Home       About Me       Review Index

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Thoughts: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

I am going to say this right off the bat guys- This is one of the best books I have ever read. For real. It is worth ALL of the HYPE it's been getting. After some thought, I don't think I can properly review this book, but I will try and share some of my thoughts in a semi coherent fashion. 

I don't think I can summarize Robin Roe's A List of Cages the way it deserves, but I will kind of try. Generally, the book is all about Julian and Adam and their friendship. Where it starts, how it develops and is sustained. It's actually quite beautiful. I went into the novel knowing very little about the plot and I think that was a good decision. It's best going into this book now knowing a lot, it'll really add to the experience.

I bought this book on a Saturday, started reading it on Sunday afternoon, finished it Monday after work. I NEVER read a book that fast. If you plan on reading A List of Cages, make sure you have some time. This is not a book that is easy to put down. It's a book you could easily read it one sitting. It wasn't an easy book to read. It deals with some serious topics: mental health, abuse, learning disabilities. It's absolutely heartbreaking. But Roe also makes it incredibly hopeful. A List of Cages is not at all a hopeless story.

I loved this book and everything it said. There is a lot more I could tell you: The story is told in dual perspective and I loved that. I loved hearing from the two voices. I loved the focus it puts on friendship and the lasting affect it can have. I loved the beautiful way this story was told, Roe has a real gift with words. And I love Julian- he's such an amazing character and he's so special.

I know these thoughts of mine were all over the place, but it's hard to share about something that meant so much to you. This book is an amazing and I am very glad to have read it.

Overall, I am going to be pushing this book HARD this year. Everyone should read it. Love it and share it.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science. . .and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.

There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship. . .and reality.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?

Hi everyone, 

On my quest to get as many books off my TBR, I finally read the first book I added to the TBR back in 2013 when I first signed up for Goodreads; Sea Change by Aimee Friedman. I felt like I had actually accomplished something by finally getting the satisfaction of checking it off as currently reading. 

I loved the book right from the opening quote. “The Cure For Everything Is Salt Water – Sweat, Tears, Or The Sea” Isak Dinesen. What I didn’t know was how perfect that quote was for the book. The setting was so wonderfully described that I felt I was right there with Miranda and Selkie Island might be one of my new favorite fictional places. The imagery that Friedman has included is honestly so unbelievable. I pictured this lush, green mist filled island the entire time I was reading it.

Miranda was a great main character because she changed so much throughout the book. I felt she really did go through growing pains and realizing who she was before (logical and only believed in science facts) she came to Selkie. I must admit, I loved the captain of the ship when Miranda was in-route to Selkie. I think my favourite part was how Miranda got her information about the island from one of her grandmother’s books than going on the internet.

The plot itself was fun and simple and I don’t mean simple as a negative. It wasn’t one where I felt like I needed to know how to calculate quantum physics to understand and I loved it. For me, some stories are better with simplicity and I can focus on the world around me.

I did have a couple disappointments. The first was the fantasy element wasn’t mapped out or used enough. I wanted it more right in my face than how it was used subtly. I wanted a whole selkie underwater world like Atlantis, but while I was reflecting on the book I realized after that the lack of in-your-face fantasy really does fit with the simplicity of the book overall.

I especially disliked the whole islanders/ visitors quarrel. I don’t know if in real life this happens as much as it does in books, but for once I’d like the year-rounders or the families that have vacationed there for years to just accept the newcomer. I really also didn’t like the girls Miranda meets there; they all just seemed so stuck up and snobby. Also for me the plot dragged when she was with them. I would have rather those pages been filled up with exploring the island’s past more.

The romance seemed a little off to me; I almost felt that it was added in because the reader expected it. It did add to Miranda’s growth, but I don’t know if Leo was a character was fully developed, plus there was some insta-love..so I’ll just leave the romance on that note.

Overall it was a nice read where I fully felt I was transported into another world. That cover really is perfect for the atmosphere of the book and it was the first thing I noticed about it.

3/5 stars

Re-Read Update

Tweet Heart. All I can say is what was I thinking with the 5 stars originally? I gave it three stars this time around but it’s more of a 2.5 star book. The plot itself was so juvenile, but I still enjoyed the format of tweets, blogs and emails.

Next up is Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

 I’m keeping up with the mermaid/ folklore theme I have going on here. I’m actually really impressed with myself for keeping up with the weekly re-reads. I know it’s still only January but I felt for sure I would fail after the first couple weeks.

Happy Thursday.

Until my next review,


Monday, January 23, 2017

My Thoughts: The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie?

