Sunday, July 2, 2017

Summer Reading Challenge: TBR Wipeout, hosted by Candid Cover

Last summer, I went on a reading hiatus. I was in the midst of leaving a company where I had spent the the last 12 years and started a new adventure. This summer is just as hectic, but I'm hoping to get through a few recent title that have been piling up on my beside table. My actual TBR that's been growing in my basement will have to continue to wait.

That said, I know I'm going to need a bit of motivation to get through the pile. Enter Candid Cover! On her blog, she'll be hosting her 2nd annual Summer TBR Wipeout. You can learn more and sign up here.

Here are the books I hope to get through during this challenge:

It's a small list but it's one I'm hoping to get through. Stay tuned for updates on my progress!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Turning: A Year in the Water by Jessica J. Lee

Title: Turning: A Year in the Water
Author: Jessica J. Lee
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Publishing Date: May 2, 2017

Jessica, a native Canadian, moved to Berlin at the age of 28 to complete her thesis. Along with her work, she brought personal troubles that took a toll on her well being and outlook on life.
"Love was a lot like fear. It swallowed you whole, like water."
Turning: A Year in the Water is Jessica's story of how she turned her love of swimming into a source of motivation and healing.  The book opens with the list of lakes swum and maps of their locations. What follows is a beautifully written account of Jessica's journey of how she balanced her goal of swimming in these 52 lakes in Berlin while still continuing on with her work.

Throughout her journey, we get a glimpse into Jessica's past that has driven her to this point in her life. Her parents' divorce and struggles with her mother's mental illness was a start. As she got older, Jessica experimented with drugs, struggled with alcohol abuse and chose to have an abortion while in college. The emotional struggles continued as she finalized her own divorce.

The paths Jessica took to swim in the lakes contributed to her healing. In her travels she some times went with friends, but mostly traveled to these locations on her own. She allowed herself to be immersed in the culture and people that lived around the lakes. She began to find a new sense of purpose and belonging in Berlin. The new start that she was looking for.
"I think of what the lakes meant to me then and what they mean to me now. In the middle of the lake, I'm completely present. I'm no longer afraid to be alone. I've conditioned myself to the lake, to the cold, to the pain of it. I can hold it. I've made it mine."
Jessica's inspiring story is proof that overcoming obstacles, no matter how painful both physically and emotionally, are possible. Readers who have a love of swimming will enjoy this read. Jessica is very descriptive of her feelings while in the water and the ambiance of the lakes. Turning can also be appealing to those who have experienced or are experiencing the need for a fresh start. But, regardless of the reason for deciding to read this book, know that you will find comfort in her words and finish the book with a sense of empowerment and strength.

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy Turning: A year in the Water by Jessica J. Lee from Penguin Random House Canada for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

Title: Into the Water
Author: Paula Hawkins
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 388
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Publishing Date: May 2, 2017

Synopsis from publisher's website:
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

I have been waiting for this book since the beginning of 2015! During a Twitter chat to celebrate the success of Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins revealed that she was already working on her next book. She teased that it was "a dark and twisted tale about a relationship between two sisters".

From the first page, Into the Water pulls you right in. Set in a tight knit town, where the locals know everything about everyone. We meet a young girl who is grieving the loss of two people who meant the most to her. In the pages that follow, Paula Hawkins takes down a dark winding path through the town's tumultuous history that contributes to the mystery surrounding the recent deaths.

Paula Hawkins has not lost her touch. Her ability to mesmerize readers with her words continues with Into the Water. What I enjoyed the most was the interconnectivity of each character. I found myself yearning to know more about their secrets and backstories. As expected, some were more shocking than others, but each tidbit built up the suspense and set the stage for the big reveal across the various perspectives.

I enjoyed this book from cover to cover! I can only hope that readers aren't quick to judge and compare Into the Water with it's predecessor. They are completely different and are brilliant novels in their own right. I'm hoping we'll see more from Paula Hawkins in the near future!

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins from Penguin Random House Canada for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson

Title: The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen:
Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History
Author: Hope Nicholson
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publishing Date: May 2, 2017

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson provides readers with a history lesson of the heroines that have graced comic book pages throughout the decades. Many of the world's favourite icons from Little Lulu to Kamala Khan (a.k.a Ms. Marvel) are included in this book.

