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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Stefanie's November Wrap Up





Another month done, November went by so quickly. Can't complain though, I enjoyed the fact we barely had any snow (and if I had it my way we'd get snow maybe December 20th and it would melt by January 4th).

 Now that it's December I feel like I can tell everyone that in between reading and work, I've been obsessively watching those cheesy made for-TV Hallmark Christmas movies since November 1st (you are right I'm lying, I did start one October 27 because Showcase aired it). I can't get enough of them even if the plots are basically the same thing with new character names and different casts. A couple of my favorite of them have been Merry Matrimony, Perfect Christmas List (with Beth Broderick, Sabrina the Teenage Witch fan for life here) and A Royal Christmas.







 If you have no idea what I'm talking about that's nothing to be ashamed of (at times I secretly wonder if I have a life when all I do for November and December is binge watch as many Christmas movies as possible). That'll have to come to an end soon since Fuller House season 2 airs so soon!

As for the books, another solid reading month for me. I tried my best to get some more books read that have been sitting on the TBR shelf for a good three years, so this month was mostly dedicated to that.

I read:

The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor (1 star)
Kissing Booth by Lexie Hill (3 stars)
Frosted Kisses by Heather Hepler (4 stars)
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday (4 stars)
Love? Maybe by Heather Hepler (5 stars)
Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys by Kate Brian (3 stars)
Jinx by Meg Cabot (re-read) (4 stars)
In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett (5 stars, here's a secret about me, I loved Carol Burnett, Went With the Wind might be one of my favorite scenes ever)
Sweet Sixteen Princess by Meg Cabot (re-read, 5 stars)
My Unscripted Life my Lauren Morrill (3 stars)
The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot (5 stars)
Gemina by Amie Kaufman (3 stars)
Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson (5 stars)

Book of the Month:
Is it possible to have a tie with three books?

The Boy is Back
by Meg Cabot, Love? Maybe by Heather Hepler and Where Am I Now by Mara Wilson. If I had to pick one it would be Meg Cabot, but to be not so predictable, I'm picking Love? Maybe, there was just something so sweet and fun about it.






I'm now off to go binge some more Christmas movies and tackling a couple for TBR's before I get into my Christmas/winter reads.

Until my next review,
Stefanie

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Recap





Happy December! Only 25 days until Christmas!!

November was a pretty fun month for me. I was able to take some time off work and have a couple long weekends. Which were very welcome.  I went on a mini vacation to Edmonton, Alberta this past weekend. It was my nephew's 6th birthday and he really wanted to go on an airplane for his birthday. So, my sister, my little brother and my nephew went for 4 days. We spent the majority of the time at West Edmonton Mall, we went to the water park, the amusement park and did some Black Friday Shopping. It was pretty fun, I was also able to visit with one of my BFFs who lives out there.


A photo posted by Sara (@jstanotherstory) on
This is one of like 3 pictures I took on this trip.

But really, you know what November was really all about?     

The Crown





Guys, I binged this show on one of my long weekends. Mind you, it's only ten episodes, but still. This show, this show. Oh man, this show. Brilliant. I didn't think I was going to like it, I honestly thought it would be kind of boring. I sat down one day to watch a couple episodes to see how Matt Smith (like seriously- My Doctor) did as Prince Phillip. Next thing I know, I am completely hooked. The Crown was SO well done, and well researched (I think). I really was fascinated with the politics of everything, and Queen Elizabeth's internal struggle.  Watch this show. 



The Books:


Number of books completed
10 
Physical books
7
Audiobooks
3
 
 
 
Physical Books: 
 
Fling by Jana Aston (4 Stars)
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (2.5 Stars)
Trust by Jana Aston (3.5 Stars)
The Couple Next Door by Shari LaPena (2.5 Stars)
Paper Princess by Erin Watt (3 Starts) 
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (4.5 Stars)
Baby Doll by Hollie Overton (4 Stars)

Favourite Read of the Month





This book crept up on me. I randomly saw Margot from Epic Reads talk about it, and thought I needed to get it read. Guys, you need this book in your life. It's such an amazing story. About AIDS in the 80's, when the disease was just emerging and there was a lot of fear. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is about a girl who befriends her deceased uncle's lover. It's such a beautiful story. 
 
 
Audiobooks: 
 
The King of Wall Street by Louise Bay (3.5 Stars) 
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (4.5 Stars)
Indigo Nights by Louise Bay (4 Stars)

Favourite Listen of the Month




This one also surprised me. I wasn't expecting to be so moved by it. About a man who dies and who believes lived a rather "average life" but really didn't. He met so many people and influenced their lives in so many amazing ways. I loved it.


