Tessa is about to leave the company where she works with her longtime crush Nicholas, and her...moreThis, and other reviews, can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Tessa is about to leave the company where she works with her longtime crush Nicholas, and her ex-boyfriend (who happens to be Nicholas' best friend) to start her own freelance graphic design business. With their time working together seemingly running out, Tessa has no idea that Nicholas feels the same way and has actually arranged to be her Secret Santa. In an elaborately extravagant display of affection, Tessa's Secret Santa gifts her with the items from the song "Santa Baby". Nicholas' plan is going smoothly until his best friend confides in him that he wants to rekindle things with Tessa.
Secret Santa Baby is a quick, fun holiday read. Told in alternating points of view, the story was able to keep progressing nicely without it becoming bland. Also, because it's an e-novella, there isn't much time to really delve into too much backstory but Covington does a nice job with sharing enough history between these characters to have the current main story make sense. Understanding the shorter format however, I did find the ending a bit conveniently & quickly wrapped up. I felt it to be a cheesy finale to an otherwise believable courtship but perhaps that theme or style is customary for romance novels.
I had picked this e-book up on a whim when I saw it mentioned on Twitter and while I don't often read a lot of romance novels, I couldn't resist the clever premise (and that cover!). I'm glad I decided to give a book that's out of my usual comfort zone a chance, because Secret Santa Baby is definitely an entertaining one-sitting read!(less)
Superhero Girl can leap tall buildings (up to eleven storeys) while saving kittens and helping...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Superhero Girl can leap tall buildings (up to eleven storeys) while saving kittens and helping the elderly. Without the mask and cape, she's an ordinary Canadian girl who lives in the shadow of her superior superhero brother and tries to deal with an annoying nemesis all the while managing day-to-day life of having to do laundry and pay the rent.
I absolutely adored this graphic novel. Like, full-on LOVED this collection of comic strips by Faith Erin Hicks. Being a fan of comic books, graphic novels and comic strips, this collection pokes fun at many aspects of the superhero genre. In a similar fashion as Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant!, Adventures of Superhero Girl has an ongoing story as well as random interjecting comic strip "interludes".
The drawings are cartoon-like and very much the style of other Faith Erin Hicks works, with enough detail and realism mixed with the absolutely strange & bizarre scenarios. I wish there was more to say about this besides my raving but this is a definite must-read if you're a fan of graphic novels, superheroes and comic strips. Even if you just love a good laugh-out-loud read - this is the one to pick up.(less)
Following a team of debunkers who have their own TV show, they travel to Russia, Louisiana and...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Following a team of debunkers who have their own TV show, they travel to Russia, Louisiana and New Jersey with the goal to disprove mysterious happenings. With a forward by Ben Hansen, one of the stars of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, this first volume is a collection of #0-5 of the comic book series.
Being a huge fan of shows like Fact or Faked, Ghost Hunters, and Destination Truth, this comic series felt right up my alley. Unfortunately it fell flat for me. There was so much potential in what they could have done with this series but with how much the story was driven by debunking mysteries, it seemed to open up more than it was disproving.
The cast of characters seem to be a regular bunch of investigators/TV personalities, yet we discover quickly that they've all got some special "skills", making them more like the X-Men than a bunch of ghost hunters. That's cool and all, but it's never explained to any length whatsoever. There was also another storyline running alongside the "TV show" one, but to be honest, I wasn't very sure what exactly was going on. I'm all for complex plots but this completely lost me.
There was so much potential in Hoax Hunters being an amazing series and it probably would have been if it stuck to one main idea. Introducing all the special powers and alternate stories just complicated things and made it feel like this graphic novel was trying to put too much in one story.(less)
Free Four is an alternative POV on a scene from the book Divergent. Roth shows the pivotal knife-throwing scene from the first installment through the eyes of Four. While the e-story isn’t very expensive on Amazon, I’m still shocked at how short this chapter (and it basically is a chapter) was. 13 pages. I was definitely hoping for more depth and development to the mindset of Four, and while there was a bit of insight, it felt like basically an almost-straight retelling of that scene. The subtitle should have been “Tobias tells a Divergent moment.”(less)
Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People is a collection of seven horribly ridiculo...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People is a collection of seven horribly ridiculous and hilarious short stories. From a hobo minivan to a wretched babysitter, a strange exchange student to an action figure with issues, Coupland spins some wickedly devilish tales that are sure to shock and delight.
If ever there was a very aptly-named book, it would be this one. Written with such dry humour and sarcasm, Coupland – with Roumieu’s illustrations – paints such an atrocious scene in each of the 7 stories. While it was Donald, the incredibly hostile juicebox that originally caught my interest to check out this book, it’s the story about the undead substitute teacher that had me actually laughing out loud.
What I loved about this book was that it felt like a writing exercise, exploring the potential thoughts and actions of unlikely characters – including inanimate objects. It’s a great unique point of view that is not often explored, and Coupland does a hilariously disturbing job of it.(less)
Ellen’s third book catches readers up on what’s been going on in...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Ellen’s third book catches readers up on what’s been going on in her life since her previous book, The Funny Thing Is…, was out eight years ago. From her life being married to Portia de Rossi to quitting American Idol, Seriously… I’m Kidding is filled with stories, quips and random silliness that lets you experience what it would be like to hang out with this hilarious talk show host.
