ARC Review: Keeping the Beat by Jeff Norton and Marie Powell

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

Title: Keeping the Beat
Authors: Jeff Norton and Marie Powell
Publisher: KCP Loft
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): It was supposed to be the best summer of her life. Instead, seventeen-year-old Lucy finds her best friend, Harper, shot dead in an LA swimming pool. How did things ever go so wrong? The story circles back to trace the steps that led to this disaster.

Only Harper McKenzie could have taken five girls from their school and reinvented them as Crush, the top prospect to win the international talent contest Project Next. As soon as the band finds its footing, it scores a huge win in the UK semifinal. Next stop, LA!

The girls will spend a luxurious summer in Hollywood, living as reality TV stars while they prepare for their performance in the Project Next final. With a mansion to themselves, they’re the toast of the town … living every girl’s dream come true.

It’s way too late when Lucy discovers that Harper’s heart has never been in Project Next at all. Joining the competition was just part of Harper’s elaborate ruse to reconnect with her no-good ex-boyfriend. Harper will risk anything — from her friendships to the band’s reputation — to get him back.

Meanwhile, the other members of Crush are throwing themselves headfirst into sex, drugs and rock and roll. With the band in crisis and the final approaching, Lucy must decide whether she wants to play to Harper’s beat or set the rhythm for the rest of the band.

This fast-paced story takes unexpected twists, unraveling the mystery of Harper’s murder and exploring the complicated relationships among members of the band. Writing team Marie Powell and Jeff Norton — with many years in the entertainment business between them — deliver one-part wish fulfillment and one-part cautionary tale as they go behind the scenes to reveal what no one sees on “reality” TV.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Keeping the Beat is all about a girl band and the tough life on a reality TV show. Each of the girls are so different and really transform throughout the story. The big themes in the book, such as drugs and eating disorders, really add some depth and make the story more intense. I would recommend this book, as it does a good job of taking the reader behind the scenes.

This book is all about a group of girls who form a band and work their way to stardom. I loved the way that normal British girls are thrown into the world of music and must adjust to life in LA. What is interesting about Keeping the Beat is the fact that the ending is shown in the first chapter, and the book has a bit of a mystery aspect added to the girls’ life of luxury. I am a sucker for both arts and thriller novels, so I really enjoyed this combination.

There is such an amazing cast of characters in Keeping the Beat! The girls of Crush joined as (basically) strangers,  and it is so interesting to watch them get to know each other and become real bandmates. Each musician has such a unique personality, and the girls are all so different from each other. My favourite character is probably Iza, as she transforms from a shy and quiet girl into such an independent individual. Female friendships are something that I always love to see, and I was thrilled to see a girl gang in this book.

There are some pretty heavy topics discussed in the book, which really made it more than just some girls living a life of luxury. Right off the bat, one of the main characters is shot and killed. Drugs, eating disorders, and body image are also incorporated and show the reader how easy it is to get caught up in all of it. I enjoyed how Keeping the Beat shows the media’s image of beauty and what can happen if you try too hard to make yourself “perfect.” The pressure on girls to look and act a certain way is really strong, and the fact that this book is able to educate a little bit about this is excellent.

Keeping the Beat is about a British girl band and contains many distinct characters. The themes in the story are pretty intense, but also educate the reader. I would recommend this book, especially to fans of the musical genre.

ARC Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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I received a copy of this book from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Title: A Crown of Wishes
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

A Crown of Wishes is just as incredible as I had anticipated. This companion to The Star-Touched Queen tells the story of a tournament to win a wish and focuses on the sister of the protagonist in the first book. As expected, the writing is stunning and filled with sass. Fans of Caraval will undoubtedly love A Crown of Wishes.

When I first heard of this book, I thought it was a sequel to The Star-Touched Queen, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that it is actually a companion novel. This story is about Maya’s sister and works as a stand-alone. A Crown of Wishes is all about a magical tournament to win, you guessed it, a wish. It reminded me a bit of Caraval, and I loved that, since this concept is so entertaining to read. The bits of Indian mythology woven throughout the book are also extremely interesting and original. If you loved The Star-Touched Queen, I would definitely suggest  giving Gauri’s story a try.