Arielle’s life is a blur of new apartments, new schools, and new faces. Since her mother abandoned the family, Arielle has lived nomadically with her father as he moves from job to job. All she’s ever wanted is to stay in one place for an entire school year, and it looks like she might finally get her wish. With a real friend, Monica, who might be even more than a friend soon, things are starting to look up.

But Arielle’s life is upended—and not by her father, but by her mom, who reveals that she never left Arielle. Instead, Arielle’s father kidnapped her, and her mom has been left searching ever since. She wants to take Arielle away, but Arielle has no connection with her mother, and despite everything, still loves her father. How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who sewed that suspicion?

**review copy received from Simon and Schuster Canada for an honest review***

It's been a little while since I have read a novel by Ellen Hopkins. I think the last one was Rumble, which I read about two plus years ago. I am always a little nervous reading one of Hopkins' novels. She doesn't pull her punches and she can be brutally honest sometimes. When I was younger I really appreciated Hopkins' gritty reality.  However, while reading The You I've Never Known, I found myself getting very grumpy with how complicated life is for the teens in this book.

Intense and dramatic is what can be expected from Hopkins. This is completely something you will get in The You I've Never Known. In any of the book I had previously read by Hopkins things were bad, really bad, however it felt realistic and possible. With The You I've Never Known things felt a little like a soap opera. How many things could one character deal with at the same time?

Abandonment, abuse and sexuality are all prevalent themes in The You I've Never Known, and honestly, it didn't always work. Like I said, gritty is what you expect from Hopkins- however they way she chose to address these themes did not work for me. It sort of felt like she wanted to include all of these different scenarios, but couldn't really figure out how to do it, so she forced it, rather than see it if could happen naturally.

Arielle, our seventeen year old protagonist hasn't had the most stable upbringing. Her father was fairly transient and they never had a permanent home, until recently. Finally Ari has a little consistency, she has friends and a job and she's living a normal life. However, she still has a lot to deal with. Her father, who drinks a lot, is often violent with Ari and he makes it no secret that her mother had abandoned her when she was young to be with another woman. Ari is also questioning her own sexuality and the feelings she has for her new best friend who happens to be a girl, she is also confused because she also has feelings for a boy. Maya, also hasn't had it very easy. An emotionally distant mother who has chosen her cult over parenting and a recently dead father. Maya makes decisions out of panic and desperation. And things don't go well for her because of it.

The You I've Never Known is told in classic Hopkins prose and is beautifully written, but it lacks depth and it like I said before, it feels forced. This story isn't as intense and gritty as her usual stories. I want to say this one was almost boring. Nothing really happens. We get the stories of both girls, and we know they have to be connected in some way, and we're trying to figure out how.  But unlike what they synopsis alludes, the two take a long time to come together and when they finally do, it's a little disappointing.

Overall, I didn't really like this book.  I kind of expected more from Ellen Hopkins. If you have never read her before, I think you'll love this one. But if you are a seasoned Hopkins reader, I think you'll be a little let down.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Happy Thursday!

I love Kasie West and her novel P.S. I like you quickly became my favorite book of last year. I was actually surprised to find out that I hadn’t read her three previous contemporary novels and was happy to finally knock that off the tbr. 

This book is perfect for someone looking for a light, fluffy read that when you read the last page you end up with a smile on your face, even though you predicted the ending from page one. But hey, that’s why I read these books and am a super-lover of those cheesy made-for-tv Hallmark movies, I want that happy ending! 

Gia made me laugh throughout the book and then at times was so self-centered I couldn’t handle her. Sure the biggest problem in her life was she wasn’t prom queen and her boyfriend dumped her right before prom, but it just made me think about when I was her age and how every problem seemed like the end of the world. I did feel that Gia matured and grew as a character throughout the book and I feel she did learn some important lessons on life. This is definitely one book I can one-hundred percent say I felt the character growth was real and not just written in to force it.

I normally don’t write about the love interest in their own paragraph, but Hayden (or Fill-In Boyfriend) deserves it. He was honestly one of those characters you are compelled to read on to find out just who he is. I mean come on, a random girl asks you to go to prom with you because her boyfriend just broke up with her, and you can’t even hate him for going with it! Of course I then got worried there would be some insta-love happening but Kasie West didn’t let me down and the romance happened at a normal pace. His sister Bec was my favorite character (sorry Hayden). She was full of snark and sarcasm and I just love that, the more sarcastic the better.

I just want to take a sentence and mention how does Kasie West always get such awesomely adorable book covers?

