While my blog really focuses on make-up and skincare, I am also a total bookworm! So I am keeping track of all my reads with these fun yearly Reading Challenges!

Book #13 - May 11, 2018

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Rating 4/5 Stars 
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

This book has been on my to-read shelf for a long time! I was drawn to this knowing the story was written from the perspective of a teenager with autism - I have a brother with autism so the perspective have always intrigued me. The story does bounce around a lot and is very literal - overall, I really enjoyed the story. I was hoping for a little more at the ending. There was just so much that happened that I wanted it to go on a touch longer!

Book #12 - May 5, 2018

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Rating 3/5 Stars
In the first book of the Twilight Saga, internationally bestselling author Stephenie Meyer introduces Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, a pair of star-crossed lovers whose forbidden relationship ripens against the backdrop of small-town suspicion and a mysterious coven of vampires. This is a love story with bite.

Haha... this was a total throw back book. I had a weird urge to watch the movie a few weekends ago (I know it's so corny) but then I picked this up on audiobook and it was fun to listen to. Yes, we aren't dealing with the best writing, but who didn't love this story?!

Book #11 - April 29, 2018 

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Rating 4/5 Stars 
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

I honestly wasn't sure if I liked this in the beginning; but, ended up really enjoying the story and how it played out! I liked how it bounced from characters and times and built up to the peak - kept you hooked the whole time because you wanted to know what was going to happen! Really good suspenseful murder mystery!

Book #10 - April 13, 2018

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Rating 5/5 Stars
The ultimate battle between good and evil that closes out this final chapter of the epic series takes place where Harry's Wizarding life began: at Hogwarts. The satisfying conclusion offers shocking last-minute twists, incredible acts of courage, powerful new forms of magic, and the resolution of many mysteries.

Again, I re-listened to the whole series on Audiotape and it was even better than reading them the first and second time! The detail in this series in amazing and the story is just so good. My favortie book in the whole series! So good!

Book #9 - April 6, 2018

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn
Rating 5/5 Stars
By the New York Times bestselling author of Manson, the comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre—the largest murder-suicide in American history.

This was a super thorough book - the audiobook is 17 hours! But, wow was it interesting! I knew only the brief story about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple prior to reading this book; but, have always been intrigued by the kind of "cult" mentality and stories. 

You have to wonder how 1 man can convince over 900 people to commit mass suicide (themselves, their spouses and their children) for a cause. It's interesting because reading this book you realize, did Jim Jones start out bad? In the beginning he started a lot of community programs and seemed to want progress for communities and disadvantaged people. Did something change? Drugs? Power? It's very interesting what people were willing to give up or forgive to help the greater good of everyone. If you have ever been interested in learning more about this story, this is a really interesting, well written book.

Book #8 - March 30, 2018

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab
Rating 5/5 Stars 
An ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

Of the 3 books in the series, this was my favorite! I found the books got progressively better as the series went on. I really enjoyed the characters and storyline (where I didn't love the characters in the first book!)

Book #7 - March 25, 2018

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Rating 4/5 Stars 
Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose? 

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

I really thought at first I wasn't going to enjoy this book - the characters were sooo stereotypical that I just thought the whole book was going to be lame. I found myself really liking the characters and rooting for them. I enjoy a good murder mystery and with a little teenage drama thrown in, I actually really liked this! And, I enjoyed the audiobook and the characters they used to read the book!

Book #6 - February 28, 2018

White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Rating 3/5 Stars
Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes--each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned--becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.

This was my all time favorite book for a long time, so when I got a free Audible credit I had to pick this up - so this is a review of the Audiobook and not the original. Now, I didn't realize the audiobook was an abridged version and it cut out huge parts of the original story. I mean, it still maintained the storyline; but, parts that really stood out to me while I was reading it were left out and I just thought it was lacking. I don't understand why abridging it and leaving portions out. Also, I liked Oprah's voice reading it (the sex scenes were a tad strange for me with her voice!)

Book #4 & Book #5 - February 25, 2018

Pemmican Wars - A Girl Called Echo by Katherena Vermette
Rating 4/5 Stars 

Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Métis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee’s history class turns extraordinary, and Echo’s life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee’s lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place—a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie—and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.

I loved Katherena's novel "The Break" so I was interested to pick up her Graphic Novel - this is the story about a young girl separated from her mother, thrown in to a new school and environment where she doesn't fit in. She hears a story about Metis and the Pemmican Wars and is compelled to know more about her people and her history... I will absolutely pick up the further volumes and see where Echo's story goes! I think it's an important story to be told about generations that are separated but still affected by their past.

Fire Starters by Jen Storm, Scott Henderson (Illustrations), Donovan Yaciuk (Color Artist)
Rating 4/5 Stars
Looking for a little mischief after finding an old flare gun, Ron and Ben suddenly find themselves in trouble when the local gas bar on Agamiing Reserve goes up in flames, and they are wrongly accused of arson by the sheriff’s son. As the investigation goes forward, community attitudes are revealed, and the truth slowly comes to light.

This was an easy read - a really approachable format for talking about Racism and prejudice. I think the lesson about reconciliation is an important theme. I'm going to make my 13 year old son read this to return it to the library.

Book #3 - February 16, 2018 

The Perks of Being A WallFlower by Stephen Chbosky
Rating 3/5 Stars 
The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

I think I may be in the minority here; but, I didn't really love this book. I understand what it was trying to do - it just didn't get there for me. I couldn't get behind the writing - it was too plain (I realize they were trying to be Charlie; but, I didn't find it believable). I ended feeling bad at the end for not really liking any of the characters - I thought they touched on the themes way too immaturely. 

Book #2 - January 30, 2018

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Rating 5/5 Stars
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway - a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

This is the 2nd time I have re-read this book (so my 3rd reading!!) and I can't get enough of it - I listened to it on Audiotape and the narration by Jim Dale just adds to writing of the book itself. I have read and listened to this book and will continue to do so. The best way to describe this book is "magical" - it's beautifully written and just captivating - in my top 3 books of all time! 

Book #1 - January 19, 2018

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Rating 2.5/5 Stars  
You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play. Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

We'll give this a 2.5... I did finish reading it and wanting to keep listening to the tapes, so it deserves a few stars for making me finish this. Now - I should preface this low rating by saying that my opinion has nothing to do with suicide/mental health at all - i'm honestly just talking about the book/story/writing. 

I just didn't believe this - I didn't find Hannah to be a really compelling character and I found myself more frustrated by some of the stories than sympathetic (again, only about the reading)... I just didn't find the story believable - some things were trivial, it wasn't up to Clay to spot the signs and I didn't like the ending... Ya, it just didn't live up to the hype in my opinion. Maybe the show is better.

2018 Reading Challenge - I am setting my reading goal at 40 books for the year! I think I will be able to pass this, as when I go back to work in April I have lots of time in the car! 

*2017 Reading Challenge Recap - I only read 26 books this year (not close to the 54 in 2016!) But, life was a little busy and I do not have nearly as much time to read anymore so I leaned really heavily on the Audiobooks this year!

My favorite reads of the year were: The Break, The Handmaid's Tale, The One Hundred Nights of Hero, Wenjack, Winter, re-reading The Night Circus and the couple of Harry Potter that I re-read (of course!). 

Book #26 - December 15, 2017 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Rating 4.5/5 Stars
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned -- from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. 

Enter Mia Warren -- an enigmatic artist and single mother -- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. 

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

I liked the writing style! This book really focused on character development and made you like/dislike them based on your own experiences. This was a very emotional story and I went back and forth a few times about the storyline. Overall, really well written book.

