Review: Beartown - Fredrik Backman

photo-1-1.jpg

“Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 37 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

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

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

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

My Thoughts —

It’s not very often that I give a book a 5-star review. I’m the type of person who can be a tad too generous with throwing around 5-stars, even if a book doesn’t fully deserve it, so I try to be a bit more critical and put more thought into my ratings these days. That being said, Beartown deserved every point on each and every one of these five stars - and more.

It’s pretty funny, in hindsight, how much I loved this book because when I bought it, I had the wrong idea about what it’s about. Like completely wrong. I thought it was just a feel-good novel about a small town that rallies together to help their local hockey team with the championship game. Yes, there’s a hockey team. Yes, they’re from a small town, that does support them fully. But that’s where the similarities end. There’s so much more of a complex storyline to this book that I couldn’t even begin to describe without giving away all the suspenseful bits that made it so enjoyable to read.

The writing is what initially gripped me. Fredrik Backman knows what he’s doing, that’s for certain. The first few pages completely engulfed me in intrigue and excitement. I wanted to know what would happen. I wanted to devour this book in a day. Unfortunately, it took me a month to read because of finals and Christmas events. I was constantly itching to get back to reading this novel. Apparently, it wasn’t even originally written in English. That just blows me away. Not a lot of novels translate well, but this one definitely did.

Honestly, if I were to only recommend one book that I read in 2018, it would be Beartown.

Have you read Beartown? Did you love it as much as I did?

Felicia x

Review: Love & War - Melissa De La Cruz

IMG_5220.jpeg

“We will only stand if we learn to accept and even embrace each other’s differences rather than allow them to divide us.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (American Revolution), Young Adult, Romance

Reading Challenge: 32 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

As the war for American Independence carries on, two newlyweds are settling into their new adventure: marriage. But the honeymoon's over, and Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler are learning firsthand just how tricky wedded life can be. Alex is still General George Washington's right-hand man and his attention these days is nothing if not divided--much like the colonies' interests as the end of the Revolution draws near. Alex & Eliza's relationship is tested further by lingering jealousies and family drama.

My Thoughts —

If you haven’t read my review of the first book in this trilogy, go ahead and give that a read here first!

I’m gonna come right out and say it. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first book, Alex & Eliza. I felt like this took a really different approach to the Hamiltons’ story than I was expecting. I get that it’s a YA series, so it may not deal with a lot of the more mature themes of their marriage (i.e. death, infidelity, etc.). But it just seemed a bit too light-hearted, if that makes sense? Even the conflicts they faced seemed to be solved almost immediately. It just seemed like they were living their own fairytale which, if you know the true history, you’ll know is not realistic.

I really hope that the final book of the trilogy, All For One (which is scheduled to be published in spring 2019) will be closer to the Hamiltons’ story. I just found that this novel was a lot more fiction than it was historical fiction. Sort of like Reign, but maybe even more far-fetched?

Have you read Love & War? What did you think?

Felicia x

A Book Lover's Dream

Despite being a book lover for the past twenty years of my life, I have never found my way into a secondhand bookshop before. Can you believe it? Years of dreaming about the romance of small independent bookshops, even writing about them 24/7, and I’d never even stepped into one. I guess the problem was that I was raised in a large city, where local businesses weren’t very popular and every corner was another chain store. I grew up in Chapters and Indigo shops.

Moving into a small town really gave me a new perspective on small, local businesses. My town only has a population of 10,000 people - literally 72x smaller than my hometown. Take a second for that to sink in. So it was a huge adjustment. Living in a small town made me realize how important it is to support local businesses. Unfortunately, there isn’t a bookshop in my town (yet…one day I’ll put one in there myself).

A few towns over, there’s a bookshop called Pickwick Books. When I used to live in Mississauga, I sometimes would drive home through the town Waterdown and would always pass by Pickwick on the way. I loved the look of it. There was something about it, this little adorable shop on the corner, that completely piqued my interest. I had to know what was in there. Flash forward two years and I still hadn’t gone in there. In my defence, it is about an hour away from home.

But this Saturday morning, my boyfriend told me to get dressed to go out, as he was taking me on a surprise date. And much to my delight, we pulled up to Pickwick Books an hour later!!!

IMG_5370.JPG
IMG_5372.JPG
IMG_5371.JPG

Pickwick was everything I could ever dream of. It was a small shop with dozens of shelves around the shop, filled to the max with books. On a stack of books was another stack of books. Everywhere you looked - to each side, on the ground, above your head - there were books. It was a cozy little cave of books. The woman running the store was so kind and let us browse without following us around the shop, which I was so grateful as I’m particularly introverted and would rather browse alone.

One of my favourite areas of the shop was the Book Vault. It was an extremely small room (literally only my boyfriend and I could fit inside and we were in very close quarters) with just three walls full top to bottom of historical books, separated by era. Literally every era of history you could imagine. It was absolutely a dream come true for me, being someone who loves books and is a history fanatic. I wanted to live in that vault forever.

The other really cool thing I found in the shop was that they sold old, rare editions of books. They had collections of famous author’s books that were from the 19th century, going as far back as even the 1830s. I was in awe. There were Charles Dickens sets from the mid-1800s, when Charles Dickens was writing his books. It was absolutely incredible to see in person. Of course, I didn’t buy any of those since I don’t have $500 to spend on a set of Dickens novels, especially since I already have a set haha. But it was very cool to see, especially the books which were still in volumes as they were popularly released back then.

I ended up leaving the shop with one book for myself, a beautiful hardcover copy of Selected Poems & Letters of Emily Dickinson. I got it for $25 and when I got home, I searched it online to find out it typically goes for $50 USD because it’s a 1959 edition. I was sooo pleased with my purchase!!!

Here’s your little reminder to check out your local businesses. They’d love to have you shop there and who knows what you’ll find tucked away in a shelf.

Felicia x

Review: Gmorning, Gnight - Lin-Manuel Miranda

IMG_5221.jpeg

“Good night now, and rest. Today was a test. You passed it, you’re past it. Now breathe till unstressed.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Poetry, Nonfiction, Self Help

Reading Challenge: 31 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda's audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun.

Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.

My Thoughts —

So I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again for the new readers: I absolutely adore Lin-Manuel Miranda. I think he’s oh so talented and practically the most inspiring person of our time, not to mention adorably dorky. And now he’s gone and created the most adorable, uplifting book I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

I really loved reading this book. It went by so quickly since it’s only about 200 pages and there’s only a few lines per page. But the little time I did spend with this book was lovely. Every passage was uplifting and empowering. I took to putting Post-It notes on the pages of my favourite passages, but that ended up being about 90% of the book by the end lol. I loved everything so much. Lin really has an incredibly way of putting things into perspective and making you appreciate the small things in life.

I think this would be a really excellent graduation gift idea, for those who know someone that’s graduating high school or post-secondary education! Also, if you want to read more of his “Gmorning, Gnight” style tweets, you can find those on his Twitter.

Are you a Lin-Manuel fan, like me?

Felicia x

Review: Alex and Eliza: A Love Story - Melissa De La Cruz

IMG_5228.jpeg

“And you, Colonel Hamilton, are mine, and I am yours always.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (American Revolution), Young Adult, Romance

Reading Challenge: 30 out of 50

My Thoughts —

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

My Thoughts —

Recently, I’ve become super obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. I’ve been in love with it for a few years now for whatever reason, my obsession has skyrocketed in the past few months. Sadly, I’ve not yet had the chance to see it. My boyfriend tried to get tickets for the two of us to see it in NYC last year, but they came out to about $2,000 US!! So that was NOT happening. Since it won’t be coming to Toronto until the 2019/2020 season, I’ve had to find other ways to fuel my addition - like reading Hamilton-inspired lit apparently.

Melissa De La Cruz was actually one of my fav authors when I was a preteen, back when Girl Stays in the Picture came out (THE THROWBACK). When my reading tastes changed, I moved on from her books. But I was excited to read another one of her books again after all these years and see what I’d been missing.

I loved this book!! As you may know, I’m a huge YA fan. This is so up my alley that it’s crazy. The love between Alex and Eliza was palpable and I think it really was the perfect kickoff for the long history of the Hamiltons. I thought this novel read a lot like a modern-day Jane Austen novel. Not even just because it was set in the 18th century, but because it has a romantic storyline with a strong heroine lead and it ends in a wedding. I loved the Austen-esque elements and although I’m not sure if the author intended to include them, I think they were pretty perfect!

I also thought it was quite interesting how the novel was told from both the perspectives of Alex and Eliza. Especially since there was a fair chunk of the novel where Alex was off doing war-related things. It was pretty cool because then you got to see both sides of the story. It also gave readers the opportunity to be introduced to other key historical figures such as the Sons of Liberty. I’m very 50/50 when it comes to dual narratives, but when they’re done effectively I’m quite keen on them and I think it was done very well in Alex & Eliza!

There were obviously a ton of differences between this novel and Hamilton which I think ultimately comes down to picking and choosing which details to include and which to omit. For instance, in the musical, a lot of details were excluded or altered to work with the storyline - this was also done with Alex & Eliza. I did find that with Alex & Eliza, everything was a lot more fluffy which makes sense as it’s a YA novel. So if you’re looking for a hard-hitting, authentic Revolutionary War retelling, maybe look elsewhere.

I’m really interested to see how this series progresses throughout the next couple books! I already started Love & War which is the sequel, but the third and final book isn’t being released until April 2019 - so I have a bit of time left until that one! Until then, keep an eye out for my Love & War review!

Are you a Hamilton fan?

Felicia x

Review: All We Ever Wanted - Emily Giffin

IMG_5219.jpeg

“Who was the person you trusted enough to be your most transparent self with, in both good times and bad?”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 29 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

My Thoughts —

So I actually ordered this book this summer whilst sitting at the Port Orleans resort, beignet in hand, trying to decide which three (yes, three) books to order from Indigo. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make because a) I’m already indecisive enough and b) the five or so books I wanted were all so interesting and I couldn’t bear to part with even one. But this one really stuck out to me. Like, something told me I needed this book immediately after reading the synopsis.

This book was wild from start to finish y’all. I really had a difficult time putting it down. It’s intense but not in a suspenseful, action-packed way. I think that most importantly, it really speaks to my generation. With social media being so prominent in our society, things can get really messy. Social media is great in that it links our worlds together and creates an opportunity for mass communication and social change. But it can also become a nightmare real quick, if it’s used for the wrong thing. I think this book really shows the dangerous side of social media and the novel presents itself in a way as a cautionary tale to parents and even teens. Are teens reading Emily Giffin? I did in high school but who knows!

I thought that the characters of Lyla and Finch were really well-represented as modern teens. Every time I read novels by authors long out of high school, I keep an eye out for how the teenagers are portrayed because I think that sometimes authors are out of touch with the young-ins (lol). In All We Ever Wanted, this wasn’t the case at all. I could definitely see Lyla and Finch as being real teenagers at my old high school. Having authentic characters really enhances the reading experience for me. I don’t know if it bothers anyone else as much as me. Is it a me problem? Who knows.

