Top 5 Wednesday: Summer Reads (On My TBR)

I’ve never really been the type to think about books in terms of their season, although I have noticed a tendency to read more dark and creepy books toward Halloween. When I think of summer reads, I tend to think of light and fluffy contemporaries which is a little ironic since it is not necessarily what I would pick up. Since I tend to have some time off in the summer, I often use that time to read series or pick up longer or more dense books that I think might need more focus. When this topic came up last year (here), I struggled to come up with summer-themed books that I loved. Since then, I haven’t found any more that I can think of to add other than Noelle Stevenson’s Lumberjanes series. I’ve only read the first two books so far, but they were both a lot of fun. Instead, I decided to pick 5 summer-themed books that are still on my TBR.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and the official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

35998933I first discovered Vera Brosgol when I picked up her graphic novel Anya’s Ghost on a whim for my first ever reading challenge, and it ended up being one of my favourite books of that year. Be Prepared is her most recent release, which is a memoir of Vera’s experiences going to a Russian summer camp, which is very different from the summer camps her American friends got to go to. When I was a kid, I hated being sent to camp and that was only day camp. As a socially anxious child, I hated being in environments where I didn’t know anyone when everyone else seemed to already know each other and have their friend groups. I also hated being out in the heat, couldn’t swim, and had a horrible fear of bugs. I immediately thought this book looked interesting. I love Vera Brosgol’s art style, and the story looks like a lot of fun to read.

2) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

11071466I have never read any of Morgan Matson’s books, although I have a few of them on my TBR because I keep seeing so many rave reviews for them. I’ve always been a little on the fence about reading them because they seem to be the kind of YA story that skew a bit younger, and the further I get away from the target age group, the harder it is for me to relate to them. This book is about a girl named Taylor Edwards whose parents decide to take the family to spend one last summer together at their lake house after Taylor’s father gets some devastating news. While there, Taylor discovers that her former best friend and her first boyfriend are still there. I’ve been hesitant to pick up any of Morgan Matson’s books because they are quite lengthy for YA books, with most of them well over 400 pages. I will have to give at least one of them a chance at some point, and see if they really live up to the hype.

3) Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

17978160I read When We Collided a couple of years ago, and I enjoyed it but didn’t love it quite as much as I expected. I was interested enough in Emery Lord’s style to add several more of her books to my TBR, and this one is the most summer-themed. This book is about a girl named Reagan who has recently broken up with her boyfriend, and so has her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery. Lilah is about to go on a 24-city summer tour, which gives the girls the opportunity to get away and move on, but their plans are changed when Matt Finch joins them on tour as the opening act, and proves hard for Reagan to resist. To be honest, I’m not a fan of country music or of stories about teenage celebrities, but this one sounds pretty cute. I wouldn’t necessarily consider it high on my priority list, but I would like to give it a chance.

4) Nothing Happened by Molly Booth

32947061This book is a new release that just came out in May, and it is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing that takes place at summer camp. It is about two sisters, Bee and Hana, who have grown up at the camp that their parents own, and look forward to working there every summer. Bee is involved in a “will-they/won’t they” romance situation with fellow counselor Ben, and Hana is falling for another girl. I have never read Much Ado About Nothing so I have no familiarity at all with the storyline. This book seems like a very light and fluffy book, and I think the camp setting makes it a perfect summer read. It is a bit outside my comfort zone because although I enjoy YA contemporary stories, and often enjoy romances of any kind, I don’t necessarily relate to the camp setting. As I mentioned above, camp was never a huge part of my life, so I’m not sure how much I will enjoy the setting here.

5) Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

35068742Kasie West is another wildly popular YA author who I have never read, despite having several of her books on my TBR. Like Morgan Matson, I’ve always had the impression that her books skew toward a younger audience. This book is about a 17-year-old girl named Abby who gives herself one month over the summer to do 10 things to help herself become the kind of artist she’s always wanted to be. The “list of tasks to complete” trope is not something that I really reach for very often because I find those stories always tend to be pretty similar, but the story seemed pretty cute. I also liked that the synopsis mentioned that Abby’s trying to cope with her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. As someone who has close family members and friends who struggle with anxiety, I think it is great to have representation in books of what this might be like. Like many of the books here, this one is far from the top of my list, but given all the hype around Kasie West, I may have to give it a try.

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Top 10 Tuesdays: Books that I Gave Low Ratings

I think this is my first time really veering off the prompt for the week, but to be fair, the hosts did specify that we should change it if it doesn’t fit. This week’s prompt was for books that we DNF (did not finish), and I generally do not DNF books. There is only one book that I can think of that I ever purposely stopped reading before finishing it because I hated it that much! It is actually extremely rare for me to rate anything below 3 stars since I can usually judge whether or not a book will interest me before I pick it up. It does mean that I don’t always branch too far outside my comfort zone, but it at least means that I enjoy the majority of what I read. I decided to pick books that I rated relatively low or books that I found especially disappointing, since that seemed to be in the spirit of the idea of books we might DNF.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) What If…Everyone Knew Your Name by Liz Ruskdeschel

500912This is the one and only book that I have ever DNF’d and I am so glad that I did! I picked this book up randomly to kill time while at the library waiting for a young woman I was working with to finish her work placement, and this book was just a disaster. To be fair, it was targeted to a much younger audience and I didn’t go into it expecting very much. The book is a choose-your-own-adventure style about a 15-year-old girl named Haley who is starting public high school for the first time. You follow the story as Haley and get to decide things for her, such as who she will hang out with, which clubs she joins, etc. The concept itself was juvenile but might have been fun, however it was so poorly executed! The choices did not match up at all. I often picked a route and found that it referred to characters or events that I hadn’t encountered yet. It wasn’t really hard to follow, but it was frustrating to keep feeling like I’d missed something. I have no interest in ever picking up this or the rest of the series, although I see where it might be fun for younger readers.

2) Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

154423This was the first book I remember ever being truly disappointed by. It was only my third or fourth book ever by Mary Higgins Clark and I had really enjoyed the first two that I read. Mary Higgins Clark was the first “grown up” author I read, when I picked up one of her books for a book report in seventh grade. This book is about 3-year-old twins who are kidnapped, and one of them is eventually returned and a note is found saying that the other girl had been killed. At the memorial for her sister, the girl turns to her mother and comments that her sister is afraid, leading her mother to believe that the twins can communicate and her other daughter is still alive. I wanted to read this book because the whole idea of twin “telepathy” sounded amazing but I found the book very boring. I didn’t like that the identity of the kidnappers was revealed early on, since I expected that to be more of the mystery and this book just didn’t capture my attention at all in way others by the same author had. I’ve actually had pretty bad luck with this author ever since. Although I’ve read a few more of her books, I haven’t really loved any of them.

3) Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

1162543Technically, I also rated Twilight itself 2 stars at the time that I read it, but it would probably be closer to a 3 if I re-read it now, along with the rest of the series. I found this book such a disappointing conclusion. I was never a fan of the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob. I did not enjoy the entire Renesmee storyline at all, especially the bizarre “imprinting” concept that was used to try and justify the triangle and break it cleanly. It was frustrating because, like most of the series, the concept had such potential, but just didn’t work for me. As a side note, I also really hate “Renesmee” as a character name. I understand why they chose it, but it is so awkward. I also felt like this book was a ton of build-up to a very disappointing ending. It was nice to have a fantasy series that didn’t end with a typical massive battle, but it felt very underwhelming and bland. I think my biggest issue with the series in general was that I just didn’t connect very well with Stephanie Meyer’s writing, and found the whole thing mediocre in general.

4) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

693208I didn’t hate this book. Actually, everything listed from here on were 3-star reads, which is not too bad. I just found this one disappointing after seeing such a high average rating on Goodreads and very positive reviews across the board from the reviewers I follow. I’m a little tempted to give this one another chance because I really feel like I missed something, but I just didn’t enjoy it very much at all. It may have been because I had some background knowledge from school about Native Americans and how they are viewed/treated, but I didn’t find this book particularly eye-opening. For people who do not know much about this population, I think this might be a little more informative. The book is about a boy named Arnold “Junior” Spirit who lives on a Spokane Indian reservation, and his attempts to improve his life by transferring to a predominantly white school. I liked the use of his comics to illustrate some of his experiences and I liked how the chapters discussed the day-to-day realities that people may not realize, like transportation to school or trying to hide his financial situation from others, but I  found the characters one-dimensional. I also find I tend to have a hard time relating to books where the protagonist is a younger male teen, and I think that was the case here.

5) Love & Gelato by Jenna Welch Evans

25756328This was another one that I was disappointed by after seeing that it had such a high average rating. This book is about a girl named Lina who is sent to spend the summer in Italy because it was her mother’s dying wish for her to get to know the father she has never met. While there, Lina is given her mother’s journal from her time in Italy and starts to follow her mother’s footsteps and uncover her secrets, with the help of Ren, an Italian boy that she meets. I think my main issue with this book is that I have very little patience for books about teenage characters who are given huge opportunities to travel or do something big, and do nothing but complain about it. I understand that Lina had no interest in going to Italy and had just lost her mother, but it was still frustrating to read. I’m also not a huge fan of travel stories in general since I don’t really care for descriptions of cities. I thought this book was decent, but I didn’t love it either.

6) The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

26093614My issue with this book was more about me than about the book. I didn’t realize when I picked it up that it was a Christian Fiction book, which is a genre that is just not for me at all. This book is about a man named Brock Matthews whose life is falling apart, and discovers that he can use lucid dreaming to visit his younger self and influence his decisions, with the hopes of improving things in the present. It was actually a very interesting storyline and the book was decently written, but I did not enjoy the religious themes. I think if I had gone into the book knowing what genre it was, I might have enjoyed it a little more since it would not have caught me so off-guard. As soon as the book started to get more religious, I started to lose interest and the rest of the story seemed to take a backseat to the message the author was trying to give. I was disappointed because I went into it expecting a sci-fi time travel story, and that was not really what I got.

7) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

77767I specified Little House on the Prairie since it was the  most recent book in this series that I’ve read, but the same applies to Little House in the Big Woods. I don’t remember ever reading this series when I was in the target age group because even then, I thought the story seemed boring. I finally decided to pick it up because I’ve seen so many people rave about how amazing this series is and what a classic it is, so I felt like I was missing out. The series follows Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family as they journey out west in their covered wagon to start a new life. I found the book so dry, and it often felt like I was reading a textbook about pioneer life instead of a novel. There were a couple of chapters that were interesting, but I found the books boring and I honestly can’t imagine enjoying it any better if I had read it when I was younger. I’m not even sure I want to continue the series.

8) The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

1316382Like The Five Times I Met Myself, this was another case of being surprised midway through a book by discovering that it was Christian Fiction. To be clear, I have no problem with the genre, it just isn’t for me and I probably would not have picked these books if I had known. The Goodreads page definitely does not make it clear that this book is Christian Fiction at all. This book is about a couple named Jack and Laurel, who both die in their 70s, and whose children discover that their father wrote weekly letters to their mother. Through reading these letters, the children begin to learn more about their parents, including some secrets that had been hidden from them. I loved the concept of the story, but I did not like the writing style. I didn’t find the characters particularly compelling or well-developed, and didn’t really care what happened to them. The book sometimes went off on seemingly random tangents about side characters that served  very little purpose to the story itself. Like with Five Times, I found the Christian elements began to take greater prominence as the story went on, and since I had not expected this, I found it very off-putting.

9) Ronit and Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

30320055I read this book last year while at the library, and it was such a fast read. Unfortunately, I found it pretty mediocre. The book is about an Israeli girl named Ronit and a Palestinian boy named Jamil who live on opposite sides of a barrier, and who fall in love despite the conflicts between their countries. The story was told in verse, and at only 192 pages it is very quick to get through. Unfortunately, it did not have the kind of impact that I expected. The book is intended to be a Romeo and Juliet-style romance, but possibly because of the style, it lacked any real character development or development of the romance between the two of them. I also found it difficult to tell at times which character was speaking, which seemed intentional to show that they were not so different, but was sometimes confusing. The story comes across as an oversimplification of the conflict in Gaza, and the entire thing seems like it could have been very interesting if it had been fleshed out more. The book has received poor ratings overall on Goodreads, unfortunately, so it seems that others share this opinion was well.