 
November on the Blog 
 


 

Whoa, that was a long one. I hope you enjoyed.

~Happy Reading Everyone.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Stefanie's Thoughts: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.


Hi everyone,

What a week, it snowed here for the first time and I hate snow; well maybe not the actual show but the super cold temperatures that follow. I guess those cold temperatures bring on being inside, watching movies, drinking tea and reading as many books as humanly possible.

I'm here today reviewing Gemina by Amie Kaufman book two in The Illuminae Files series. I'm not big on reading sci-fi (I prefer it in BBC TV like Doctor Who) but this series sounded so different that I figured I'd try it out. I had read Illuminae earlier this year (April) and loved it; my favorite part of that book was the star graphs and diagrams included. I think my favorite part of this series will be the fact it's told through messages, star charts, transcripts, security camera footage and more. I'm going to try to keep this spoiler free, but I will be mentioning plot points that happened in book one (although everything I mention I hope was part of the books synopsis, so it wouldn't be anything you've never heard of before).

My main problem I think with Gemina was the novelty had worn off. The unexpected feeling I got from reading Illuminae and not knowing what I would find inside wasn't there, because I knew I'd get the story told through different mediums. However I did find it easier to jump right into the book because I wasn't as confused trying to understand how to process/ read this book through the different charts. I actually thought Gemina needed more star charts! I think too in this book there was more of the story told through security footage narrative and messages and not enough pictures overall (however Marie Lu's illustrations were a much appreciated addition, hope she's included in book three) . I did skip a whole ton of transcipts because I found them not bringing anything to the story.

I also wasn't attached to Hanna and Nik like I was with Kady (I loved her in Illuminae). I honestly didn't care what happened to the two, I didn't care what would happen to Heimdall, the station our story takes place on. I guess I was more invested about watching how the Phobos virus was spreading through the ship than hearing how alien invaders. I guess personally the thought of trying to avoid a plague like virus or battling aliens, the virus thing seemed more deadly, more on my seat excited.

The ending however. I won't say anything about it but it was such a twist I know I'll need to pick up book three to see how everything plays out.

Overall I'm glad I picked up the book and read it; I felt like if I hadn't going into book three would be a huge mind boggling experience. I loved Marie Lu's illustrations, and really hope she's included in book three, or have another guest illustrator come in and share illustrations from a character's journal. I also enjoyed how the setting was out of our galaxy, I've always loved astronomy so even reading about fictional universes and space stations is a great ride.

My rating is a 3 out of 5

Until my next review,
Stefanie

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Mini Thoughts: The Thriller Edition

So thrillers, psychological thrillers to be exact. They have kind of been my thing lately. I have read three in short succession and I want to share a few thoughts on them. So, today I bring you my thoughts on Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts, The Couple Next Door by Shari LaPena and Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.




The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts' plight. With John, Marjorie's father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface--and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.


I read Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts because I had seen a number of people recommend it and they have been raving about this book and how much of a mind f**k it was. I was curious.

A Head Full of Ghosts is an interesting story- is she suffering from a mental illness or is she possessed?  This is a question that is explored throughout the whole of the story.

This book was hard for me to dig into, but at the same time, it was really easy to read. I found when I was reading I was in it, but I also had no problem putting the book down and I didn't find myself overly eager to pick it back up.  Because of this, it took me ages to get this book finished.

In all honesty, this book was a little boring. I was super interested in the concept and I was expecting a lot of twists in the plot, but I didn't get any of that. I would have given this book a straight 3 stars, but the end really ticked me off. I felt like it was a bit gimmicky for shock value and which really bugged me, so I gave it a lower rating of 2.5 stars. People seemed  to have loved the end, so it must have worked.



Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora, but one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents, but the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.






I was dying to read Shari Lapena's The Couple Next Door once I had initially heard about it. As soon as I read the synopsis I wanted to know what happened. Who was behind everything and what happened to that baby.

I read this book pretty quickly, and not because it was good. More because I needed to know what was going on. There are very few likable characters in this book. Really, The baby was the only one I liked, I was rooting for baby Cora.  What bothered me about The Couple Next Door, was appearance of a big reveal was in the middle of the story, after that things piddled out I got bored.

The story was predictable, which I don't mind, but when it's predictable and meh, that's not a good thing. So, I was disappointed with this one. I don't particularly understand why this is a Goodreads award contender. It was a little bland.




Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?


I saved the best for last. I saw this book at the bookstore, and I was curious about it. But I had to wait eons for it at the library. I was like number 67 when I first requested it. When it finally came and I powered through it.  I started one night at 7 and read until 10:30 without stops, I went on to finish it the next night within 2 1/2 hours.

