ARC Review: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

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I received an ARC from HCC Frenzy’s Frenzy Presents event.

Title: Top Ten
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Top Ten is exactly what is sounds like—a nostalgic recap of a four year friendship told in a top ten list format. This story is realistic and contains two opposite main characters. The non-sequential writing style is inventive, but does get a bit hard to follow. I still enjoyed the story, and it truly is an emotional rollercoaster.

This book recaps the friendship of two teens about to head off to college. It focuses on their top ten moments, some good and some bad, but all of which define their relationship. It is so entertaining watching Gabby and Ryan’s relationship develop and experiencing their best moments along with them. Top Ten has everything—a bisexual main character with anxiety, her friend who plays hockey, and an amazing family. For those looking for a cute and realistic story with representation, I would definitely recommend this one.

Gabby and Ryan are both ideal characters for this story. Gabby is more introverted and suffers with anxiety while Ryan is on the wilder side. They are both so different, but their friendship works out. I really enjoyed how the book actually focuses on their friendship, and there isn’t much romance between them. I personally preferred Gabby’s character, since Ryan’s recklessness got a bit frustrating sometimes, but Ryan also had his moments. The story is told in multiple points of view, so the reader is able to experience both characters equally.

The way Top Ten is written is super unique, but I can see how it can turn some people away. Since the story is told as a top ten list, the plot isn’t chronological. As a reader, I had to be super aware of the year before starting each chapter. For me, it was a bit confusing at first, but I got used to it. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this format, since it is creative, but hard to follow at times. I would have preferred chronological order, but I guess the story wouldn’t be the same.

Top Ten is an original story featuring the top ten moments of a friendship. I enjoyed the main characters’ opposite personalities and how realistic they are. The format of this book is unconventional, which is interesting, but also a bit confusing at times. I still found the book to be enjoyable, and classic Katie Cotugno.

Blog Tour, ARC Review, Playlist, Dream Cast & Giveaway: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

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book cover

13 Minutes
by Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: October 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Fiction

Synopsis:

“Mean Girls for the Instagram age.” –The Times (London)

The New York Times bestselling author known for her thrilling twists is back: 

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Natasha doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this–it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?

13 Minutes is a psychological thriller with a killer twist from the #1 internationally bestselling author Sarah Pinborough.

Goodreads | Amazon| B & N | Book Depository | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

UnknownSarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.

Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in nearly 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Review

If you love a fast-paced, shocking thriller, then 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough is sure to fit the bill. The storytelling is perfect for this type of novel and keeps the reader involved right up until the end. What makes this book particularly exciting, however, are the characters who are relatable and all too recognizable in your typical high school.

When a book moves quickly, it is usually hard to set down, making it the perfect nail-biter. 13 Minutes is definitely one that will keep you page-fipping as the story moves in different directions. Pinborough definitely knows how to engage a reader and keep the plot moving.

The way in which the book is laid out is essentially what turns a suspenseful book into something that the reader can feel involved in. 13 Minutes is told in multiple POVs, journal entries, and newspaper clippings. It feels as though the reader is helping to piece the puzzle together along with the characters.

The realistic nature of this thriller is what will absolutely send shivers up your spine. The cliques, the mean girls, the bullies, and the victims are all present and accounted for in this high school murder mystery. Natasha is one of those dislikable mean girls, while Becca is an old cast-away friend of Natasha’s. Pinborough seems to get into the mindset of these girls, making their actions even more chilling with their relatability.

Fans of the thriller genre are sure to enjoy 13 Minutes. Although it is a YA novel, some of the content is definitely geared to a more mature audience. I would recommend it to those who enjoy an edgy high school thriller that will keep you on your toes.

 

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ARC Review: Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

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

Title: Kiss Me in New York
Author: Catherine Rider
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): It’s Christmas Eve at JFK in NYC.

Charlotte is a British student, waiting for a flight home after the worst semester of her life. Anthony is a native New Yorker, surprising his girlfriend at the airport after three months apart. Charlotte has just been dumped, and Anthony is about to be dumped, right in the middle of the holiday crowd.

Charlotte’s flight is canceled when a blizzard blows in, and Anthony can’t bear to go home. So, they set out into the city together, clutching a book Charlotte picks up in the airport gift shop: Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex. For this one night, they’ll focus on healing their broken hearts … together.

Step-by-step, the two struggle to put the past behind them. But the snow is so enchanting, and the holiday lights are so beguiling, that soon their shared misery gives way to something else. Soon, they’re not only over their exes — they’re falling for each other.