10) In Real Life by Jessica Love

21525995It’s no secret by now that I love stories that focus on social media and online friendships/relationships, so I was really expecting to enjoy this one. This book is about two teenagers, Hannah and Nick, who have been best friends since 8th grade but have never met in real life. In her senior year, Hannah decides to take an impulsive road trip to Las Vegas to surprise Nick and let him know of her feelings for him, only to discover that he has been keeping some huge secrets from her. I really enjoyed Hannah and Nick’s interactions and friendship, and I love how this book started with such a positive view on online friendships as something meaningful and real. Unfortunately, the rest of the story fell apart. The author seemed to fall back on stereotypical tropes of online friends keeping secrets and lying, and while I think this can be real in many cases I did not like the way it was handled here. Hannah came across as very selfish and frustrating, and it was annoying how she refused to communicate with Nick about her feelings and then got upset with him for not knowing and choosing to date someone else (who also happened to be a poorly developed character). I wasn’t a huge fan of the storyline to begin with once it got past the initial friendship, and the fact that I didn’t like the characters just made the rest of the book frustrating to read.

 

 

Controversial, but Still Plenty of Reasons to Watch — 13 Reasons Why (Netflix Series) Season 2 Review

**Warning: May contain spoilers — I apologize, but it is difficult to talk about this series without going into some detail**

Just over a year ago, I was very excited to watch the first season of Thirteen Reasons Why when it debuted on Netflix. I know the book has always been pretty controversial, but I really enjoyed it when I first read it, and liked it just as much when I re-read it just before watching the series. The first series of the show diverged from the book quite a bit, but it was really well-done. As I mentioned in my review of Season 1, the characters and acting were a real highlight of the show that brought the story to life. When I first heard about Season 2, my general impression was that it seemed mostly unnecessary. I’m always skeptical when adaptations try to expand too much past the source material, since it can be so hit-or-miss. As the early reviews for this season came in, it seemed that they were just as mixed.

Plot

This season picks up five months after the previous season left off, as Hannah Baker’s parents’ lawsuit against the school is moving forward. The lawsuit was one of the major new plot points introduced in Season 1, with Hannah’s parents accusing the school of failing to protect their students or respond to the signs that Hannah needed help. This lawsuit makes up the bulk of the plot for the new season, with each of Hannah’s “reasons” called in to testify about her life and their interactions. Instead of the tapes, each episode is narrated by one of these characters, and delves into quite a bit of backstory about Hannah’s life and interactions with each person, far beyond what was on their tape. I generally enjoy a good court drama, so the lawsuit plot was quite interesting and I especially enjoyed how it tied up some loose ends from Season 1. In the first season, the idea that Hannah was not a reliable narrator was brought up but never fully explored. This season brought that element right to the forefront, showing that there was a lot about Hannah’s life that even the people closest to her didn’t know. Characters reveal so many details about their relationships and interactions with Hannah, many of which come as a complete surprise. It definitely brings home the idea that there are multiple sides to every story and Hannah’s version was exactly that — her version.

One of the biggest questions I had going into this season is what kind of role Hannah herself would play, given that the first season seemed to wrap up her story. In this season, Hannah continues to appear to Clay and speak to him, as he struggles to cope with her death. I especially enjoyed how the writers took this opportunity to have Hannah directly address some of the controversy around what her intent was with making and sending out the tapes. There have always been concerns that the book and the series glamourize her death and show her taking revenge on the people who have wronged her using the tapes. In this series, Clay and other characters struggle with trying to figure out what Hannah wanted and ultimately whether her intent matters anymore now that she is gone. One particular scene where Clay and Hannah directly talk about (in episode 7, I believe) seemed a tiny bit heavy-handed, but also very necessary. I personally have never seen Hannah’s tapes as a revenge plot to make everyone else suffer, but I can see where others might get that impression.

The overarching plot of this season is showing how the characters are coping after Hannah’s death. As with the first season, we see a whole range of responses but ultimately, all of the characters have been strongly affected in a variety of ways. This season focuses heavily on a handful of characters, aside from Clay and Hannah — Tyler, Jess, Justin, Bryce, and to a lesser extent, Alex. We see characters trying to interfere with the lawsuit and cover it all up, others struggling with what and how much to disclose, and others still who just want to move on and put it all behind them. I liked how the show kept the theme of how one person’s actions affect others, showing how even though Hannah is gone, her death has a lasting impact.

I have seen multiple complaints about this season specifically, complaining of how graphic and violent it is. Both seasons of the show were met with serious concerns about how the content might impact viewers, and it definitely seems like steps were taken to address this. Before the season even starts, actors from the show give warnings about the graphic content and urge people to reach out for help if needed. Several of the more potentially triggering episodes start with content warnings. I have to say that this was the one time I was glad to see spoilers for a series. When I was about halfway through the series, I saw a newspaper article that gave spoilers for a particularly horrific and graphic scene in the final episode. As it is, this scene was extremely difficult to watch, but having the warning in advance at least gave me a chance to brace myself and know that it was coming up, so I wasn’t caught completely off-guard. This season contains a lot of violence, bullying, sexual assault, and guns. It is a tough show to watch, and while the content may be a bit too heavy on the shock factor, but it does not shy away from difficult topics. Whether it always addresses these in the best possible way is still a question, but I can at least commend the show for showing the darker side of the high school experience which unfortunately is the reality for many people.