Book #25 - November 15, 2017

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Rating 5/5 Stars 
The war against Voldemort is not going well: even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of The Daily Prophet looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet... As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate, and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

This was an easy re-read for me as I listened to it on an audio book! I love the whole Harry Potter series; but, especially as the books get farther in to the series! This is one of my favorites - the details, the characters - it's all good! Love!

Book #24 - October 19, 2017

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
Rating 5/5 Stars
In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle--and Cherry.

But what Jerome doesn't know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.

This book is both adorable and hilarious at the same! I couldn't put it down and loved every little story in the story - it pokes fun at the ridiculous way woman were treated in the past, while showing all the sassiness and witchyness of the strong women who fought back and outsmarted those men who believed in the roles. A true love story that will have you giggling along the way!

Book #23 - October 13, 2017

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Rating 2.5/5 Stars 
Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424 — one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. 

From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

Full disclosure, I did not watch the show prior to reading the book because I wanted to read the book first!

I'm not going to lie, I read this and really had to question how they got a show out of the book at all?! Literally, she had it super easy in a minimum security prison and didn't have anything happen at all until the last 2 months of her sentence. I know prison is not easy, so I get the need to reflect on the situation, whether she was in "real jail" or not. However, the face that EVERYONE must have been surprised to see a pretty blonde in jail got old really fast. 

What I did like about the book was the educated perspective on the state of jails - sending junkies and small drug offenders in for long periods of time and absolutely no resources or aid for those transitioning back to society. However, I thought the justification on her not being in jail (albeit it was a very old offence), she was part of the bigger picture of importing drugs in to the country that created the overall drug epidemic in the first place. So really, in my opinion those are who should be doing time as opposed to the ones using! 

On a side note, I have started watching the show and really enjoy - but those coming from the show to the book may find that there really isn't that much "exciting" jail situations as the show would lead you to believe!

Book #22 - October 3, 2017 

The Break by Katherena Vermette
Rating 5/5 Stars
When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

This book is a must-read! It is not an easy read - there is a lot of difficult themes and a lot of sad situations. It really focuses on the specific struggle of a couple generations of aboriginal women (and men) and while this isn't a true story, there is a truth in the story-telling that this could have happened to any family. I couldn't put this down for a whole week - the writing is amazing. I don't generally like books that have multiple perspectives, but for this story it worked and it added to the story.

Book #21 - October 1, 2017

Blood Ties (Spirit Animals #3) by Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Rating 3.5/5 Stars 
Erdas is a land of balance. A rare link, the spirit animal bond, bridges the human and animal worlds. Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan each have this gift-and the grave responsibility that comes with it. 

But the Conquerors are trying to destroy this balance. They're swallowing whole cities in their rush for power-including Meilin's home. Fed up with waiting and ready to fight, Meilin has set off into enemy territory with her spirit animal, a panda named Jhi. Her friends aren't far behind . . . but they're not the only ones. The enemy is everywhere.

This is a series that my son Damian and I read together - it is certainly meant for that 10-13 age range but reading it together I find myself quite liking the story. I mean it's a little predictable, but I like the characters and their animals. There is a good plot and lots of action that keep the story moving!

Book #20 - September 18, 2017 

Lumberjanes, Vol. 5: Band Together by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Carolyn Nowak (Illustrations), Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen (Illustrator)
Rating 4/5 Stars
Excited for the annual Bandicoot Bacchanal, Ripley recruits her friends to help her get ready for the dance. But before the Lumberjanes know it, something mysterious begins to bubble to the surface of the lake near camp! Will the Lumberjanes be able to bring peace to the lake in time for the Bacchanal?

Overall, I liked the Lumberjanes series - this one wasn't personally my favorite though... I liked the mermaids and all but just preferred some of the past stories. 

Book #19 - September 17, 2017

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
Rating 4.5/5 Stars 
While Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

I give this a 4.5/5 stars. I liked this more than the first book in the series - I didn't like the characters very much in book #1 and I found them much more likeable in this one! Also the story was great - I could not put this down once the Essen Tach started! Really good!

Book #18 - August 11, 2017 

Winter by Marissa Meyer
Rating 5/5 Stars 
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

I loved the final book in the Lunar Chronicles! Princess Winter is such a weird, loveable character - this really finished everyone's stories! I loved the whole series!!

Book #17 - June 14, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
Rating 5/5 Stars
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

Definitely a book that as soon as you close it you let out the big breath you have been holding the whole time! The story was compelling and sad - it was hard to read, but you couldn't put it down. I found the writing style a bit different than I'm used to, but once I got used to it I enjoyed it. This is a dystopian society that is incredibly believable! I have to watch the show now!

Book #16 - May 29, 2017

The Sh!t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Your Baby's First Year by Dawn Dias
Rating 2.5/5 Stars

There comes a time in every new mother’s life when she finds herself staring at her screaming, smelly "bundle of joy" and wishing someone had told her that her house would reek of vomit, or that she shouldn’t buy the cute onesies with a thousand impossible buttons, or that she might cry more than the baby.

Let's give this a 2.5/5 - I wasn't expecting this to be a life-changing parenting book (so hopefully you aren't expecting that either...). What it is, is a funny/realistic guide to the crazy things that happen with babies - think, experiences with projectile poop, etc. There was parts that made me laugh out loud. But, it does try and broach more serious topics like postpartum depression and vaccines and it does give a few mom's perspectives. It was funny, but that's about it.

Book #15 - April 16, 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Rating 4/5 Stars 
Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

This took me twice to get in to - the second time I had more time to read it, and after a few chapters I really got in to it! The story was engaging and there was a few nights I stayed up late because I had to know what was going to happen next ! I enjoyed the character development and the settings were really intriguing! I am excited to see where the story goes next in the series!

Book #14 - March 27, 2017

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Rating 4/5 Stars
In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

This was interesting... it actually took me a few days to decide my thoughts and I'm still a little unsure. I actually picked up this novel because it was so hyped without knowing anything about the story at all. 

I have no previous familiarity on Irish Historical fiction, so I can't comment on that (although it sounded fairly true from other reviews). The plotline was weird and interesting and kept me engaged - I couldn't put the book down because I had to figure out what the hell was going on! The story did build up slowly and finish very dramatically which I enjoyed!

Book #13 - March 17, 2017

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Rating 5/5 Stars
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. 

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air. 

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves. 

I don't often re-read many books, but I think this may be my favorite book - at least top 3 of all time! The story is so enthralling that I can't put this down and even though I knew what was coming, I still loved reading it as much as I did the first time! Love, love, love!

Book #12 - February 28, 2017

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall 
Rating 3/5 Stars
George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

Hmmm... I really had to think about how I felt about this book after reading it. Stories don't usually focus on the families of the accused and how everyone handles something differently. I did like seeing how everyone dealt with the situation of their husband/dad/etc being put in jail accused of terrible crimes, but I didn't love the ending or the outcome and that probably lowered the rating for me. Still an interesting read.

Book #11 - February 28, 2017

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Rating 5/5 Stars
Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...

I can't say enough about how much I love re-reading (or listening) to the Harry Potter series! There is so much detail put in to the books that you don't notice on the first time around! This book is long, but the story is always moving so it is great!

Book #10 - February 11, 2017

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Rating 3.5/5 Stars
Your neighbour told you that she didn't want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn't stand her crying. Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You'll have the baby monitor and you'll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She's gone. You've never had to call the police before. But now they're in your home, and who knows what they'll find there.