Then a subway ride splits them up by mistake. Will they reunite before Charlotte’s flight leaves New York forever?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Kiss Me in New York is a cute read that will cheer you up this winter. Although a bit clichéd, the story of two strangers meeting at an airport in New York is so entertaining. The idea of two people bonding over a breakup is heartwarming, and the main character is logical and doesn’t whine. This story is super short and can easily be read in one sitting.

This book tells the story of two people who meet at an airport coincidentally after they are both dumped. Together, with the help of Get Over Your Ex in Ten Easy Steps, they attempt to move on from their past relationships while exploring New York City at Christmastime. I loved watching Charlotte and Anthony’s relationship grow as they complete each step in the book, and reading about their adventures and mishaps is so entertaining. Kiss Me in New York is a super short and quick read that is perfect for fans of books like Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares.

I really enjoyed Charlotte’s character in the book. She is a British girl on her way home to her family after studying in America, but her flight gets cancelled and leaves her stranded. She is strong and not too whiny about the cancellation, and I liked how she is both rational and impulsive at the same time. Because Charlotte is British, she uses British slang, and it is so comedic watching Anthony, who is American, react to the difference between their words. Charlotte and Anthony are both enjoyable narrators, and their relationship is so adorable.

Kiss Me in New York is a short and sweet read that is perfect for the Christmas season. The main characters’ adventures in New York are so amusing, and Charlotte is a strong and considerate main character. Definitely add this book to your winter TBR!

ARC Review: The Dinner Plan by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion

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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Dinner Plan: The Keepers Guide to Weeknight Meals and More
Authors: Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion
Publisher: Abrams
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): From the authors of the IACP award-winning cookbook KEEPERS, an entirely new and personalized approach to tackling the dinner dilemma:

Between juggling work, family activities, mismatched schedules, and often bare refrigerators, there are all sorts of situations that make weeknight cooking a universally challenging—and frustrating—experience. The Dinner Plan offers five meal strategies—Make-Ahead, Staggered, One-Dish, Extra-Fast, and Pantry—that will help get dinner on the table no matter what the workweek throws at you. The 135 recipes—from main dishes to sides to salads and “lifesaver” condiments—provide lots of practical options whether time is super-tight, you haven’t had a chance to run to the store, or everyone is coming home at a different time.

And most importantly, all of the recipes are “keepers”—brag-worthy, reliable, crowd-pleasing preparations that you’ll confidently turn to again and again. Shrimp Scampi, Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas, Foolproof Carbonara, and Mexican Skillet Lasagna are just a few examples of doable recipes that will earn their place in any busy cook’s repertoire. Rounded out with plenty of tips and a bonus section on healthful snacks called The Forgotten Meal, The Dinner Plan is every home cook’s indis­pensable weeknight dinner guide.

Goodreads | Amazon

If there is one thing that I am always on the hunt for, it is a recipe that is quick, delicious, and simple to make. The Dinner Plan is a well-organized, eye-catching book that has some fantastic suggestions to get a healthy dinner ready no matter what your day has in store. The ideas take into account all sorts of different lifestyles, but they are most definitely geared towards family meals.

What sets The Dinner Plan apart from other time-saving cookbooks isn’t really the actual recipes. In fact, it is in the way the recipes are categorized as to whether it is a make-ahead, staggered, one-dish, pantry, or extra-fast. Knowing what type of ingredients are needed and the time commitment needed to prepare certain dishes takes the guess-work out of where to start. There are also tips included in the book that include what sorts of ingredients and equipment to buy.

If you have a family that eats at different points of the evening, you will most likely find a dish that will satisfy the needs of your family. Making a meal that can be served at any point of the day, or easily reheated makes some of these recipes really unique. For instance, the Kitchen Sink Burritos that I prepared can be made fairly quickly and then the fixings can be set out for anyone to put together at their own leisure. This recipe is also a much lighter and cheaper version than the ones you can purchase at a local burrito bar, as there are no added preservatives.

burrito

The Dinner Plan is an interesting take on how to serve dinner to your family when life just seems to get in the way. If you are on the hunt for suggestions on how to eat healthy meals for a busy lifestyle, this may be the book for you. It will give you a new perspective on how to make meals without the stress over the time commitment involved.