Characters & Casting

Once again, the characters and casting were the true highlight of this series. As with the first season, the characters all seemed so real that I often forgot I was watching a fictional series. I have to give special mention to Devin Druid, who plays Tyler Down, as he was a real stand-out of this season. Tyler played a relatively small role in Season 1, but his character arc throughout Season 2 is one of the most powerful and Devin Druid did a fantastic job. We see quiet and geeky Tyler, on Hannah’s tapes in the first place for stalking Hannah and distributing pictures of her, taking full responsibility for his role and (maybe naively) hoping that the others will do the same. Tyler evolves over the course of the season from the seemingly nice boy who tried to befriend Hannah, to a much darker character as he falls in with new character Cyrus, a cynical boy who convinces Tyler to help him get back at the bullies through a series of pranks. Over the course of the season, we see Tyler’s downward spiral first-hand and it is truly creepy. Cyrus, on the other hand, defies expectations. He is the stereotypical punk kid who seems intent on causing trouble and challenging authority, but his rebellion has its limits. You would expect Cyrus to be the bad influence on Tyler, and to an extent he is, but when it comes down to it, it is Tyler who is willing to take it that much further.

The strength of the characters was especially evident for me when the series managed to, at least momentarily, humanize Bryce. While still far from a likable character, this season at least gave Bryce’s character a little more background and it fleshed him out into a real person, with his own backstory. In this season, we see more of Bryce’s home life, and interestingly get to see his parents’ response to the accusations against him. Nothing presented in these episodes excuses Bryce’s actions or attitudes toward women, but it at least gives a little more context. If anything, this season introduced a character even more terrifying than Bryce. Montgomery, portrayed by Timothy Granaderos, appeared in Season 1 but takes on a much more significant role this season. Montgomery is, unfortunately, one of the more one-dimensional characters on the show, portrayed as little more than an arrogant and cruel bully who is focused on protecting Bryce. He goes so far as to try to intimidate and threaten the others to prevent them testifying, and his actions in the final episode are truly terrifying.

I also have to give special mention to Anne Winters who plays new character Chloe, Bryce’s girlfriend and head cheerleader. Her character is by far one of the most fascinating in this season, as she struggles to come to terms with the accusations against her boyfriend. Anne Winters does an amazing job of portraying Chloe with the perfect mix of naivety and, later on, doubt. In my experience, it is unusual to get to follow a character who is in Chloe’s position, and it was one of the most compelling parts of the season. It was difficult to watch her from an outside perspective, knowing what the audience knows about Bryce. I actually would have liked a little more of Chloe in the season. I also enjoyed Chelsea Alden as Mackenzie, Cyrus’s sister and Tyler’s love interest. She was a very minor character this season, but she was a lot of fun to watch and her relationship with Tyler was just adorable. Lastly, this season also introduced Nina, portrayed by Samantha Logan, as a rape survivor who Jess meets in group therapy. Nina is an interesting counterpoint to Jess and a great way to show a different perspective.

Finally, this season also focuses quite heavily on Justin, who is struggling to come to terms with his role in both Hannah’s death and with what happened to Jess. It is immediately clear that Justin is suffering, now living on the streets and struggling with a drug addiction. This season delves further into Justin’s troubled home life, and the injustice in the system when it comes to how he and Bryce are treated on the stand for the same incident. While Justin was never a favourite character of mine, he really adds a lot to this season, and actor Brandon Flynn did an amazing job with the character. The season also follows Jess (Alisha Boe) and Alex (Miles Heizer) as they return to school, becoming friends again and relying on each other for support to get through the difficult trial. Dylan Minette continues to do an excellent job bringing Clay Jensen to life, and especially showing the long-lasting impact Hannah’s death has had on him. Clay once again sets out to bring justice for Hannah, especially when he starts receiving anonymous Polaroids that show that what happened to Hannah has happened, and is still happening, to other girls. The characters are the real strength of this show.

Visuals/Music

Once again, this is always the most difficult part for me to comment on since it is the part I pay the least attention to. While I can’t necessarily name a single song that was used throughout, I thought the music and song choices fit the episodes very well. The lyrics were often very fitting for what was happening, and it added a lot to the atmosphere. Visually, this season kept up the stark and creepy vibe of the show. I liked the contrast between the flashbacks of Hannah’s life and interactions with some of the characters, and the darker look overall of the school as it is now. I also thought there were some very interesting parallels drawn visually, such as Chloe’s face in one particular scene with Bryce, which was eerily similar to how Hannah looked during the infamous hot tub scene. While the first season had quite a bit of graphic content, I was left with the impression that this season seemed a lot more violent and a lot more graphic overall. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m still a bit haunted by the one specific scene in the last episode, or if that was intentional on the part of the cinematographer. The visuals were fitting, and definitely helped capture the overall vibe of the show.

Overall Impressions

Considering I went into this season thinking that it was completely unnecessary, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. It actually feels a bit weird to say “enjoyed” given how dark and disturbing a lot of the content was, but I thought it was a strong season overall. The cast did a brilliant job of bringing the characters to life, and I truly believe the show would not have been as strong without them. While I did not find this season quite as good as the first one, it was still worth watching and I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Plot – 8/10
Characters/Casting – 10/10
Visuals/Music – 8/10
Overall – 8.5/10

Top 5 Wednesday: Freebie – Favourite Sci-Fi and Fantasy Cover Art on my TBR

As much as I struggle sometimes with the Top 5 Wednesday topics, I’m actually glad to have assigned prompts coming back next week. It may have been easier if I’d had more time to plan ahead, but I found it really difficult to figure out which previous topic I wanted to re-visit each week this month. There were many prompts that I liked, but in most cases, I had a hard enough time finding 5 books to fit, let alone 5 more! I decided to focus on a prompt that was TBR-based since that seemed to give the most options for a wider range of books to discuss. I’m not usually a fan of cover art topics since the artwork, while a nice addition, is not necessarily something I pay much attention to when choosing books. In this case, I remember finding the prompt surprisingly fun and although it was somehow very difficult to find any fantasy or sci-fi on my TBR when I started to look!

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and the official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

30320053This book has been on my TBR for a year, although I don’t really remember adding it. It is about a woman named Feyra who was 23rd in line to the throne and prefers her laboratory to court life. She suddenly finds herself on the throne when the King and his heirs are massacred at a banquet. Feyra is determined to find out who was responsible for the deaths, while struggling to manage court politics with nobility who don’t respect her and advisers trying to control her. Looking at the synopsis again, it actually does sound pretty interesting although reviews have been fairly mixed. I can’t remember at all how I heard about this book, but the cover art is amazing! I love the dark colour scheme, and the palace in a flask also seems to capture Feyra as a character and just looks really cool.

