Monday, 30 October 2017

Pumpkin Spice Secrets

Pumpkin Spice Secrets 


By: Hillary Homzie 
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published: September 12th, 2017
Source: Thomas Allen & Son (thank you!)
My Rating: 3.5/5


"Swirl books are the perfect flavor: A sweet blend of friends, crushes, and fun. Curl up and take a sip! 

Synopsis

Just as Maddie picks up her favorite pumpkin spice drink from the coffee shop counter, she spills it all over the cute guy standing behind her! Luckily, her embarrassment evaporates into a crush when she starts chatting with him -- his name is Jacob, and he's just starting in her grade at her middle school. 

But before Maddie can tell her best friend Jana about him at lunch the next day, Jana announces her huge new crush -- on the same guy! Maddie doesn’t want to cause trouble, so she keeps her feelings hidden. Jana will get over her crush soon, right? 

Add major school stress to Maddie's secret, and it's a recipe for disaster. Can she keep her cool and work things out with both Jacob and Jana before it all turns into a total mess?"

My Thoughts

I was asked to review this book by the Canadian distributor, this in no way influenced my review

The audience of this book is definitely younger then I am but I tried to take a more balanced approached when I was reviewing. I did really enjoy it but I think the story would have a lot more impact for the target age (middle school).

First off the title and cover of this book are so cute! I could definitely see kids picking this book up just because of that which is always a great thing- kids have to pick up the books in order to read them! The other great thing is that this is a series of books (A Swirl Novel), which are all themed after hot drinks!

Even though this books seems like it would just be super cute and fluffy, it deals with some pretty important things for middle grade students but it doesn't come off as too patronizing. I love how Maddie was so concerned about her friends, and at times was a little over dramatic. That's so realistic and I feel like a lot of my students can relate to being in similar situations- a first big crush, trouble with friends and trying to balance all of that with school and home life. I also found her anxiety around debate was something that a lot of people can relate too!

The other characters were also very well written: Jacob was a sweetheart and a little bit confused about what was going on most of the time, Jana was a lionhearted and made things happen! Each of them had their own strengths and weaknesses (sometimes the same thing was both) and they had to figure out how to work with who they were. 

I LOVED that the sort of message behind this book wasn't about trying to change who you are to fit it. Middle school is such a tough time and lots of things tell people that who they are isn't enough. This book celebrates the uniqueness of each character and shows how when they are themselves, they can truly shine. The teacher in me loves this message and wants all my students to understand it- what better way to teach then to read a book!

I would definitely recommend this book to teachers who want to add to their classroom library, parents looking to get their kids into reading and to kids who want a realistic but fun book about being in middle school, having crushes, and friendships!




I recreated the cover of this book and then realized my hands were upside down compared to the actual cover!










Below I have two special extras to share thanks to the wonderful people at Thomas Allen & Son. The first is MY favourite drink recipe:





And the second is an sneak peek at Book 2 in the series- Peppermint Cocoa Crushes- Enjoy!


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Blog Tour: Before She Ignites

28524058

Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1)

  496 pages 
  Publication: September 12th, 2017 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 

Synopsis: Before Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland. But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station. After Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect. No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

US Amazon - UK Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Book Depository

The Beginning

Going into this book I knew three things: there were dragons, the main character was black, and the main character had anxiety. All three of these things made me say YES! I NEED TO READ THIS!. How often is it that you find a book with dragons AND anxiety? (I don't know if I ever have!) Plus Jodi is a favourite author of mine so I was very excited!

The Middle

Characters
Mira was definitely a unique character. As I mentioned above, I've never read a fantasy book where a character very openly has anxiety- she even takes medicine for it! At times she could be so frustrating, she had such low self-esteem and put such an emphasis on her appearance. Obviously when she was in prison she wasn't looking too great and so sometimes that was her biggest focus. Considering she was IN PRISON and being treated horribly I felt like she had bigger things to worry about. Then again, she is a young girl and for her entire life as a figurehead her parents have told her she needs to be beautiful. Years of being told such a message must have made it hard for her to shake!
I liked that the characters around Mira were just as well-developed as she was. Sweet, quiet but intensely grounded Aaru; tough, athletic Gerel who has a soft spot for the girl beside her. I just love them all. The thing that impressed me most was that this book did not have a toxic romance! It seems like there have been many books lately where prisoners have fallen in love with their guards who *aren't that bad* (yuck). Luckily that did not happen here!