Honestly, just go read this book. You won’t regret it. I can’t say much about it without giving away the plot. But it was so gripping and it dealt with a ton of intense conflicts outside of just the social media issue that I think makes the novel that much more important of a read. Definitely pick this up at your bookstore immediately. Like go, right now!

Have you read All We Ever Wanted? If you have, what did you think?

Felicia x

Review: Dear Mrs. Bird - A.J. Pearce

IMG_5226.jpeg

“If there was anything I wanted most in the world (other, of course, than for the war to end and Hitler to die a quite grisly death), it was to be a journalist.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (WWII), Fiction

Reading Challenge: 28 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

My Thoughts —

If you hadn’t already noticed, wartime fiction has sort of become my jam this year. It’s had a pretty substantial presence on my reading list. Recently, historical fiction has become one of my favourite genres to read, especially ones set in WWII or post-WWII era. I can’t get enough of it!

Quite simply, I found this book to be very cute. I don’t think that it was nearly the hardest-hitting of all the wartime novels I’ve read this year but I do think it was an important look at women’s efforts during the Second World War. I’ve been studying women’s history this term in university and the past little while has been all about interwar years and WWII so it’s definitely been interesting to see the parallels between my school stuff and my recreational reading.

I think that Emmy was a bit immature, considering that she was in her early twenties and involved in war efforts. I would think that war would make people, even young people, mature quicker due to the circumstances and focus more on the important issues. But Emmy’s primary concern was becoming a big fancy war correspondent and the rest was just ~whatevs~… I also thought her best friend was immature and sometimes annoying as well.

(Side note: I also have to mention the fact that some things were capitalized randomly throughout the novel to draw emphasis, and it absolutely bothered me to not end. If you remember my review on The Alice Network, you probably remember how this sort of thing in writing is my biggest pet peeve!)

Honestly I just saw this as more of a lighthearted adult fiction that just so happened to be set during the war, as opposed to a wartime novel. It was a cute, heartwarming story. I loved the focus on women breaking into the paid workforce, but it just didn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi you know?

Have you read Dear Mrs. Bird? Do you agree with me?

Felicia x

Review: Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

IMG_5225.jpeg

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Romance

Reading Challenge: 27 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Jane Austen's first novel—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen's fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical novel pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex.

My Thoughts —

So, first off, Northanger Abbey is the first of Austen’s novels to be prepared for publication (even though it didn’t come out until after she died). I think that’s what makes this book less of a hit with me, compared to her later works - like my personal fav, Pride and Prejudice. But that’s definitely not to say that the writing in Northanger Abbey is immature! Jane Austen was always wise beyond her years and I still think Northanger Abbey is a great novel, just not one of the best. You know?

I thought it was quite clever that Jane Austen used Catherine’s love for Gothic novels almost as a flaw in her character. It was a really tongue-in-cheek jab at Ann Radcliffe. Catherine’s imagination and obsession with the novels gets her into quite a lot of trouble, which is a fairly amusing storyline.

The one thing that irks me though is that Henry Tilney, for the majority of the novel, is quite annoying. He’s presumptuous and condescending. Most of his time spent with Catherine, and his sister Eleanor for that matter, is by berating her for her interest in Gothic novels and how her perception of things is wrong. Blah blah blah. He does get less tiresome throughout the last half of the novel. THANK GOD.

All in all, it was a pretty good read! I might not read it again, though.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Do you like Northanger Abbey?

Felicia x

Review: My Lady Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

0DAE07C1-D75C-4695-9B5C-6F4B93EC3E12-1000.jpg

“She delighted in the smell of the ink, the rough feel of the paper between her fingers, the rustle of sweet pages, the shapes of letters before her eyes.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Reading Challenge: 26 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

My Thoughts —

First and foremost, let me start by saying that I love the Tudor era and everything about it. Which is ultimately why I decided to pick up this novel. Except this is no ordinary historical fiction. It tells the story of Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the Nine Days’ Queen. But this time around, it’s far less tragic and a lot more mystical.

If you’re unfamiliar with the history, here’s how it goes. Jane Grey was a teenaged English noblewoman who was married to Lord Guildford Dudley. When King Edward VI fell terminally ill, he wrote into his will that succession would fall to Lady Jane and her male heirs. But when Lady Jane took the throne, support grew in favour of Mary Tudor - a Roman Catholic - and eventually, Jane was deposed and executed for high treason. Yikes. This version of the story is a little different in that it includes humans that can turn into animals. And poisoning. The usual stuff.

This book was wild from start to finish, and I actually loved it. I thought the addition of fantasy elements, including the E∂ians (aka the animal-morphing humans), was quite exciting and ridiculously creative. I’ve not been huge on fantasy novels since my early teens, but this has definitely made me reconsider the genre. My Lady Jane was an extremely amusing and cleverly-written story, with enough real details to make you forget sometimes that people in the 1500s weren’t actually part-animal.

There were lots of twists and turns to this novel so, keeping with the spoiler-free promise of this review, I won’t reveal too much about the plot. But I did think it was interesting how they played out the Jane Grey vs. Mary Tudor situation. In real-life, Mary deposed of Jane and that was that. Jane’s existence was a threat because she was a Protestant queen. But in the case of this novel, I found it interesting how the role of religion paralleled the storyline of E∂ians and the Verities (aka the people who remain permanently human). The E∂ians being the Protestants, and the Verities being the Roman Catholics. There was definitely an interesting similarity there, that I’d really encourage you to look out for if you’re reading the book!

Most of all, what drew me into this book was Lady Jane herself. I loved Jane. I thought she was an incredible and complex character, the perfect bookish female lead. Books with a strong female lead always capture my heart and My Lady Jane was no exception. Jane showed undoubtable strength and defiance from the very start of the novel, constantly questioning decisions that she didn’t agree with or proving her intelligence by her extensive knowledge of life through reading. I think her relationship with Gifford was extremely interesting also because it forced her to come out of her world of just books and court, and apply her strength to real-life situations (i.e. the villagers early on in the novel). I was really rooting for the two lead characters and never more have I wanted a happily ever after in a novel!

After reading this, I’m so eager to read the follow-up book, My Plain Jane, which is a retelling of the classic Bronte novel, Jane Eyre. I think that these three women are spectacular authors and I would probably read anything that they published as a team. This is definitely the sort of young adults novel that I’d recommend to not only teens, but also adults!

Have you read My Lady Jane? Lend me your thoughts in the comments!

Felicia x

Review: The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

IMG_5227.jpeg

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Reading Challenge: 25 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Thoughts —

This book really hit me hard. I was heartbroken, angry, empowered, and inspired - all at once. I cannot begin to imagine being in Starr’s place. As I read about her experience of Khalil’s death and the ramifications afterwards, I felt sick to my stomach all the way through. It’s already a horrific thing to see your own friend to be killed; but to have to fight to prove that the killer was actually at fault is something else entirely.

I truly feel like this might be one of the most powerful stories I’ve read in a very, very long time. Obviously the major problem in this book - police brutality and shooting of unarmed POC - is something that we are facing in modern day society every. single. day. It’s so frustrating to see this sort of thing happen all the time and there’s no justice for the victims whatsoever. That’s exactly what this book is about. I wholeheartedly believe this book should be a mandatory read in high school. The classics are great and all, but it’s time for a book like The Hate U Give to make an appearance in school curriculums and draw attention to major social issues.

Read this book. Take a stand against what’s wrong, stand for what you believe in. And go see the movie, too. This is the sort of thing that needs attention y’all.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What are your thoughts?

Felicia x

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

IMG_3994.jpeg

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Publisher: The Dial Press

Release Date: June 1st 2009

Pages: 248

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


"Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true."

By now, chances are you know how much I love historical fiction. I've said it before and I'll likely say it a million times more. I like how it puts you in the middle of all the action. And when a novel about the world wars comes around, then I'm really hooked. Especially when it's post-WW2 Britain. No wartime story shall go unread!

What immediately got me interested in this book was the title. Some might see The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as a nuisance; I see it as a mystery, one I'm dying to uncover. What is this club? Who created it? What in the world is a potato peel pie - and why does it deserve a society? The fact that I hadn't even opened the book and I was already enthralled said a lot about what I was in for. 

TGLAPPPS picks up in 1946 as writer Juliet Ashton tries to get her life back on track in post-war London. Her home has been flattened by a bombing, there are rumours floating about her almost-marriage, and she's struggling to figure out what she should write about next. Her life is changed when she receives a letter from a man named Dawsey Adams who has in his possession a book that once belonged to Juliet. From there, they start up a whirlwind correspondence that introduces Juliet to a little Channel island, Guernsey, and the members who make up the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. 

I loved so many things about this book. First and foremost, I loved the characters. What an extraordinary and odd bunch of people. I felt an instant connection to all of these lovely people - except for Mark, but more on him later. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows did an incredible job of making these people feel like friends to the reader. I loved how passionately they spoke about books and authors. I wanted nothing more than to be in the room with them during their book club meetings, talking about the Brontë sisters and Charles Lamb. 

For a mostly lighthearted book, TGLAPPPS deals with a lot of heavy topics. After all, it is set just after the second World War. War leaves it's mark on many things - marriage, families, businesses, children, towns, countries. Especially in Guernsey. For five years starting in 1940, the island was occupied by Germans. The people of Guernsey endured absolute horrors during WW2 - and I'm actually sad to say that I'd never heard of the island, or their part in the war. But what was so gripping about this book was how the characters found happiness, even in the hard times. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society began as a clever ruse eventually turned into a safe haven, a place for book lovers to come together and be a united front in the face of hostility. 

Overall, I just loved this book. Although it talks about serious topics such as war and death, it is still lighthearted. It focused on family - by blood and by circumstances - and the love we feel for one another. And above all, it spoke on bravery, especially in the character Elizabeth McKenna. Watching these characters pick up the pieces of their lives after the destruction was incredibly inspiring. 

Go buy this book! Read it a dozen times. Cry over it. Hold it close to your heart. Make your friends read it and then talk about it to your heart's content. Just fully devour it. It's divine. 

What wartime or post-war novels do you love? Let me know in the comments!

Goodreads Challenge: 24 out of 50

Felicia x

Back to Hogwarts

C49DA5CB-1B37-47D9-968B-8BF40CF23E45-1000.jpg

All aboard the Hogwarts Express, it's time to go back to Hogwarts! If you've read the books or seen the films, you know that September 1st is a big day for the Wizarding World - it's the day that students pile into Kings Cross Station, cross that barrier onto Platform 9 3/4, and make their way back to that fabulous castle for another year of classes!

Harry Potter was a substantial part of my life growing up. Although I was only about a week old when the first book was released in North America, it very easily became a staple in my life. When I was a very little girl, my godmother brought the first film over to my house on VHS (#tb) and my family watched it all together. From then on, I was hooked. My parents bought me all the available books in the series and I used to (try to) read them out loud to my parents every night before bed. Very quickly, Hermione became a role model for me. There's even a video of me at 5 or 6 years old, opening a Christmas present of a Hermione doll wrapped in Harry Potter wrapping paper. OBSESSED, MUCH?? 