Holiday Cookies by Elisabet Der Nederlanden

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

Title: Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season
Authors: Elisabet Der Nederlanden
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): From Icebox Pinwheel Cookies to Red-and-White Meringue Kisses to Apple Cider Caramels, find new inspiration for the best of seasonal baking with Holiday Cookies.

This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with reimagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other. Because the recipes are easy to scale up or down, Holiday Cookies is perfect for cookie exchanges, gift-giving, and just enjoying throughout the season. From a veteran baker and recipe developer, each cookie in this collection is guaranteed to be a stand-out, and destined to become your new Christmas classic.

Goodreads | Amazon

I know that it might seem a little early to be thinking ahead to the holidays, but they really are creeping up on us faster than you think! If there is one thing that I love the most about the Christmas season, it is the the treats. Holiday Cookies is actually more than a comprehensive little book of holiday cookies. This book contains recipes for cookies that can become favourites all year round. Chock full of tips for how to ensure the best experiences working with any cookie recipe, and how to package them for gift-giving makes this my new go-to book for the holidays.

If you are one for getting your baking done before the season begins, you will be happy to have Holiday Cookies for inspiration. There are some classic recipes that everyone will enjoy, such as gingerbread cookies and shortbread. However, there are some really interesting Swedish recipes that are a little bit different from the standard North American treats. I have already bookmarked the recipe for pepparkakor, as I love how the author has reminisced about her childhood and importance of family baking with this one. Also, pepparkakor is featured in one of my favourite childhood books, Pippi Longstocking, so I am excited to give these a try.

brownieOne of the recipes that caught my attention was Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich Cookies. It is quite a mouthful to say, yet these are just as tasty as they sound! The recipe was simple and straightforward, requiring ingredients that are more than likely to be found in your cupboard.

 

Holiday Cookies is the perfect book of recipes for your holiday treat making this year. There are bound to be some old favourites included in this one, and most likely some interesting new cookies to try. The recipes are easy to follow and will absolutely get you in the holiday spirit.

 

ARC Review: Stock the Crock by Phyllis Good

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

Title: Stock the Crock: 100 Must-Have Slow-Cooker Recipes that Home Cooks Can’t Live Without
Author: Phyllis Good
Publisher: Oxmoor House
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Amazon): The ultimate resource for a new generation of slow-cooker fans from the New York Times bestselling author who has sold 12 million cookbooks!

Stock the Crock brings together the expertise of America’s most popular slow-cooker authority with a fresh collection of 100 essential, innovative, and easy-to-prepare recipes-each with variations allowing readers to customize the dish according to their dietary needs. You’ll find beloved classics, as well as dishes you might be surprised can be done successfully in a slow cooker. (Hello, slow-cooker creme brulee!) Whether you are looking to accommodate gluten-free, paleo, or vegetarian diets, or prefer slow-cooker meals perfectly sized for one or two people, this cookbook provides smart ideas, more than 100 recipe photos, and cooking hacks that will change the way you use your favorite fuss-free cooking appliance. Learn simple make-ahead tricks, convenient baking tips, and how to make two recipes at once using the same cooker, so you can simplify cooking and spend more time enjoying your family and friends around a wonderful, delicious meal.

Goodreads | Amazon

Stock the Crock is the perfect cookbook for anyone new to using a slow-cooker, or for those looking for some different ideas to shake up their routine. The book includes tips for how to choose the right device for a recipe, and how to alter a recipe to make it work for different dietary needs. There are a variety of recipes that range from simple soups to yummy desserts, making this a must-have for fans of the crock pot.

I don’t use my crock pot often, but after reading this recipe book, I am inspired to try using it more often. With a little prep earlier in the day, it is definitely a great way to enjoy a healthy meal after a busy day. I really enjoyed all of the ideas that are included in the book about choosing the right size of crock pot. I never considered that some recipes are better suited to a smaller appliance. Also, each recipe includes a method to make the recipe for vegetarians and picky eaters. I love this because I often see a recipe that looks perfect only to discover that there is an ingredient that doesn’t fit with my tastes.

soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Red Onions

I have only tried the Butternut Squash Soup recipe so far and it was super easy and really tasty. I have also bookmarked quite a few others to try. The variety of things that you can pop into a crock pot is actually mind blowing. There is also a recipe to create brownies in a slow-cooker and I am really curious to find out if this actually works!

If you are looking for a way to enjoy homemade meals and don’t have the time to spend preparing them, this cookbook has some great ideas to get you started. I am going to be ordering a copy of this one for my own kitchen, as it is so versatile and practical. I highly recommend Stock the Crock to anyone interested in learning how to make the best use of a slow-cooker.