Pick this one up if you are looking for a happy fun light read. Solid four stars.

Reread Update

So the International Kissing Club…. well it was more juvenile than I remembered. The plot itself was still really fun (a bunch of friends who join their student exchange program through their school and each one goes to a different location) and I loved the concept of them running a Facebook page to stay connected. The whole concept of seeing how many boys they can kiss is the juvenile part, but I was still able to end the book feeling good about reading it. It didn’t live up to the four stars I had previously given it, but it only dropped down to a 3.5

Next up is Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick.
I have a feeling it won’t stand up to the five star rating I originally gave it; I think I read this back in 2011. I laughed at the original review I gave it on Goodreads and then deleted it. I might add it back for laughs!

Until my next review,


Friday, January 13, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Girl Online By Zoe Sugg

I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has - I can't believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! - and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes...

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family - and the panic attacks she's suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love - and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny's cover - and her closest friendship - forever.

Hi everyone, 

I know this book came out in 2014 but I’ve been focusing on reading books that have been sitting on my TBR and this week I found Zoella’s Girl Online tucked away in one of my bookshelves and thought now was a great time to read and review it.

First off I have to say just how adorable the cover is. I love the design and the pictures hanging up over lights. I knew I had to read this based on the cover (I’ll say right off the bat I think I’ve seen maybe three Zoella videos; she just seems like a really nice person and I love me a good cute contemporary). This book was really fluffy and cute and one of those I can see making readers smile after finishing it.

I loved how the book involved Penny’s blog posts. I know I’ve said this before but I love when books involves different formats or include texts, blogs and diary entries. The blog posts and when Penny texts her friends were actually my favorite part of the book; she talks about her anxiety (and I’m really glad Zoe decided to include this because it brings a sense of humanness to Penny) and the first couple posts were my favorite when Girl Online wasn’t that popular.

However that’s where my enjoyment of the book ended.

As soon as Penny gets to New York it was insta-love central; I hate insta-love more than love triangles. This was honestly the biggest let down because I was so pumped to read this. 0The rest of the book felt like every other contemporary book out there (and I read A LOT of them) so this book brought nothing new since it felt like every other book I’ve read.

The book itself wasn’t my cup of tea based on the writing. When books get ghostwritten you almost expect it’s going to be not that well written; my assumption is based on a lot of ghost written books I’ve read but I won’t include the titles here. I really hope Zoe had some input on the plot or at least had ideas for the plot; that’s also why I don’t think I enjoy ghost written books because I’m never sure who actually developed the ideas in it and who should be given proper credit for the content. The writing in Girl Online was very juvenile and almost seemed it should be set for a middle-grade audience rather than a young-adult.

Nothing really happens in it either. It has the standard expected contemporary plot and I knew the ending from page 10. I did enjoy the pop cultural references but in about five years I wonder if this book will still be enjoyed by readers. Since that’s one of the downfalls of including current trends and technology; I read a book a year ago that included MSN Messenger and I cringed at how old the book must have been.

I apologize for this rambling review and I had really hoped to be giving this book a higher rating than a one. I don’t know if I’ll continue with book two; I did buy it a couple days after its release but I don’t think I’ll be reading book three unless book two has a lot of improvements. 

One (sad this is only one star) star

Re-Readathon Update

I finished Hex Education and while it didn’t live up to the five star rating I had originally given it, it still was able to get a four and live up to most of what I remembered about liking it. I will say I’ll be the first to admit the plot was weaker than I remembered and the action inside wasn’t as compelling as I thought. There’s just something nostalgic about it that I couldn’t see myself giving it a three. I was still in love with the setting of Mystic and all those weird little magical shops you expect to see in a magical town.

Next up on the re-reads in The International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams        

I found this on my shelf and remembered laughing at the title when I first saw it, but I loved the cover and the synopsis sounded perfect for me. I originally gave it a four star rating and am curious to see if that’ll stay the same.

Until my next review,


Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017 Bookish Resolutions

Hello Friends,

I know I am a little late with the bookish resolutions. Buuuuuuut- I like to reflect on my past year and set realistic goals for myself and for the blog.  I did this in 2016 and while I wasn't completely successful with my 2016 goals (which I will briefly go over in a second), I still really liked my goals, so I think I will be carrying some of them forward into 2017.

So, 2016. If you are curious about my 2016 bookish resolutions, check it out here.