That being said, it feels more like what it would be like to hang out with a talk show host who is always “on”. I’m sure she’s not always like that, but this book feels like a stream of consciousness at times. It’s exactly how she might come across on TV with the random comments and sidebar tangents, which get a bit old eventually. It’s quite an appropriate title because she meshes serious moments with jokes that sometimes you’re not quite sure what’s real or what’s part of the gag.
Understanding that this is a book filed in the “humour” category, I actually wished there was more of a heartfelt genuine moment with the star. Everyone sees the zany side of her that’s on TV but I wish she would follow through with some of the sincere moments more. There were quite a few points in the book where she touched on some important observations and ideas, but they’re all played off with jokes that it loses the message.
Overall, I did enjoy the read but I found myself eventually sighing at every nonsensical “randomness for the sake of randomness” moment.(less)
The adult life of Alice in Wonderland is explored in this twisted gr...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ (2.5/5 stars)
The adult life of Alice in Wonderland is explored in this twisted graphic novel series from Zenescope. The story and characters we are all familiar with are given a dark and grown-up makeover where the frightening Jabberwocky has held Alice hostage. Her escape and plot to get rid of the monster is the driving force of this story.
I love a good re-imagining, with the graphic novel series Fables being one of my favourites. I’m by no means prudish when it comes to comic book art as I know that’s fairly standard to sexualize the female characters but boy was I not expecting the extent of it in this. The image on the cover is probably the tamest outfit that Alice wears (which she actually doesn’t even wear throughout the whole book). So many times I felt awkward about anyone seeing me read this with page after page of extremely scantily-clad women. (Oh the ridiculousness of the reasoning – or lack thereof – for these barely-there outfits)
The story itself is a decent one, even if it was slightly confusing with the “younger Alice” being sent back while Alice proper is left in Wonderland to grow older (and apparently have her clothes shrink as she’s growing older). The Jabberwocky and Cheshire Cat are especially frightening in their portrayal with the disturbing Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts holding their own as well.
Truth be told, the art is very beautifully done. The play on the orientation of the layout and spacing of the boxes at certain points are very clever, working along with the story. While some of the speech bubbles from the Queens were a bit hard to read (white on black, white on red), I’m not sure if that can solely be attributed to my e-copy and perhaps the print version is not as hard on the eyes.
Overall? Decent story but the whole thing left me feeling dirty.(less)
Host ofThe Rick Mercer Report on CBC in Canada, A Nation Worth Ranting About is a coll...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Host of The Rick Mercer Report on CBC in Canada, A Nation Worth Ranting About is a collection of the famous rants that Rick Mercer does on his TV show. Often political, always succinct, Mercer's rants are delivered in his signature voice - full of facts, with a dash of sarcasm and dry wit. Interspersed with photos from some highlight moments on the Rick Mercer Report as well as reflections on the public's reactions to a few of his key pieces, A Nation Worth Ranting About is not only a collection of the rants from the show but also illustrates how much this country means to Rick Mercer. He demonstrates why this nation IS worth ranting about, to him.
I read this book around the time of the U.S. presidential election, and it made me realize that I didn't know very much about my own country's politics. While Mercer's rants are often laced with humour, I have actually learned so much more about the state of my own nation's political environment. I like to think of Rick Mercer as the Jon Stewart of Canada, a news satirist that pokes fun at politics while educating a similar demographic of audience.
Some of the most stand-out rants in this book include the ones he did on young people going out to vote, and the bullying epidemic - especially of gay teens. Not only did it touch people individually, but as a collective group as well. People can look at Rick Mercer as merely a comedian, just like they may think of Jon Stewart in the same way, but both these men have such a powerful and influential voice in the media right now. It's like they are that teacher in school who made learning fun.(less)
Jackson Oz, a biologist/blogger, has been warning people for years about the increase i...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Jackson Oz, a biologist/blogger, has been warning people for years about the increase in animal attacks on humans. To his dismay, nobody had ever taken him seriously until the attacks become more and more frequent. Animals are behaving out of character, brutally attacking people all over the world and yet Oz still faces a large number of people who think he's a joke. With the help of Chloe, an ecologist he meets in Africa and a handful of other scientists, Oz tries in vain to get a video out into the world with damning evidence of his theory. To what lengths and extremes must the attacks go before Oz successfully captures the attention of the government?
I absolutely devoured this book (no pun intended). What actually initially attracted me to Zoo was the cover, and upon reading the premise, I was even more intrigued. This was a book I could not put down. Patterson poses some really poignant and timely statements and ideas and really makes you think about what would really happen to society if this were to actually come true. Even the varying reactions of everyone and the attempts towards a solution are notable because we as the reader can absolutely see humanity reacting in the way that they do in this book.
Keeping a fast paced narrative, this story just speeds along from one horrific moment to the next, at times making me cringe at the imagery. While I'm not expertly-versed in all the biology and ecology way of things, I felt Zoo was completely plausible and believable. I was completely sold on it. Funny enough, the one thing that originally hooked me was the cover, and in the end, while I do love it, it really doesn't have much to do with the actual story. Sure, the animals have unleashed a global attack, but the story isn't set in Paris at all and actually has very little to do with the it.