2) The Last Girl on Earth by Alexandra Blogier

35553569I’ve had this book on my TBR since last July, although it only came out at the end of January 2018. This book sounds really interesting, but the early reviews for it have been terrible! It currently has an average rating of 2.91 on Goodreads, which is definitely on the lower end of averages on my TBR. It is about a girl named Li who is the only human left on Earth, and everyone around her is an alien. When the aliens took over the planet 16 years ago and destroyed everyone, Li was taken in by a human-sympathizer who raised her to pass as one of their own since these kinds of aliens look human but have abilities that humans don’t. When Li meets Ryn and the two of them develop a relationship, it becomes more difficult to keep her secret. The premise of this book sounds amazing and the cover art is just stunning. If I remember correctly, it was the cover alone that first caught my attention while I was looking at lists of upcoming releases. The bad reviews have put me off a bit, but not enough to fully remove it from my TBR.

3) A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

27284765I’ve been hearing about this book on and off for a while now, and was never sure how much I wanted to try it. It received some pretty bad reviews from a couple of the Goodreads reviewers I follow, although the key issue seems to be that it is not very unique compared to others in the genre. I can live with that, as long as the story is done well. This book is about a girl named Henrietta who is forced to reveal her unusual abilities to save a friend, and becomes the first female sorcerer in centuries to join the royal court. Once there, she is declared the prophesied one who is destined to defeat the Ancients, a species of demons, and meets other sorcerers-in-training. Based on the synopsis, it definitely seems heavy on some of the most common tropes, and especially some of the most widely hated tropes (love triangles, chosen ones, etc.). I’m sure the cover art was a factor in my decision to finally add it to my TBR earlier this month, although it’s not the highest on my priority list.

4) Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

30269126This book came out only last year, and I was immediately drawn in by the cover art although the book itself is a little outside my comfort zone. It is about a princess Rhiannon who has spent her life training to get revenge on the people who killed her family. Her path collides with Alyosha, who has risen from a war refugee to a celebrity, and in the course of that event, Rhiannon is presumed dead and Alyosha is blamed for her murder — although in reality, the two of of them have gone into hiding together. This book has received extremely mixed reviews from all of the reviewers I follow, and I’ve been putting off reading it because I actually knew very little about it. Part of the problem with the fantasy books on my list is that they all seem to be the start of a series, and I have so many series on the go already that I don’t know if I can commit to any more. Looking at the synopsis again, this one does seem pretty interesting and I’d love to give it a chance eventually.

5) The Forgotten Book by Mechthild Glaser

34499244I have The Book Jumper by the same author on my list for sometime this year, and added this one to my TBR last year as soon as I saw it on Goodreads. It is about a girl named Emma who finds a book in an abandoned library, and soon discovers that everything she writes in it comes true. Emma starts to realize that she is not the only one who knows about this book, and someone is determined to get it away from her. For some reason, Goodreads mentions this book as a Jane Austen-inspired story, and one of the main characters is a new boy in school whose name is Darcy. I honestly can’t see how this is a Pride and Prejudice story (at least judging by the name Darcy) from the synopsis, but it looks like a great book anyway. I don’t often like cover art that has people on it, but this one seems to fit so well. I actually assumed this book was a sequel to The Book Jumper at first since the cover art was similar, but it seems to be a standalone.

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Bookish Worlds You Would or Would Not Want to Live In

I actually have never put too much thought into what it would be like to live in. The obvious answer would naturally be to pick dystopian worlds, but I am generally a huge rule-follower, so I actually think I would be fine in some of these kinds of worlds. For example, I don’t necessarily agree with the faction system in Divergent, but if I was forced to live in that world I would probably be okay because I’d want to follow the rules of it. Part of the reason I have trouble imagining living in most bookish worlds is because I tend to associate them with the problems they face in the stories. I would absolutely love to go to Hogwarts but I would not want to be there during the years when Harry Potter was there. Between having the Chamber of Secrets open to having Dementors stationed around the school to just dealing with Umbridge as a teacher, it would not be a great time to be there. Similiarly, I’d love to live in the wizarding world, but only after Voldemort had been defeated. It’s tricky for me sometimes to separate myself from the story and think of the world as its own entity.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) A Time Loop (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), because I think it would be very frustrating to be stuck re-living the same day over and over. Miss Peregrine and the ymbrines do their best to keep everyone safe, but I would hate to never be able to leave.

2) Panem (The Hunger Games), because I have virtually no survival skills and would never stand a chance if I was chosen to compete in the Games. And with my luck, I would definitely be chosen. I guess your life might be pretty good if you were able to live in the Capitol, but it would come at a very steep cost of supporting the games.

3) Wonderland (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass), because the characters are all so frustrating to talk to! Most of them talk in riddles or spout pure nonsense so it would be annoying to try and have any kind of conversation.

4) Verity (This Savage Song), because it is a city that is overrun by monsters and the only way to gain protection is to pay for it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved this duology, but I would definitely not want to live there!

5) New Beijing (The Lunar Chronicles), because although it might be cool to have a society of people who are living on the moon, the world is also suffering from a plague. Plus, I would not want to live under Queen Levana’s reign.

6) The post-Rising world (Feed), for the obvious reason — it is set in a world where the cures for diseases such as cancer and the common cold have inadvertently created a new virus that has turned people into zombies. As far as zombie stories go, the people in this one have actually seemed to learn to live with so it isn’t the worst it could be, but I would still hate to live in a world overrun by zombies

7) Airstrip One (1984), because although it is a very interesting world to read about, it is not somewhere I’d ever want to live. I don’t like the idea of “Big Brother” constantly watching everything or how they try to control not only people’s speech and actions, but even their own thoughts

8) Cloral (The Lost City of Faar in the Pendragon series). Actually, I think this territory sounds amazing, but I would personally hate to live there because it is entirely underwater and I’m not a strong swimmer. I’m extremely uncomfortable around deep water so this territory really wouldn’t work for me.

