite a few laugh-out loud Canadian Tire jokes that will have you reminiscing about your own experiences in Canada’s infamous store. Not only that, if you aren’t familiar with the Canadian tuxedo, the Stats Canada authors have got you covered.

Sometimes the book contains hypothetical stories, such as the Montréal  bachelor party, that are a little bit over the top and are not my cup of tea. One person’s sense of humour (mine), may not be the same as another’s, and I just don’t find vulgarity funny. Also, there were some jokes about Canada’s first female political activists and I really found this section to be in poor taste and was quite offended. There are other examples that I can name, but I think that these two examples give an idea of what to expect.

Anyone who enjoys satire and has an open sense of humour should give this book a try. Canadians have an interesting and unique culture that can be humorous at times. If you have enjoyed following Stats Canada on Twitter, then I encourage you to pick it up.

Friday Reads #11: The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

Friday

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

32875348Summary (from Goodreads): Five teens embark on a summer of vigilante good samaritanism in a novel that’s part The Breakfast Club, part The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and utterly captivating.

Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.

Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie’s summer changes for the better when she’s introduced to other “hometown heroes.” These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships–and anonymity–intact?

This rich and thought-provoking novel takes on timely issues and timeless experiences with a winning combination of romance, humor, and wisdom.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

I have just started this one, but I am loving how positive it is! It tells the story of a group of heroes who team up to do good deeds. I can already tell that I am going to enjoy this book. I can’t wait to keep reading and see who The Unlikelies save next!

Book Beginning:

A few minutes after the incident, I noticed a tuft of dune grass stuck to a discarded strawberry crate.

Friday 56:

We tried to agree on a movie. But that never happened. So we went back to troll-slamming. It was addicting.