Review | The English Wife | Lauren Willig


The English Wife

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Half Star

ARC received from the distributor in exchange for an honest review.

From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

I finished this book a while ago but have been busy and exhausted. I’m currently planning my wedding and that, on top of having the winter blues as well as very low Vitamin B-12 levels which have messed with my memory as of late, delayed this post for quite some time. My apologies to Raincoast Books, who sent me this book for my honest review but have had to wait forever for it!

I really loved this book. It mixed my two favourite genres–historical fiction and psychological suspense/thriller–in a way that made the plot seem almost ghost-story-esque without quite reaching that level of scary. There were many twists and turns throughout the book and I was very pleased with the fact that I was unable to guess at the ending at all until it was revealed. Lauren Willig is an intelligent writer who knows how to keep a reader on their toes.

This book hurts the heart. It’s rare that a book touches me deeply enough that my heart aches along with a character’s so it’s always remarkable when it actually happens, and my heart hurt for Georgie during this story. (The back cover makes it seem as if Janie is the main character of the book, but she’s not; really, her plot is fairly unremarkable in the grand scheme of things and while I liked her, I could have taken or left her.)

Pros: This book is so mysterious that just when you think you’ve got the grasp of things, Willig feeds you a seed of doubt and you’re scrambling at the beginning again trying to reconnect the dots.

Cons: The ultimate reveal is…far-fetched? That’s the best way to describe it. Without giving anything away, the murder of Annabelle and Bayard is unexpected to say the least, but also made me go, “Really?” It’s both plausible and not at the same time–this might make more sense if you’ve read it. It wasn’t shocking like it was meant to be for me because I was trying to simultaneously wrap my head around the logistics, the randomness of it, etc. The second con is that while I loved the book and it was very interesting, it’s also very long and it took me a very long time to get through it. There wasn’t a ton driving me to stay up through all hours of the night to finish it.

Overall this book is a great for historical fiction or mystery fans, but not so great for fans of psychological suspense because the ultimate reveal is a bit unbelievable.


Review | Scrappy Little Nobody | Anna Kendrick


Scrappy Little Nobody

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch PerfectUp in the AirTwilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

I love Anna Kendrick. And please don’t think that my love for her resulted in me obviously giving this book 5 stars, because before listening to it I actually thought she was kind of bitchy and pretentious. But hearing this book changed my opinion of her and I just loved it.

Anna’s thoughts are empowering. She celebrates women and their bodies throughout the various essays in here, despite constantly circling back to the fact that it took her a very long time to feel satisfied with hers (she has a short-person complex). Her sexuality is owned with pride, and I respect that a lot. If this book is anything besides an autobiography, it’s somewhat of a feminist manifesto.

At the same time that she’s writing in the vein of rah-rah-sisterhood, Anna’s essays also show her vulnerable side. I relate to her on such a personal level, especially when she starts discussing the concept of nicety versus driven, hardworking, professional, etc. In high school, after suffering for years at the hands of a bully, I developed what I call a protective chip on my shoulder where I dropped my niceness and started being a bitch to people who deserved it. The word “bitch” became a name of pride for me, and I owned it with my head held high when one of my former bullies would call me by it. Anna discusses her own experiences in much the same way and it really opened my eyes to preconceptions and misrepresentations in our (in particular, professional, but also general) culture.

The way Anna narrates her story is endearing, honest, and edgy. I didn’t feel like I was listening to an actress, but a friend instead. If ever there was any doubt that actors aren’t like us regular people, her inner monologue as shown in her essays will make you feel otherwise. I certainly do. And, at the end of it, the one question I’m left with is this: Anna, do you still sleep on your IKEA bed?


Goodreads     Indigo

Review | I See London, I See France | Sarah Mlynowski


I See London, I See France

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

I see London, I see France, I see Sydney’s underpants.

Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka-dot underpants.

First of all, I’ve gotten a lot of new subscribers in the last week or so, and I just want to say thank you and welcome! I’d love if you could tell me in the comments how you found this blog so I know how to reach even more readers!

This novel was a really fun ride from start to finish. Think Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes meets Euro Trip. Sydney and her best friend Leela are no strangers to boys, but when the book starts it has been a while since Sydney let herself have much fun. She’s taken on the burden of her mom’s agoraphobia and allowed it to distance herself from her friend.

I liked that Sydney and Leela’s friendship felt deep and genuine right away. There was no need to set it up or provide much backstory because their chemistry and the way they interacted spoke volumes. I also liked that Leela’s codependent personality revealed itself in stages which simultaneously allowed the reader to feel towards her the same way that Sydney did, at the same pace. For example, it’s not as if she was written to be really annoying but the reader finds her that way before Sydney does. Instead, as the reader I found that my feelings for her changed and developed as the character developed, which is really strong writing in my opinion. 

There are, of course, boys, and lots of them. While it was fun to watch Sydney explore various dalliances and play with romance, nothing was super steamy or exciting. Even when the main love interest gets on the scene, I wasn’t desperate to flip the pages to get more of him. Not that he was written badly or even boringly–I just didn’t get the tingles when I read about them.