I enjoyed reading about the impacts that the iconic superwomen made in their respective decades. It was also interesting to read about some of more obscure characters like Madame Strange. No relation to Doctor... She, like many other heroines featured in this book, was a reporter and fought crime in a cape and swimsuit.

My daughter, who in her own right is a superwoman in the making, loved hearing about all the different heroines as she flipped through the book on her own. I made sure that she skipped over P udge, Girl Blimp. The photo is a bit much for a 5 year old. The one thing she did point out was that a few of her favourite superwomen, mostly X-Men (X-Women?) and Avengers were not included in this collection. Perhaps Hope Nicholson is leaving room for Vol. 2. One can only hope. I believe there are so many more superwomen to explore in the comic book realms.

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen would make a great gift for comic book aficionados, coffee table book collectors or even young ones, like this little one to the right, looking for their next role model.

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson from Penguin Random House Canada for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Crazy Is My Superpower by AJ Mendez Brooks

Title: Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules
Author: AJ Mendez Brooks
Format: Paperback ARC
Pages: 271
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Publishing Date: April 4, 2017

Synopsis from publisher's website:
Recently retired WWE superstar AJ Mendez Brooks is a powerhouse—strong, quirky, and totally confident. But that wasn’t always the case. With humor and tremendous heart, she opens up for the first time about her harrowing struggle to understand her demons and the diagnosis that helped her gain control over her life.

Everything I was told should be my greatest insecurities and weaknesses, everything that I’ve been labeled—SHORT, NERDY, SKINNY, WEAK, IMPULSIVE, UGLY, TOMBOY, POOR, REBEL, LOUD, FREAK, CRAZY—turned out to be my greatest strengths. I didn’t become successful in spite of them. I became successful because of them.

Growing up AJ was a quiet girl trying to act “normal” when she felt anything but. As her family struggled with drug addiction, poverty, and mental illness, she found escape through comic books and video games, and was inspired by the tough and unconventional female characters. It wasn’t until she discovered pro wrestling that she learned superheroes could be real.

Determined to become the superhero she’d always admired, AJ trained and sacrificed for years to achieve her dream of wrestling professionally. Yet she quickly faced industry pressure to play the role of the damsel in distress and to dress more provocatively to cater to male fans. But she fought back and created an ass-kicking alter ego that was a genuine representation of herself: nerdy, enthusiastic, and a little bit crazy.

With humor and tremendous heart, AJ opens up for the first time about her harrowing struggle to understand her demons and the mental illness diagnosis that helped her gain control over her life. What most people view as a hardship, AJ embraced as inspira­tion for her superhero persona, shattering the stigma attached to mental illness.

Charting her journey from a scrappy girl in an unstable home to an empowered wrestling champion, Crazy Is My Superpower is an un­flinchingly honest story and brave confessional about her long road to self-acceptance.

This book is NOT at all what I expected.

Like most books that I review, I did not read the full synopsis...for this one, I didn't read it at all. The title was enough to catch my attention. So, when I received the ARC in the mail, to my delight, I found out this book was about a female WWE wrestler and her rise to the top.

I have an on and off relationship with the WWE. Back when AJ Lee was proving herself in the ring and striving for fame, I was likely riding on the UFC bandwagon. The fact that I did not know her prior to reading this book added extra emphasis on what she stood for.

AJ describes her past so vividly. Born into a family that was constantly down on their luck, moving from one place to another, never really settling on a place to call home. She was the youngest of three children, with parents who were children themselves. In a nutshell, she had a hard life. After striving to get into college, NYU, nonetheless,  she was forced to drop out to care for her ailing mother who was diagnosed as bipolar. Even as a child, the one thing that managed to bring her joy was her love of the WWE. As an adult, she made a decision to pursue her dream and entered the WWE training camp. From that point on, AJ was focused on one thing - being the best!

After reading her book, AJ Lee has become an inspiration to me. She outlined many times in her life where she showed her ability to put family and her own mental health struggles first. She knew that by not caring for herself, there was no way she could care for others and fulfill her own dreams. Once she learned how to manage her illness, AJ put the pedal to the metal and didn't look back.

She did a lot for women in the WWE. Changing the executives' and fans' perception of what a female wrestler should look like was the first thing. She stepped out of the Diva spotlight and expectation and fought in the ring in street clothes. A t-shirt, jean shorts and knee high Chucks. AJ aimed to capture the love and popularity from not just male fans, but from female fans who hope to one day follow in her footsteps.