Plot
The start of this book had that perfect amount of push and pull where the reader was given information but enough was withheld that you needed to keep reading.  As the book went on though I found the plot was a bit slow. There isn't anything wrong with slow plots but I think there is some expectation that fantasy is fast paced so I just had to readjust my thinking. That being said, I found that the other aspects of the novel, like the world-building and characters were engaging enough to push me to keep reading.

Worldbuilding
I LOVED how Jodi created a world where a nation didn't have a singular culture/language. A lot of times in fantasy we end up with vast lands where everyone is the same but not so with Before She Ignites and the Fallen Isles. I enjoyed getting a taste of the nations mythology and religions and a bit of general history (I'm a nerd for world-building!). In a way the Fallen Isles remind me of Japan in a sense- just because of the nation of isles and the differences between the islands etc. This wasn't intentionally done by Jodi but it's still neat that she created a history that is actually realistic (in a sense)

The End

Overall, despite some slow spots I would give this book 5/5 starts. It's such a fun, compelling but also important story. I can't wait to share its beautiful cover with some kids who will see themselves reflected!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
To our wonderful readers, Thank you for stopping by the blog for Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows Tour! As a thank you and appreciating we have a GIVEAWAY for you in ALL TOUR STOPS!
Miss Jodi Meadows was very kind and generous and donated 2 Finished copies of 🔥 Before She Ignites🐲 for 2 lucky winners!!! Giveaway is at the end of this blog post.
For more chances to win this amazing GIVEAWAY please don't miss the all the stops. Which will be full of interviews, creative posts, reviews and an excerpt!
But first, we would like to introduce to you the outstanding book trailer for Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Book Trailer

 
Thank you, Sarah, from the book blog The YA Book Traveler for designing the beautiful images and for creating the amazing book trailer which we can't stop watching! We can't appreciate you enough.

Giveaway

Tour Stops

Monday 9/4 -TheLifeofABookNerdAddict - Guest Post
Monday 9/4 - TalesofTheRavenousreader- Creative Post
Tuesday 9/5 - BooksAndPrejudice - Review
Wednesday 9/6 - EaterofBooks - Interview
Thursday 9/7 - ForTheSakeofReading - Review
Friday 9/8 - ABackwardsStory- Guest Post
Monday 9/11 -MaryHadALittleBookBlog -Guest Post
Monday 9/11 - thatartsyreadergirl.com -Review
Tuesday 9/12 - TheYABookTraveler -Review
Wednesday 9/13 - AThousandWordsAMillionBooks - Interview
Thursday 9/14 - BookCrush- Creative Post
Friday 9/15 - TheReaderAndTheChef- Review
Monday 9/18 - YAandWine - Review
Tuesday 9/19 - TakeMeAwayToAGreatRead - Creative Post
Wednesday 9/20 - AphonicSarah - Interview
Thursday 9/21 - TheKindredReader - Review
Friday 9/22 - ReadWriteLove28 - Excerpt
Friday 9/22 - LoveIsNotATriangle - Guest Post

About the Author:

Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy, the ORPHAN QUEEN Duology, and the FALLEN ISLES Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen), and a coauthor of MY LADY JANE (HarperTeen). Visit her at Website: www.jodimeadows.com Twitter - Goodreads - Website   

Sponsored by

Sunday, 10 September 2017

SST- Cinderella Necromancer

By: F.M Boughan
Published: Sept. 5th, 2017
Rating: 4/5


"Cinderella, Necromancer is Chime meets Anna Dressed in Blood and was inspired by a real medieval grimoire of necromancy from 15th-century Germany.

Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy.

Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother?

As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster. "

The Premise

I was super interested in the premise of this book because I'm a sucker for fairy tale retellings! I'm not a fan of the original Disney Cinderella movie but there have been some really great adaptations of Cinderella! The thing that drew me in the most was that this retelling seemed like it was throwing it back to the dark, grim, original fairy tale stories. And oh boy was that true.