Zoo reminded me of Jurassic Park, with the intensity and unpredictability of animals gone wild. If you love this type of edge-of-your-seat read, you'll love Zoo as much as I did!(less)
A retired CIA agent is dealing with being home with his family after many bouts of wor...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
A retired CIA agent is dealing with being home with his family after many bouts of working abroad in secrecy. He must figure out how to raise his son Noah with Down Syndrome after his wife is suddenly gone and the idea that he might die before his son spurs him into action, making sure Noah will be taken care of. Coupled with the fact that he's trying to lay low with the large sum of money he had siphoned into his own offshore bank account during one of his CIA missions, his paranoia and his need to provide for his family are battling for his attention.
The premise is an interesting one, and that's what made me give it 2 stars rather than just 1. The idea of looking at what home life would be like for someone who's entire professional career was to be covert seemed really interesting to me.
I unfortunately could not get into this book. Full disclosure, I was sent this book by the author quite a while ago and had picked it up numerous times to try and read it, each time losing interest a few pages in. I'm actually not sure if I was sent a finished e-copy or an ARC with the number of spelling & grammatical errors, and repetitive narrative in some spots - as if the author had forgotten he had already said that a few pages earlier. Another point that completely turned me off of the book was the main character & his wife pushing for people to treat their son with respect, and getting the same opportunities that everyone is allowed but then referring to him as "mentally retarded". At first, I thought this might have been from the advanced copy, and hadn't been edited but it's right there in the synopsis as well. I'm sorry, I refuse to accept that a loving father & husband would refer to his son as "retarded" and any intention to show his humanity by looking out for him was overshadowed by that.
I wasn't quite following what was going on for most of the book and it wasn't until about 3/4 in that stuff really happened and caught my interest. I found the storytelling disjointed, and the main character to be not very likable at all. There was so much emphasis on him & his wife's love-making and his inadequacies that I was waiting for something significant to develop from that.
Unfortunately, A Spy at Home wasn't for me even though I did find the CIA/siphoned money plot point substantially more interesting than his day-to-day routines. (less)
The Friday Society follows the lives of three clever & capabl...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
The Friday Society follows the lives of three clever & capable women, all three assistants to powerful men in turn of the century London. Cora, a lab assistant to an inventor often found in opium labs, Nellie, a magician’s assistant to the highly-acclaimed Great Raheem, and Michiko, a Japanese fight assistant whose employer can’t understand much of what she’s saying to him. When people are mysteriously killed, the girls take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of it. An unlikely trio who become fast friends, they use their individual skills to work together to solve something the police don’t seem too interested in, before it’s too late.
This was my first steampunk novel, and it was definitely a fun read! I loved the theme of feminism throughout the whole story especially set in olde-tyme England. Perhaps because of the overwhelming sense of girl power, it allowed the readers to really assess the male characters and their motives. I kept suspecting the wrong people, or felt like I was wrong to be trusting others. Told through alternating POVs between the three girls, Kress does a good job of keeping the story moving while still giving adequate time to each girl’s story. I especially loved the tenth chapter, where it was broken out by quarters (10¼, 10½ & 10¾) , indicating it’s still the same scene – but different POVs.
While I found Nellie to be a bit too airheady and Michiko’s disjointed conversations with the other two girls to be a bit tiresome after a while, I definitely loved Cora’s personality and character the most. She was tough, smart and earned the respect of powerful men by seeing her as an equal. I also loved The Great Raheem, who is such a great supporting character in this book. He exhibited the kind of reverence and respect while not being patronizing towards his young assistant and her new friends. I find that it can be a fine line between being a father figure and sounding condescending and Kress writes this dynamic well.
The Friday Society is a great steampunk mystery with a Charlie’s Angels kind of vibe. A very fun & entertaining read!(less)
Hazel has moved to New York City to work on her thesis when she finds out that she's p...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Hazel has moved to New York City to work on her thesis when she finds out that she's pregnant with a married man's baby. The affair with her professor/thesis advisor is made more dire when a string of bizarre attacks start happening worldwide. The strange disease seems to be affecting women with blonde hair and turns them into vicious killers. Hazel must struggle to find her way home to Toronto and wrestle with the dilemma of whether to tell the father about her pregnancy.
After having just finished reading James Patterson's Zoo where animals go crazy and attack everyone, I don't know if I was prepared to read a book where blonde women go crazy and attack everyone. Even from the book jacket premise, I wasn't sure what to expect withThe Blondes and Schultz's novel proved to be a mix of heartfelt emotion, traumatic experiences and edge-of-your-seat paranoia. I hadn't realized when I started it that the novel was set in New York City and Toronto, which was a pleasant surprise.
Told in the voice of Hazel speaking to her unborn child, the narrative jumps frequently between the present, recent past and even further past. This was a nice way to break up the story and keep the pace going & discovery of facts timed right but I found it a bit jarring at times, to figure out what point Hazel's life this particular moment was at and how it related to everything else in that moment. I also felt that what Hazel was saying didn't always seem particularly appropriate to be telling her child, unborn or not. Perhaps Hazel doesn't find it bizarre telling her baby about the details of her and the father's relations but I found it a bit disturbing and inappropriate.