The book also lacks in setting description. Sydney and Leela are travelling through all of these incredible places across Europe, but there are no visual details provided. I felt very much like Sydney had tunnel vision, focusing mainly on Leela, the boys, and her phone. I wanted to snap my fingers in her face and say, “Look up, lady! I want to know what London looks like!” It was definitely a weakness that resulted in me feeling somewhat removed from the story.

However, the pacing is very fast and the characters are well developed. It definitely has the feel of being the first of a series because you are left with a few unanswered questions and what I would call “problems” that still need to be resolved by the characters. For example, I don’t think Leela and Sydney’s friendship is going to last if Leela doesn’t grow up a little bit. I also NEED to know more about Kat. Honestly, I hope the sequel focuses solely on Sydney’s upcoming school year; her adventures with Kat were hinted at and I want to see that in detail, and I want to see how she navigates her new long-distance relationships. Plus with her mom on the road to recovery and her sister possibly going down a self-destructive path, there is so much story to be read there! I’m really excited. I’m sure she doesn’t need it, but if the author ever wants someone to bounce ideas with, I’m here.

I definitely recommend it and hope you will all grab yourself a copy. A great start to my 2018 Reading Challenge for sure!


Goodreads     Indigo

2017 Wrap-Up

I am writing this while in the bathroom battling my first UTI in two years, so I want to instead reflect on the good that came from this blog in 2017. It was the year that I found the time to return to blogging regularly and exceeded my reading goals (goal was to read 40 books; I finished 2017 off having read 45). I also explored new genres, found new favourite authors, and went to my first ever book signing with the amazing Maggie Stiefvater for her equally amazing novel All the Crooked Saints. In celebration, I’m sharing with you my top 5 books of 2017, and the books I’m most looking forward to reading in 2018.

All the Crooked Saints

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

As I wrote in my review, I realized while reading this book that I was experiencing something special. It was the same feeling I’d had reading Harry Potter or The Fault in Our Stars. At some point I stopped, took a breath, and realized that no other book would be able to compare, and it was true. For the rest of the year, every book fell short of the joy and enrapture that captivated me during this book. It was poignant and eye-opening in a year where I think everyone needed to focus on self-reflection and self-improvement. I will forever recommend this book one hundred times over and believe me when I say that you are missing out on the experience of a lifetime if you haven’t read this yet.



The Storyteller

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

Before reading this book I had sworn against Jodi Picoult. I found her novels to be too formulaic and repetitive, but something made me take a chance on this one. Perhaps the cover, which I was drawn to instantly. But the description on the back also suggested more than her usual troubled and/or sick child and a court case. I’m so glad I took that chance. I was sucked into this novel in such a way that I lived and breathed it even when my nose wasn’t between the pages. A story of the holocaust that I haven’t seen since Schindler’s List. It is heartbreaking and bloody and messes with your head but it is worth every second of torment, sadness, empathy, understanding, and joy. This novel is a wild ride that I would take again and again.



I Hate Everyone But You

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

Not only has this audiobook deepened my love for Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn but it’s given me a better understanding of how amazing audiobooks can be and why people love them so much. Raskin and Dunn’s performance of their novel has definitely set the bar for all future audiobooks that I’ll listen to and it was truly a privilege to experience this one. I would urge anyone interested in this novel to listen to it rather than read it, as I think you get more from the authors’ performances that you might miss reading it and interpreting it on your own. I love, love, love it and plan on listening to it again in 2018.



There’s Someone Inside Your House

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

I believe this novel has introduced a new sub-genre of YA Horror that we haven’t seen before: slasher-horror YA. And as someone who hates horror movies and slasher films because they get too real for me, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It definitely had its faults, as I outlined in my review, but I can’t deny that it kept me hooked right to the very end. It also served the redeem Stephanie Perkins in my eyes after I read (and hated) Lola and the Boy Next Door. The writing of There’s Someone Inside Your House isn’t on par with Anna and the French Kiss or Isla and the Happily Ever After, which I think are her best novels so far, but there is certainly potential for her to develop this slasher voice more and make something truly epic out of it.



Bad Girls Throughout History

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

Hands-down one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. I borrowed this from the library as an ebook and can’t wait to own a physical copy in full colour! Ann Shen is an amazing artist and in this book she managed to pare down each woman’s history to what was most important and interesting so that I never felt like anything was lacking or biased. I learned things that I never had the opportunity to during my history major at the University of Toronto (hate that school, don’t go there!) and it reignited my love for feminist history and discourse. I can’t wait to read her next book and see more of what she has to offer.

bad girls


And in 2018…

Here is a gallery of the books I’m most looking forward to reading in 2018.

35504431 32295460 34138306 35489153

32333338 32333296 23197837 29589074


Review | Slam! Vol. 1 | Pamela Ribon & Veronica Fish


Slam! Vol. 1

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

In the fast-paced, hard-hitting, super cheeky, all-female world of banked track roller derby, two young women will have to decide if their budding friendship is stronger than the pull of a team when a win is on the line.