Book Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

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

Title: Wonder Woman: Warbringer
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

I was a little bit hesitant going into Wonder Woman: Warbringer since I didn’t know the original story before picking it up, but honestly, Leigh Bardugo does not disappoint! This Wonder Woman retelling is easy to follow and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat as Diana and her squad journey to save the world from war. Diana is such a fresh main character, and I enjoyed reading about the strong female friendships. This book is absolutely perfect, and I would say it’s a must-read this year.

This book is definitely among my favourites of 2017! It tells the story of Princess Diana, an Amazon who saves a Warbringer who is shipwrecked on her island. The Warbringer is just a girl, but she is hunted because of the destruction that follows in her path. Diana is determined to protect her while journeying to save both her world and the human world from war. I have never read a Wonder Woman retelling before, but I definitely want more of them since I enjoyed this one so much. The entire book is action-packed and contains many epic fight scenes. Even if you aren’t familiar with the Wonder Woman story, I would still 100% recommend this story. I was also unfamiliar with it, but I was never confused while reading.

Diana has got to be one of my favourite main characters ever. She is such a sassy character who does not put up with any sexism. Since Diana is not from the human world, she doesn’t understand certain concepts when she ventures to New York. Watching her absorb all the new information is absolutely hilarious and made me love her even more. As I mentioned above, I don’t know much about Wonder Woman, so I can’t say if Diana stayed true to the original character, but I definitely loved Leigh Bardugo’s fierce interpretation of her.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is the strong friendship between girls. Nim and Alia, the New Yorkers, are best friends and always have each other’s backs. The girls, along with a couple of boys, make up the classic Bardugo squad that I was expecting. However, they quickly accept Diana as a friend and are so welcoming towards her. The support and compassion between the girls is so heartwarming to read about, and it is so much better than a romance filled story would have been. Female friendships are always something that I love to see, and I’m so glad this book focused on this.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer is an incredible retelling of Wonder Woman that is still comprehensible without prior knowledge of the original story. I loved the sassy feminist main character and the focus on friendship rather than romance. I can’t wait to see what’s in store with the rest of this series in the future!

ARC Review: Room Love by Heather Wutschke

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I received an eARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Room Love: 50 DIY Projects to Design Your Space
Author: Heather Wutschke
Publisher: Capstone Young Reader
Publication Date: September 1, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): A floor, a ceiling, and four boring walls? No more! Get creative, show your room some love, and turn your personal space into your happy place. Show off your style and personality with DIY pizzazz to makeover furniture, create one-of-a-kind decor, and organize your stuff with dozens of projects and ideas to make your room as unique as you are

Goodreads | Amazon

I am always looking for ways to improve the spaces in my house, and Room Love has quite a few inexpensive little ideas that are fun DIY projects. Many of the ideas are geared towards tweens, however there are some great organizational tips that can be useful to anyone. If you have some washi tape, scrapbook paper and acrylic paint on hand, you are well on your way to get started on many of Wutschke’s projects.

shelfI have recently begun to organize my bookshelves and I was really inspired by the washi tape embellishment idea in Room Love. What is so great about washi tape is its versatility and the ability to remove it easily if needed. I never considered using it in my decorating before, and it is such a fun idea!

 

 

 

The layout of this DIY book is so pretty and has lots of pictures with step-by-step directions that can be followed with ease. It is one that will appeal to pre-teens that are wanting to jazz up their space a little bit without having to purchase expensive supplies. It is a definite gift for the tween DIYers on your list!

Review: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: A Stranger in the House
Author: Shari Lapena
Publisher: Double Day Canada
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): From the New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door, a new thriller featuring a suspicious accident, a wife who can’t account for herself and unsettling questions that threaten to tear a couple apart.

You come home after a long day at work, excited to have dinner with your beautiful wife.
But when you walk through the door, you quickly realize that she’s not there.
In the kitchen, there is a pot on the stove, and vegetables on the counter, abandoned.
Her cellphone and her purse are still in the house, in the bedroom, exactly where she keeps them.
It looks like she’s left in a blind panic.
You fear the worst, so you call her friends to see if they know where she is.
Then you call the police.
The police tell you that your wife’s been in an accident. They found her in the worst part of town, after she lost control of the car while speeding through the streets. But why would she go to that neighbourhood? And why was she driving so fast? Was she running toward something? Or away from something?
The police think your wife was up to no good.
You refuse to believe it, at first.
Then, as the stories and facts don’t line up, and your wife can’t remember what happened that evening, you start to wonder. You’ve been married for two years and you thought you knew her better than anyone else in the world . . .
. . . but maybe you don’t.