While I felt the ending left things a bit unresolved, I enjoyed the overall journey of getting there. Schultz establishes some great characters with very real and believable personalities given the scenarios and circumstances they find themselves in. I also loved that Hazel's thesis and major was on aesthetics, and the idea of aesthetics become such a big factor in the story - the paranoia, judgement and treatment of those with a certain look about them.(less)
Little is known about the mindset of Lena’s best friend Hana. Bring in Oliver’s 5-chapter installment of the Delirium tale, from the viewpoint of a supporting character. While it’s been a while since I read the two books in this series, this was a nice refresher to the world where people were afraid of contracting the “love disease”. I love this series & the main characters, but maybe there’s a reason Hana wasn’t in the front & centre. It was interesting to read her story, but I found myself not really caring too much about what she was going through.(less)
Violet Addison was only seven when her mother died under mysterious circumstances duri...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Violet Addison was only seven when her mother died under mysterious circumstances during a paranormal investigation. Since then, Violet has been shepherded between her Aunt Thelma and her father, a man who was starting up a funeral home business while determined not to have any memories of his former paranormal investigator life. When she starts the school year at a new high school and realizes that there were a lot of ghosts roaming the halls that she could communicate with, Violet is determined to use her abilities to finish the case that her mother couldn’t – with or without her father’s help.
Being a huge fan of the show Ghost Hunters, I was immediately drawn to the idea of Spookygirl. Granted all I know about paranormal investigations is what I’ve seen on TV, I felt Baguchinsky did a fantastic job of capturing the lingo, the process and the equipment that are important to a successful investigation. And after having just finished Joanne Levy’s Small Medium at Large, Violet feels like the teenage version of what Lilah grows up to be like. It turned out to be an appropriate transition between books.
It’s really a personal hangup of mine where stories about those who can hear ghosts always seem to have such cliché or campy conversations with them. True, not all ghosts are necessarily menacing and scary but there’s got to be a middle ground between cheesy and terrorizing. Spookygirl has an interesting blend of all different kinds, from scary to sappy – it makes for an interesting cast of characters. I did find some of the scenarios a bit too easily explained away, like it was packaged up in a neat bow and problem solved.
That being said though, I really enjoyed this book. It was like a YA version of watching a Ghost Hunters episode at times and this isn’t the last we’ll see of Violet Addison either. With the way this story leads to the ending, it definitely leaves it open to become a ghost hunting series. Looking forward to future cases with this young investigator!(less)
Anna, a 30-year-old school teacher, is tired of her stagnating re...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Ratings: 4.5 / 5 stars
Anna, a 30-year-old school teacher, is tired of her stagnating relationship and takes on a summer job tutoring T.J., a teenager whose cancer is in remission. T.J.’s family is already at their summer home and he is to fly in days later with Anna when their plane crashes and they struggle to survive on a deserted island. When signs of rescue are non-existent, Anna and T.J. cope with their new island life, attempting to keep their sanity and stay nourished & hydrated. When the days, weeks and months continue to pass, the pair become less teacher and student, when they start seeing each other in a different light.
I absolutely adored this book. Once I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. On the Island has a simple premise but an extremely compelling story. Initially, it was the title and how appropriate it was to my blog name that caught my interest but as soon as I started reading, I was immediately pulled into the narrative. This book could be like what would have happened on Lost if only two of them had survived! Told in alternating point of views, the reader is given both sides of the survival tale as the days go by.
My only main issue with T.J.’s POV was his excessive use of her name. I can’t imagine that if they’re the only two people on the island that he would have used her name as frequently as he did during his chapters. Almost every other sentence out of his mouth began or ended with “Anna”. Honestly, if I was stuck on a deserted island with someone who used my name that often, I’d want to change my name!
Setting that aside, Garvis-Graves lays out a beautiful tale of survival, companionship and the love that can come out of that. She tackles the subject of an older woman with a younger man with a tasteful finesse, and yet not pretending that the taboo isn’t there either. Throughout the entire book, I kept wondering if/when T.J.’s cancer would come back, what would happen if/when they were rescued and so many other variables that were so well established that either outcome could have happened at any moment. On the Island is a must-read for those who love a book with adventure, romance and the will they/won’t they type of chemistry between the characters!(less)
Shannon is abandoned as a newborn by her mother, who leaves her on the steps of the YMCA. She...moreThis, and other reviews can be found at Just a Lil' Lost
Shannon is abandoned as a newborn by her mother, who leaves her on the steps of the YMCA. She might not have survived if a man didn't see her mother drop her off and alert someone to the presence of a baby on the doorstep. Thus begins Shannon's childhood, living with different foster families and struggling to understand why her mother would give her away. She's inquisitive, she's mischievous and she's rebellious, often pushing away anyone that gets too close while reaching outwards to find out where she had come from.
