Review: It Should Have Been a #GoodDay

27917489.jpgI will be on Natalie Sampson’s blog tour for her third book called It Should Have Been a #GoodDay which is due out at the end of February, so this is my review of her book to get all of you excited!

My first thing I’ll say is that this book reminded me of the diversity of voices in The Breakfast Club and the stunning conclusion of Stand by Me.

The second thing is a bit of a warning – you have to push past the stream-of-conciousness way Henry narrates his part of the story. It can be distracting but you have to allow yourself to be in Henry’s shoes.

Somehow Natalie pulls you directly into the minds of her main characters, and switches between voices seemlessly. As the reader you are naturally contrasting the experiences of Henry, Emily, Brogan, and Thomas. And if you’re me, you’re also comparing their lives to your own highschool experience (mine was somewhere between a Thomas and a Henry).

My heart was in my throat for so much of this story, and that’s because Natalie has a way of drawing you into the situation. It’s fascinating to see one incident from the minds-eye of four very different teenagers, and all the baggage that they bring to it (unaware of eachothers’ baggage of course).

I don’t want to spoil the story, but it is one of the coolest pieces of writing about the highschool experience that I have read in a long time. You will never look at a group of teenagers the same way.

You can enter the goodreads giveaway for an ecopy of the book here.

Review of Mr. Holmes

mrholmesWow, this is turning out to be a review week for me – first Asp of Ascension and now the movie Mr. Holmes.

I was invited to see a screening of the new movie with The Bootmakers of Toronto (the local Sherlock Holmes group).

Suffice to say we LOVED it. What a great story, and what a fantastic actor at the perfect time in his life to take on such a role.

I won’t fill this space with spoilers because I respect a good mystery too much but I will tell you that the story respects the original canon and still manages to give us a side of Holmes that we don’t often get to see – the emotional side. It’s like in removing Watson (who only shows up from the neck down in walk-bys) Holmes had to fill in that role of both writer and emotional character.

Not surprisingly Sir Ian McKellen handles both with aplomb and the supporting cast add to the screenplay in the best way – not taking away from the mystery or the man, but truly supporting an aging legend.

I give this movie the full five sensible heels:

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N.B.: Also, the movie is set in 1937 which is right in Portia’s wheelhouse – which was also a lovely treat!

Review of Asp of Ascension

Pre-order on Indigo here!
Pre-order on Indigo here!

** Comment below to be entered in a draw to win your own e-book of Asp of Ascension! **

In Asp of Ascension, Bethany Myers introduces us to Nefartari Hughes (or Terry as she understandably prefers to be called). She’s every girl who went to high school and tried their best to ride through the middle of the crowd with their elbows in (so me for sure) with the added baggage of the traumatic loss of her mother.

Asp of Ascension is like Night at the Museum mixed with the humour of Mean Girls with a dollop of darkness from Should I Stay.

What sets Terry apart (much to her dismay at times) is her archaeologist parents who have passed on to her their love and understanding of ancient Egypt. What makes Terry special however is that she is starving for real relationships and has no idea how to be in one. Whether it is with she and Maud (a fantastic character who I wish I’d had the balls to be in high school) or with Zach, the prototype jock who turns out to be so much more than that.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I laughed reading this book, remembering parallel moments in my own life. I know that Terry is the hero of this story, but I have to say, I fell in love with Maud and her little family. Myers does a great job of bringing the corridors of high school to life and the dialogue rings true of the age group too. I happen to LOVE all things having to do with pharaohs so reading about Egypt and Cleopatra is just icing on the cake of a great read.

I’m instituting a new rating system and I give Asp of Ascension 4/5 sensible heels!
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Stay tuned for a guest post from author Bethany Myers on the research that went into her book!

 

Review from CanLit for Little Canadians

CanLit for Little Canadians!

This review of Thrice Burned over at the CanLit for Little Canadians blog is so glowing and lovely, I’d like to just transcribe it word-for-word (but I won’t!).

Here is a sample:

Reading A Portia Adams Adventure, whether it be Jewel of the Thames or Thrice Burned, is like revisiting the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle often chose to recount several of Sherlock Holmes’ cases in a single tome, Angela Misri follows suit, extending the authentic and complementary nature of the series to those of the famous detective.  Thrice Burned is like having new Sherlock Holmes mysteries to read, only now starring an inquisitive and astute young woman (without the Asperger’s Syndrome tendencies) and in a London of the 1930s.  And it works so, so well.  Elementary, wouldn’t you say?

And you can read the full review (and enter to win a copy of Thrice Burned) on the CanLit for Little Canadians blog.

Blog Tour: a Q&A with Alisha Sevigny

This is a CUTE cover.

I’m on another blog tour friends, this time for fellow Fierce Ink author Alisha Sevigny’s book Kissing Frogs.

Before I go any further if you want to win an e-copy of this YA-Romance all you have to do is drop a comment below this post and I will randomly draw a winner from the names on November 22! ** Canada Only! **

You have two opportunities to enter –  on this Q&A with the author or on my earlier post where I Reviewed Kissing Frogs.