The Plot

Retellings can be a tricky thing because you have to balance the original source material that people know and figure out how to make it interesting and new for your readers. Boughan did a masterful job of weaving old familiar plot with new and exciting twists. There was a beautiful balance between the Cinderella story that people already know and love, but there was also new plots that fit in so well. 

There were many times throughout the book where I was sure I'd figured something out and I just HAD to keep reading. Or I'd have two theories and was just dying to see which one was true. It definitely had a nice, fairly fast pace where just as a the reader was feeling comfortable BAM a new twist was introduced.

The way that necromancy and magic was introduced to the story was also very intense and engaging. Sometimes I wanted to scream out to Ella and give her some advice. I've read a lot of books with magic but the way that the necromancy was developed was unique to anything else I've read. In particular I thought the religious tones were very cool and also historically accurate.

The Characters

I don't know if I've ever heard the prince in Cinderella as having an actual name before but it sort of helped me to ground where the story was taking place. Plus who doesn't love a prince named William?!

The main character Ellison (Ella) was a very interesting character. At times I was frustrated with her and her choices but other times she was strong and bold. She also was a well-rounded young character who didn't always have to be perfect and didn't always know everything. And I think that makes the best kind of main character.

Ella's stepmother and stepsisters were scary to me- maybe I'm just a wuss but man I would not want to run into them anytime soon! And I liked how they were the evil stepmother and stepsisters but Boughan gave that a new twist 

I think this is one of my favourite written Cinderella stories and I loved the characters so much that I really hope we get to see more of them!




You can check out the other Sunday Street Team posts for today here:
Omg Books and More Books
A Thousand Words a Million Books

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Wonder Wednesday- Rebirth

Welcome to my newest feature- Wonder (Woman) Wednesday! In this feature I will be sharing/reviewing a variety of different Wonder Woman comics. This feature is going to be aimed at new fans or fans who are interested in reading more about Diana Prince. Up first we have Rebirth series lead by writer Greg Rucka 

Wonder Woman DC Universe Rebirth
Volume 1- The Lies, Volume 2- Year One


These anathologies are among the newest Wonder Woman comics out there but that doesn't mean that they are lacking any of the charm of the original Diana Prince that the world fell in love with. 

Comic Details

In Vol. 1 Diana struggles to remember who she is, what she has done and why she is in the world. That doesn't keep her from fighting hard to save innocents though! This volume is pretty neat because there are many well-developed women who are good, bad and a little bit of both. 

In Vol. 2 We jump back in time and get to see the very first events that occurred to lead up to the events of Vol. 1. It doesn't give us the entire picture but its just enough to hook you in until you NEED to know more! 

Both volumes are quick reads (I read each one in an evening). They have beautiful colour panels and the facial expressions on the characters are so amazing and intricate! As well, there are covers and alternate covers from each comic included in the volume.

Why Read It?

These comics are a great place to start if you are looking to read more about Diana because they've got a great mix of connections to the movie plot, as well as newly introduced plots. We get to see the Steve Trevor and Diana Prince that we love, as well as many new characters. This comic does a pretty good job in terms of diversity with multiple characters of colour, and LGBTQ characters. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

ARC: Zero Repeat Forever


Zero Repeat Forever

By: G.S Prendergast
Published: August 29th, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster CA
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other

My Thoughts
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This in no way influenced my review and opinions*

Initially I saw this book pitched as an alien invasion/survival novel set in Alberta and I KNEW that I needed to read this book. I’m from Alberta and pretty much the only books I’ve ever read sent in my province were pioneer stories- I was SO ready for something new!

Plus I’ve oftentimes scoffed at zombie shows or alien invasion shows because in the province I grew up in, you could happily disappear into the mountains and live a happy live with the bears and mosquitoes. With that idea in mind I could wait to see how Prendergast would take this idea and run with it. 

I loved how this story and it’s characters where so real (sometimes heartbreakingly so). The characters fought for survival, they questioned their abilities, they made mistakes. Above it all, there was a constant thread that these crappy things happen, and sometimes we don’t know what to do, but somehow humanity lives on. 