One of the most powerful parts of the book that stood out for me was when she was describing a storyline that was pitched to her that required her to act as "The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend". Given her own experience with mental illness, she confidently refused and readily accepted any repercussions including the potential of ending her career. This was important, because AJ refused to bend. She refused to fuel the fire and stereotype that women are needy and dependent on men when a relationship ends. In the end, standing her ground put her in an even better position with the WWE and furthered her professional and personal life.

Even if you don't know who AJ Lee is or are not a fan of the WWE, I would still recommend picking up this book. Crazy Is My Superpower is a powerful autobiography that speaks to mental health, standing up for what you believe in and women overcoming barriers in a male dominated profession.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of Crazy Is My Superpower by AJ Mendez Brooks from Penguin Random House Canada for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Party by Robyn Harding

Title: The Party
Author: Robyn Harding
Format: Paperback ARC
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: June 6, 2017

Synopsis from publisher's website:
In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.

One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the fa├žade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

The Party drew me in right from the start. Harding does a marvelous job with setting the tone of the novel with Kim waking up from a deep sleep, only to find her daughter's hands covered in blood. If that doesn't keep you wanting more, I don't know what else will!

Harding is extremely meticulous in her development of the book's characters and the construction of the book's plot. Kim wants nothing more than to continue and maintain the facade of raising the perfect family. Jeff, Kim's husband, conceals secrets of his own that can do noting but damage to his and his family's reputation. We also cannot forget the bond that teenage girls have and their ability to keep even the darkest secrets from themselves and their loved ones.

The events contained within The Party hold as proof that anyone's life can change from one minute to the next. In some scenarios, it could be for the better and in others, it could be a part of the continued downward spiral that rips families and friendships apart. One guess as to which of these two options Kim & Jeff  go through as the events of Hannah's party unravels...

The Party pulls you in instantly. The pace and unexpected twists and turns keep you locked on the story leading up to Hannah's Sweet Sixteen and the aftermath that is left in its wake. If you're looking for your next unputdownable read, this is it!

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of The Party by Robyn harding from Simon & Schuster Canada for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Title: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: April 25, 2017

Synopsis from publisher's website:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

Beartown was pitched to me by the wonderful team at Simon & Schuster Canada as part of their pre-release activities for the book. The winner of the giveaway and I both received finished copies. Before I started reading it, all I knew about it was what was written in the synopsis above.

Beartown is a hockey town. The community thrives on the sport and nothing brings them closer together (or tears them apart) more than their passion for the game. A team of 17 year old boys have the weight of their town on their shoulders as they head into the semi- final match. The team has been together for ten years, training for this moment. Everyone from their coach, club president, team sponsors and parents constantly reminds them that winning could secure more funding for their hockey club and put their town back on the map.
"The only thing the sport gives us are moments. But what the hell is life, Peter, apart from moments?" p109
Though hockey takes center stage in this, Beartown also walks readers though the perspectives of various inhabitants of Beartown uncovering layers of additional themes that touch upon classism, substance abuse, violence, ageism, and bullying to name a few.
"He turns sixteen today, and all his life he has been teased and rejected. About everything. His looks, thoughts, manner of speech, home address. Everywhere. At school, in the locker room, online. That wears a person down in the end. It's not always obvious, because the people around a bullied child assume that he or she must get used to it after a while. Never. You never get used to it. It burns like fire the whole time. It's just that no one knows how long the fuse is, not even you." p327
The one central theme that resonated for me was around sexual assault.
"For the perpetrator, rape lasts just a matter of minutes. For the victim, it never stops." p177
The town's unwillingness to talk about it, victim shaming and viewing the perpetrator as the victim. These are all things we have seen happen in our own modern day society and I applaud Fredrik Backman for putting it front and center.
"Words are not small things." p234
Beartown is a masterpiece. Fredrik Backman's writing, from his meticulous character development down to his ability to elicit an abundance of emotions, is like nothing I've ever read. This engaging and captivating novel will hit a chord down to your core. Beartown easily makes it on my all-time favourite book list. The extra star in my rating above is no mistake!