Gauri is such a fierce main character. Right off the bat, she is prepared to outsmart her captors and defend herself. Gauri is so clever and able to solve the riddles in the Tournament of Wishes with ease. I absolutely adored her connection with Vikram as well, since the two have such an adorable love/hate relationship that is hilarious to read.

I will never get tired of Roshani Chokshi’s writing. I already had high hopes considering how beautiful The Star-Touched Queen is, but I can honestly say that her writing has gotten even better. Roshani Chokshi’s style is so descriptive yet so snarky, which can be difficult to pull off. Her use of metaphors also adds to the beauty of the book, making A Crown of Wishes almost impossible to put down. I hope Roshani Chokshi will have more books out in the future, because I would even read her grocery lists.

A Crown of Wishes is the story of a magical tournament that contains such a sarcastic and strong main character. The beautiful writing is the best part, and even better than in The Star-Touched Queen. I absolutely recommend this book, even if you have yet to read the first!

ARC Review: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook: The Food We Love from 100 of Our Best Chefs, Cooks, Bakers and Local Heroes by William Sitwell (editor)

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Title: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook: The Food We Love from 100 of Our Best Chefs, Cooks, Bakers and Local Heroes
Author: William Sitwell (editor)
Publisher: Nourish
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): What do you cook for the people you love? Asked this question, 100 of Britain’s food heroes have shared their most beloved recipes to make this extraordinary cookbook. Nigella Lawson divulges how to bake her Chocolate Guinness Cake and Rick Stein fries up Shrimp & Dill Fritters with Ouzo. Yotam Ottolenghi would serve Pea & Mint Croquettes and for Jamie Oliver, an unrivalled Fantastic Fish Pie. These are just a few of the incredible recipes provided by the best and brightest on the British food scene, including chefs such as Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay, Delia Smith, James Martin, Nigel Slater, Thomasina Miers, Mark Hix, Jason Atherton, Marco Pierre White, Claudia Roden and more.

Compiled by award-winning food editor and author William Sitwell, The Really Quite Good British Cookbook is keenly anticipated and a stunning object in its own right. Ultimately it is a celebration of the breadth, creativity and richness of Britain’s unique food culture.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Really Quite Good British Cookbook absolutely defies that old adage that the British serve bland and tasteless food. In this large collection of recipes from so many celebrated British chefs, you will find many interesting and exceptional dishes to prepare at home. Also, the images that are peppered throughout this book include breathtaking images of beautiful scenery as well as mouth-watering food.

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Warm New Potato Salad with Mint Leaves & Chives

What is most fascinating about this compilation of recipes is the fact that there are so many different types of dishes to choose from. There are breakfast ideas, fish, game, poultry, pasta, sides, and a number of desserts to create that really shows the breadth and changing palette of this diverse land. The Really Quite British Cookbook really has it all and if you are looking for one book that has a variety of recipes, this is the one you will want to check out.

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Brioche French Toast

For those of us who are not British, some of the ingredients may require a little bit of investigation if you are not familiar with some of the British terms. I definitely had to learn about caster sugar when creating the yummy Brioche French Toast recipe by Joanna Brennan, which really only required a little bit of molasses added to sugar. This was a really easy and delicious recipe that puts a twist on your standard french toast recipe with the use of brioche and vanilla paste.

Most notably, the images in the book are gorgeous and each recipe/chef is shown on a map to further describe the food of that particular region of Britain. This part of the book really demonstrates the changing landscape and food evolution that is taking place in Britain. Also, some the proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Trussel Trust, which is a charity that runs Britain’s food banks. All the more reason to pick-up a copy of this amazing book!

If you are looking to try some new and interesting recipes, The Really Quite Good British Cookbook is one that I highly recommend. I can’t wait to try out a few more of the recipes included in this wonderful book. It is one that has something for everyone.

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I have linked this post over at  Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

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.

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!