Let's call this a 3.5 star. This was pretty good - not the most outstanding writing (the author says "he almost felt sorry for..." way too many times), but the story itself was dramatic and I was constantly trying to know what was going to happen next. I was pretty proud when I figured out some of the twist, but there was more I wasn't expecting!

Book #9 - February 3, 2017 

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer 
Rating 4/5 Stars 
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

This was a really quick read, but I really liked it! I have been really enjoying the whole Cinder series and most have been given 5 stars... this might have gotten 5 stars if it offered a little more... I thought it ended rather abruptly and I wanted a little more out of Queen Levana's story (maybe it will offer the rest of the story in Winter).

Book #8 - February 3, 2017 

Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky by Marissa Meyer
Rating 2/5 Stars 
Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.

I think of these short stories as contributing to the series... this was a story that Carswell explained once before in another book. While I like most of the short stories that have followed Cinder and other characters, this one didn't add anything. Meh...

Book #7 - February 2, 2017 

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Rating 3/5 Stars
And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto vet­erinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old 'dog' ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks.
André Alexis's contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.

I was really torn on how to rate this book - the premise is interesting: 2 gods bet that dogs given human intelligence either day happy or not... what do you think will happen? This really was an old school thinking vs. embracing new ideas analogy and I think it really speaks to what is going on in todays society; but, I think this book went too far with the animalistic nature of a dog pack... overall, I struggled with how the 15 treated each other overall.

Book #6 - February 1, 2017

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Rating 5/5 Stars 
Harry Potter is midway through both his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for hundreds of years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards.
And in his case, different can be deadly.

I love re-reading the Harry Potter series! I am listening to them on audio-books and love the narrator as well! J.K. Rowling put so much thought and detail in to all of these novels - going back and reading them again just makes you catch all the little hints and extra details that I missed the first time! This book is one of my favorites in the series!!!

Book #5 - January 13, 2017

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating 4.5/5 Stars
Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. 

I haven't read The Hobbit since elementary school, so I was excited to read this again! I did listen to it on audiobook and it was a super short listen (about 2 hours) it was cute and I enjoyed the story. The audio wasn't my favorite and the ladies voice fluctuated so much it was either too loud or too quiet, so I would have preferred to read the book itself. I listened to it with my son and he also really enjoyed the storyline - there was always something new and exciting happening!

Book #4 - January 12, 2017

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden 
Rating 5/5 Stars
An Ojibwe boy runs away from a North Ontario Indian School, not realizing just how far away home is. Along the way he's followed by Manitous, spirits of the forest who comment on his plight, cajoling, taunting, and ultimately offering him a type of comfort on his difficult journey back to the place he was so brutally removed from. 

Written by Scotiabank Giller Prize winning author Joseph Boyden and beautifully illustrated by acclaimed artist Kent Monkman, Wenjack is a powerful and poignant look into the world of a residential school runaway trying to find his way home."

I know that there was quite a bit of controversy recently surrounding the author, but do not let that distract you from this book - it is a must read. This is not a story about the author, but about a little boy and his tragic escape from a residential school. It is beautifully written through multiple perspectives and it was so well written. It is a short story, but a sad story.
In my opinion, everyone should read this book and educate themselves on what happened in Canada's past to help us realize that reconciliation is really necessary and knowledge and acknowledgment are the first steps!

Book #3 - January 10, 2017

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium #4)

by David Lagercrantz, Stieg Larsson (Creator), George Goulding (Translator)
Rating 4/5 Stars
She is the girl with the dragon tattoo—a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit. He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution.

Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it . . . 

I was really hesitant to read this story - I was really worried about a different author taking on the "Millennium" trilogy from Stieg Larsson! I thought that this held very true to the first 3 books in the series and it was well written. The story was exciting - and I liked that the writing created a lot of suspense by bouncing back and forth at strategic time. While some of the language involving computer hacking (similar to the financial information in book #1), but I found that it was still very readable!

Book #2 - January 4, 2017

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
Rating 2/5 Stars
Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl? 

I had high expectations for this book - it was supposed to be some of the best Canadian fiction in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. The description of this book lead me to believe that this would be a funny and insightful view in to societies beauty standards and a women's desire to fit in. That is not what this was. This was a very raw account of 1 woman's extreme measures - it was not funny, or insightful - it was too far-fetched and unrealistic for me. Despite all that, it did get a 2 star because as much as I disliked it as I was reading it, I couldn't put it down!

Book #1 - January 1, 2017

After You by Jojo Moyes 
Rating 4/5 Stars
How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

I loved Me Before You so I was excited to see what the sequel brought! I was expecting a journey through Louisa's travels post Will.. and that's not what this book brought. But, I really liked that it didn't deliver what everyone was expecting. It was a very different story that felt more true to how someone would deal with grief. I liked this - there was a good balance of laugh out loud moments, sad moments, heartfelt moments!

2017 Reading - Book Reviews! For 2017 I have decided to steer away from the specific reading challenge and just review all the books I have read during the year! 

*2016 Reading Challenge Recap - I read 54 books! I am impressed with how many I got through - some were smaller books, short stories, or graphic novels, but most were full length books! My love of audio books really helped me get through a ton of books!!! 
I read a ton of books that I absolutely loved this year! My favs were: The Outside Circle, The Night Circus, Nimona, Ms Peregrine's series, Liesl and Po, Lumberjanes, A House in the Sky, Me Before You, Cinder series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I Let You Go, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!

I thought I expanded my reading genres this year and am happy with the results! 

Here is the 2016 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge:

December 16, 2016 - A Book That's Becoming A Movie This Year #2

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
Rating 5/5 Stars
When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt's fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

I loved this story - I watched the movie first and went right away to buy the screen play! I thought the movie held really true to the screen play.

The characters were all likeable and I loved how detailed the play was - I actually stopped reading this when I came down to the last few pages because I didn't want it to end!

December 15, 2016 - A Graphic Novel #3

Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese
Rating 5/5 Stars

Jen just wants a normal lesson with her cabin, teaching Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley the basic survival skills needed without any supernatural intervention. But when a blizzard hits camp, Jen finds herself separated from the girls and in more trouble than ever... until a mysterious taxidermist swoops in to save the day. Who is she and what is her relationship to Rosie? Join Jen as she finds a way back to her girls, and a way to save the day!

I love the Lumberjanes series - these stories are hilarious and the characters are just so fun! I loved that this volume had a ton of animals and great stories!

December 15, 2016 - The First Book You See In A Bookstore #2

Don't Try To Find Me by Holly Brown
Rating 2.5/5 Stars
When a 14-year-old runs away, her parents turn to social media to find her-launching a public campaign that will expose their darkest secrets and change their family forever, in this suspenseful and gripping debut for fans of Reconstructing Amelia and Gone Girl

Don't try to find me. Though the message on the kitchen white board is written in Marley's hand, her mother Rachel knows there has to be some other explanation. Marley would never run away.

I rated this 2.5 stars - I almost stopped listening to this book in the first 10 minutes. I found it a little hard to get in to, and then to get through. 

The story was interesting and that it what kept me going, but the characters were all unlikeable and I didn't like the writing overall.

(Also, this was the first available audiobook on my shelf, so that should count for this category!)

November 20, 2016 - A Book About A Culture You're Unfamiliar With #2

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Rating 4/5 Stars
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

I consider Texas Beauty Pageant culture to be something that I am unfamiliar with! I really enjoyed this book - I thought overall it had a good message. It is about body image and being happy with yourself however you may be. This comes through self-doubt and relationship struggles, etc. I found myself loving Willowdean and really cheering for her!

November 3, 2016 - A Book That's Guaranteed To Bring You Joy #2

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling 
Rating 5/5 Stars
Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?

I love re-reading this series (or really, re-listening to it as I am listening to the audio version!) Reading back you really see how much detail J.K. put in to every novel and she mentioned so many characters that play a big role in subsequent books, I missed that detail before. I loved this book in the series - I remember when I first read these books that with book 3 I was hooked! Loved this!

November 1, 2016 - A Book From The Library #3

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Rating 5/5 Stars
In this third book in Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she's just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she'd ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

This may be my favorite story so far in the Lunar Chronicles - I loved how fast paced this story was, and even though they added a 3 female main character, you didn't really feel like anyone got lost! There was so much happening that I was exciting to keep reading and find out what was going to happen next! I am loving this series!

October 20, 2016 - A Dystopian Novel

ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times by Andrew MacLean
Rating 3/5 Stars
Alone at the end of the world, Aria is woman with a mission! Traipsing through an overgrown city with her only companion, a cat named Jelly Beans, Aria's search for an ancient relic with immeasurable power has been fruitless so far. But when a run in with a creepy savage sets her on a path to complete her quest, she'll face death head on in the hopes of claiming her prize and, if all goes according to plan, finally returning home.

I will say that I loved the plotline of the graphic novel - post apocalypse girl and her cat on a mission, but I wanted more!! I wanted more detail, I wanted more dialogue, I wanted more back story, I wanted more at the ending.... It was good, but if it was a little longer or more detailed it would have been great!
(As per the definition, this may not be a full blown dystopian novel, but it's like as dystopian as I am going to get!)

October 5, 2016 - A YA Bestseller #3

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Rating 5/5 Stars 
The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself? 

I love re-reading the Harry Potter series. I have re-read these a few times, and this time I listened to this on audio-book (I love the narrator who reads these!) Every time I read these, I hear more details and it just furthers my love of this entire series!!

October 3, 2016 - A Book With A Blue Cover #2

Poles Apart by Terry Fallis
Rating 3.5/5 Stars 
Overnight, Eve of Equality, a new feminist blog, becomes a sensation when a wildly popular TV talk show host stumbles upon it, Tweets about it, and promotes it on her show. The blog is smart, thoughtful, funny, and bold, brazenly taking on various injustices in the lives of women. But it's the blogger Eve's post about the controversial entrepreneur behind XY, a new chain of high-end strip clubs opening up across the country that sets off a firestorm. In a matter of hours, the Eve of Equality website crashes, its Twitter count jumps from a paltry 19 followers to nearly 250,000, and Eve is suddenly lauded as the new voice of feminism.   

But who is the Eve behind Eve of Equality? Well... not who you might think. Meet Everett Kane, aspiring writer and fervent feminist. He writes his erudite blog in his apartment, at his kitchen table, conveniently but unexpectedly located right above one of the aforementioned XY strip clubs.

I will rate this 3.5/5 stars. loved the idea of this book, it sounded like it would be great. I found some of the situations too far fetched and slow - the entire book was predictable. It was funny and the characters were great, it just didn't all come together that well.

September 26, 2016 - A "Self-Improvement" Book

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Rating 3/5 Stars 
For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

I struggled to rate this book - there was a lot I liked and disliked about it. Without giving too much away, it's a story of one mean girl and her little group of friends in high school that torture and humiliate everyone because they are popular. When the main character dies, she re-lives her last day until she learns how to be a better person. I think overall, it had a good message for young girls and I enjoyed the author's writing, but there was a lot of the story that I did not enjoy.

Also, this isn't a self-improvement book for me, but a self-improvement book for the main character. I do think that this would visually make a good movie! 

September 7, 2016 - A Book With A Blue Cover

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh 
Rating 5/5 Stars
In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .

I really enjoyed this book - it was quite the thriller. I actually listened to it on Audio and really enjoyed it. I found the story to have a great pace and really kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next the whole time. I was always guessing and trying to figure out the twists and turns! I cried, I yelled, I was happy - this book had everything!

September 6, 2016 - A Book About A Culture You're Unfamiliar With 

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Rating 3.5/5 Stars
Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi's best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips.

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

I picked up the book because it was one of the book club reads for Our Shared Shelf - Emma Watson's feminist book club. 
This book is a 3.5 stars to me. I really wanted to rate it higher, but the book was just pretty good to me. I like the idea of sharing your own story through a graphic novel, but this book took me a really long time to get through. There were parts that I could not put it down, and there were parts that felt like she was laying on the couch for pages. I don't want to be judgmental at all about the story as it is a personal story and I enjoyed the way the author chose to share it. The story was just choppy to me and then the ending was abrupt and I wanted to know more!

August 29, 2016 - A Murder Mystery #2

Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule
Rating 4/5 Stars
In her most personal and provocative book to date, the #1 bestselling master of true crime presents "her long-awaited definitive narrative of the brutal and senseless crimes that haunted the Seattle area for decades" (Publishers Weekly). This is the extraordinary true story of the most prolific serial killer the nation had ever seen -- a case involving more than forty-nine female victims, two decades of intense investigative work...and one unrelenting killer who not only attended Ann Rule's book signings but lived less than a mile away from her home.

These books about serial killers are hard to call "good" - I thought this book was well done. With almost 50 victims and a crazy timeline, this book really breaks it down chronologically and explains the timeline. I also appreciate the emphasis on the victims, as they should not get lost in this story as well. The story can repeat itself a little bit, but overall I didn't mind. I also didn't think that the author tried to interject herself in the story too much but explained that she was part of it - she lived in the area and is a well known true crime author, I believe people would contact her with info.

Also, I guess this is technically true crime, not a murder mystery, but it did take 4 decades to figure out who the Green River killer was. 

August 15, 2016 - A Book You Haven't Read Since Highschool

The BFG by Roald Dahl
Rating 4/5 Stars
Captured by a giant! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It's lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, the Bonecruncher, or any of the other giants-rather than the BFG-she would have soon become breakfast. 

When Sophie hears that they are flush-bunking off in England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

This book is adorable - I haven't read it since my childhood (so further away than highschool!) but got it recently for my son to read! This time, we listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed the story (we recently watched the movie and thought it would be a good time to re-read the story!)

The story itself is a little slow paced, but I enjoy all the BFG's funny sayings and thought it was great!

August 14, 2016 - A Book That Takes Place During The Summer #2

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Rating 2.5/5 Stars
Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

I can't say I completely hated this book, but overall I didn't really like it. The story was somewhat compelling and I did finish it because I was curious about how each character's story would wrap up.

That being said, I really hated all the characters - they were all pathetic in their own way and seriously cringe-worthy in some parts. This was a mixture of New York's rich mid-life crisis that involve terrible marriages with a little teenage drama thrown in. 

My suggestion is to pass, unless this review somehow made you like the story premise.

August 8, 2016 - A Book That Is Published in 2016 #2

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Rating 5/5 Stars
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I loved this story - I thought it was made very clear that this was going to be a script, so I was looking forward to the different format.

I did read some criticism that people did not think this was as descriptive as the book format - I thought they did a really great job with the descriptions and details. I loved it - I almost read it as a movie that played out in my mind.

They focus enough on the old characters that you like, and introduce you to the kids. I loved the story!

August 2, 2016 - A Book Based On A Fairy Tale #3

The Little Android by Marissa Meyer
Rating 2.5/5 Stars
The Little Android is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles by New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer.

When android Mech6.0 saves the life of a handsome hardware engineer, her body is destroyed and her mechanics discover a glitch in her programming. Androids aren’t meant to develop impractical reasoning or near-emotional responses…let alone fall in love.

So, I like that the whole Lunar Chronicles are new stories that are loose re-tellings of fairytales, but this was very lose. I know this was a short story, but the other short stories have added something to the series - this one did not add anything for me. It was just ok.

July 31, 2016 - A Book That Is Published in 2016

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Rating 4/5 Stars 
Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

This book was written beautifully - I loved the writing style. I enjoyed the slow building story where you got to know the characters, or think you got to know them at least. I enjoy stories where everything isn't quite as it was meant to be. But then, the story twists and ends really abruptly - it didn't quite match the pace of the rest of the story. 
This was a quick read that I couldn't put down!

July 25, 2016 - A Book and Its Prequel #2

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
Rating 4/5 Stars
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

I like that this series does a very light "spin" on a classic - this one has a Little Red Riding Hood theme.

I really enjoyed how this book introduced new characters and still kept Cinder's story moving as well. I love the new characters and how their stories intertwined with past stories even though they were in very different places! Really enjoying this series!

The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5) by Marissa Meyer 
Rating 4/5 Stars
It is time. The boy must leave his family to serve in the Queen's army. To be chosen is an honor. To decline is impossible. The boy is modified. He is trained for several years, and learns to fight to the death. He proves to the Queen—and to himself—that he is capable of evil. He is just the kind of soldier the Queen wants: the alpha of his pack.

This was a very quick read and can be found on the author's WattPad page. While these little books are not necessary to read, I love that these add a specific background story - this one in particular shows the process of how Lunar youth are selected for the Queen's Army, what they go through, and their training. I thought it added good info!

July 19, 2016 - A Book You Can Finish In A Day #2

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (or Philosopher's Stone) by J.K. Rowling
Rating 5/5 Stars
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! The first book in the "Harry Potter" series makes the perfect introduction to the world of Hogwarts.

This is a re-read for the audiobook which I loved! I have re-read the series a couple of times, but thoroughly enjoyed this again. There was a lot of foreshadowing and character mentions that I had missed the first couple of times around (Sirius Black is mentioned, Hagrid talking about how crazy you would be to rob Gringotts, etc). Worth re-reading or listening to in my opinion!

We finished this in a day as we were on a road trip! Was perfect to listen to! 

July 18, 2016 - A Book That's Becoming A Movie This Year

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Rating 5/5 stars
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

I couldn't put this book down - it was the book that I would tell myself, "just one more chapter" and keep reading for 5 more. For a book that touched on a very serious topic, I thought it was readable while being emotional, which made the story seem very real. Of course I cried and then immediately put myself on the library waiting list for the sequel.

July 15, 2016 - A Book Recommended By A Family Member #2

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Rating 4/5 Stars
Audrey Niffenegger's dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry's unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control makes their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

This was my 3rd attempt reading this book - I haven't tried in about 5 years as I found the timeline quite confusing. This time I listened to the story on audiobook (and read the last chapter or so) and I found it much easier to understand! 

I really liked the story in general - I loved how everything came together through bits and pieces and enjoyed the characters.

Some of the reviews called this boring, I would suggest it was a slower moving story, but I felt like there was always something little and intricate happening that pulled together the whole story. Not a book to rush through. 

June 22, 2016 - A Book That Takes Place During Summer + A Graphic Novel #2

Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen & Maarta Laiho
Rating 4/5 Stars
Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are not your average campers and Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types is not your average summer camp. Between the river monsters, magic, and the art of friendship bracelets, this summer is only just beginning. Join the Lumberjanes as they take on raptors and a sibling rivalry that only myths are made of.

The Lumberjanes series is so fun - all the adventures of a group of friends while out a Girl Empowering Wilderness Camp. The characters are fun and the series always has something going on to keep you laughing and waiting for more!

Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Carolyn Nowak Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese, Brittney Williams, Aimee Fleck, Faith Erin Hicks, Rebecca Tobin, Felicia Choo, T. Zysk
Rating 5/5 Stars
While I have enjoyed the whole series I really loved Vol. 3 - I was a big fan of the Bear woman and where that story went! Again, the series is so fun and I love the characters! 

June 15, 2015 - A Political Memoir x2

Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
Rating 4/5 Stars 
A story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father's story and history itself.

This isn't specifically a "political memoir" but is a survival story about a very political timeline - WW2, more specifically the Holocaust.

There is something special about the ability to tell a story about the author's Father surviving the holocaust while making it a graphic novel. This was told in a conversational manner about the Father telling the son the full story and jumps between past and present fairly seamlessly. This was well written, but the 1st book must be read with the 2nd!

Maus II : And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman
Rating 4/5 Stars
Acclaimed as a quiet triumph and a brutally moving work of art, the first volume of Art Spieglman's Maus introduced readers to Vladek Spiegleman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist trying to come to terms with his father, his father's terrifying story, and History itself. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), succeeds perfectly in shocking us out of any lingering sense of familiararity with the events described, approaching, as it does, the unspeakable through the diminutive.

This second volume, subtitled And Here My Troubles Began, moves us from the barracks of Auschwitz to the bungalows of the Catskills. Genuinely tragic and comic by turns, it attains a complexity of theme and a precision of thought new to comics and rare in any medium. Maus ties together two powerful stories: Vladek's harrowing tale of survival against all odds, delineating the paradox of daily life in the death camps, and the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. At every level this is the ultimate survivor's tale - and that too of the children who somehow survive even the survivors.

The first book leads up to the concentration camps, while the 2nd book really focuses on how the author's father survived Aucswhitz and his life after the war. I am always interested in reading WW2 stories - I think this is an incredibly important story to read and the approach in a graphic novel makes it very accessible to all types of readers.

June 15, 2016 - The First Book You See In A Bookstore

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story by Ann Rule 
Rating 3/5 Stars 
Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting.

This isn't the first book I saw in bookstore, but was the first book I saw on my library list, so that counts right?! I listened to this book on Audio and it was read by the author, Ann Rule - I enjoy when the authors read their own stories. (this was also a quick listen, only a couple of hours)

This outlines the story of Ted Bundy and his many year stint of killing and beating women and eventually his prosecution and death. Now, this was a bit more than a true crime story - the author actually knew Ted Bundy quite well and spoke to him many times throughout the years while everything was happening. I found this slanted the writing - I felt she downplayed the seriousness of some of the crimes or the evidence of the cases (but that is just my personal opinion - she admits throughout she didn't entirely believe or disbelieve during the process, but does not fully believe he was guilty). I do wish the book focused a bit more of the trial and prosecutions at the end of the book.

Only read this if you are interested in serial killer stories (and not interested in a weird way, you know what I mean....) this is not a book for everyone.

June 8, 2016 - A Murder Mystery

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Rating 2.5/5 Stars
One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. 

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter. 

Ok, this isn't technically a "Murder Mystery", but a mystery nonetheless! 

This should be like a 2.5 star rating.... I'm actually really torn about this book. I will start by saying that I liked the suspense of the story and it certainly kept me waiting to hear more (I listened to it on Audiobook). The twist was good and overall, I enjoyed the story. 

What I did not like was the writing - ugh, it wasn't very good. Most of the characters were blah, and really stereotypical (her descriptions of the black characters actually made me cringe a little). And her descriptions of Colin contradicted themselves every chapter, it was quite frustrating. Anyways, I did stick it out through the poor writing because the story line drew me in.