Two stories told in one voice, makes Y a unique voice to read. Shannon narrates both her own life story as well as her birth mother, Yula's. It's interesting to hear her speak of her mother and father in a time before she was born and, similar to The Lovely Bones, the overseeing narrator almost gives it an eerier vibe. I doubt that the intention was to make it creepy but it did leave me with a kind of disoriented feeling, hearing Shannon refer to her father as such or by his first name. At times, I forgot that it was Shannon's voice and not her mother's telling her own story; that "father" meant Shannon's father and not Yula's (because that would certainly have made it a whole different kind of story!)
Y is a heartbreaking and heartwarming tale at the same time. I found myself rooting for Shannon through each of her foster homes and the circumstances she found herself in. Whether it was the living situation or her own foibles, each time there's a stumble you just want to reach out to the poor girl and help her back up on her feet. Celona writes in Shannon's voice with such confusion and wonder, often allowing the reader to feel like they are seeing the world through the child's eyes.
The title is so loaded with meaning, and its significance is infused throughout the core of Celona's writing. Whether it means the Y where Shannon was left, or the Y in her mother's name or even just the question "why?", the simple one-letter name for this book holds so much importance to the essence of this story. It reflects on the saying "home is where the heart is", and reexamines the definition of what constitutes a family. Reminiscent of Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals, this book is a powerful debut by a talented author.(less)
After Claire’s friend is caught bringing booze into the high school dance, her parents immediately pull her from her friends and enroll her in Cambial, the school that their family had started. Cambial Academy caters to training those who are gifted with having supernatural skills and Claire, having chosen to hide her bizarre gift, did not want to be part of this “school of freaks”. Those students who are particularly talented get inducted into a school group called The Exceptionals and when they start disappearing, everyone is on high alert. Claire struggles with whether to keep her strange ability to hear animals at bay or to try and train herself to use it to help her fellow students before it’s too late.
Right off the bat, when I read the premise, I was intrigued. It sounded a lot like X-Men, with Xavier’s School for the Gifted and while there are many YA books out there that have to do with kids honing their special skills, this had a very different feel to it. The characters all had distinctive qualities and enough mystery to them that you were never quite sure what their motives were. Cashman does a fantastic job at building the tension and pacing out the story, keeping everyone on high alert with who would disappear next – and why, culminating in an action-packed finale.
My one sticking point that I didn’t understand was why the interest in Claire and this ability to hear animals? That was never really satisfactorily explained on why hearing animals was such a big deal to everyone. I actually found the scenes where her skills were being used to be not as interesting as the rest of the story. The Exceptionals is definitely more an ensemble cast that brings the story together rather than Claire being the “lead”. It’s the overall cast of characters, situations and circumstances that really make this a unique and entertaining read.(less)
Harold Fry, a meek, retired man with a not-so-loving wif...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Harold Fry, a meek, retired man with a not-so-loving wife receives a letter from an old friend one day telling him that she is dying. He writes up a response and heads out to the corner mailbox to send it off. Upon reaching the mailbox moments later, he realizes that this is not a sufficient response for a dear friend so he keeps walking to the next corner, and then the following one after that. Before he knows it, Harold has embarked on a journey to walk across the country to his friend, in the hopes – and faith – that his walk will keep her alive if she waits for him to get there. The cast of characters he meets along the way leaves a mark with Harold as he continues walking along, pushing through even when it gets tough.
A simple task with a simple premise makes for a moving and profound story. The journey that Harold goes on is not only a literal one but also a mental and metaphorical one. He comes to discover, and rediscover much of what he felt he had lost with his loveless marriage. While Harold is walking from the South of England to the North, his wife finds that her hardened shell is softening as she realizes how much she misses the husband that she has antagonized for so many years of their marriage.
There were many poignant moments where Harold meets others with their own sets of woes and worries, and finds strength and motivation from them to keep going. Each with their own problems but also an inspirational spirit about them, many showing their kindness towards an older man on a bizarre trek. I also enjoyed the role that the media played in this story. It’s an interesting statement at how the media influence can affect individuals.
For most of the book, I imagined it to be set in an earlier time and if it were not for the mentions of mobile phones and tweeting, this could be a story that withstands the test of time. I don’t necessarily think that it detracts from the story at all, but it might seem dated years down the road when technology and social media trends have moved on.
Callie is a 7th grade student who loves everything about the theatre. She lives &...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Callie is a 7th grade student who loves everything about the theatre. She lives & breathes the backstage life all while juggling friendships and crushes. When the school announces one of her favourite musicals as that year’s production, she immediately goes into set designer mode, eagerly helping out in all different departments as well. Meeting new friends and dealing with weird behaviour from old ones, Callie goes through what many young people do at that age – heartaches, heartbreaks and a lot of growing up in the process.
This adorable middle-grade graphic novel is a fantastic read. The drawings are vivacious and cute, with a story that is familiar, yet unique at the same time. Being a theatre tech graduate myself, the plot and setting for this graphic novel immediately caught my attention. I just knew I had to read it and Telgemeier captured so many aspects of backstage life so well – from the calling of cues over headsets to the highs and woes that can befall a live production from night to night. While I was a little disappointed at the outcome of Callie’s crushing, I also commend her for establishing the route that it did as well.