9) Prufrock Preparatory School (The Austere Academy in A Series of Unfortunate Events). I wouldn’t have it quite as bad as the Baudelaire’s did since I am not an orphan and wouldn’t have to stay in the shack, but the rules at this school are ridiculous and I definitely would not want to listen to Vice Principal Nero play his violin every day!

10)  The unnamed setting of Fahrenheit 451. If I’m completely honest, I have no memory at all of this book, which I read just under 2 years ago. I just know I wouldn’t want to live in a world where books are burned, and where there is a Mechanical Hound that chases people down if they don’t cooperate

Stacking the Shelves (#7)

Another month, another 70 or so books added to my TBR! Just when I think I’ve pretty much maxed out on books to add, I somehow end up finding a whole bunch more. This month, there were quite a few books I added by author name alone. I saw a new Erin Morgenstern (author of The Night Circus) book, a new series by Sarah J. Maas, and an upcoming fantasy book by Adam Silvera just to name a few. None of these have any cover artwork yet or even much in the way of a synopsis, but I added them to my list anyway! I think this may be part of the reason my TBR keeps expanding so quickly. Since my last Stacking the Shelves, I also ended up browsing some many recommendations lists. I seem to have a (bad?) habit of browsing Goodreads recommendations whenever I get bored, which is probably why my TBR keeps expanding at an alarming rate!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week. It is hosted by TyngaReviewsand ReadingReality

1) Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham

18635077This was the most recent addition to my list, added just yesterday. It is about a relationship that develops between Madeline and Elliott through their online communication, after they meet at a restaurant opening. What’s unique about this book is that the authors apparently co-wrote it in real time, with each e-mailing the other from the perspectives of two characters, Madeline and Elliott themselves as well as their best friends David and Emily. Neel Shah wrote Elliot’s messages to Madeline and to his friend David, and Skye Chatham wrote Madeline’s messages to Elliot and to her friend Emily. That means the authors never saw the correspondence each character had with their best friend until the book was finished.  I love stories that involve social media and online correspondence, so this sounds like something I would love.

2) The Ones We Choose by Julie Clark

36374033This book recently came up as a recommendation because I finished Lisa Genova’s Every Note Played not too long ago. This book is Julie Clark’s debut, about a geneticist named Paige who has an 8-year-old son, Miles, that she conceived with an anonymous sperm donor. After a classroom discussion about the children’s family background, Miles starts to feel left out because he doesn’t know his father and starts to question his mother about who his father was. When Miles’ biological father unexpectedly comes back into their lives, Paige’s life begins to unravel. This book sounds like it is along the lines of Lisa Genova or Jodi Picoult, both of whom are among my favourite authors. This is a new release that just came out on May 8, and although it does not seem to be very well-known yet, the early Goodreads reviews have been excellent.

3) Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

35604722I actually thought I’d added this book to my TBR already, so I was surprised to see that I hadn’t when it came up again as a recommendation. This is a middle grade book, which is a little outside my comfort zone, but it sounds really good. The book is about a 12-year-old girl named Ivy whose home is destroyed by a tornado. She is especially devastated by the loss of her notebook, which contained secret drawings of girls holding hands. When her drawings mysteriously start showing up in her locker with notes encouraging her to be open about who she is, she starts to hope that the person doing this might be the girl she has a crush on. I was first drawn to this book because of the very interesting cover art, but was put off initially since I rarely read middle grade books. I haven’t read anything yet by this author but I have several of her books on my TBR, and Girl Made of Stars in my current stack from the library. Most of her books have very high average ratings on Goodreads, so I’m interested to give it a chance.

4) The Mothers by Brit Bennett

28815371Although this book has been out since late 2016, I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot about it lately. It is set in a black community in Southern California, focusing on a 17-year-old high school student named Nadia who becomes pregnant after she starts seeing the pastor’s son, Luke. The book follows Nadia, her best friend Aubrey, and Luke over the span of about 10 years as they live with the consequences of the choices they made that year. The book also has a “Greek chorus” style of narration, with the mothers of the church that Nadia attends offering their observations about what is happening. Not too many of the reviewers I follow on Goodreads have read this one yet, but those who have all gave it at least 4 stars. The story itself only mildly interested me, but I liked the idea of having the chorus style of narration to give commentary on the events since that seemed like an unusual approach.

5) Just Like Family by Kate Hilton

32051611I added this one to my TBR because it kept coming up as a recommendation, and I was intrigued by the cover. This book is about a woman named Avery who is trying to balance her job as chief- of staff to Mayor Peter Haines, her live-in boyfriend of 14 years, and an ex-husband. When her boyfriend Matt proposes, Avery worries about making that commitment again after her first marriage was such a disaster, and wonders if Matt is really who she loves after the mayor has become her “work husband.” I’m not entirely sure why this book specifically came up as a recommendation for me, but it definitely seems like an interesting one. I love books that are character-driven, and this one really seems to focus on the character dynamics. Although it has been out for a year now, I hadn’t heard of it at all until recently.

6) Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

33590214I have heard nothing but good things about this book since it came out last year, although I was hesitant to add it to my list because of the politics angle. This book is about Aviva Grossman, an intern in Florida who has an affair with the married Congressman who is also her boss. When the affair becomes public knowledge, Aviva is left with all the blame and decides to move away and leave it all behind, until she is persuaded to run for public office herself. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about this kind of political scandal, but this one has received such rave reviews that I just had to add it to my list. This book has been hyped for being a feminist version of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and although feminism is not necessarily something I look for in my books, the plot of this one seems very interesting.

7) The Friend by Dorothy Koomson

31348251I have only read one of Dorothy Koomson’s books so far, but I have many of them on my TBR. Unfortunately, for some reason they are pretty difficult to find here. This book is her 2017 release, which focuses on a woman named Cece who has enrolled her children in a school in her new neighbourhood where just weeks before, a popular parent was almost murdered. Cece meets other mothers from the school who welcome her and starts to feel more comfortable, until she learns that the police believe one of her new friends may be responsible for the attempted murder. I had no idea that Dorothy Koomson had a new book out until it came up as a recommendation a couple of weeks ago. The plot for this one reminded me a bit of Big Little Lies, which is one of my favourites. It sounds like a great story, and I look forward to giving it a chance.

8) Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist

36449403I added this one to my list primarily because it is by Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project which quickly became a favourite as soon as I picked it up. In all honesty, I’m not sure the plot of this one on its own would have been enough to interest me otherwise. It is about a widow named Zoe and a divorced man named Martin who decide to walk a centuries-old pilgrim route in Spain. They meet in the same French town, and begin to grow closer as they take on this long walk. I wasn’t sure about this one at first because it essentially seemed like a walking version of a road trip story, and those often don’t interest me much. However, I loved The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect so much that I wanted to give another of Graeme Simsion’s books a chance. I also have The Best of Adam Sharp on my TBR but have been hesitant to try it because the reviews in general have been pretty terrible. I’m curious to give these books a chance and see if they have the same impact on me as the Rosie books did.

9) The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne

37520291This book came up on a list of recent thrillers, and it was released in March of this year. It is about a couple who are very happy to meet a new babysitter, Jade, who is great with their children. After her own house burns down, Jade moves in with the family, who start to become more reliant on her as Mark and Melissa both work long hours, and Melissa falls into depression. Mark soon notices that things at home don’t seem right, and begins to investigate Jade and uncover what she really wants. I love psychological thrillers in general and I’ve been very interested in trying to read more of them. This one sounds especially intriguing, and I love the whole concept of the story. There have been so many thrillers released in the past year or so that I’m not really surprised this one has been mostly overlooked.

10) Hero-Type by Barry Lyga

3264222I added this one (as well as Boy Toy by the same author) to my list after I read and loved Bang earlier this month. Hero-Type is about a boy named Kevin who was in the right place at the right time to save a girl from being killed and is hailed as a hero, until he is seen removing “Support the Troops” bumper stickers from cars. Suddenly, Kevin is forced to become more aware of what patriotism really means, and his unpopular opinions put him at odds with his classmates. My main reason for adding this book to my TBR is because I loved Barry Lyga’s writing and handling of a very complex topic in Bang, and I thought his concept for this story was unique and definitely not something I had ever read before. I would love to give more of his books a chance.

11) The Not So Perfect Mother by Kerry Fisher

39307352I this book to my TBR after finding it on a list of recent contemporary releases. It is about a woman named Maia who works as a cleaner for wealthy families. When an unexpected inheritance pushes Maia and her children into the world of the women she has always worked for, she finds herself drawn to one of the teachers at the exclusive private school and starts to wonder why he is so interested in helping her fit in. This book was apparently first published in 2012 as The School Gate Survival Guide (and I actually like the cover art for that one much better), so I’m not sure why it is being re-released under a new title in June. The reviews for the 2012 version have been very good so far, with an average on Goodreads of 4.22 stars based on almost 1300 ratings. It doesn’t seem like the most well-known book, but it looks like a lot of fun to read.

12) No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

39985775I added this book to my TBR because it came up on a list of recent contemporaries, but I’ve been a little on the fence about it ever since noticing it was also tagged as Christian fiction. That is not a genre that typically interests me at all, but based on the synopsis, I’m not sure how heavily Christian themes are involved in this one. This book is about three women whose lives are affected when an wealthy community is forced to open its doors to students from an impoverished district that can no longer support its school. The synopsis is fairly vague and several of the reviews available so far have commented that it is hard to give any more detail without giving away spoilers, so it was hard for me to decide whether I wanted to keep this one on my TBR despite it being a genre I tend not to like. However, it has also been compared to Jodi Picoult and that alone is enough to interest me.

13) Hey Ladies!: The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails by Michelle Markowitz, Caroline Moss and Carolyn Bahar

35882844I discovered this book in the Books section of my local newspaper, where there was an article talking about it as a new release. This book is based on the concept of those annoying e-mail chains that start up when planning events like a wedding or a baby shower, where mass e-mails are sent to a group usually with the greeting “Hey ladies!” In the article I read, it seemed that the book was going to be in the format of e-mails, texts, etc. as the group of friends tries to plan events and share their lives. According to Goodreads, this book is fiction although I was under the impression it was real e-mail exchanges between the authors and others. I would assume they fictionalized it somewhat for the sake of anonymity. This book sounds really funny and is based on a column from The Toast (which can be found here), which seems to give a pretty good impression of what the book might be like.

14) Our House by Louise Candlish

35924499I found this one while browsing for thriller,s and I was immediately intrigued by the premise. This book is about a woman named Fiona who co-parents her children with her estranged ex, Bram. The former couple has an unusual arrangement where their children always live in the same house, and the two parents take turns living there with them. When Bram and the children disappear, Fiona is left to discover how little she really knew about her ex-husband. What first caught my attention about this one was the unusual parenting arrangement. I’d heard about it once or twice before on TV but it is still a very unusual choice, although it does make some sense in terms of offering the children the stability of one house and one set of belongings. It also makes such a great setting for a thriller since it leaves open so many possibilities for things to happen while one parent is away. This book is due out in August, and I would love to give it a chance!

15) Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

36504901This was another one that I found while looking at upcoming thrillers, and it was the cover art that first caught my attention. This book is about a five-year-old girl named Emma who was taken from the airport by a woman named Sarah, who wants to rescue the child from her cruel mother. Sarah and Emma bond while avoiding the hunt to find the child, but meanwhile Emma’s real mother is at home waiting for her, but as the search keeps dragging out longer, she begins to question if she really wants her daughter back. This seems like such an interesting character-driven story, although I’m a little hesitant about how the author will handle the characters. The synopsis almost seems to imply that it might be okay for Sarah to take Emma because her mother doesn’t necessarily want her anyway, whcih is a dangerous idea. It seems like a very intriguing concept and I’m excited to give this one a try.