May 29 - A National Book Award Winner

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman
Rating 3/5 Stars
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

Ok, so this isn't a national award winner per-say but it was the GoodReads Choice Winner in 2013 so that counts! I think I finished this book a little confused - don't get me wrong, I loved the stories and I loved the characters and how it was written. It was beautiful with very detailed descriptions, it was quite haunting in some parts and I enjoyed that.

I think maybe I missed some of the symbolism and at the end of the book I was left with a few questions - what was Lettie? what was Ursula? what the hell happened? etc.
I needed more...

May 16, 2016 - A Book And Its Prequel

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Rating 4/5 Stars
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

At first, I was not thrilled with how this book sounded! But, 3 chapters in and I was pretty hooked! I loved Cinder as a character and thought it tied in enough of a "Cinderella" story without it being an overbearing storyline. I thought they did a great job on character development and really set the stage for the series!

Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5) by Marissa Meyer
Rating 4/5 Stars
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. In Glitches, a short prequel story to Cinder, we see the results of that illness play out, and the emotional toll that takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch…

This is a quick little book you can find online and just goes over how Cinder comes to her new family and gets settled. I thought it added some great background and was a quick but good read!

May 14, 2016 - A YA Bestseller #2

Library of Souls The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Rating 4/5 Stars
The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children. They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all.

Overall, I really loved this series! This book was quite a bit darker and different than the first 2, but I enjoyed the story and seeing how everything wrapped up with some of my favorite characters!

April 29 - An Autobiography 

A House In The Sky by Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett
Rating 5/5 Stars
The dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace.

This book is utterly inspiring, there is no other way to put it. Amanda travels the world and finds herself in Somalia where she and a fellow traveller are kidnapped and held for over 400 days... you can imagine what a woman would go through. The book can be difficult in some places, but Amanda's outlook on her situation is what keeps you reading. She manages to take each day in stride and find things to be thankful for. I am truly inspired by her outlook - at the end she speaks of her path to forgiveness and I was a crying mess. This book will make you appreciate what you have, and if I take anything from it, it will be to be more grateful and not to take anything for granted! This is a must read! 

I read this book on CD and Amanda read this herself - made it that much harder to read knowing she herself went through everything, but certainly more powerful.

April 18 - A Book That Is More Than 600 Pages

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephanie Meyer
Rating 3/5 Stars
Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double-feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer.
Packaged as an oversize, jacketed hardcover “flip book,” this edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new back cover art. Readers will relish experiencing the deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful love story of Bella and Edward through fresh eyes. 

Okay so this isn't 600 alone, but it is shared with Twilight so it's a double book.  Okay, I might be being a litter generous with 3 stars here but I like the Twilight story (the first book was the best...) This switches genders with Edward now a girl (Edythe) and Bella now a boy (Beaufort) it is to show that the story can go both ways. This was released for the 10th anniversary of twilight and actually takes some movie scenes in to the books as well. This book has better writing then the original story, but I have to mention - why in Meyers so terrible at picking names?! I thought Reneesme may have been the worst name I had ever seen, but I think she tops that in this book. Anyways, it was an easy read and an entertaining story...

April 15 - A Book From The Library #2 &
April 16 - A Book That's Under 150 Pages 

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Rating 5/5 Stars
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice,until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.

Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

I will start by saying, I love kids books! This was such a magical little book and I really enjoyed! I thought the story had a great pace and it would keep younger readers engaged - there was always a new twist or turn. I loved all the characters and I thought they were developed well and all had their own little quirks that I enjoyed! 

I listed to this on Audio CD and the narrator was extraordinary and brought the story to life!
The whole time I listened, I thought "how has this not been made in to a movie yet?!" - I'm thinking some Tim Burton stop animation would be perfect!

Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection (Vol. 1) by Hope Nicholson
Rating 5/5 Stars
From traditional stories to exciting new visions of the future, this collection presents some of the finest comic book and graphic novel work in North America. The traditional stories presented in the book are with the permission from the elders in their respective communities, making this a truly genuine, never-before-seen publication. MOONSHOT is an incredible collection that is sure to amaze, intrigue and entertain!

This is a compilation of short stories - I have to say how much I loved the variety of the stories and illustrations! The art was all gorgeous and really different. The stories ranged from traditional to slightly futuristic. 

I enjoyed the cultural aspect of this book and think this is a really great idea to help display aboriginal artists and authors! Really great!

April 15, 2016 - A New York Times Bestseller

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Rating 4/5 Stars
Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems. 

This book is all set around 4 adult children waiting for an inheritance from their late Father. I thought this book realistically portrayed how a family can tear itself apart over money and become overly reliant on their expectations of what to come - this shows how quickly all of that can unravel when something goes askew. 

I'm generally not a fan of books switching perspectives too often, but I found that it really worked with the timeline of the story and the characters. I can understand how some would consider this "shallow" but I personally thought the characters were developed within their storylines and had their own quirks. 

I could not put this book down - I really enjoyed the story and thought it was full of drama and ended with most of the stories being ironed out (good or bad). 

April 7, 2016 - A Book Based on A Fairytale #2

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
Rating 3/5 stars
Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose, he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, and a new Fillory--but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.

Oh man, again I'm already in to another #2 without finishing my list - whoopsie! 

Alright, this series did not start out well for me, but with each book it slowly improved. 

The storyline of this book was really exciting and I thought there was a lot going on to keep you engaged and wanting to hear what happened next! I was satisfied with the way everything wrapped up and thought there was good closure with the characters! 

The writing quality was still a little blah in some parts - I can't get over some of the descriptive words used, but all in all, I'm glad I stuck with the series.

April 2 - A Book Set In Europe #2

Hollow City - The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Rating 4/5 Stars
This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Oops! I'm already doubling up on my list without finishing it! 

I thought the storyline of this book was good - it picked up right where the first one ended and was non-stop! There were a lot of twists and turns in the book and it was exciting and kept you wanting to "just read one more page"! I like the addition of the peculiar pictures and how the storyline ties in to them.

March 29 - A Book Of Poetry

To This Day - For The Bullied and Beautiful by Shane Koyczan
Rating 5/5 Stars
An authentic rallying cry for anyone who has been affected by bullying. In February 2013, Shane Koyczan’s passionate anti-bullying poem “To This Day” electrified the world. An animated video of the lyric narrative went viral, racking up over 12 million hits to date and inspiring an international movement against bullying in schools. Shane later performed the piece to sustained applause on the stage of the 2013 annual TED Conference. Now this extraordinary work has been adapted into an equally moving and visually arresting book. Thirty international artists, as diverse as they are talented, have been inspired to create exceptional art to accompany “To This Day.”

This was quite a small book so I thought about not including it, but it was a really beautiful poem and I didn't want to leave it out! 

This is a beautiful poem with a great purpose. I loved the variety of drawings to accompany the poem and loved that they were from all over the world. 

This is a short book (as it is just 1 poem) but I read it with my 11 year old son. This should be read in every classroom, every year!

March 20 - A Book Based On A Fairy Tale

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Rating 2.5/5 Stars
Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

This is a bit of a stretch to call this based on a fairytale, but the quest they go on in the book is based on a Fillorian fairytale! 
Ok, so I strongly disliked The Magicians, but I feel like when I start a series that I have to finish it. This book was an "improvement" from the first; but, really there was no where to go but up from there. There was parts of the storyline that I thought was much better than the first book. It was more engaging and moved at a much better pace. I was really happy that they started to introduce Julia's story (but it never did connect to how she met up with Elliot... so they didn't really complete it..). Some parts of her story were great and others made you cringe they were so bad (that may be how I felt about this whole story).

While the story overall was better then the first book, the writing was still awful... I can't even get started on that...