The love that Telgemeier has for the theatre shines through in this graphic novel, and her appreciation for this craft is evident in her choice of words, her drawings and the story.(less)
Frieda never felt like she was normal and it’s because of this that she happens to sta...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Frieda never felt like she was normal and it’s because of this that she happens to stay home from work one day when all hell breaks loose. She manages to avoid a mass outbreak that causes the population to take on zombie-like qualities. She lives with her cat in a state of worry and caution, holed up in her home. She survives day-to-day until something happens that forces her out of her safe shelter. Having been alone for so long, she isn’t sure what to make of it when she encounters another out in the demolished city she once knew.
McNeil brings a fresh voice with this zombie apocalypse-type story. She has written a character that is refreshing and different from others I have read. Frieda is strong but vulnerable, self-conscious but self-assured. I really enjoyed the dynamic that was built up between her and her cat as they live in hiding and was actually a bit disappointed at the introduction of a male character. I felt that behind all of Frieda’s neuroses and inhibitions, she was strong and independent. So when a potential love interest shows up, I was apprehensive as to how that would change her. I really didn’t want the feel of this story to spin into a possible love story.
Personally, I am not a fan of the cover. It doesn’t feel final, or reflective of the good story that’s within the pages. That being said, Waiting for Daybreak is a different take to a zombie survival tale with an independent female main character. In spite of her self-proclaimed shortcomings, she somehow rises among the destruction to live on. Overall, a unique new voice to the zombie genre, and looking forward to McNeil’s subsequent work!(less)
Everyone has seen enough true-crime shows to know that the husband is almost always...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost...
Everyone has seen enough true-crime shows to know that the husband is almost always the prime suspect when their spouse disappears. So when Nick’s wife, Amy, goes missing on the day of their fifth anniversary, suspicion quickly surrounds the man who is acting erratically. As the investigation gets going, more and more evidence is unearthed to paint Nick in a not-so-great light. Despite all the bad press, Nick maintains his innocence but with a lack of proof, what is everyone supposed to believe?
Beginning from the day she disappears, the narrative flips back and forth between Nick’s POV and Amy’s diary entries. I really enjoyed this storytelling style. It gave the reader just enough information to pique their interest and more would be revealed with the other side being told; a “he said/she said”, if you will. This allowed the reader to constantly keep changing their theories, what they think happened and what the motives were. Just when you might get a sense of the truth, the other account will completely contradict it. The more we got to find out about this Manhattan couple that’s been relocated to Missouri, the more I found my sympathies jumping back and forth between the two. Like they say, there are always two sides to every story.
While I heard many things about this book - that it was crazy, filled with twists & turns and keeps you guessing till the shocking ending – I actually wasn’t familiar with what the actual premise was, and I was pleasantly surprised. I love a good crime mystery read and Flynn achieves this really well in Gone Girl. That being said, maybe I’ve seen too many Dateline episodes but I honestly guessed where it was going from about 1/3 of the way through… and boy was I mad at myself that I’d analyzed it so much that I figured it out so early on. The ending, while shocking, was also equally infuriating to me. I refused to accept that that was the end! So my advice? Don’t over-think this very twisted read and just enjoy the journey… take it as it’s being laid out for you and let the characters in the story solve the mystery for you.(less)
It’s 1985 and Freya has just moved to Canada with her mother & broth...moreThis, an interview, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
It’s 1985 and Freya has just moved to Canada with her mother & brother after her father dies in a freak accident while on the job. While on a school field trip to the museum in Toronto, she notices a familiar-looking stranger and follows him for blocks back to his house. Not able to get him out of her mind, she becomes obsessed with figuring out their connection. Little does she know that the two of them have begun to unravel a carefully crafted plot that they were not to have discovered. Now on the run, they don’t know who or what they can trust.
I had no idea that this book was set in Toronto! And not only is in set in Toronto, but it features so many landmarks and streets of the city making it feel a lot more personal and authentic. I did wonder how that would translate to those who are not familiar with the city, and I got a chance to ask Ms Martin just that in the interview over on my blog.
Yesterday begins with Freya and her family in some distressing situation and the tone is set right off the bat. However, with their move to Canada, the pace significantly slows down quite a bit. True, Freya is unsure of the new surroundings and feeling out of sorts with her new home but the overall pacing felt a bit bizarre. This book is likened to those who are fans of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and I can get that same sense of it with how both books completely change tones in the last quarter. In Yesterday, the last chunk of the book feels like a completely different story and, while I do love the scenes that are set in the downtown area, it’s not until the chaos starts up that I really got fully hooked into the story. I knew there was an element of time in play but the twist it takes did take me a bit by surprise. What I thought was a mainly contemporary read became very sci-fi, very quickly.(less)
Meg & Minnie, best friends who were invited to an exclusive secret party on an island for...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Meg & Minnie, best friends who were invited to an exclusive secret party on an island for the weekend. They are excited that their (shared) crush is going to be at the party as well, and all seems fine and normal until a storm rages in and strange occurrences start happening. When they pop in a DVD to watch, they're faced with a bizarre set of images that seem to set off a string of events that escalate in horrifying nature. When the party goers start dying off, the list of suspects narrows. The question hangs in the air of whether it is one of the remaining teens or someone else altogether who has been watching them.