This book was crazy! Super addicting and very entertaining. Behind Closed Door is everything a psychological thriller should be. It's crazy intense, pretty twisted and it totally kept me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed this reading experience.

However, Behind Closed Doors wasn't a perfect read. The main character, Grace was a bit annoying, and the end was a little weak. However, this is B.A. Paris' first novel and I am convinced she will only get better as she goes.

I only gave this one a 3 stars on goodreads, but I think I may up my rating to a 4. I had a good time reading this one.


This has been my experience with thrillers, thus far. It may seem like I am not a fan of the genre and will give up, but that is certainly not true. I like the mystery found in these novels. I am looking for recommendations, if you have any thrillers that I absolutely should read, please, pass them along.

~Happy Reading Everyone

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Stefanie's Thoughts: The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot


Sometimes to move forward, you have to go back…

One post. That’s all it took to destroy the care free, glamorous life of pro golfer Reed Stewart. One tiny post on the Internet.

Then again, it’s not like Reed’s been winning many tournaments lately, and his uncle isn’t the only one who says it’s because of the unfinished business he left behind back home in Bloomville, Indiana—namely Reed’s father, the Honorable Judge Richard P. Stewart, and the only girl Reed ever loved, Becky Flowers.

But Reed hasn’t spoken to either his father or Becky in over a decade.

Until that post on the Internet. Suddenly, Reed’s family has become a national laughingstock, his publicist won’t stop calling, his siblings are begging for help, and Reed realizes he has no other choice: He’s got to go home to face his past . . . the Judge and the girl he left behind.

Becky’s worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed—which hasn’t been easy, considering he’s their hometown’s golden boy, and all anyone ever talks about. It was fine while they were thousands of miles apart, but now he’s back in Bloomville. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him—until his family hires her to help save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another…or the memories of that one fateful night.

Can the quirky residents of Bloomville bring these two young people back together, or will Reed and Becky continue to allow their pasts to deny them the future they deserve?


Happy November!

Meg Cabot is my favorite author ever, so naturally when a new book of hers gets announced I’m over the moon excited for it. Then I go and pre order it three months in advance, forgot about it until I get the shipping notification email from Chapters telling me it’s shipped from the warehouse. Then I forget about it because it’s October and I’m trying to read as many Halloween related books I can get my hands on. Then I realized it’s November, this book hasn’t been read yet and I get the feeling that I’ve just wasted the last month away because I haven’t read the book yet…does this happen to anyone else or is that just me?

The Boy is Back is the fourth book in the Boy series by Meg Cabot, but each book can be read on its own as a standalone. If you haven’t read the series before, each book is told through emails, texts, journal/ blog entries and sometimes personal advertisements. I think that’s why I love this series so much because I’m always drawn to books told in alternative formats to the traditional book. I also think it gives a more personal insight into the characters because you are reading exactly what they are thinking.

Reed Stewart never thought he’d come back to Bloomville, Indiana the town he left ten years ago after heartbreak and his father kicking him out. Now that he’s found fame through the professional golf circuit he’s summoned back by his sister-in-law to help his family’s name.

Enter Becky Flowers, the girl Reed left behind, who now owns the only moving company for seniors within the area. She’s hired by Reed’s family to help relocate Reed’s parents (the Honorable Judge Richard P. Stewart and his wife) after a public town scandal leaves the family embarrassed and in shock.

I absolutely loved the family dynamic between the Stewarts. Marshall (Reed’s brother) and Carly (Marshall’s wife) were my two favorite characters and I loved the texts between them the best. I loved how Carly wouldn’t put up with any of the family’s shenanigans (and in this book the shenanigans were endless) and call out both Marshall and Reed when necessary.

The small town atmosphere was another great perk. You really get the 'whole town knows your business' feeling in this (mostly because Becky’s mom at one point gets involved and publicizes the Stewart’s business), which only complicates the relationship (and adds awkwardness) between Reed and Becky, but we as readers benefit from witnessing this all.

I can’t give The Boy is Back enough praise or love. This is exactly what I want from a Meg Cabot book; something that makes you feel good, laugh and when you close it you can’t help but feel like that fairytale romance actually exists.

A very solid 5 out of 5 for The Boy is Back (if I could I would have given it ten out of five stars).

Until my next review,
Stefanie

Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Thoughts: The Nerdy and the Dirty by B.T. Gottfred


Pen Lupo is sick and tired of hiding who she is. On the outside, Pen is popular, quiet, and deferential to her boyfriend. On the inside, however, Pen is honest, opinionated--and not quite sure that she's like other girls. Do they have urges like she does?

His classmates may consider him a nerd, but Benedict Pendleton knows he's destined for great things. All he has to do is find a worthy girlfriend, and his social station will be secured. Sure, Benedict is different--but that's what he likes about himself.