 

Review: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

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Title: The Lucy Variations
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. Now, at sixteen, it’s over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. But without music in her life, Lucy’s not sure who she is, or who she wants to be. Then she meets Will, her brother’s new piano teacher, who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy find her way back to piano-not for an audience, but on her own terms.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside one girl’s struggle to reclaim her love of music, life, and herself in this stunning novel about finding joy in unexpected places.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

The Lucy Variations is such an emotional rollercoaster. This book about grief and self-discovery has so many layers. The main character is a piano prodigy who quits and struggles to figure out who she is. I found the writing absolutely beautiful and recommend this book to everyone.

This is such a complex and emotional book! It tells the story of a piano prodigy who quits piano and tries to figure out who she is and what she wants. I loved the piano aspects in the book, and I feel like it is an accurate portrayal of what competitive piano playing is like. Reading about Lucy gaining more confidence and discovering her true identity was also so inspiring and touching.

I really enjoyed Lucy’s character. I was able to relate to her a bit as a fellow piano player, but I am far from her level. Lucy is such a caring older sister and so protective of her little brother, which I loved. She deals with many family issues and drama, which made me sympathize with her. However, there are many moments in the book where Lucy is selfish and a terrible friend, which bothered me. It would have been so much better if she didn’t act so spoiled.

The writing in The Lucy Variations is so beautiful. I have never read anything by Sara Zarr in the past, but I definitely feel like I should pick up more of her books since I loved this one so much. The characters are all developed so well and the reader can really feel an emotional connection with each one. I also found the descriptions of Lucy overcoming grief so raw and believable. Her writing kind of reminds me of Sarah Dessen’s, in a way, and this is something that I found enjoyable while reading.

The Lucy Variations is the emotional story of a piano prodigy struggling with her identity. I enjoyed the main character, even if she is snobby at times, and found the writing so mesmerizing. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to music fans.

ARC Review: The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

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Title: The Orphan’s Tale
Author: Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Mira Books
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep. When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Orphan’s Tale is a beautiful story of perseverance, family and coming of age during World War II. Pam Jenoff whisks her readers into the lives of circus performers during a time period that is so unpredictable and dangerous. There are many wonderfully developed characters in this book, but Noa is one that stands out for her sheer bravery and resilience.

One of the really incredible things about The Orphan’s Tale is the window into a circus performer’s life that Jenoff seems to expertly portray. What kid hasn’t imagined what it would be like to fly on a trapeze or live amongst wild animals? Although it does sound like a romantic type of lifestyle, the depictions that Jenoff creates in this novel from her research are quite telling of the struggles and hardships these performers endured during World War II. What is quite amazing is the family these large groups of entertainers create and how they will protect one another no matter the cost.

Jenoff has chosen a very interesting time period to base a novel with a circus theme. It does not seem like a time that many in Europe would have had the opportunity or money to be able to attend such an event. However, as is shown in The Orphan’s Tale, it was also a time where people attempted to seek some sort of normalcy and a few hours to forget the outside world. As the story progresses, unfortunately, even the circus has a hard time escaping the terror of WWII.

While it is hard to choose a favourite character in this book, Noa is such an incredible character that grows up before the reader’s eyes. The determination that Noa exerts is so admirable and her ability to adapt to so many different situations at such a young age makes The Orphan’s Tale a story of survival. Noa’s imperfections and impetuousness make her believable and quite relatable as well. Even though she is dealing with adult problems, Noa is still a young woman who has much to learn.

The Orphan’s Tale is a unique story that weaves together the struggles of people living through the Second World War and a family of entertainers. This book will really amaze and entertain the reader, while ripping their hearts out at the same time. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a different kind of story during a very tense time in history.

ARC Review: Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

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

Title: Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Wild meets The Breakfast Club in this story of a girl who must survive an extreme wilderness experience to prove to her mother that she has the strength to pursue her dreams.

Then 
Ingrid traveled all over Europe with her opera star mother, Margot-Sophia. Life was beautiful and bright, and every day soared with music.