What a nail-biter of a read! Akin to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, this YA reworking of the creepy mystery follows that same premise. I devoured this in one sitting (while at the cottage, no less) and McNeil is very adept at creating a creepy & chilling setting. While I felt most of the female characters in this book were beyond irritating, the guys had a lot more personality to them. There was more diversity in character among the males, where the majority of the girls just often acted really catty and bitchy - and that got irritating quick.
The build-up of tension was well-paced and kept me riveted to the pages. I found myself constantly trying to figure it out before it was revealed - which, I hate doing but I can't help myself sometimes! I wish I could get further into it, but being the nature of the story, I really can't without discussing plot points and giving stuff away. I'll just say that despite the very last moments where it felt a bit cheesy, I was actually quite surprised by the ending and who the killer ended up being. Well played, Gretchen. Well played. (less)
Abby is found dead, face down in a pool and all those around her are the suspects. From...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Abby is found dead, face down in a pool and all those around her are the suspects. From her boyfriend to her best friend, her rival to her secret lover – all of them had reason to want her dead and all of them are on the detective’s radar. Told in a 4-part story, each segment is from the point of view of each of the suspects.
Touted as a perfect read for fans of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, Alibi certainly lives up to that statement – and then some. Full of steamy lust, deceit and lies, the relationships of these characters converge and dissipate at a moment’s notice. Beginning with Charles’ story, each of the subsequent tales adds to or corrects the established narrative. While understandably that this is a collection of all 4 volumes, I felt it got a bit repetitive. Some conversations and scenes played out almost in full on several accounts where I felt it could have been acknowledged and perhaps moved along – although I do understand the point to establish the same moment in time to link the stories.
I also personally felt it a bit confusing at times with the jump in months that established time in the story. “End of August” or “End of October” didn’t really stand out to me in terms of what was going on with each character at that time. It’s not until I read a bit further into those sections that I remembered what was going on. There were some moments that were occurring in the present, and then flashbacked to recall their stories but at times it didn’t feel completely clear that was happening.
That being said, I am absolutely enthralled and amazed with how well these four volumes meshed together in such a cohesive way given that there were 4 authors – one to each part. I’d be curious to find out the writing process… whether they each took turns in a row to add to an established plot with their own character’s voice, or if they all sat down together to decide on the direction of where it would go beforehand, and then build off of it. A fantastically woven murder mystery that leaves you wondering who killed Abby, while adding a lot of red herrings or diversions along the way. All loose ends are cleverly explained and tied up, and just when I thought they had forgotten to answer one particular moment from the first volume, there it comes at the end. Very very well plotted out. I actually thought I had it all figured out by the 2nd volume at one point and was – thankfully – wrong as I would hate for the story to have cheapened out with that route.
The story is available in separated parts, but that just seems redundant to me. For a fairly quick read, you need to consume all 4 parts together to find out the full story of what happened to Abby Shelton.(less)
Jenny Lawson is also known in the online world as “The Bloggess“, with a popular blog of which this book shares some of those anecdotes. Growing up with a taxidermist father, Lawson and her younger sister were constantly surrounded by bizarre things and events, from squirrels in boxes to “turkeys” following them to school. This book is a collection of some poignantly hilarious life stories that has gotten Lawson to where she is today. Told in her distinctive voice, the stories range from a good ol’ narrative storytelling to a Post-It note argument to recounting events via blog entries.
This book had me from the first page of the first chapter. I must have read that Starbucks/Doctor story to countless numbers of friends because of how hilarious I thought it was. I loved Lawson’s style, the spastic, off-on-a-tangent way of telling her stories, complete with footnotes and “editor” interjections! As “evidence” of said stories, the book was interspersed with some small black & white photos (which I often found hard to really make out what it was clearly… would have loved if it was a bit bigger or in colour). While most of the book had ridiculous moments, it was the chapter about her meeting fellow bloggers for an outing that I felt really connected to. Finding some fantastic kindred spirits that don’t judge and are supportive of you because of a shared, connected interest.
The stories our often outrageous and almost always hilarious. You know the saying, “it’s funny because it’s true”? All the more relevant with Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. So crazy, you can’t make this stuff up! (And honestly, how can you resist that adorable mouse on the cover??)
Developing the story where Shatter Me left off, but in the POV of Warner – Juliette’s captor. Now THIS is how you do a character development story. Mafi continues with her eloquent style of writing, with flowing words and phrases without it being contrived. She completely steps into the shoes of Warner and allows us all to get another look at this apparent villain. So much angst and anguish. This story did to me with Warner what the “Confidence Man” episode of Lost did to me for Sawyer: highlighted the soft side of a bad boy. <3(less)
Andy feels uninspired and unmotivated with where his ar...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Andy feels uninspired and unmotivated with where his art degree will take him and decides to drop out in his final year. His parents, however, won’t let him lie around and pressures him to go out and find a job if he won’t be continuing with his education. Between figuring out his future and longing for Yumi, his art school crush, Andy feels even more lost than ever. That is until he lands a job offer working at a zoo in which he is the exhibit. In another dimension.