Goodreads | Amazon

Looking for a fast-paced thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the very end? A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena is sure to fit the bill. While I didn’t find this book to be as incredible as her debut, The Couple Next Door, this novel is packed with suspense and is definitely hard to put down. Lapena has a writing style that is easy to follow and quite succinct. The characters are very interesting, and can definitely be found in any suburban neighbourhood, making this story seem relatable.

When a book grabs my attention so much that I am flipping pages all night long, it is safe to say that it is definitely one that has lured me in and won’t let go. Shari Lapena has crafted a murder mystery that unfolds in a quiet neighbourhood with a housewife at the centre of attention. As new details begin to be revealed, and the pieces of the story start to come together, you will want to keep reading to see where the plot is headed next. The concept and storyline are that intriguing to keep you on the edge of your seat, wanting to know more.

If you are familiar with The Couple Next Door, you will come to expect a certain style from Shari Lapena’s writing. Her style is very much to the point and is very easy to follow. A Stranger in the House has a fantastic plot, but it is just not as descriptive as I would have expected. While I enjoyed how quick this story is to read, I would have preferred more details about the setting and the characters than is offered. The book feels a little rushed, and it would have been amazing to have it slowed down just a little bit.

This commuter neighbourhood in A Stranger in the House has some characters that will be easily recognizable. For instance, there is a very nosy neighbour that seems to know quite a bit about what everyone else is up to. Also, for those who have read The Couple Next Door, Detective Rasbach makes an appearance, which adds a bit of an interesting twist to the story because he is a character that we are already familiar with. Rasbach is a detective who seems to be able to solve any mystery, and is a very likeable character.

A Stranger in the House is a perfect thriller for your summer beach bag. The book is a quick read that will satisfy anyone who loves the genre. I look forward to reading more of Lapena’s novels and I am curious to find out if we will be seeing more of the infamous Detective Rasbach.

ARC Review: Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

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I received an ARC from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Just Friends
Author: Tiffany Pitcock
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.

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.

Debut author Tiffany Pitcock delivers a spot-on depiction of first love and the high school rumor mill in Just Friends, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Just Friends is a cute and quick read about two teens who fake being friends since childhood after they are brought together because of a school assignment. The opposite personalities of the two main characters are interesting to read about, and both Jenny and Chance visibly transform as the story progresses. I still enjoyed this book, but I found it to be a bit too clichéd for my taste.

This book is so adorable! It tells the story of Jenny and Chance, two teens who meet in an Oral Communications class. On a whim, they successfully convince their class, and the entire school, that they have been best friends for years. However, as the two become closer and actually get to know each other, they slowly become more than friends. I loved how Jenny and Chance make up cute stories about their childhood together and how they are able to create such an intricate backstory even though they just met. The way that all this happens so spontaneously is also enjoyable and makes their interactions so believable. This book may seem like pure fluff, but it actually gets pretty deep, so this is a good one for those looking for a mix of cuteness and seriousness.

One of the aspects that I especially enjoyed about this novel is the fact that Jenny and Chance are complete opposites. Jenny is the good girl who does well in school, and Chance is the bad boy with a bad reputation when it comes to relationships. The book is split into dual POVs, which I really enjoyed. Reading about the two characters pine for each other and getting both sides of a misunderstanding is so entertaining for the reader. Jenny and Chance also really change each other throughout the book, and it is so interesting to see how much they both transform from the beginning.

While I enjoyed the book, I still had one main issue with it that lowered my rating. The story is so unrealistic and hard to believe that it becomes a bit frustrating. For example, no one, not even Jenny’s best friend, thinks to question this friendship that has supposedly been going on for years. I just found it a bit strange how Jenny’s friend doesn’t seem too hurt by this new “best friend” that Jenny never told her about. There are also some aspects later on in the story concerning Chance that I can’t really describe because of spoilers, but his whole family situation seemed a bit far-fetched to me. There are also so many clichés, which I kind of expected, but it becomes a bit cringey after so long.

Just Friends is a cute read about two strangers who fake years of friendship after a school assignment bring them together. I enjoyed the main characters’ differences and the use of multiple perspectives. This book is still enjoyable, but the pacing and countless clichés weren’t for me.