Now 
Ingrid is on a summertime wilderness survival trek for at-risk teens: addicts, runaways, and her. She’s fighting to survive crushing humiliations, physical challenges that push her to her limits, and mind games that threaten to break her.

Then 
When the curtain fell on Margot-Sophia’s singing career, they buried the past and settled into a small, painfully normal life. But Ingrid longed to let the music soar again. She wanted it so much that, for a while, nothing else mattered.

Now 
Ingrid is never going to make it through this summer if she can’t figure out why she’s here . . . and why the music really stopped.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined is a million times better than I was hoping it would be. This book is about a camping trip and has some backstory woven in throughout the story. The supporting characters are all so developed and have such complex stories. The main character is also smart, strong, and musically talented. This book does not disappoint.

This book is a story that focuses on a summer camping trip in the wilderness and has bits of intricate backstory woven in. I loved switching between the present and the past, where the story of Ingrid’s mother and the events leading up to the trip are revealed. The theatrical and survival aspects made for a nice contrast and made the book so unique. I was definitely not prepared for the big reveal at the end and appreciated the element of surprise.

One of the most interesting aspects of Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined is the cast of character. While Ingrid is away at camp, she meets a group of teens who are each troubled in their own way. At first, I had some doubts about a lot of the characters, but after learning each of their stories, most of them grew on me. Each of the characters is quirky and there’s definitely more to them than what meets the eye. The growing bond between them was entertaining to read, and I enjoyed watching them start to rely on each other.

Ingrid is a clever and insightful main character. I enjoyed her sarcastic voice and her hilarious letters to her mom. Ingrid really transforms on the camping trip, and it is really inspiring watching her grow stronger. She is so determined to follow her dream, despite the protests from her mom, which I really admired. Her character really makes the book emotional and entertaining.

Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined alternates between past and present as it tells the story of a camping trip. The supporting characters are all so interesting and unique in their own way. Ingrid is also a strong character who comes a long way from who she is at the beginning – or technically the end – to the present. I would strongly recommend this book!

 

ARC Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

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Title: My Not So Perfect Life
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: The Dial Press
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):  Part love story, part workplace dramedy, part witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world, this is New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella’s most timely and sharply observed novel yet.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. The final, demeaning straw comes when Demeter makes Katie dye her roots in the office. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the image.

Goodreads | Amazon

If you are in the mood for a laugh out loud and honest look at the actuality of what it is to be a young adult in today’s society, then this new Sophie Kinsella book will fit the bill. The protagonist, Katie Brenner, is a compelling character that many will identify with. Also, Kinsella’s writing is clever and really grabs the attention of the reader through the use of humour in this look at the image we put forth to the world.

The theme that courses through My Not So Perfect Life is definitely becoming an adult in today’s society. Kinsella accurately portrays the struggles and pressures that many young adults are facing in our society today. The desire to have it all at once and the harsh realities of how most of us achieve our goals is presented in classic Kinsella style. Many readers will relate to the theme, but will find the humour in the process.

Katie is such a fun and witty character that a lot of us can relate to. Desperate to become an up and coming brand manager in London, Katie is trying to succeed and just seems to have so many obstacles to climb. Her determination is admirable, however her desire to hide the difficult parts of her life from friends, family and co-workers, such as her tiny shared apartment and odd roommates, have caused her to put forth an entirely different persona on Instagram. This is where Kinsella really grabs the reader’s attention, because I am sure that most people on social media are usually tweaking their image just a little bit to make their lives appear a little bit more interesting or fabulous than they really are.

Satire is not used often enough in contemporary novels and reading My Not So Perfect Life has really got me craving more of this genre. Kinsella weaves hilarity into her writing and gives an upbeat feel to the story, while exposing the characters and their weaknesses. The book will honestly put a smile on your face, even though you are feeling for Katie and her problems in life.

Fans of Sophie Kinsella will not be disappointed in her latest contemporary, My Not So Perfect Life. This book not only exposes our societal desire to put forth a fabulous image, it is relatable and hilarious at the same time. This is one book that will give you lots of laughter.