In honour of this magical day, I thought that today I'd do the Harry Potter Tag which I've seen a bunch of other bloggers do over the past couple years. I've always wanted to do the tag and what better time to do it! 


1. What house are you in?

I'm in Hufflepuff! Originally, when Pottermore first opened, I was sorted into Gryffindor, which never seemed right to me. Flash forward to this past year when I took the Pottermore test again and was sorted into Hufflepuff! I feel it suits me quite well. Maybe I've changed over the past 8 years? Who knows. 

2. What is your Patronus? 

According to Pottermore, my Patronus is a Wild Rabbit. (Cute, right?) 

3. What is your wand? 

Silver Lime wood with a Phoenix feather core 10" and Slightly Yielding flexibility.

4. What would your boggart be?

This is a great question. I think that if the boggart could turn into something like a question mark or an empty space, to symbolize the unknown, then that would definitely be my boggart. I have a major fear of the unknown and am constantly plagued with "what ifs". 

5. What position would you play in Quidditch?

Uhh, the position of a spectator? I'm already bad enough at sports, and I feel like that wouldn't translate well to Wizard sports. Boring answer, I know. 

6. Would you be a pure-blood, half-blood, or muggle-born? 

I don't even know how to begin to answer this. I really have no idea. 

7. What job would you want to have after leaving Hogwarts?

Hmm, I'd love to be a professor at Hogwarts. Maybe I'd teach History of Magic? I am minoring in History, after all. That seems like it'd be up my alley! I think it would be incredible to work inside Hogwarts all the time and as a professor, you'd get to know all the secret things that students aren't allowed to know/see. 

8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose?

I'd definitely go for the Invisibility Cloak. It seems like it'd be the most useful. Besides, the other ones are just too risky for me. I'm not looking for almighty power or whatever, haha. I just want to sneak around a little bit. 

9. Favourite book? 

This is so tough. It's like choosing between children haha. But I guess if I had to choose one, it'd have to be Prisoner of Azkaban. I really love Sirius and Remus, so having them introduced in the novel makes my heart happy. I also really like the whole time-turner bit - that might be one of my favourite bits of magic. 

10. Least favourite book? 

Order of the Phoenix. It's not that there's anything I specifically don't like. It's just I like it a little bit less than the others!

11. Favourite film? 

Half-Blood Prince. For a very specific reason. For whatever reason, I decided in like 2008 that I didn't like Harry Potter anymore. I think it was just that I wasn't big on the Order of the Phoenix film and thought I was ~too cool~ for Harry Potter now that I was a whole 10 years old. My parents dragged me to see Half-Blood Prince in theatres and that was it. I was back in love. So HBP will always have a special place in my heart, for that reason.

12. Least favourite film?

I don't love Order of the Phoenix. Maybe it's just that it's too difficult to take the longest book of the series and put it into a fairly short film.

13. Favourite character? 

Obviously, Hermione is my favourite. Being a bookworm and kind of annoying as a kid, I totally got her. 

14. Least favourite/most hated character? 

I hate Umbridge. But don't we all? 

15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts? 

This is definitely a tie between Professor McGonagall and Professor Lupin. I love them both for different reasons, but I doubt I have to explain why to anyone haha. 

16. Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts? 

Umbridge. Again, reasons are quite obvious.

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?

*Sigh*... Okay. Let me preface this by saying I'm a super empathetic person. Like, in general and especially when it comes to fictional characters, specifically villains (do you see where I'm going with this?)... I have feelings about Draco Malfoy. I think his relationship with his father and the fact that his father was, ya know, a Death Eater and a total douche certainly had a real effect on him as a person. (This is especially true in the films because the film creators seem to be huge Draco sympathizers). 

Felicia x

Review: Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

0171E1B2-73B2-485F-A869-F6A969E50245-1000.jpg

“Sometimes if you let people do things to you, you’re really doing it to them.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Mystery, Fiction, Thriller

Reading Challenge: 23 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

My Thoughts —

I’ve never been big on horror before. Aside from “The Girl On The Train,” I’ve not really delved into the whole psychological-thriller genre. I’m more likely to steer towards light-hearted novels. But I’ve heard so much talk about “Sharp Objects” in the past year or so and I’ve always had an interest in reading a Gillian Flynn novel. Not to mention, it was 20% off at Target. So, why not?!

This book made me uncomfortable. And I think that’s exactly what it was supposed to do. It’s an unsettling story about people who have unhealthy relationships and lifestyles. The characters of this story are dark and complex. Everyone has secrets lurking beneath the surface. Everyone has a disturbing past, a trail of destruction that follows them wherever they go. Each character is dealing with their own personal nightmares - and that’s what makes them so compelling, individually. Most of all, the women in this book are multi-dimensional. Here they are, in this town that makes women out to be useless, disposable, weak. But no. These women are deep, complicated people. And they’re capable of horrors seemingly unimaginable to most.

I thought this book was extremely well-written and riveting. I was hooked right from the start and didn’t want to put the book down once I picked it up - something that hasn’t really happened to me in a long time. After reading this, I think I’ll be reconsidering the genre. I’m definitely sure I want to read another Gillian Flynn novel in the future. If you have any recommendations, let me know!

Have you read Sharp Objects? Did you like it?

Felicia x

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2018

F1EA9CA3-1418-4863-840C-083EBE361670-1000.jpg

Happy National Book Lovers Day!! x

We're officially into the second half of 2018 folks!! Can you hear my hyperventilation through the computer? How could we possibly be in the latter half of this year? Wasn't it just January? Luckily, August is a pretty good month for me, as it is my birthday month (WOO HOO) and my boyfriend's coming down to Florida so soon! 

I've never done the Mid-Year Book Freak Out tag before, both because I have only just started blogging about books this year and because I'd never heard of it until recently. I love the idea of wrapping up the first half of the year in a post and this seems to be the perfect way to do so!

Best book you've read so far in 2018...

This is a tremendously difficult question to answer. How could I choose just one? Please don't force me to make decisions! Alright, if I had to choose just one, I'd have to say Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. After my anxiety reared it's ugly head in late 2017, I spent the better part of the first half of 2018 struggling with my mental health, which ultimately left me unable to leave my house for days on end. That's when Under Rose-Tainted Skies entered my life. I completely identified with Norah's struggles in the book; although our mental illnesses aren't quite the same, I was facing a lot of the same problems as her and it made me feel a little less alone!

Best sequel you've read so far in 2018...

I haven't read a single sequel yet this year. Isn't that crazy? I guess with trying to keep up with my reading challenge, I made the executive decision at some point to just keep series out of it - at least for the first bit of the challenge (I do have a hankering to re-read the Harry Potter series...). 

A book you haven't read but want to...

So. Many. Books!! My TBR is getting longer as the year goes on... I'm quite positive that's the exact opposite of what's supposed to happen. Obviously I'm not about to go and list every individual title on my TBR, but one book I'm eager to read is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I've heard really good things about it and can't wait to get to it.

Most anticipated release for the 2nd half of 2018...

What If It's Us!!!! 100%.

Biggest disappointment of 2018...

Where'd You Go, Bernadette. I was really looking forward to reading it after all the high praise but I just didn't like it at all. It was so bummed out.

Biggest surprise of 2018...

Oddly enough, the biggest surprise for me so far was The Alice Network. I mean, usually I can be pulled in by any half-decent historical fiction. But considering I grabbed this one off the shelf with absolutely zero idea what I was going into, I was just expecting an interesting story about the world wars. But it was actually incredible. It was such a powerful story about women and their role in history. 

New favourite author...

Becky Albertalli, Kate Quinn, Louise Gornall, Gail Honeyman... Just to name a few!!

Newest fictional crush...

Hmm... I'd probably have to say Levi from Fangirl or Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. They're both adorbs!

Newest favourite character...

Eve Gardiner from The Alice Network. Hands down. She's so fascinating and I loved seeing her go from a somewhat timid young woman to a total badass. 

Book that made you cry...

None so far that I can remember! But I've been reading pretty light-hearted books lately. 

Book that made you happy...

Fangirl! It was so cute, even though Cath went through a bunch of tough things, in the end it was a feel-good read. 

Favourite book to movie adaptation...

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, EASILY.

Favourite review you've written...

I don't think there was any one review that I enjoyed writing over the others. I loved all my reviews equally!

Most beautiful book you've bought this year...

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. It was honestly so amazing. No words can describe how beautiful - and heartbreaking - it was. 

Books you need to read by the end of 2018...

There are so many (I do have 25 books left on my reading challenge). But to name a couple... Dumplin', Little Fires Everywhere, What If It's Us, I'll Give You The Sun, and Bachelor Girl.


I hope you guys enjoyed reading this post!! If anyone can let me know a way to slow down this year, let me know in the comments, haha. 

What are your favourite books of 2018 so far?

Felicia x

Review: Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan

IMG_3551.jpeg

“Just because some people actually work for their money doesn’t mean they are beneath you.”

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Genre(s): Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Reading Challenge: 22 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.

Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

My Thoughts —

I’m sure that the majority of you guys have heard about Crazy Rich Asians before, either because of the hype surrounding the book or because of the movie adaptation. You can find it on just about every “Must Read” shelf or display table in any bookstore.

This had been on my TBR for a very long time before I actually got around to reading it. It was one of those books where I’d always pass it by in the store and think, “Aw, I’d love to read that” but then I go pick up something else, usually something not on my TBR lol. But when I heard that there was a film adaptation coming out this summer, I bumped it on my list because I insist on reading the book before seeing the film. #bookwormproblems

All in all, Crazy Rich Asians was a fun read. The characters are really interesting - Nick Young’s family is straight-up crazy. Nick and Rachel’s complicated love story is totally addicting. And there’s no denying that it’s well-researched and extremely detailed. But being someone who completely devoured books like the Gossip Girl series before, which deals with its own share of rich people drama, I thought I’d enjoy this more than I did.

I think the main reason that I wasn’t so big on this book is because it seemed like it dragged out for too long. If about 100 pages were chopped off, I think I would have enjoyed it more. There were a few scenes that just didn’t seem to add much to the plot that could’ve been cut without taking away from the plot. It just made the plot sort of slow, so I found it sort of hard to get really into. Of course, 90% of people say that they loved this novel to death so I’m probably in the minority here haha. So take my review with a grain of salt. I’ll still see the film though because the film nerd part of me can’t not give it a chance. (Update: the film was amazing and I loved it!).

Did you read Crazy Rich Asians? What did you think?

Felicia x

July TBR

IMG_3541.JPG

Hello hello hellooo!

God, things have been crazy lately. It's already a few weeks into July and I'm just posting my TBR for the month. How typical. What have you all been up to lately?! I spent the first bit of this month with my boyfriend here in Florida which was so much fun. I can't wait for our vacay together in August!! 

You may remember that this year, I set a goal for myself to read 50 books which I've been keeping track of on Goodreads. Well, now I'm about halfway through the year and my Reading Challenge tracker has recently informed me that I'm three books behind schedule... I've gotta quickly get back on track with my reading!

So, without further ado, here are the books that I'll be reading in July...

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - Rachel is an average American-born Chinese woman, working as a professor at NYU when she meets Nick Young. But when he invites her to his best friend's wedding back home in Singapore, where she's introduced to his uber rich and very judgmental family, Rachel's life gets flipped upside down. I'm sure a lot of you have heard the buzz surrounding this book, especially now that it's coming out as a film next month! This book has been on my TBR since last year and now I've got all the more reason to bump it up on my list!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - This is another book that's been getting a lot of attention as of late. You may recognize Gillian Flynn as the author of the highly successful novel, 'Gone Girl' which was made into a movie awhile back. 'Sharp Objects' was actually her debut novel, which is about a woman who has to return to her small hometown to cover the deaths of two young girls, all the while fighting the demons that she's been trying to escape ever since she left home the first time. I'm not usually big on thrillers, but for this, I thought 'why not'!  

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - I'm so eager to get started on reading this book. Young adults novels often get a lot of criticism for not being 'heavy enough'. But this is a definite exception to that judgment. It's all about a sixteen year old girl who witnesses the murder of her childhood best friend by the hands of a police officer. The novel tackles crucial topics such as racism and police brutality, which are so important to talk about - especially among teens. It's a great conversation starter and I'm eager to read it! (It also has a whopping 4.56 star rating on Goodreads).

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory - I've been binge-watching Reign for the past month and I've also recently enrolled in a Tudor/Stuart era course at uni, so it's safe to say that I'm currently in the midst of a major Tudor obsession. So when I saw this bad boy at Indigo, it was an easy impulse buy. 'The Last Tudor' is a historical fiction all about Lady Jane Grey, the 'Nine Days' Queen' of England, and her sister, Katherine. I know that Philippa Gregory's books have faced a lot of criticism in the past, so I'm very interested to see what I think of this! 

Talk to you all very, very soon!

Felicia x

Review: How To Stop Time - Matt Haig

Title: How To Stop Time

Author: Matt Haig

Publisher: Viking

Release Date: February 6th 2018

Pages: 325

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“The longer you live, the harder it becomes. To grab them. Each little moment as it arrives. To be living in something other than the past or the future. To be actually here.”

So, today’s read is a bit different in that it’s a bit sci-fi I suppose. I picked this up because although it had that fantasy element which is a bit unusual to my taste, it’s very saturated in history which, you probably know by now, I love.

How To Stop Time is the bizarre story of a man named Tom Hazard, who may appear outwardly as an average 41-year-old man but is really several hundred years old. He’s walked through history alongside people like William Shakespeare and has experienced the world as it’s advanced to become what it is today. But nobody knows. Except for the Albatross Society, a secret society of people like Tom who work together to keep their condition a secret - even if that means killing those who threaten their existence. Then, one day, Tom begins to fall in love - which is strictly prohibited.

I’m a bit iffy on this book. I didn’t hate it by any means. I just didn’t love it either. Overall, it was well-written and evidently well-researched. It had everything it needed to be a great book. But it just lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. I felt like the climactic event wasn’t all that climactic and I kept waiting for the shoe to drop, so to speak. The big moments were simply brushed over and resolved very quickly, and they didn’t have any repercussions at all. It was very simple and to the point which wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for.

The concept, however, was very interesting. A man who’s lived through history, who’s witnessed major historic events first-hand, is now living in the 21st century. Sounds like a cool concept. It was fun to see him placed in history. Especially when historical figures were included, too. But constantly flipping between present day and some-hundred years ago was a bit confusing and muddled after a few chapters. After awhile, I started to wonder if there was a need for so many flashbacks or if it was just for the sake of reminding you that, hey look, this guy is really really old.

How To Stop Time was a fun read, but not really a meaty one. It didn’t take me very long to get through this one and because of that, I think it’d make a great beach read.

Have you read How To Stop Time? What did you think of it?

Goodreads Challenge: 21 out of 50

Felicia x

5 Websites for Book Lovers

If you're a total bookish freak, like myself, then you probably use all of your free-time doing book-related things. Whether it's reading a new book, re-reading an old fave, or re-watching Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time (we've all been there). But one of the other common things to do if you're a literary enthusiast is scroll through literary articles online. These websites make it easier to find like-minded people, people who want to spend as much time chatting about books as you do. Here are my favourite bookish websites to scroll through, when I'm not reading!

Books on Bustle - Bustle is one of my favourite websites for book-related content. It's an online magazine that mostly surrounds things that affect women including beauty & fashion, lifestyle, wellness, and of course, books. They post a bunch of fun articles that range from "must read" lists, advice for readers, and author interviews. Most of the articles are short and sweet, perfect for reading a few during your morning cup of coffee! You can also follow their Facebook page, Book-Lovers on Bustle, to get updates straight to your feed which is very cool. 

BookstrBookstr is an online community for literature lovers to come together and enjoy the joy that comes along with books and reading. I think of all these sites, this might be the most abundant and diverse as it has hundreds of posts, with something for everyone. In addition to just articles, they also have a specific category just for lists and another for quizzes. 

Buzzfeed BooksAlthough I don't typically like to read Buzzfeed posts that often, I do find myself clicking on their Buzzfeed Books posts. They have a slightly slim selection in comparison but they still have some good, informative posts and they have great lists of recommendations. They also have posts that are more opinion-based, which can either be good or bad, depending on how you see it!  

Refinery29 Books - Refinery29 is very similar to Bustle, in that it's an online magazine that is targeted for women. I love scrolling through their posts, especially ones like "The Best Books of 2018" - I'm always in search of a new book, and posts like these are perf for that!! Although Refinery29's website isn't really targeted towards book-related posts, they still have a good selection to read anyway.  

The StrandYou've probably heard of The Strand before, even if you think you haven't. The Strand is a massive indie bookshop in New York City, along with several mobile kiosks placed around the city that sell new and used books. It's a major staple that has been featured in shows like Sex & the City and Gossip Girl. Aside from their official website (which sells books online) they also have a book blog which features many recommendations and other book-related posts.

What are your favourite bookish websites?

Felicia x

Review: Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

“The whole point of fanfiction is that you get to play inside somebody else’s universe. Rewrite the rules. Or bend them.”

My Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Genre(s): New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 20 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts —

I have NO IDEA why I didn’t read this sooner!! Before this, I’d read - and loved - two books by Rainbow Rowell: “Attachments” and “Eleanor and Park.” But “Fangirl” just never really stood out to me. The only reason I ended up picking it up was because I had heard so many good things about it as I became more involved with the book blogger community and I finally gave into the hype. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

I really resonated with Cath and I think that’s what got me hooked so early on. Like me, she’s in university and also is an English major. She suffers from anxiety which makes her pretty reclusive, something I totally understand for my own experiences. A lot of people criticize Rainbow Rowell’s decision to give Cath anxiety in their reviews on Goodreads, because apparently her “awkwardness” around people reinforces the “socially inept fangirl” stereotype. But I actually found Cath to be more relatable because of it. I hate when people use words like “socially inept” to describe people with anxiety. Grr…

MOVING ON.

I loved Cath, even when she made mistakes (which we all do sometimes) and I thought her story was really interesting. She’s someone who’s come from a difficult past that she has to find the strength to conquer every day. That’s pretty bad ass, if you ask me. And, of course, the romantic storyline in this book was lovely and adorable and it hit me right square in the feels.

I’ve also got to give Rainbow Rowell major kudos for being able to include excerpts from the Simon Snow novel. I mean, Simon Snow is not a real series. It exists only in her head. She basically had to write two stories for the price of one, didn’t she? That’s insane and she deserves a lot of respect for that. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that! I thought the little excerpts were a lovely addition and that they added a lot of depth to the storyline.

Overall, this was a farm and fuzzy sort of book, the kind I’d want to reread when I’m having a bad day. For me, those are the best kinds of books.

Have you ever read a Rainbow Rowell book? Which is your favourite?

Felicia x

Review: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch - Alison Arngrim

confessionsofaprairiebitch.jpeg

Title: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

Author: Alison Arngrim

Publisher: It Books

Release Date: June 15th 2010

Pages: 302

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“By making me a bitch, you have freed me from the trite, bourgeois prison of ‘likeability’. Any idiot can be liked. It takes talent to scare the crap out of people.”

Y’all probably know by now how I’ve got a bit of an undying love for Little House on the Prairie. Yes, I know it’s extremely outdated and at times super offensive. But my love for it stems from the fact that it was a huge staple of my childhood. I watched it with my mum, but mostly my grandmother who took care of me as a kid when my parents worked. We bonded over this show about this little pioneer gal and her family, particularly the perpetually shirtless Pa. I read the series of books approximately a hundred times, bending On The Banks of Plum Creek into despair, and even wrote my own stories about Laura Ingalls when I was 9. So I guess it’s not much of a surprise that I practically bolted to my car and took off to the bookstore the minute I heard Alison Arngrim had released a memoir.

If you don’t know, Alison Arngrim is the actress who brought Nellie Oleson to the small screen. Nellie Oleson is the epitome of mean girl - in fact, sometimes she can be downright evil. I spent my childhood tucked in front of that tv, watching Alison Arngrim flawlessly have temper tantrum after temper tantrum, making Nellie a character you love to hate.

As it turns out, a fair chunk of Alison Arngrim’s story is actually quite grim. Despite living in Hollywood as a child and brushing elbows with all sorts of great stars, including Liberace, she did not have a good childhood. Behind those bouncy blonde curls, Alison was really struggling. Her childhood was plagued with sexual abuse from her older brother. The stories she told about the abuse were extremely difficult to read. It’s so sad to imagine that behind the scenes of such a happy-go-lucky show like Little House, someone was dealing with such horrible things. Her story of overcoming the abuse and going onto work for the National Association to Protect Children was so powerful and I respect her immensely for her courage.

I know what you’re probably all thinking - can a child star from the 1970s really write a good book? The answer is, yes. Very much so. Alison’s writing was so clever and witty, it actually had me laughing out loud a few times. I read the majority of this book on a plane beside my mum, and I had to keep leaning over to read her funny excerpts. My personal favourite part was when she described with brutal honesty each of the main characters in the novel.

Of course, a large chunk of this book was about her time spent on Little House. It’s not called Confessions of a Prairie Bitch for nothing! Her stories about Little House are, fortunately, far more light-hearted than the other stories in her book. She speaks about her memories of the show and the people involved very honestly. While she had a good relationship with most of the cast - particularly with Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) and Steve Tracy (Percival Dalton) - she didn’t with others. The stories about Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) were blatant and so amusing. That whole portion of the book would really appeal to Little House fans looking for a little behind-the-scenes gossip.

This was a short, but great memoir. I really enjoyed reading it and would totally recommend it to anyone who’s watched and loved Little House as it really gives a nostalgic feel for those good ol’ pioneer days (or at least, the sort of pioneer days that Michael Landon envisioned lol).

Did you watch Little House on the Prairie? Did you love it, too?

Goodreads Challenge: 19 out of 50

Felicia x