The main character Raven is so complex and intricate. Prendergast has woven a true, real young teenager in the character of Raven which is this books biggest strength. She makes mistakes and gets frustrated, she’s angry and sad and in love all in one. I would really like to see more of her family dynamics in the second book- Raven herself is both black and white and struggles with not fully belonging to either group. On top of that her stepfather is an influential Metis activist. Her character was such a realistic example of what it means to be Canadian.

I had heard this book being marketed as a romance but I’m not sure how much I agree with that. In a sense, I feel like the story is more about the deep bonds of friendship and learning what it means to love another being. Its about the innate need of all humans to have a connection with others and while that connection may be a romance, it can also be so much more. So I would say that this novel is so much more than a fluffy romance, it is flawed and intertwined and full of deep explorations of humanity and what that means.

Looking back I also love how the cover and title connect so well with the book! The cover is pretty without any context but once you read the book and understand I can see how perfect the design is for this book. 

So I'd mark August 29th on your calendar and head out to your local bookstore and pick up this great Canlit book

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend


By:Katarina Bivald
Published: August 25th, 2015
Publisher: Bond Street Books
Source: Recommended/ Present
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

A debut novel to charm all readers, that shows beyond all doubt that it's books, along with love, that make the world go round.
It all began with a correspondence between two quite different women: 28-year-old Sara from Haninge, Sweden, and 65-year-old Amy from the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. After years of exchanging books, letters and thoughts on the meaning of literature and life, Sara, mousy, disheveled, who has never been anywhere in her life--has really lived only for her work in a beloved bookshop, which has just closed its doors for the last time--bravely decides to accept her unknown friend's invitation to visit. But when she arrives, she finds her house empty, the funeral guests just heading home. . .(x)

My Thoughts

This book was recommended to me by a very good friend. She told me that it was a perfect "university read", something we are both always looking for!
A university read has to be interesting enough to keep the reader engaged, but it can't have too many crazy plot twists because then you end up with no sleep and a cranky next day! So it needs to have characters that you can relate to and want to read about, with an interesting and compelling plot. A lot of the times, I like my university reads to be fun and more on the light hearted side of things (because school is sad enough as it is!)

The Readers of Broken Wheel was everything a university read needs to be and more! Right from that first letter from Amy, when she talks about An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott I KNEW this book was going to be my kind of book. (I LOVE all of Alcott's book including AOFG) What could be more compelling than a book about books and the power of the connections forged by stories? 

The characters of Broken Wheel were so compelling and interesting, I always wanted to read another chapter. I grew up in a small community and it wasn't particularly broken, but the vibe and feel of a small town was completely captured in this story. In a way they also reminded me a lot of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls (which I've been binge-watching) 

I enjoyed the format of the book especially that the chapters were shorter and from various town members perspectives with letters from Amy to Sara interspersed throughout. Also every single book I've read by a Swedish author has be amazing! I wonder what they've got in the water over there?

I would highly recommend this book to any and all book lovers, as well as to anyone who is looking for a "university read". 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science- and the World


By: Rachel Swaby
Published: April 7th 2015
Publisher: Broadway Books
Source: Present
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: 

In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” It wasn’t until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Among the questions the obituary—and consequent outcry—prompted were, Who are the role models for today’s female scientists, and where can we find the stories that cast them in their true light?    

Headstrong delivers a powerful, global, and engaging response. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby’s vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one’s ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they’re best known. This fascinating tour reveals these 52 women at their best—while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats. (x)

My Thoughts:

I am studying chemistry in university and I LOVE it but there is definitely a lack of female students (there are three of us) at my school. Since so many of the scientists we learn about are male I thought it was high time for me to actively seek out information about female scientists. Which is how I found this book!

There are 52 chapters in this book- covering 52 different female scientists. I know one of the big complaints people have with this book is that each chapter is so short (most are 3-5 pages) and doesn't go very in depth. However I don't think that is the purpose of this book. This book is supposed to introduce you to female scientists- to act as a springboard if you will. Then if you enjoy one of the bios you can go out and seek more information. Like the chapter on Alice Ball? Well know you can go to the library/bookstore to find a more in depth biography on her.