When fate intervenes, both Pen and Benedict end up at the same vacation resort for winter break. Despite their differences, the two are drawn together. But is there such a thing as happily ever after for a nympho and a nerd?



**Review copy received from Raincoast Books for an honest review***


It has been a little while since I have read a Young Adult contemporary. a few months for sure. This may not seem like a long time to some, but for a while, contemporary was my jam, and it was all I wanted to read. However, I overdosed and got bored with the genre, and needed a break. But, when I read the synopsis for The Nerdy and the Dirty by B.T. Gottfred, I was curious. The book sounded obnoxious and crazy, so I thought why the heck not.

I have to admit, I wasn't completely sure about this novel when I first started reading it, so much so, that I even thought this would be one of the rare occasions I DNF a book. However, I kept on, and am I ever glad I did. The Nerdy and the Dirty was such a fun read.

B.T. Gottfred tells a story about a quite the story about Pen, a teenage girl who finds herself thinking of all things carnal... a lot. Not being really sure what to do with said thoughts and the feelings they invoke, Pen believes she is not normal and to avoid scrutiny, she tends to keep her mouth shut and fades into the background. Benedict on the other hand,  is brilliant and totally socially awkward (his words). He lives and breathes his father's advice (who is a world renowned psychologist, and best selling author). Ben has decided it is now time to get a girlfriend, but, you must remember, Benedict is socially awkward.  So naturally, both Pen and Benedict, end up at the same resort for their winter vacation and you can just imagine what comes about.

 This book was laugh-out-loud funny. And awkward, so awkward.  Like anything to do with teenagers and sex should be. There are some really great insights into how teens think about sex and sexuality found in the pages of The Nerdy and the Dirty. I really appreciated this. Sex is a real thing, and teens are going to think about it, and they are going to be curious about it. So talk about it. The book also addresses how little female sexuality is discussed. Pen is seriously conflicted with how much she thinks about masturbating- and she is afraid of her feelings. This is so so so sad. The Nerdy and the Dirty really opens up the discussion on teen sexuality.

Benedict is a favourite character of mine in this whole story. He is SO honest. It's so refreshing. He's not a perfect character, as was mentioned earlier, he is completely awkward, and totally pompous. He has no filter and says the first thing he thinks of, whether it's appropriate or not. You know who he reminds me of, Don Tillman from The Rosie Project. This could easily be a prequel to the Rosie Project.

There were a couple of things that bothered me in this book. The beginning dragged a bit, and the writing seemed a little immature. I sort of felt like the author was filling space until the big event at the resort. I felt like that could have been done better. Pen could have used a little more development in the early stages of the book, and her relationship with her parents could have been explored a bit more. Those parts felt lacking to me.

Overall, I enjoyed The Nerdy and the Dirty, I liked how realistic the relationships were, and how illogical teenagers are, and I really appreciated how it opened up the sex talk. This book is for teens, 100%. Anyone 16 and under are really going to resonate with what's being said in this novel. And I think that's fantastic. It's got an important message to rely.  So, while it fell short for me in some places, it certainly doesn't take away from the overall story.

~Happy Reading Everyone.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Stefanie's October Wrap Up






What a month for me! I started blogging here and I can say that I feel somewhat comfortable with this whole blogging this. I think November will be a good month to really get into and grow more comfortable with the books I review (I might always second guess what books I review but I’m hoping I’m picking a nice mix of genres and authors).

Here’s what I Read:

I’m with Cupid by Anna Staniszewski
The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
CJ’s Treasure Chase by Jessica Brody
Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors
Lucky T by Kate Brian
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (graphic novel)
Strong is the New Beautiful by Lindsey Vonn
Nightmares by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay
Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
Fearsome Foursome by Amicus Arcane

Book total: 12

Favorite Books Read


Check out my review here


Movies I Watched


I did a 31 days of Halloween movies, ranging from Netflix finds (#horror, Burying the Ex, The Voices, The Awakening) to Disney Channel classics (Halloweentown, Girl vs. Monster) to the ultimate Halloween classics it’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Hocus Pocus!















Things I Did



I went to see Dracula the ballet. The first half was amazing and had the coolest special effects, the ending was also so very well done. My only negative is the weird first scene in act two that was performed with a wolf or something. It didn’t make sense to me and I had no idea what was going on. Even with that it was probably one of my favorite ballets I’ve ever gone to.
Also because as you all know I’m Halloween obsessed so I dressed up as Wednesday Addams from The Addams family for work. I got a bunch of my coworkers to join in and we had enough for the entire Addams family. We’ve already started discussing for next year. Too soon, I think not!

Until my next review,

Stefanie 
"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl