The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 13th by Atria
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Today, Evelyn Hugo is 79. She is making headlines again with the impending auction of her most famous gowns.

Who is Evelyn Hugo, you ask? She is an actress, an icon. She is an Elizabeth Taylor, a Marilyn Monroe. And she hasn’t done an interview in decades.

Her people reach out to Vivant magazine, offering an exclusive interview. There is, however, a catch. Evelyn does not want just anyone interviewing her. She insists on being interviewed by Monique Grant, a veritable unknown reporter working for the magazine, writing mainly puff pieces.

Monique is shocked, and so is the editor. However, neither of them are willing to give up this amazing opportunity. Everyone has so many questions. Why Vivant? Why Monique? Why does Evelyn want to give an interview now? Read more…

Tantalizing and Electric–White Fur by Jardine Libaire

White Fur by Jardine Libaire

Hardcover, 305 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Hogarth Press
Amazon | Indigo | Goodreads

Note: I received a copy of this book for my participation in the TLC book tour.

Young, dumb, and in love, Elise and Jamey will take you for one hell of a ride.

Romeo and Juliet with more grit, these two passionate, obsessively in love, twenty-somethings find themselves in a motel with a shotgun on the first page. How do they get there? You have to dive in to find out.

When? The 1980s. Where? Connecticut and New York.

Elise Perez is a rough-and-tumble girl from the wrong side of the tracks. She doesn’t graduate high school, and instead picks up the slack of her single mother, caring for her half siblings. One day she can’t take it anymore. She runs away from home and finds herself sleeping in a car in New Haven. There, a kind stranger finds her and ends up becoming her roommate.

Next-door lives a couple of Yale students in an off-campus townhouse. One of them is Jamey Hyde. He is indisputably from the right side of the tracks in every possible way. He was born and bred from money, and immediately placed on the conveyor belt. Heir to an investment-bank fortune, he is fully expected to fit the mold and join the family business. Read more…

Missing | A New YA Mystery from Kelley Armstrong

missing kelley armstrong book coverMissing by Kelley Armstrong

Young Adult Mystery
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 18th, 2017 by Doubleday Canada
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review. 

The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.

The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.

But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?

If you know me, you know that I’m a huge K.A. fangirl. The Cainsville series is one of my all time favourites, and I’ve been known to gush about her Casey Duncan books, too.

But you might also remember my first foray into her young adult books. If not, here is how I felt about The Masked Truth (spoiler, not good). I was worried that this reading experience was going to go the same way, but I was willing to give it a chance.

So, when I picked up Missing, I was worried. But I didn’t need to be! It was a perfect book, and sure, some things were a little over the top. However, I didn’t really notice that when I was reading it. I was easily able to suspend my disbelief, nothing managing to be enough to pull me out of the story. I was completely engaged the whole time. I had to know what would happen next.

One thing I love about Kelley Armstrong is her knack for writing intense, independent, kick-ass women. Missing is no exception. Winter Crane is not a girl you want to mess with.

Fun and exciting throughout, this mystery will keep you on your toes. If an easy to read, gripping mystery in the woods and a creepy small town sounds up your alley… definitely pick this one up.

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

Cover of Woman No. 17 by Edan LepuckiWoman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 9th, 2017 by Hogarth Press
I received a copy of this book for my participation in the TLC book tour.

High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. Left alone with her children, she’s going to need a hand taking care of her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In response to a Craigslist ad, S arrives, a magnetic young artist who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s toddler, Devin, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage son, Seth. S performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady.

 

But in the heat of the summer, S’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. And as Lady and S move closer to one another, the glossy veneer of Lady’s privileged life begins to crack, threatening to expose old secrets that she has been keeping from her family. Meanwhile, S is protecting secrets of her own, about her real motivation for taking the job. S and Lady are both playing a careful game, and every move they make endangers the things they hold most dear.

Darkly comic, twisty and tense, this mesmerizing new novel defies expectation and proves Edan Lepucki to be one of the most talented and exciting voices of her generation.

Read more…

Almost Missed You, A Spring She Reads Pick!

Cover of Almost Missed You by Jessica StrawserAlmost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

Thriller
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 28th, 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

Almost Missed You is a spring She Reads pick! I received a copy for my honest review.

Almost Missed You is an emotional thriller about marriage, family, secrets, and what it means to really know someone.

The story begins on a beach in Florida. Violet, Finn, and their son Bear are on a beach vacation, soaking up the sun. When it’s time for Bear’s nap, Finn takes him up to the hotel to put him down. After a while, Violet decides to go check on them. When she gets to their room, no one is there, and only her belongings remain. Where have they gone? Where is her son?! Read more…

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel | Shit got dark real fast

 The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Adult Fiction
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published March 7th, 2017 by Crown
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

Please note: I received an ARC of this book in for my honest review and participation in the TLC Book Tour.

I read and enjoyed The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel. When I found out she was writing an adult mystery, I had to get my hands on it. The Roanoke Girls is the story of a missing woman, an insanely dysfunctional family, a small town, and a woman returning home to look for her missing cousin.

It had me at “missing woman” and “dysfunctional family.”

Read more…

What to do if your sister is a psychopath | Review of My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

 My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

Young Adult (with Adult crossover appeal)
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published November 15th, 2016 by Soho Teen

My Sister Rosa–The story of a nomadic family, a reluctant son, and a psychopathic sister. What would you do if you saw danger in your ten year old sister that no one else did?

We follow seventeen year old Che as he navigates his new life in NYC. Never staying in one place longer than his first childhood home in Sydney, Australia, Che hates moving. All he wants to do is go back to Sydney, back to his friends.

Once Che starts to settle into his new city and his new boxing gym, he meets a girl that makes New York seem not so bad. The beautiful, powerful, lithe, muscular Sojourner—Sid to her friends. He also begins to make friends with the caustic Leilani, daughter of his parents’ friends and benefactors the McBrunights.

Che never truly feels settled though. No matter where he is, no matter how cool his friends, he can never escape his sister Rosa, and his desire to protect her—and protect others from her.

That’s another thing about moving so much—no one else can see what Rosa really is. When Che tries to tell people, they don’t believe him. All they see is the sweet little blonde-ringletted ten year old in front of them. Even his parents make excuse after excuse.

What can Che do when he is not there to watch Rosa? What can he do about the new “friendship” she has made? How can he stop her from manipulating those around her? How far will she go to get what she wants?

This book was a great blend of contemporary realistic YA and mystery. It had the best elements of both. This book gets kudos for diversity, great friendships, swoonworthy romance. It also has the serious creep factor in little Rosa.When I began the book, I thought I was getting into a thriller. Although this book definitely has thrilling elements, I wouldn’t call it that. It’s not straight-up one genre. I liked reading a contemporary from a guy’s perspective—I don’t read those a lot. I’m thinking I should give it a try. And maybe one actually written by a dude.

I did have a couple of qualms, though minor, with My Sister Rosa. There were no Oxford commas and that bugs the shit out of me. I get that some of the words were with the Australian spelling, but I feel like “Woah” is always wrong and that was in there more than once. I also found Sojourner’s brand of Christianity a little unsettling. It’s definitely good to be loving and accepting of all people. But to me, the description of her faith came across as a bit of a cop out of the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too variety.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. If you want an exciting, interesting read with a little bit of creepy, I’d recommend My Sister Rosa.

Note: This book does have some mature content.

Our Final Foray into the Tearling | The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Fate of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen

Hardcover, 496 pages
Published November 29, 2016 by Harper
Please note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review as part of the book tour. Please also note: This review may contain slight spoilers for the previous two books. However, this does not contain spoilers for The Fate of the Tearling. If you are looking for a review of either of the previous two books, check out some of the other stops on the tour.
This series holds a very… strange place in my heart. When I’m reading it, I’m completely engrossed and totally obsessed. When waiting between installments, I certainly am eagerly anticipating the next one, but I have no problem waiting. And by the time that next one comes out… I seem to have forgotten all the pertinent details. This doesn’t usually happen with books I love, but love these books I do.

 Sadly, this is the final book in the trilogy.
When I began reading The Fate of the Tearling, I sort of wished I had re-read the previous books to refresh my memory. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have the time to do that, so I took to the internet. Luckily, this time around there were plenty of reviews and synopsis floating about (this was not the case when I reviewed The Invasion of the Tearling).
As I read, the important things generally came back to me. And man, I was sucked in. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about reading it. It’s such an interesting world with complex and flawed characters. I was always longing to get back to them and their fate.
If I’m being honest, there are flaws in these books and things that, upon reflection, I don’t love. However, when I’m reading them, none of those matter. I get so caught up in the story and the characters that my emotional side takes the reins and my intellectual side takes a bit of a break (but only a bit).
Kelsea is a really interesting character. She is a young woman with so much riding on the success of her reign. There is so much she wants to do for her kingdom, but all of that comes at a price. In this book, payment comes due as the Red Queen takes Kelsea off to Mortmesne. She must face the reality of her decisions the decisions of those that came before her. Is there anything she can do to save the Tearling from its fate?
This book continues the trend of switching back and forth in time and back and forth between characters. We read chapters from Kelsea’s perspective, the Mace’s, the Fetch’s, and characters from the past such as Katie, and Row Finn. We learn more about the Tearling and how it came to be the way it is.
This time around, these changes in perspective sat much better with me. In The Invasion of the Tearling, I found that the changes were jarring and brough me out of the story. In The Fate of the Tearling, however, I thought it was executed much better. I never felt myself pulled from the world of the book.
One of my few qualms with this book is the same as in The Invasion of the Tearling: there wasn’t enough of the Fetch for me! He is such an interesting character and I don’t think he’s used nearly enough! In this book, he was in it much more than the previous one. But most of it was backstory. And honestly, I didn’t love his backstory.
Another qualm I have with this series as a whole is its treatment of religion. It makes sense to me that the Church would become corrupt, and this in itself is not what I have a problem with. I don’t particularly care for the way the characters talk about religion as a whole, as if only the ridiculous, gullible, and uneducated follow any religion. It was treated as a cult. And yes, in this story, the religions are more like cults. But this felt like a blanket judgement of all religions. That didn’t sit right with me.
Finally, this is only kind of a qualm: the ending. I think it’s a fine ending and it was really quite brave of Johansen to do it this way. It makes sense with the plot and it rather fitting of the series. However, when I finished the book, I didn’t feel satisfied. And I know that maybe that’s not the worst thing, especially since the ending was true to the integrity of the story. But still. I wasn’t satisfied.
 
Overall, I LOVED this book and completely devoured it. This series is definitely one of my favourites. If you haven’t read it, you need to!
 
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harper for the opportunity to read and review this book! For more reviews, tour stops, and author information, check out the rest of the book tour here

Jessica Valenti’s Sex Object: A Memoir … And Me

Eight months or so ago, I discovered the work of prominent feminist writer and activist, Jessica Valenti. She’s been doing great work for several years (which, apparently, I’ve been oblivious to), including writing and co-writing six books and founding the website Feministing. After reading some of her stuff, I began eagerly anticipating the spring release of her memoir, Sex Object.

When Sex Object first came on my radar, I began frequently checking the library listings until I was able to put a hold on it. When it came in for me, it was crisp, shiny, and new in its protective plastic sleeve. I wanted to eat it.

The moment I got home, book in hand, I cracked it open and began to read. I devoured it.

Valenti’s writing is raw and unflinching. She draws you in and forces you to see the realities she presents. You can’t look away.

In Sex Object, Valenti presents essay after essay detailing her, often horrific, experiences. From a young age, there was a piece of her identity that was thrust upon her: sex object. She did nothing to garner this attention, but it was given nonetheless.

A high school teacher once told me that identity is half what we tell ourselves and half what we tell other people about ourselves. But the missing piece he didn’t mention—the piece that holds so much weight, especially in the minds of young women and girls—is the stories that other people tell us about ourselves.

Valenti explores this with grueling honesty as she brings us back and forth in her timeline, detailing the ways this has affected her life and continues to do so—in countless and different forms.

When I reached around the halfway point, I knew this wasn’t a book I could just finish and forget about. It wasn’t a book that I could return to the library and never really look at again. So, naturally, mid-read, I went out and bought myself a copy.

Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t a perfect book. However, it is an honest and important read. Stories like Valenti’s are key pieces in the broader conversation that we all need to be having about sexism, objectification, and harassment. I may have read some fair critiques of Sex Obect, but none of them take away from its value.

One such critique is the seemingly haphazard array of stories throughout Sex Object. The transitions between chapters and sections are often quite jarring. You go from one horrific tale to the beginning of a seemingly innocuous anecdote several years later, and so on and so forth.

I don’t find this a detracting factor. I think this pattern of storytelling embodies what Sex Object is all about. It is jarring and uncomfortable to suddenly find yourself the center of unwanted, sometimes aggressive, sexual behaviour and attention.

While reading Sex Object, I found that I don’t share much of Valenti’s personal experience. I didn’t grow up in a large city. I didn’t use public transit (and still don’t). I grew up in an upper-middle class family, in a small, insular community. I wasn’t exposed to the same things Valenti was as she grew up and matured as a woman. If I experienced such objectification, it was always rare, and almost always treated with a laugh. It was never to such an extreme that I felt more than a little uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, however, things have changed. I’m still not in anywhere near the same circumstances as Valenti, but I now find myself relating to her stories more than ever.

Over the last nine months, I’ve dropped four dress sizes. For the most part, I am proud of myself and feel good and healthy. However, when summer came, I was awash with attention I’d previously rarely received.

When I changed to a summery wardrobe, I wore dresses that exposed (gasp!) my legs, and tops that exposed (gasp!) my shoulders, and things with waistlines that were (gasp!) fitted. And men have noticed. And they have been vocal about it. This is insulting and uncomfortable on so many levels.

I first noticed it at work. Customers gawking at me as I walk by. Male customers repeatedly seeking my help with things they don’t actually need help with. Older men calling me “sweetheart” and plying me with “harmless” flirtatious conversation where they hadn’t before.

This doesn’t just happen at work.

I’ve recently moved into the city and have taken to going for walks regularly. It never occurred to me that an afternoon stroll alone (or even with another girl) might be an occasionally uncomfortable experience. But it is.

I’m a library assistant. Before that, I worked in retail. Smiling at strangers is second nature to me. I do it without even thinking. However, on my walks, I’ve now started to think about it. And stop myself. Just look straight ahead, I tell myself when I pass people on the street.

I know that not everyone is a creep, but at this point I’ve had too many men leer at me in response. I don’t want to see it. I try not to. I try not hear the honks or shouts or whistles as cars drive by.

These incidents may not all happen in rapid succession, but they happen at least once a day. I had been so proud of my weight loss. But now, some days, I feel worse than ever. Outfits that had previously made me feel pretty give me pause. What kind of attention do I want to receive today? I have to scold myself.

If I let thoughts of these men decide what I’m going to wear or do, I’m just giving them more power. And honestly, that’s what they’re after. They seem to think that their thoughts and desires—and the expression of such—are more important than my comfort or safety. They don’t see me as a person.

But I am a person. I am a person with thoughts, feelings, and my own identity. We all are. I wish there was a magic wand I could wave to change this about the world. But, sadly, there isn’t. All we can do is keep our heads up, not accept this as “normal,” and keep talking about it. This kind of attention is not a compliment. It’s harassment.

Valenti’s purpose in Sex Object is an important one. She will not brush off these things. She will not pretend that they don’t happen. She will not for one moment accept that they are in any way okay. Instead, she details her experiences and shows how not okaythey are, how horrible they are. She shows us that these are not one-offs. They are not harmless. These comments and actions are expressions of the deep-seated beliefs that society holds about women. They are a symptom of a greater problem. These attitudes lead to real violence against women.

While my daughter lives in a world that knows what happens to women is wrong, it has also accepted this wrongness as inevitable.

Although I am not a re-reader, I can see myself reading Sex Object again. It made me think about and reflect upon issues that I had previously not personally experienced. Its raw, unflinching, brutal honesty made me shudder at the realities women and girls face, every day. We, like Valenti, need to keep talking about this and stop brushing it aside. We need to stand up, reject this dehumanization, and not consider it “normal” or “inevitable.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to take my cue from Valenti. Society may try to make us out to be sex objects, but let us refuse to accept it.

Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
Hardcover, 205 pages
Published June 7th, 2016 by Dey Street Books
Goodreads | Indigo

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