I loved getting to read about the success of my fellow female scientists and in particular I LOVED getting to learn about the things I never knew women had invented (like the cure for leprosy!). It was disheartening to read about the treatment of the female scientist (and honestly how see how little has changed since then)

I was able to impress my biochemistry professor because I knew about Gerti Cori and her discovery of the Cori Cycle- thanks to this book!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about the scientific achievements of women. As well there is a version of this book (written for the middle grade age) that is being published in the fall (I will definitely be buying this for my classroom!)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

TTT: Books I Don't Talk About Enough



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the lovely people over at The Broke and The Bookish
This week's topic is books I love and don't talk about enough, so I chose to highlight 6 of my favourite books that I just don't talk about enough!


1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I think one of the reasons I don't talk much about this book is that I do tend to focus primarily on YA with the occasional children's book. That being said I ABSOLUTELY love Gabaldon's Outlander series! I only started reading them last summer (last book I've read is Drums of Autumn) and am hoping to finish them this summer. Not only is the storytelling mesmerizing and incredible, I also love this book series because its my Mom's favourite and I love getting to share it with her.


2. The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell

I don't know why this book doesn't get talked about more because it is amazing! Sadly it is a standalone book but the story telling and characterization is incredibly well-written. It probably helps that I am also totally a sucker for books with girls kicking ass and fighting.


3. Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

Again this is a series that my mom and I read together. I don't remember how we got started reading them but I do remember scouring the used bookstores to find every copy of each of her books! (We did find them all). One of my favourite things is that its a highly developed fantasy world, AND there has to be close to 30 books set in this world. And when I love a world and its characters I want to read a billion pages of it! Plus DRAGONS


4. The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

Oh wow, I'm sensing a pattern here. A few years ago I unwrapped my Christmas present to find this book. My mom then told me that she really wanted me to read it, but that it wasn't mine, it was hers and she was just lending it to me! I enjoyed that this book had magic but was still set pretty much in our world (is there a name for this genre? Its not quite fantasy but its not contemp either)


5. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

When I think about why this book means so much to me, I think it has to do with the particular time that it came into my life. It was exactly the story I needed, with the message I needed. And that might be why I don't talk about it much it because it has such a deeply personal meaning to me. Also its right up my alley with a 'lost' princess, magic and great worldbuilding.


6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery

When I was a little girl I used to read my Mom's copies of the Green Gables series, which I loved doing. But Anne herself also spoke to me so much! I loved her whimsy and imagination but also her stubbornness and intelligence. She was one of the first examples I had of a real woman character who was completely three-dimensional. I know I talk about Anne of Green Gables a bit but its really this whole series that NEEDS to be talked about. A lot of people don't even seem to be aware that its a series which is a real shame because the entire series is fantastic!


Do you guys love any of the books I've talked about? What's on your list this week? Link me to your post in the comments!

*this post was originally published in 2016*

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Future of Books

Are Books Going out of Style?

Last semester I had the misfortune of attending a class where both the professor and our textbook believed that no one read books anymore and that in the future- there would be no more books. I however absolutely refused to believe that! 

Ironically enough just after the semester finished a study was released that the average book is now LONGER than the average book in the 90's. And Chapters reported that their book sales had increased. 

Books: 1, Prof: 0
The other thing I've heard a lot about is that kids aren't reading anymore, that they aren't picking up books and this is the reason why books will die out. Again, I refuse to believe this- and I think a little story will help prove why this is completely untrue. 

Storytime:

Last year I was student teaching in a Grade Three classroom, and every Thursday we went to the library. I got library duty- which basically meant that I read the kids a story at the start of the period, then let them pick out books, made sure they all got one and broke up fights over the two comfy armchairs. 


Every single kid listened to the story and piped up answers and filled in rhymes. If someone was being too noisy or antsy the other kids would remind them to quiet down so we didn't have to stop the story. 

My class had a wide range of readers but every single kid had books that they loved to read and look at. Geronimo Stilton and The Magic Treehouse series were super popular for everyone. Some weeks the kids would go straight for them, other times they would browse through the reference section and find a book on bugs or hockey or zoo animals. 

I got to see the joy that the kids had during library time and everyone, every kid was able to find something for them, something that challenged them just the right amount and was still fun. 