March 13 - A Book You Can Finish In A Day 

Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters, and Brooke A. Allen 
Rating 4/5 Stars
Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together... and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!

The best way I can describe this book was "cute" - I loved the whole friendship to the max theme and I thought all the characters were really adorable. The story was fun, but I wish it flowed a little better and it was a little all over the place, but it was fun and I want to read the other ones!

March 12 - A Book That Takes Place On A Island

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Rating 5/5 Stars
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

I have to say I really enjoyed this book! I'm surprised by the negative reviews (but, I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion...). I didn't think this book claims to be a big, scary "horror" novel - it claims to be peculiar. The girl on the front cover is a levitating girl - nothing super scary. 

The book does have some "peculiar" twists and turns and although it was written for a younger audience, I don't mind that in a book. The story was good and I enjoyed the tie-ins with the pictures. Some of the language was a little confusing, but it did explain itself in the book. I read this really quickly and couldn't put it down - it was a good pace and kept the story moving along. The book didn't exactly wrap up the way I wanted, but I'm not too upset because I know it is a trilogy and I am excited for book 2!

March 5 - A Science-Fiction Novel

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Rating 4.5/5 Stars
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

I love the art and the writing style of this book - it had a little bit of everything! I read a description calling it a "medieval sci-fi" and that summed it up perfectly! This was funny, exciting, and touching all at the same time - I loved Nimona's character and thought overall the book was awesome! (I even passed it on to my son for him to read after me!) The only reason I am giving it a 4.5 star is the ending wasn't what I was hoping for (but it did fit in storyline)

March 5 - A YA Bestseller

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Rating 1/5 Stars
Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined.

Ugh, so I realized this book seems to be either loved or hated - I'm on the side that I disliked it very much. I was just unimpressed with the writing style - it was very juvenile. I realized that this is a YA book but the writing was almost borderline childish and it did not line up with the more mature content. Now sometimes I can handle a less than fantastic writing style if the story was interesting, but I felt like I was waiting for the story to get interesting the whole time - it came at the near end and then lost itself again...

February 21 - A Book Set In Europe &
February 21 - A Book About A Road Trip 

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Rating 4/5 Stars
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils ... Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

This is the book set in Europe - a small town in the United Kingdom. I was not sure initially how I felt about this book - the story started off a little slow. What I can say is that I love how J.K. develops her characters - the details are amazing and she can has done a great job of making you love or hate them! They were all explained so thoroughly and there were many great characters. Again, with the story it was slow to progress, but when it did pick up I really liked it! Lots of twists and I love a book that I can both laugh and cry while reading! If you are stuck a little at the start, just stick with it, it is worth it!

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
Rating 2/5 Stars
Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel about the universal experience of recovering from wounds of the past, informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions. Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman, leaves her home in Northern Alberta following tragedy and travels to Gibsons, BC. She is on something of a vision quest, seeking to understand the messages from The Frugal Gourmet (one of the only television shows available on CBC North) that come to her in her dreams. She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat Johns, who played Jesse on The Beachcombers, because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Bernice heads for Molly’s Reach to find answers but they are not the ones she expected.

This a the book about a Road Trip - Birdie travels from Northern Alberta to Gibsons, B.C.  I picked up this because it is on the CBC Canada Reads short list for 2016 - the story sounded really great, right up my alley. I have been particularly drawn to stories similar to Birdie about the trials and tribulations of aboriginals and missing and murdered women - generally these books are non-fiction, so I thought a fiction version would be a nice new twist. 

I struggled with what to rate this - it was just so hard to read! And not hard to read because the story was heavy (those are generally the types of books I enjoy the most) - this was hard to read because the writing was really choppy and disjointed! The story bounced back and forth and it was really hard to follow! It only started to come together about half way through and even then, it never fully connected which was disappointing. Unfortunately I really tried to connect with this story and I could not! Too bad!

February 16 - A Book Recommended By A Family Member 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Rating 3/5 Stars
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. 

I was really hopeful for this book because it was highly recommended - I ended being sort of sad reading this book! The underlying tones of how hard it would have been for a mixed family in the 1970s and this touched on how strongly that can effect people. It also touched on the idea of parental pressure and the impact on their children. But most importantly, it touches on the impacts of miscommunication and the entire impact  it can have on a family. This book had some really beautiful parts, but I was a little disappointed that it left so many stories and did not answer all my questions...

February 7 - A Book Set In Your Home State

Bad Judgement by John Reilly
Rating 3/5 Stars
"Bad Judgment" details Reilly's battle with the Canadian justice system and the difficulties he faced trying to adapt Eurocentric Canadian law for the benefit of First Nations people across the country.

This book is set in my home "state" - here in Canada, they are called Provinces, so this is set in my home Province, Alberta. I really enjoyed Judge Reilly's first book "Bad Medicine" and thought this would be a good follow up on the judicial side of story. This book focused more on Judge Reilly's own personal judicial matters with the Chief Judge's office and a little less on the aboriginal side of the story. The context of the book was good, and luckily I am quite familiar with the Canadian legal process - if you have little understanding of the judicial process, this might be a little confusing and dry.

January 29 - A Book From The Library 

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Rating - 5 Stars!
Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way--a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. 

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lvies of all those involved--the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them--are swept up in a wake of spells and charms. 

I can't believe it has taken me this long to read The Night Circus!!!! Well "read" again - this was read to me on audio cd! This story is set in a circus that takes place at night and involves a magical duel of sorts - and without spoiling the story, there is definitely a love story involved. This book was so well written! The characters were amazing and the story was enthralling! I absolutely loved it! 

January 18 - A Book That's Guaranteed To Bring You Joy

Shopaholic To The Stars by Sophie Kinsella
Rating 3/5 Stars
Sophie Kinsella returns to her beloved Shopaholic series with Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) newly arrived in Hollywood and starry-eyed. She and her two-year-old daughter, Minnie, have relocated to L.A. to join Becky’s husband, Luke, who is there to handle PR for famous actress Sage Seymour. Becky can’t wait to start living the A-list lifestyle, complete with celebrity sightings, yoga retreats, and shopping trips to Rodeo Drive. But she really hopes to become a personal stylist—Sage’s personal stylist—if only Luke would set up an introduction. Then, unexpectedly, Becky is offered the chance to dress Sage’s archrival, and though things become a bit more complicated, it’s a dream come true!

I have really enjoyed the whole Shopaholic series - they are usually quite over-the-top and hilarious! This was was so over the top it was almost too much, but the story was still entertaining and well written. These are by no means the best books in the world, but I will continue to read the series because without a doubt they always have me laughing and entertained! 
P.S. I hope we are counting books on CD's! 

January 9, 2016 - A Graphic Novel

The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson
Rating 5 Stars!

In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.

Patti LaBoucane-Benson is a fellow Albertan - she works for the Native Counselling Service of Alberta and helps deliver a healing program to aboriginal offenders serving federal sentences. This book is a conglomoration of stories about the struggles aboriginal men face living in Alberta - poverty, gangs, violence, etc. It is a very true account of how someone can get stuck in a dangerous lifestyle. This book also focuses on the power of healing and re-connecting with aboriginal roots. The delivery of the story in a graphic novel form makes the sometimes difficult story more accessible and easier to read and understand. The art is amazing and the story is powerful - this book is nothing short of amazing! While I work very closely with individuals who could easily be the main character in this novel, I think it is something everyone should read! 