16) The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

36989216I’ve had one of Amy Harmon’s books on my TBR for several years but haven’t read it yet. I loved the cover art of this one, and although I don’t often read romances, this one seemed very interesting. This book is about a woman named Mercedes who decides to lie to spare the feelings of her best friend Cora when Cora asks if she loves their friend Noah. Knowing that Cora loved him too, Mercedes lies and ends up standing by to watch as Cora and Noah get together, and is there through all the good and bad times of their relationship. It’s pretty unusual to have a love triangle story which follows the person who didn’t get chosen, and I’m intrigued by having the story told from this angle. This book came out in February of this year, and has some pretty great reviews so far. It’s a little outside my comfort zone, but I’ve been branching out a lot more over the past few years and I think this one could be really good.

17) Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

35698114I definitely seem to have a trend going on here with books about woman and schoolyard/neighbourhood politics. This one is about a woman named Frances who carpools with other families in her area, giving her occasional windows into those family’s private lives. After witnessing another woman having an affair, Frances decides to mind her own business, but that becomes more difficult when the woman’s husband throws her out and the repercussions of the affair affect everyone in the carpool. I have no idea why these are the kinds of books that have been appealing to me lately, but there definitely seems to be a theme going on. To be fair, I tend to love authors like Liane Moriarty who write about these kinds of domestic dramas, so it’s actually not such a surprise.

18) The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

25828495This was one of several books that came up on a Book Riot recommendations list for books about food. I like browsing through Book Riot’s lists, but I find some of them completely overwhelming because they are just massive lists of titles to fit a theme. This one came for a slightly more specific list at least. It is about a woman named Lila who is married to Sam, a restaurant critic who is determined to keep himself anonymous to protect his credibility. As Sam becomes more obsessed with keeping his identity a secret, Lila starts to crave something different in her life and questions if she’s made the right decisions. I’m not entirely sure what made Book Riot recommend this one since the food element seems like it will take a backseat to the larger story of Lila trying to figure out her life, but it sounds interesting to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Freebie — 2018 Debuts I’m Excited For

I am very surprised that this topic did not come up this year! My first ever Top 5 Wednesday post in January 2017 was about the 2017 debuts that I was excited for, and I naturally assumed that it would come up again this year as well. As I browsed through past topics to pick one for this week’s freebie, I was very surprised to realize that it didn’t come up at all! Most January topics both for Top 5 Wednesday and even Top 10 Tuesday were focused on books that we meant to read last year but didn’t, or our goals for the year. Even though we are quickly approaching the halfway point of the year, it seems like a perfect opportunity to look ahead to some of the new releases coming up, or those that came out already this year that I haven’t got to yet, and especially those that are the author’s debut book.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and the official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Sheets by Brenna Thummler

38958846I guess technically this might not be considered Brenna Thummler’s debut since she previously illustrated a graphic novel version of Anne of Green Gables, but I’m counting it as one since it is the first book that she has done alone. I added this book to my TBR very recently, and it was the adorable cover art that first caught my attention. This book is due out at the end of August, and it is about a 13-year-old girl named Marjorie who feels like a ghost, and a boy named Wendell who really is one. When Wendell decides to turn the family laundromat into his new playground, Marjorie is forced to deal with the effects and try to maintain the life that she has worked so hard to keep together after her mother’s death. I was interested in this one because it reminds me a bit of Anya’s Ghost, and also because the synopsis mentioned that Wendell’s days consist of “death therapy” which just sounds strange! I’m definitely looking forward to reading this one.

2) Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

36464087This book deals with ghosts of a different kind. It is a about a woman named Sarah who meets and falls in love with Eddie over the course of juts one week. Eddie promises to call Sarah before he leaves on vacation, but when he fails to follow through, she becomes convinced that something must have happened to him. The early reviews for this book, due out toward the end of July, have been excellent so far. I was intrigued by it because I tend to love books that are social media focused, and although I’m not 100% sure social media plays much role in the story, it still sounds like a concept that I’ve never seen before. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the love interest just vanishes for no apparent reason and with no contact, and I’m curious to see how that plays out. I also find it interesting that this book has been compared to both Big Little Lies and Me Before You, which are two of my favourite books…although I’m not sure I can see how they would work together.

3) The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

35887193This is another case where “debut” might be a bit of a stretch, since this author has written and co-written a few non-fiction books, although I had no idea until I looked her up on Goodreads. This book has widely been advertised as Aimee Molloy’s debut and it is certainly her debut thriller, so I’d say it still counts. This book is abouth a group of women whose children were all born in the same month, and who meet twice a week at the park to share their experiences and anxieties about having children. When they decide to meet up at a bar one night, Winnie’s son Midas goes missing and her life becomes a media circus. As some of the other mothers get more involved in the search, their lives and parenting also come under police and media scrutiny. I tend to enjoy this kind of “domestic thriller” and I’ve been hearing about this one absolutely everywhere. It sounds exactly like the kind of book I would love. This book just came out on May 1, and I may need to find a prompt to squeeze it into this year!

4) By the Book by Julia Sonneborn

35297218This book came out in February 2018, but seems to have been mostly overlooked. The Goodreads synopsis mentions that it is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (which I haven’t read yet), but it doesn’t seem like much familiarity with the original is needed. This book is about an English professor named Anne Corey who discovers that her ex-fiance has just become president of her college, and therefore also her boss. I’m not always a huge fan of romances, but something about this one really appeals to me. I think part of the appeal is the fact that the main character is a college professor, and although I am not one myself, I used to have a lot of fun reading blogs by professors about what the job is really like since it is not at all what I would have expected. The reviews for this one so far have been really all over the map, and it’s the kind of book that I would need to be in the right mood for, but it sounds like it could be a lot of fun to try.

5) Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

35750311I feel like I was hearing about this book a lot up until it was released (on May 1), and since then I haven’t heard much about it. This book is about a 16-year-old girl named Tiffany Sly who is sent to live with the biological father she has never met after her mother passes away from cancer. Tiffany has trouble fitting in with her father and the stepmom and sisters she never expected. Just before Tiffany leaves to her new home, another man comes forward and claims that he is her real father instead. It’s a premise that I have never seen before in a YA book, and honestly one that I wasn’t sure would interest me very much, especially when I saw that for reasons I can’t figure out, Tiffany has only 7 days with her family until the other potential father will demand a DNA test. I have no idea where this time limit came from or why, but this book is definitely different from other YA books that I’ve read and I’m a little surprised that the hype has died down so much.