One of my favourite things was when I asked the kids what their favourite book was (for a school project) and they all paused and had to think for a moment, they all took that question very seriously. My fave answer was one of the boys whose favourite book was I Survived the Nazi Invasion (which is pretty intense stuff for am 8-9 yr old!)

In the classroom they each had a little bin filled with books that they could go to if they were finished their work. They had to have at least one chapter book and one non-fiction book.

I think that books just have that amazing, magical ability to connect with readers, to transport them to new lands or to draw them in to a story. And I think that imagination and story are so fundamentally human that books and the stories they hold will NEVER go out of style. 

What do you guys think? Do you think the future will have books or not? Let me know in the comments! 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

TTT: Top 10 Favourite TV Shows

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by the lovely ladies over at The Broke And the Bookish.



 Disclaimer: I didn't really watch any TV until I was about 15 or 16 and even then I watched whatever my mom was watching. Its only been in the last few years that I have started branching out and finding new favourites of mine.
Without further ado here they are! (In no particular order because I couldn't possibly actually order them!)

1. Parks and Recreation


Oh my I don't even remember how I got into Parks and Rec but it is my absolute favourite! I love Leslie and the whole crew. Probably my favourite thing about it is that the humour is so funny without bashing people or putting them down. I find that sort of humour to be distasteful but Parks does such a good job of celebrating people who are enthusiastic.
The other fun thing is that I work at the local Parks department in the summers and it is both similar to Parks and completely opposite to the show

2. Star Trek Voyager

This is one of the shows that I watched with my mom when I was a kid. We used to come home from school (and her from work) and we would help mom start cooking while we watched the show. It was also my first introduction to the idea that women could do science and that they could do it well!
To this day I still watch it when I feel like a need a little boost in my own confidence. Watching Janeway and B'Elanna and Seven rock out their science always makes me feel better!

3. Agent Carter



I loved Peggy in the Marvel movies and I loved her even more on her own show. Not only is the setting and costuming phenomenal, the characters are too.
I love Peggy and how she really is a force of nature to be reckoned with. She doesn't let anyone put her down or tell her she can't do something because she's a women. Plus the friendship between Jarvis and Peggy is AMAZING!

4.  Grey's Anatomy



I watched Grey's on and off when I was younger but it wasn't till the last few years that I really watched it all. I love the medical aspect of it (did anyone else ever claim they were studying bio when they watched it?) and the drama.
Not going to lie- it makes me feel good to watch because I mean sometimes my life is tough but its not nearly as tough or dramatic as the lives of the characters on the show!

5.  Stranger Things



I just finished watching this show this weekend and I loved it. I loved the whole vibe and aesthetic of the 80's (especially since my new apartment is totally 80's!). The young cast where absolutely incredible and where so talented at combining some humour into the tense and darkness of the show. I am definitely so excited for season 2

6.  Firefly



Sadly this was one that I didn't start watching until long after it had been cancelled. I loved the ragtag crew on their bit of a junkie space ship. There were some incredible characters (I love me some strong character arcs) and it was a super interesting premise. I'm definitely bummed that we didn't get many more seasons!

7.  When Calls the Heart


Two words. Red surge. Jack the Mountie is super cute! Plus the main character is a young schoolteacher named Elizabeth. The pioneer, Mountie and rural town era of Canada is my favourite. Plus there is a whole supporting cast that I really love and you can feel the connection with. AND THE ROMANCE! Whew!

8. Murdoch Mysteries


I love Canadian shows and Murdoch Mysteries is one of the best. One of the really cool things about this show is that it incorporates real Canadian history into its storylines. As well there have been several famous Canadians who have had guest appearances that are super funny to watch (Stephen Harper anyone?).

9. Motive



Another great Canadian show! My favourite thing about this one is its super unique spin on the typical procedural crime drama. In the first five minutes you see the identity of the Killer and the Victim. Then it flashes to the crime scene and you get to follow along as the detectives piece together the crime. It always leaves you wondering how on earth the suburban soccer mom knew the young grocery store worker, basically it always keeps you on the edge of your seat.

10. Masterchef Canada


Okay I actually love a lot of different cooking shows (but mostly the ones where it's a competition) and the Canadian versions are always my favourite because I'm very patriotic. I love that the Canadian Masterchef version isn't mean and they recognize the chefs are still learning. The treat the competitors as people and I really appreciate that.