January 6, 2016 - A Book Translated To English

The Snowman - Jo Nesbo
Rating 4/5 Stars
Internationally acclaimed crime writer Jo Nesbø’s antihero police investigator, Harry Hole, is back: in a bone-chilling thriller that will take Hole to the brink of insanity. 

Wow is all I can say - this book is intense! It was an intense thriller and it kept you guessing the whole time! You think you know who the killer is and then, boom another twist or turn! This was also scary and I few nights I regretted reading it right before bed, but I could not put it down! I really liked this! I didn't know that there was a whole series of Harry Hole books, but now I clearly have more books on my list to read! 

*2015 Reading Challenge Recap - I only read 19 books. This isn't as many as I thought I was going to read. I picked a few books that I got stuck on and found hard to get through! I also found some real gems this year - We Were Liars and The Girl on The Train were amazing. I also expanded in to some books about Canadian history and Aboriginal culture that will help me better understand the work I do every day - Up Ghost River and Bad Medicine have started a reading trend! 

I am hoping for 2016 that I will get through a few more books and check off more of my reading challenge! 

December 26

A Book With A One-World Title
Lucky by Alice Sebold 

First off, whoops I haven't finished a book in a while!!! So, I really wanted to love this book - it is all about a rape survivor telling her story and putting her rapist in jail. But, the book was all over the place and kept bouncing around that it made it really hard to follow. I just wasn't the biggest fan of the writing overall and this wasn't my favorite book! 

October 10

A Book You Can Finish in a Day
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 

All I can say about this book is WOW - totally Mind Blown. This is a story about a seemingly picturesque family and a terrible tragedy, only the narrator has amnesia regarding the tragedy and the family will not tell her anything. Throughout the summer on her families private island so begins to get her memories back. Eventually, she finds out the tragedy and BOOM - it's all unveiled and it was so sad. I read this on the plane and had to stop to cry and take it all in. On that note, I really liked the book. The writing style is a little hard to follow but overall, it was great! 

October 3

A Book Published This Year
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Oh, this book is sooo GOOD!!! Oh my goodness, this was so good! I thought the book was very layered and was not the basic story that it initially played out to be - turns in to a woman with plenty of her own problems getting wrapped up in a murder investigation. I don't want to reveal too much about the plot line because I could not put this book down and I would HIGHLY recommend this book; I could not put it down.

September 30

A Mystery or a Thriller
Honeymoon by James Patterson & Howard Roughan

So I picked this up because I ran out of books on my honeymoon - it was at one of the B&B's that I stayed at! I have never actually read James Patterson. This was called a thriller and is all about a girl who likes to poison off her men for money? It was actually a really easy beach read... not the best book I have ever read, but easy and entertaining. 

September 27

A Funny Book
Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I have read the entire series up to this book (there are a couple of newer ones out now..). I have loved the Shopaholic series - they are hilarious!! This book took me quite a long time to get through and it wasn't my favorite out of the series; in fact, I think this may be my least favorite book in the series. On that note, it was still funny and I still enjoyed it. 

September 16

A Book Based Entirely On It's Cover
Fodor's Travel Intelligence - Turks & Caicos Islands

Hopefully this counts as a reading book - I did read it all cover to cover! I also highlighted the crap out of it for ideas and things to do while I am in Turks and Caicos for 2 weeks! Lots of great info and good reccomendations! 

August 27

A Book With More Than 500 Pages
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I usually wait to watch movies until I read books; but I was slow to read Gone Girl! I loved the movie and the book surpassed the movie (as usual)! The book was well written and I loved the writing style (diary entries and characters with different chapters!). Highly recommend if you like crazy stories!!

June 26, 2015

A Book By A Female Author
Spirit Animals Book 2: Hunted by Maggie Stiefvater

I thought it was a little strange that book 2 has a different author than book one, but that is how the whole series is! Again, my son and I loved this! I have a look for great children's books and this series has lots of action! It is a different adventure each book! 

June 22, 2015

A Book With A Number In The Title
Spirit Animals Book One: Wild Born by Brandon Mull

Okay, so this isn't really an adult book; but, I am not ashamed that I love books for all ages (I read all 13 Series of Unfortunate Events by myself when my son was too little) and I love them! My 10 year old son and I have decided to read this series together and we love it! The first book really just sets the stage with all the characters and animals but it is good! We are enjoying the series so far! 

June 18, 2015

A Nonfiction Book
Bad Medicine: A Judge's Struggle for Justice in a First Nations Community by John Reilly

This book comes with varying reviews - some do not like John Reilly and think this book is designed to make him look good, and some think this book shares the truth about someone who stood up for the people of the Stoney Nakoda Nation. I think it is both! While this book only shares Judge Reilly's perspective, in my experience working with aboriginal youth, I think what he tried to do was right. Sadly, there is a vast difference of life on a reserve and life in the city and Judge Reilly was willing to say he believed the corruption and circumstances on the reserve were the cause of a lot of crime, poverty and abuse. I think this is worth a read for anyone, we cannot believe that aboriginals should just "get over it" and move on, their struggles are much more complicated than that! 

June 11, 2015

A Book From an Author You Love That You Haven't Read Yet
Gathering Clouds by V. C. Andrews

So, this is a mini prequel to the "Rain" series - I read these a bazillion years ago and loved them (VC is my guilty pleasure!!) This little novella was released in the Rain dvd when it was released. I have no idea why it took me so long to buy the dvd but I finally did! I was excited to read this - it was good. It was nicer than I expected, VC is always so tragic! It is a little sad, but that is what is expected! 

June 9, 2015

A Book Set Somewhere You've Always Wanted to Visit
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Again, my books on CD - these are great for a long drive to work! This book is set in Paris (where I have always wanted to visit), and I'm not going to lie my french is terrible - so I think I would have struggled with some of the french words if I didn't listen to this on CD! This was a good story - I love the idea of two stories set in two different time periods eventually coming together as you sit and figure out how they will interconnect! It was well written and I enjoyed the whole story, although I did find the ending to be slightly lack-luster (I was just hoping for a little more) 

April 13, 2015

A Book More Than 100 Years Old
Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I hope this isn't cheating, that I let someone else read this story to me while driving to and from work?! Anyways, this book was written/published in 1900. I can't believe I have not read this book yet - I love the Wizard of Oz! And this story did not disappoint! I loved the added details that were not in the movies and thought the story was amazing! I tempted to dive in to the next 13 in the series...! 

April 2, 2015

A Book with Non-human Characters
After Dead by Charlaine Harris

I have to start by saying that I loooove the Sookie Stackhouse series - I thought all the books were well written and had a great story line (I even stopped watching the tv show True Blood because it went to far away from the books!). But, I was not happy with this book. It was a wrap-up on all characters - some you love and some you have totally forgotten about. I guess when I picked it up I was expecting some short stories on the most popular characters, but instead it was a sentence to a paragraph on every character (and my favorite character only got a sentence!!!). I get why she wrote it, I was just hoping for a little more! 

April 1, 2015

A Book That Made You Cry
Up Ghost River, by Edmund Metatawabin

All I can say is wow - this is a story that everyone should read! Seriously, I think a lot of people do not understand the full impact of the residential schools. This book explains the actual abuse as well as the cycle of abuse that occured generations later - this is certainly eye-opening! Highly recommended and well written! 

February 27, 2015

A Trilogy 
The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure by James Dashner 

I really enjoyed this triology - the story was engaging and right from the first book there was a lot of twists! 

A Book Set In The Future 
The Kill Order by James Dashner

This is the prequel to The Maze Runner Series - it was not my favorite. I found it hard to get in to with the setting and all the new characters and it took until the very end of the book before it tied in with the series! 

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