Backman will not let you down. I will simply leave you all with one of my favourite quotes from the book…
"There's a thin line between living and surviving, but there's one positive side effect of being both romantic and very competitive: you never give up." p123

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of Beartown by Fredrik Backman from Simon & Schuster Canada for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Jersey Brothers by Sally Mott Freeman

Title: The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home
Author: Sally Mott Freeman
Format: Paperback ARC
Pages: 608
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: May 9, 2017

Synopsis from publisher's website:
The extraordinary, real-life adventure of three brothers at the center of the most dramatic turning points of World War II and their mad race to change history—and save one of their own.

They are three brothers, all Navy men, who end up coincidentally and extraordinarily at the epicenter of three of the war’s most crucial moments. Bill is picked by Roosevelt to run his first Map Room in Washington. Benny is the gunnery and anti-aircraft officer on the USS Enterprise, one of the only carriers to escape Pearl Harbor and by the end of 1942 the last one left in the Pacific to defend against the Japanese. Barton, the youngest and least distinguished of the three, is shuffled off to the Navy Supply Corps because his mother wants him out of harm’s way. But this protection plan backfires when Barton is sent to the Philippines and listed as missing-in-action after a Japanese attack. Now it is up to Bill and Benny to find and rescue him.

My thoughts...
Freeman's novel was clearly a labour of love. She was determined to research and investigate the mystery of her uncle's past, even though she never had the opportunity to meet him.

This is an indepth telling of her father's and uncles' experiences throughout WWII, specifically around the events of Pearl Harbour and experiences POWs in the Philippines. Her writing drew me in and had me hanging on each page as I immersed myself in her family's history.

The Jersey Brothers is a memorable and gut wrenching story of one family's unwavering desire to save one of their own.

Why I connected with it...
Where do I even begin? I felt all kinds of connections to Sally Mott Freeman's telling of her family's past. The setting of where it took place and the situation I was in while reading it resulted in me finishing all 600+ pages of the book in just under 5 hours.

First, the setting. Much of Barton's story takes place in various parts of the Philippines, the birth place of both  my parents. I found myself jotting down all of the locations named as Barton was moved from one camp to another. After reading the book, I checked the locations on Google Maps and realized a couple of the prison camps are only a couple hours from where members of my family currently live. I also deeply connected to this book as I read it on a flight from LAX to KOA (Kona, Hawaii). Knowing that my travels later on that week would eventually take me to Pearl Harbor, it fueled my desire to learn more about Freeman's family. However, before even reaching Pearl Harbor, my interactions with our Air BnB host deepened the connection even further. On our third day, I had noticed a card on the fridge that had an image of a former Naval Officer. When I inquired about the man in the phone, our host went on to explain that the image was of her father, a Pearl Harbor survivor. Following this revelation, I told her about the book and the story of The Jersey Brothers and she was just as intrigued as I was.

Who I'd recommend it to...
Readers who have an interest in WWII history may enjoy this novel. Based on where Freeman's family was stationed, readers are able to see the war from three very different perspectives: Bill (a White House advisor in charge of the first Map Room), Benny (an officer on the USS Enterprise) and Barton (a POW).

The Jersey Brothers will be available on May 9. If you decide to give the book a chance, please stop by again to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of The Jersey Brothers by Sally Mott Freeman from Simon & Schuster for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

Happy Book Birthday to I Found You by Lisa Jewell! A thrilling mystery that leads you to cling to every page as you seek out the identity of the mystery man on the beach.

Title: I Found You
Author: Lisa Jewell
Format: Paperback ARC
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Atria Books
Publishing Date: April 25, 2017

Synopsis from publisher's website:
A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.


I Found You is the second book that I have read by Lisa Jewell. Last year, I reviewed The Girls in the Garden. Similar to her previous book, Lisa Jewell, puts an emphasis on her characters and relies on their ability to drive the story. Alice, a single mom, with three children from three different partners lives in a remote town by the sea. Her daily routine is interrupted when she comes across a stranger sitting by the water. The man appears to have forgotten who he is and what it is that has brought him to this quaint town. Alice befriends the man and attempts to help him through his amnesia, potentially putting her and he children at risk.  As the two dig deeper into the man's life, they slowly unravel a secret that has been buried for almost 22 years.