What a delightful read! This graphic novel is fresh and funny, sarcastic and witty. The drawings are simple, yet detailed. While reading Tune, I almost imagined that there was some shred of truth to some of it with how poignant and seemingly accurate Derek managed to capture the life & feelings of an art school student. What an interestingly sci-fi turn this story takes, which also leaves off with the reader wanting more of what happens to Andy.
I loved the writing and the art of Tune. Absolutely a new fan of Derek Kirk Kim’s and any fans of Scott Pilgrim and that similar witty writing will love this graphic novel too!(less)
A witty and hilarious journey through history and literary references, Hark! A Vagrant...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
A witty and hilarious journey through history and literary references, Hark! A Vagrant should be a companion to all History and English courses! Beaton’s observant and cheeky dialogue make for an entertaining twist to familiar stories we all grew up with. Ranging from different Sherlock scenarios to the French Revolution, the comics are, at times, shocking and funny all at once.
Thankfully, Beaton includes commentary on some of the comics, as a bit of background or what kind of headspace she was in at the time. This provided a bit of insight to the comics that I weren’t too familiar with. Many of the Nancy Drew variety, Beaton tackles some several-paneled comic strip storytelling with what kind of hijinx Miss Drew was getting herself into in that particular book, solely based on the cover art. Hilarious and quite possibly one of my favourite series of comic strips in the entire book. Another notable laugh-out-loud one was about Canadians feeling Canadian on 3 occasions.
Talented and hilarious, Beaton has a wry sense of humour that translates onto the page through her poignant and cheeky drawings.
Lilah Bloom is just a normal 12-year-old, hanging out w...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Lilah Bloom is just a normal 12-year-old, hanging out with her best friend Alex while watching her mom get remarried. As it starts to rain on an otherwise nice May afternoon, the last thing Lilah remembers is feeling tingles go through her body. She wakes up in the hospital to find that she had been struck by lightening and not only has she survived but she can now also hear the dead speaking to her. Her deceased grandmother constantly speaks to her and insists that she must help her father meet someone. Between dealing with her new ability to playing matchmaker to catching the attention from her crush, Lilah’s got her hands quite full.
I don’t normally review Middle Grade fiction but this one was too delightful to pass up. I enjoy ghost stories and this one was absolutely entertaining to read. Levy has captured the voice of a 12 year old as how I remember preteens at that age to be like. The inclusion of problems that kids at that age (and, I suppose, any age really) would be going through was subtle and well-woven into the story. Lilah has to deal with the remarraige of one of her parents, which unfortunately is quite the norm nowadays. She achingly pines for her crush, Andrew, and many of us might remember at that young age to be so completely obsessed about a crush and over analyzing every encounter with them. Most importantly, Levy writes about Lilah’s experience with a school bully. Now, more than ever, the issue of bullying is so timely and the whole story around this is dealt with well, and without sounding preachy.
While I found some of the ghostly interactions a little campy and silly, I had to remind myself that this was a book for younger readers. I also found it a bit odd how almost everyone Lilah approached with her new talent was so quick to accept it and not find it overly strange. If TV has taught me anything with all those shows, I guess that’s how it is with mediums… if you have proof, it’s hard to dispute that! The ending left me a bit confused as to the outcome of a few of the characters and how it worked out for them but the story definitely leaves it up for a sequel, and I hope there is one!
Levy’s narrative is filled with humour and candor, with many cringe-worthy and laugh-out-loud moments. The younger readers will love this and the older readers will chuckle with the memories of their own experiences in some of these awkward situations.(less)
The "Hunt" that this book's title refers to is the Heper Hun...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
The "Hunt" that this book's title refers to is the Heper Hunt; a once in a lifetime opportunity to partake in a game to hunt humans, Known as hepers to this society of sunlight-fearing savages, these humans live blissfully unaware of the impending hunt. They live in protected community, being free to roam during the day when everyone is asleep, and protected from their hunters at night by a dome that encircles their living space. Gene always knew he wasn't like the others, but to the strong urging of his parents, he had a meticulous routine to hide his true identity to his fanged peers. Staying under the radar was his main goal until his number was selected as one of the few in a lottery for participants in the Heper Hunt. Now, he must keep up the ruse among a group that's hungry for human blood.
While Fukuda doesn't outright call them vampires, that's basically what this blood-hungry society is. A heart-pounding adventure of a guy trying to hide everything that makes him human from everyone around him. As simple as it may seem, I really liked the fact that the main character was a male. I've read so many YA books that have females in the lead role that it was a surprisingly refreshing change of pace for The Hunt to feature a male lead.
The world that Fukuda has created is a well thought-out, skewed parallel of one that we know. It blends a world where there are high-tech computers and equipment with the use of a horse and carriage for transportation. The humans/hepers are seen as undomesticated savages who seem to make strange noises from their throats, a description of singing which I found to be quite humorous.
With seemingly tongue-in-cheek observations that us readers can enjoy, The Hunt is at times funny, other times gory but always an edge-of-your-seat ride that will keep you racing to find out what happens. I didn't initially realize there was to be a sequel, but I'm definitely glad that there will be! The second installment, The Prey, is due out in 2013. (less)