In brief, I wanted to read 90 books, I finished 98 (whoop whoop), I wanted to read more physical books and be more mindful in my reading- I kind of failed at that. Again, I found that I was pretty dependent on audiobooks- I think 60% of what I read this year was through audiobook. Not that this is bad, I still experienced a lot of really great books. I wanted to read a specific set of 12 books-  I got seven done- which I am okay with.  I wanted to read one YA Debut a month, I kind of failed at this, I think in the end I only got like 4 done- I actually didn't read all that much YA in 2016. My last goal was to clean up my Goodreads shelves, which I did, and I am happy about that.

So for 2017

2017 Reading Challenge 

This year I have really challenged myself and set the goal of 100 books. I was able to complete 98 in 2016, and I am fairly confident I can get to 100. I am actually really excited about this challenge. I will try and not get discouraged if I am behind a bit. Wish me luck.

Read More Physical Books 

As I mentioned earlier, I have been dependent on audiobooks that last couple of years. While I don't think I will ever stop listening to audiobooks (I listen at work, it's great), I have been getting into the habit of also listening when I get home- while really doing nothing. I would like to stop doing that. I would like to sit down more and spend some intentional time reading a book. Whenever I do that, I find it very calming and peaceful and I feel great. I am not giving myself a specific number, but at the end of the year I would like to say I read more books than I listened to.

Listen to the Audiobooks I Already Own

So, I have been an Audible.com member since 2011, and I have accumulated a number of books-  there are these daily deals and I tend to take advantage of those, and I buy a lot. I currently have about seventeen audiobooks I haven't listened to or read. I plan to take that number down to five. That's one a month. That's totally doable.

Read One 2017 Release a Month

Last Year I wanted to read one YA Debut, I didn't do to well on that one. This coming year, I would like to read a new release a month- this doesn't mean said book had to have been released that particular month. But it has to have been published in 2017. I know this seems like an easy and obvious goal, but not so much for me. I tend to lose sight of books and I am not really in the know of what's coming out. This will help me out I think.

Read the Following Books This Year
Much like last year, I want to read some of the books I have been thinking of reading for years. I am not going to force myself to read one a month, but I have a list of seven books that I would like to get read at some point throughout the year.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner 
Percy Jackson and the Olympians books 3-5 by Rick Riordan 
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle 

Can you believe I haven't read some of these books? I can't. I am pretty excited to get to them. 

Those are my bookish resolutions for the year. I hope you enjoyed seeing what they are. I am going to try and make a point of updating you on them in my monthly wrap ups, I think this will help keep me on track. Do you have any reading/bookish goals for the year. Tell me about them, I am always curious to see what people are striving to achieve in their reading life. 

~Happy Reading Everyone! 


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Stefanie's 2017 Reading Goals

Hi everyone,

It's a little crazy it's 2017 already. I haven't fully realized it yet and have only written 2016 about twenty times so far when it comes to writing dates on things so far. Being it's a brand new year it's time for a new Goodreads Reading Challenge; I've challenged myself to read 350 books this year. I'm hoping that goal will allow me to complete some personal challenges I've set for myself:

Work On My Re-Reads

I only re-read 6 books last year and it made me a little sad the number was so low. I've challenged myself to re-read one book per week. At first I felt this was a little high but I'm going to try my best to have what I'm calling Re-Read Weekends, by starting a re-read on Friday and hopefully being able to finish it Sunday. I think I might include a brief review of each re-read if you would be interested in hearing about if my initial thoughts hold up to the new read. 

My First re-read will be Hex Education, written by Emily Gould and Zareen Jaffery. I originally gave it five stars when I first read it possibly back in 2007 when it was published.

Tackle My TBR

I think it's currently at 509 on Goodreads. I see it and honestly think there's no way in the world I'll ever be able to shrink it. Hopefully if I can keep up with staying on track (thanks to Goodreads to letting me know I'm currently on track) and not add too many more new releases (I'm really good at adding 50 books a day to the tbr) I can obliterate the 509 and maybe get it into the two-hundreds. I also discovered a reading challenge called Beat the Backlist that's focused on reading books published prior to 2017. This fits perfectly with this goal and I couldn't have discovered this at a better time.

                       Some of the books I hope to read for the reading challenge:

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Robin Palmer

Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schafer

Kissing In Italian by Lauren Henderson

Chantress Alchemy by Amy Butler Greenfield

The Fill In Boyfriend by Kasie West

I'm really excited for this year and seeing what books I'll get to read. I also want to thank you all for welcoming me to this blog. I think I'm finally figuring this out ;) I'd love to hear what books all of you are looking forward to reading this year!

Until my first 2017 review,


"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