*This post is coming to you as I am revamping my archives. It was originally written and posted in 2016*

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Unpopular Opinion- ACOTAR


So here it is- I didn't like A Court of Thorns and Roses, to the point that I know I won't be reading the rest of the series. And the thing that made me dislike it was the relationship between Feyre and Rhysand- or rather Rhysand's treatment of Feyre.

Don't get me wrong I enjoy parts of Maas's  other series Throne of Glass. But part of the story in ACOTAR (and a pretty significant part) just gave me the creeps.
I know a lot of people think that Rhysand and Feyre make a cute couple and want them to be together- which I totally disagree with. I just feel like there is such a big power imbalance between them that they cannot ever have a healthy, equal relationship. And then there's the way he treats her Under The Mountain.

Rhys drugs Feyre repeatedly and has her dance suggestively for the other fey. He makes her wear revealing garments and repeatedly "claims" her as his own (even though Feyre and Tamlin have a relationship). Again and again from him we see what is really manipulative and abusive behaviour. And yet people ship them?! Apparently ACOMAF "explains" this behaviour or justifies it but that excuse just reminds me of something Jake Perralta once said
In addition I feel that this book is particularly harmful because it is marketed as a romance towards a teen audience. Many teens may just be experience the first blossoms of love/romance and media like this sends the message that abusive relationships are romantic. The relationships in the book are just so unhealthy and it genuinely scares me that young people might think its okay- and even want it for themselves.

What are your guy's thoughts? Have you ever been hesitant to post something you know is unpopular? Any thoughts on this particular book? Let me know in the comments! 

Here There Be...DRAGONS

DragonsJust hearing the word send a thrill down my spine and puts a smile on my face. Ever since I was child the mention of a dragon in a book meant I was automatically going to pick up the book. Of course that meant that I read some really bad books but it also meant I read some pretty amazing books. This series of posts is going to be all about celebrating those amazing books! There will be three posts so keep an eye out next week for a new post! 

Today I'm going to talk about two books & dragons: Dealing with Dragons, and Before She Ignites

Dealing with Dragons/Searching for Dragons/Calling on Dragons/Talking to Dragons
by Patricia C Wrede



About the book: 
The gist of this story is that Princess Cimorene doesn't want to get married so she runs away and ends up becoming the princess companion of the dragon Kazul. She meets other dragons, and other princess who have been kidnapped or given to the dragons (so a knight can save them)

I loved how spunky Cimorene was and that it provided a new twist on an old tale. Plus the dragons were main characters so you got to see lots of them 

About the dragons:
In this story the dragons are completely sentient beings. They have their own society with a king, their own traditions, rules and punishments. They exist whether the humans are there or not. AND they are super sassy (especially in regards to their feud with the wizards). I love that they are so completely autonomous because it brings so much depth to their characterization

I love the little things, like a love for a certain dessert (which is served in buckets of course), treasure troves and intricate cave dwellings, to dragon allergies

My only critic would be that the later books do have fewer focuses on the dragons



Before She Ignites
by Jodi Meadows



About the book:
This story centres around a young girl names Mira who has discovered a horrible secret and is betrayed and imprisoned by the people she has spent her life serving. She has to figure out how to survive in her new reality while also trying to save one of the things she loves most- dragons.

About the dragons:


The dragons are a bit wilder in this series- they remind me of our dolphins or elephants. They are incredibly intelligent and you can tell that they are living, breathing, thinking, emotional beings. One thing that makes them a little bit different is that the world of dragons isn't homogenous. There is a full taxonomic scale with different species and families. Each species is unique with well-fleshed out characteristics including size, colour, mating/living habits and special skills. 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Spotlight: Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea


Today I thought that I might do something I little bit differently. Recently I read two of Ruta's books; Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea and instead of reviewing them individually I decided to do a little feature on them. 

Ruta Sepetys



Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys) is an internationally acclaimed author of historical fiction published in over forty-five countries and thirty-three languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Her novels, Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy are both New York Times bestsellers, international bestsellers, and Carnegie Medal nominees. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on twenty state reading lists, and have been selected for several all-city read programs. (more can be found at Ruta's website here)



Her Books

Ruta has three books, all in the historical fiction genre. They are Out of the Easy, Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea.