I was a bit hesitant to read I Found You because I had a hard time relating to her previous work. I am glad I put my skepticism aside. I read this book cover to cover on a while on a three hour flight. Despite my flight leaving at 6am, I could not put it down! The characters were well developed and easy to relate to. Lisa Jewell takes you on a journey through two different timelines which eventually meet and unfurl the mystery that surrounds the stranger on the beach.

Fans of mystery/thriller novels will surely enjoy the twists and turns that Lisa Jewell has laid out for her readers. I Found You is a book you'll definitely want to add to your Spring reading list! I'd love to hear from any other readers who have read any of Lisa Jewell's previous novels. Are there any other that you'd recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of I Found You by Lisa Jewell from Simon & Schuster for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Giveaway: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

With the Toronto Maple Leafs and other Canadian NHL team's clinching playoff spots this month, hockey fever is definitely in the air! Hockey is one of a few sports that can bring a small town, city and nation together. Beartown by Fredrik Backman is founded on this sense of community. 

Synopsis from Simon & Schuster Canada:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

Giveaway time!! The lovely team at Simon & Schuster Canada was gracious enough to sponsor a giveaway on my blog. One lucky winner will receive a finished copy of  Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Complete one or all of the raffle entries below for a chance to win!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Title: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Megan Miranda (Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Facebook)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Source: Paperback ARC from publisher
Pages: 352

Synopsis from the publisher:

In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls—a “fiendishly plotted thriller” (Publishers Weekly)—a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?


The story jumps right into Leah's background prefacing her reason for moving from New York to a rural Pennsylvania town. You get an immediate sense that even though Leah is hiding a dark secret, she is a strong willed woman who will not back down from a fight. Her character is tested throughout the novel, but her loyalty and perseverance to find the truth behind her friend's disappearance never falters. The author takes readers down winding roads as you learn about Leah's past and the source of her passion towards finding the truth behind Emmy's disappearance. Miranda does a fabulous job with developing this character which is a huge reason for why The Perfect Stranger is so engaging.

It has been a while since I've read a book from cover to cover without coming up for air. The Perfect Stranger has a perfect blend of mystery, twists and dash of predictability (I have to be right sometimes!).

This is the first novel I've read by Megan Miranda and surely won't be my last. With the warmer weather on its way, The Perfect Stranger is the perfect book to take to the beach and get lost in the twisted and engrossing story that the author has laid out.

If you're still unsure about picking up The Perfect Stranger, you can check out an excerpt here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda from Simon & Schuster for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, March 6, 2017

BookTube #1: Mini JG reviews Beware the Kakamora

My daughter has been asking for her own YouTube channel for quite some time.  Unlike me, she loves being in front of a video camera. She turns 5 in only a few weeks and the amount of confidence this kid exudes is inspiring.

I have challenged her to come up with her own theme for her channel. Until she figures it out, she has agreed to "practice" by doing BookTube videos. Enjoy and stay tuned for more!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Blog Tour: Kill The Father by Sandrone Dazieri

Let's Take a Shelfie is the fourth stop on the Simon & Schuster Blog Tour for Sandrone Dazieri's thriller, Kill the Father.

Kill the Father
by Sandrone Dazieri
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Format: ARC from the publisher
Publishing Date: January 17, 2017

In this fascinatingly complex thriller, two people, each shattered by their past, team up to solve a series of
killings and abductions—unspeakable crimes that turn out to be merely the surface of something far 
more sinister.

When a woman is beheaded in a park outside Rome and her six-year-old son goes missing, the police 
unit assigned to the case arrests the woman’s husband and awaits his confession. But the city’s Chief of 
Major Crimes has his doubts and assigns two of Italy’s top analytical minds to the case: Deputy Captain 
Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from a horrific mass killing she survived, and 
Dante Torre, a man who spent his childhood trapped inside a concrete silo. Fed through the gloved hand 
of a masked kidnapper who called himself “the Father,” Dante emerged from his ordeal with crippling 
claustrophobia but, also, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

All evidence suggests that the Father is back at work and wants a reunion with Dante. But when Colomba 
and Dante begin unraveling the truth, they find themselves wanted for murder. Now Dante and Colomba 
must travel down a number of dark tunnels, both literal and figurative, as they confront the question that 
may solve it all: what lies beneath the water in a remote Italian quarry? And what might that revelation 
mean for ten children who have recently gone missing?

An instant breakout novel in Italy, Kill the Father boasts a brilliantly layered plot that offers new and more 
haunting revelations at every turn. Not since Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs has there been as 
intriguing a pairing of hard-charging female detective and “damaged” savant, and not since Jo Nesbo has 
there been a foreign thriller talent as promising.

First book and first review of 2017 and I sure picked a doozy! 

If you were following along in the last couple months of 2016 you would have noticed a trend, I was 
listening to a ton of audiobooks and reading a bunch of memoirs. Fast forward to the first few weeks of 
January where I was happily lugging around a 500 paged book everywhere I went. The cover, or maybe 
just the title, got its share of second glances on public transit.

Where do I begin....

Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri is the first psychological thriller I've read in at least 3-4 months and it's 
got me hooked back into the genre. It's filled with unpredictable plot twists and clues to help 
the reader solve the crimes left in "the Father's" wake. Dazieri has built a setting that is almost too 

The lead protagonists Dante and Colomba are characters you won't soon forget. They are written with 
such precision. They are so relatable that you can't help but hold your breath for them during 
some of the more intense scenes in the book. I could feel my heart racing and body tensing up during 
some of these moments.

If you pick up Kill the Father, and I recommended that you do, you'll be in for a quite a ride and you won't 
be disappointed. I cannot wait for the second book in the Colomba Caselli series to be translated to 
English. It's either that or I'll have to learn to read Italian.

Have you read Kill the Father? I'd love to hear your thoughts about the book in the comments. if you'd 
like to learn more about what inspired Sandrone Dazieri to become a writer, check out my Q&A post with 
the author here.

You can also check out the fantastic reviews on the blogs that are a part of this tour:

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri from Simon & Schuster for review and participation in this blog tour. All opinions are my own.

Blog Tour and Q&A with Sandrone Dazieri

Q & A with the Author
Let's Take a Shelfie is the fourth stop on the Kill the Father Blog Tour. As part of the tour, I was given the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with the book's author, Sandrone Dazieri.

1.       What inspired you to become a writer?

In 1990, aged twenty-six years old and at the lowest point in my career, I was working for a pittance as a cook in a restaurant where the owner’s dogs defecated in the kitchen. My flat had no heating and I had the start of pneumonia. In the boredom of being bed-ridden I asked friends and neighbours to bring me things to read, leading me to collect a pile of dog-eared paperbacks.
One of the books that surfaced from that pile had the picture of a typewriter on it and the name of an author I was not very familiar with: Stephen King. It was Misery.
As is known, it is the story of the writer Paul Sheldon who, following a car accident, ends up prisoner of a nurse who is in love with his novels: his Number One Fan, as she likes to describe herself. When Annie, the name of his kidnapper, finds out that in his last novel Sheldon “kills” the heroine Misery, she forces him to destroy it and write another in which Misery lives.
I’m not going to disclose the ending, but that novel that I read on a feverish night exposed something I had within but which I could not yet give a name or shape to. I realised I too had some form of Annie inside me and that it was so terrible it had completely crushed me. I wanted to write but I was frightened of doing so because my Annie expected masterpieces and my efforts had never met those expectations. Reading Misery, I realised that I was not alone in that war of words, and a week later I quit my job. It was a long journey before I become a professional writer, but started that day.  

2.       Kill the Father is a very dark and gruesome story, how do you mentally prepare yourself to write about such topics?

Castle, the fictional writer hero of the eponymous tv series, always tells that there is two kind of folks who think about killing people on daily bases: serial killers and crime writers… More seriously, I always write of what I fear. So, I can say that it is the writing that helps me survive my nightmares, not the reverse.

3.       How does it feel to have your work translated to English and made available for a wider audience?

Well, it’s fantastic. I found a magnificent publishing house, Simon&Schuster (Scribner for USA), and a fantastic international team to help me and my job. And I hope to be invited to Canada and meet Wolverine.

If you haven't had a chance to check out my review of Kill the Father, check it out here.

Simon & Schuster will also be hosting a Twitter Chat with Sandrone on Wednesday, February 22 @ 10AM EST. If you've read the book, join in on the conversation and tell us what you loved! If you haven't read the book, follow along to see what all the hype is about. If the responses to my Q&A are any indication of Sandrone Dazieri's personality, we'll definitely be in for a entertaining conversation!

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