Now back to the matter at hand: Kissing Frogs is a contemporary YA Romance story and I had the chance to ask Alisha Sevigny a few questions as part of this Blog Tour:

  1. The set-up of Jess’ preferred life is subtle but easy to imagine from all your description – how did you capture the ambiance (such as it is) of high school?

I literally just imagined myself back in my old high school. Despite what the calendar says, it really doesn’t feel all that long ago! I put myself back in front of my locker, pictured Miles as my boyfriend and went from there.

  1. Lol; maybe its because I don’t LIKE to imagine myself back in high school that I am so in awe of your ability to do that! I love that Jess applies her ‘book smarts’ to becoming popular – does that strategy come from personal experience?

Not really. I got good grades, had some good friends, but never considered myself as particularly “popular”. I feel like I came into my own in university, where I was free to be who I really was, if that makes sense. In high school you’re assigned these roles and it’s easy to find yourself playing that part, even if it’s not who you really are. That’s one of the messages in the book, that you shouldn’t let others define you.

3. Amen sister. I love that quote by the way: “In high school you’re assigned these roles,” it is so true. Now, everyone has that boy who bugged them in middle school as a way to communicate that they liked you – how did you take on writing that story arc specifically? Moving Travis from annoyance to interest?

This took several rewrites to strike the right balance of moving Travis from annoying to possible love interest. In previous drafts, he was a bit more of a pain in Jess’s behind, and they were more antagonistic towards each other. However after one of my early draft readers commented, “I have a hard time picturing these two together,” I decided to soften both characters and have them start to get along a bit earlier in the book.

  1. I think it worked! Now, I feel like you’re sneaking a bunch of educational information about animals, conservation and Panama into the pages of this book – plan or nice side effect?

A bit of both! I wanted to really give the reader a feel for Panama. Personally, I love reading books that take place in exotic locales. It’s like traveling from the comfort of your couch (or wherever you read). The conservation information is a key component of the story but I wanted to incorporate it in a way where it didn’t detract from a fun read. Anything that was included, I made sure it served the story. I actually ended up cutting a lot of description as well as a few scenes that didn’t do so. For example, there was a scene when the kids go into Panama City to Casco Viejo (the funky historical district) and even check out the Panama Canal, but I cut it because in the end it wasn’t entirely necessary to the story.   

  1. Well a section I am so glad you didn’t cut was your epilogue —  it was NECESSARY. I was actually sort of freaking out when the book ended without telling us if Jess made it into Berkeley. Why did you choose to do it as an epilogue rather than wrapping it into the last chapter of the book?

Honestly, it just felt right to have it as an epilogue. Originally, the whole book took place in Panama (except that final scene) so it felt like it was a bit removed from the story, which I felt had been tied up on another continent. In addition, it hints at a sequel, and an epilogue is a good place to do that.

Thanks SO MUCH to Alisha for answering my questions and to Fierce Ink Press for supplying an e-copy of Kissing Frogs for one of my lucky commenters!

Blog Tour: a Review of Kissing Frogs

This is a CUTE cover.

I’m on another blog tour friends, this time for fellow Fierce Ink author Alisha Sevigny’s book Kissing Frogs.

Before I go any further if you want to win an e-copy of this YA-Romance all you have to do is drop a comment below this post and I will randomly draw a winner from the names on November 22! ** Canada Only! **

You have two opportunities to enter – today on this Review Post or next week where I will post my Q&A with the author.

Now back to the matter at hand: Kissing Frogs is a contemporary YA Romance story. Here is the blurb on GoodReads if you are looking for it.

I’m not a big reader of YA romance, but this was a well-told story that really takes you back to high school (at least if you were a raging nerd like both Jess and I were). Jess is the protagonist of the story and spent most of her school career as a great student well on her way to attending her dream college Berkley. She suffers (as we all did) from the usual tribulations of the shark tank that is middle-school with the added humiliation of a terrible nickname: Messy Jessie. Well as of the beginning of the book Jess has done what so many of us wish we could have – she has changed her fate – dramatically. She turns herself into a whole new person, using the intelligence that was focused on good grades to build herself into a popular high schooler. She has a popular boyfriend and popular friends, and no one at her new school knows that she was once the nerdiest kid in middle school.

Sadly a failing grade in biology threatens her high school utopia and Jess is forced to take remedial steps with a conservation trip down to Panama. This wouldn’t be so bad except the boy who started the whole Messy Jessie phenomenon is on the trip too… and he’s changed a lot too.

I’m not going to spoil the story for you but I will say it brought back a lot of memories of my own high school experience. Sevigny manages to speak with the voices of the teenagers without making this a morality story or an after school special. The kids are the kids we all grew up with, and the mistakes they make are the ones we all made. It captures the time and place so well I had to ask Sevigny how she did it (see that in the Q&A next week)! Finding out you are the person you tried so hard to run away from and that is alright is a message I think everyone will understand and appreciate.
I hope my 12-year-old son learns that when he reads this book (he started it last night).

What I didn’t expect was that I would learn so much about Panama and the conservation programs around the frogs. Loved that. Found myself googling a lot of the information so I could learn more.

If you like coming-of-age stories or have a kid in your life who is trying to find their place in the shark tank – I suggest you grab a copy of Kissing Frogs – you will not be disappointed.