I've only read two of these books- but I will definitely be reading Out of the Easy soon! Out of the Easy tells the story of a young woman torn between worlds in New Orleans, Between Shades of Gray is the story of a young Lithuanian girl who is sent to a camp in Siberia and Salt to the Sea tells the story of the world's greatest naval disaster, the Wilhem Gustloff

My absolute favourite thing about her books is that they tell stories that, for whatever reason, the world has ignored and forgotten. Before I read Salt to the Sea I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff and I would have assumed that the world's greatest naval disaster was either the Titanic or the Lusitania. My family (who are pretty smart people) hadn't heard of it either. I think that as authors really are storytellers and that it is their job to share and spread the stories that have been forgotten. Reading both Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea has made me super interested in finding out more about parts of history that have been ignored.

Not only are the stories engaging, the characters that Ruta has written are so intensely real. Even when I wasn't reading I found myself wondering how the characters were doing. I was thinking about them like they were actually people I knew, because I cared for them, I was rooting for them.

Overall, I just loved Ruta's writing style and characterization so she has definitely been added to my auto-buy list.

Have you guys read any of Ruta's books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!



Monday, 19 June 2017

Hippopotamister


I'm very excited to bring you this amazing graphic novel for young readers from Macmillan! Since I am both a reader and a teacher I thought I would share both my thoughts as a reader and as a teacher.


By:  John Patrick Green
Published: May 10th
Publisher: First Second
Source: Publisher (Macmillan)
My Rating: 4/5


Synopsis

The zoo isn't what it used to be. It's run-down and falling apart. Hippo hardly ever gets any visitors. So he decides to set off for the outside with his friend Red Panda. To make it in the human world, Hippo will have to become a Hippopotamister: he'll have to act like a human, get a job, and wear a hat as a disguise. He's a good employee, whether he's a construction worker, a hair stylist, or a sous chef. But what he really needs is a job where he can be himself.

My Reader Thoughts

Within a few seconds of starting this book my very first thought was "oh this is cute!". I'll admit I sat down, started reading and didn't stop until I'd turned the last page. I found that it was a very captivating read, I couldn't wait to see what Hippo and Red Panda were going to do next. It was a very fun read, but still managed to have a nice lesson- which I think it necessary in children's book! I really enjoyed the pacing and the humor, plus the illustrations were super cute and well done. As a grown-up I really loved it, and I can imagine all the kids I know enjoying it too!



Just look at this cute hippo!

My Classroom Thoughts

As a teacher whenever I read MG or kid lit in the back of my mind I am always thinking about what I could do with this book lesson wise, which of my students would enjoy, which of my teacher friends I'd recommend it to and more! So without further ado-my teacher thoughts:
  • Perfect for reluctant readers. I find that graphic novels are a great way to help kids who might struggle with reading or are more reluctant to read. The combination of the pictures with the words helps to boost their confidence and get them excited about reading
  • Great daily reading book. I try to read to my class everyday, even if its only a chapter or two. This book would be perfect for that because its fun and engaging for everyone
  • Jump off for a "try-new-things" assignment. Like the teacher I am I love when I can have a reason for reading a book. Reading this book to the class would be a great way to introduce an assignment to have the kids try something new (whether it was big or small) and have them journal about it later
  • Animal/Zoo based assignment. For a younger crowd this would be a great book to kick off a animal assignment, like a resource report (that maybe even ends in a field trip to the zoo?!)

About the Author

John Patrick Green grew up on Long Island and has worked in New York City since graduating from the School of Visual Arts with a degree in graphic design. He was the comics consultant for Disney Adventures magazine, where he wrote and often drew the popular Last Laugh feature. John is the co-creator and illustrator of the graphic novel series Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden and Teen Boat!, both with writer Dave Roman. He has also worked as a writer, illustrator, or designer on comics and graphic novels for Nickelodeon Magazine, DreamWorks, Scholastic Graphix, and DC Comics. John lives in Brooklyn with zero cats and way too many LEGOs.