When life starts coming at you like a freight train, you have two options: run away screaming or lean into the hit.

From the first day of Fresh Meat Orientation for the Eastside Roller Girls, Jennifer and Maisie knew they’d be fast friends. But when they’re drafted to different teams, the pull of competition — and their increasingly messy personal lives — threaten to drive them apart. In roller derby you take your hits, get back up, and learn how to be a better jammer, a better blocker, a better lover, and a better friend. Derby can heal your heart . . . but it might break a bone or two in the process.

Bestselling novelist, screenwriter, and retired Los Angeles Derby Doll Pamela Ribon (Going In Circles, Why Girls Are Weird) joins artist Veronica Fish (Archie, Silk) for a tale of friendship, heartbreak, and truly epic jams.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that cover art. It’s saucy, sexy, rebellious, and so much fun. Want me to read your graphic novel/book? Put a cover like that on it.

I’m officially hooked on this series. I finished Slam! in one night, and the next morning went to get Volume 2 but it wasn’t in-stock at my local Chapters. Poop. I’m still on the lookout for it and I cannot WAIT to read it!

The novel profiles two women in their early twenties (yes, I’m surprised it’s been shelved as YA too) who take up roller derby as a way of dealing with the different stressors in their lives. For Jenn, it’s her Master’s degree and for Maisie, it’s that she’s just been cheated on and subsequently dumped by her boyfriend of three years. Right away roller derby introduces them to a new way of life and they form new and stronger identities and senses of self because of it. For example, Maisie learns that she has worth; Jenn’s outcome is a bit rockier (I think we see that she’s someone who struggles to find balance in her life) but ultimately I think that her personal changes aren’t bad. The reader sees this inner struggle happen for both characters where roller derby brings out the best in both of them yet they cling to their past—or it clings to them.

I am in love with the bodily strength that is portrayed here. All of the women are big—muscular, curvy, heavy-set. The skinny characters purposefully eat gargantuan amounts to put on weight and make themselves a physical force to be reckoned with on the track. The pages are covered in what would never be considered North American society’s “ideal” female body image and it’s so gorgeous and refreshing. I also loved the racial diversity spread across the pages, but would have loved it even more if BOTH MCs were non-white. Basically, this graphic novel is presenting some wonderful things to the young adult audience: girls eating—a LOT; big, strong, round bodies; and women discovering and asserting themselves. Insert heart eyes!

Now, I am questioning why it’s considered YA. It’s pretty tame for a graphic novel, but it does cross over into territory that I would consider too mature for the YA audience. Bearing in mind that the term “YA” is generally targeted at 12-18 year olds (I’m talking marketplace here and I am very much aware that adults read YA), I was surprised that the characters were as old as they were and dealing with what they were. Maisie, specifically, had concerns about her wedding plans going to shreds when her boyfriend leaves her. She is also pretty open about her sex life, which is fine in itself and I’d love for girls to be more comfortable with their bodies and exploring their sexuality, but I don’t think anyone below the age of 15 or 16 should be reading what is in this book. I also don’t think many girls 18 and under are planning their weddings. Maybe that’s just me.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel. The artwork is droolingly gorgeous, the writing is so amazing and entertaining, and there are so many great messages contained within the pages that I can’t even. Please let me know if you added it to your to-read pile! I really want people to read this one.


Goodreads     Indigo

Review | I Hate Everyone But You | Allison Raskin & Gaby Dunn


I Hate Everyone But You

Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

Dear Best Friend,

I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.


Ava Helmer

(That brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.

Stop crying.


So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out, and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I Hate Everyone But You, the debut novel by two emerging major talents in YA, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, is a story about new beginnings, love and heartbreak, and, ultimately, the power of friendship.

I’ve been getting into certain audiobooks lately. My fiancé and I are in the middle of a huge renovation and move, so it’s been very hard to balance my free time to allow reading for pleasure. Then I get dragged down and feel stressed, and while at work I feel even worse. I turned to audiobooks as a middle-ground: I’m not getting to hold a physical book in my hand, but I do get to listen to a story while I accomplish my other tasks.

A few weeks ago I promised a review of the audiobook of The Sin Eater’s Daughter but…that never happened. I still want to because I LOVED it, but honestly speaking I might not get around to it. Sorry! Instead, let me share with you my review of the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to, which I had the pleasure of enjoying this past week. It’s I Hate Everyone But You performed by the authors, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn.

If you’ve never watched the YouTube channel Just Between Us and you identify as feminist, I’d recommend you head on over to YouTube and take a look. Allison and Gaby play versions of themselves where their quirks and/or flaws are ultra-heightened and the result is hilarious. They are a great comedy duo, their writing is qualitatively spot-on, and so I knew when I heard they were writing this book that it would be great. Then I picked it up in stores, discovered that it was a novel composed of texts and emails…and was promptly put off. I can’t stress enough that I hold a strong disdain for diary, letter, or text-style novels. I can’t stand them. So I didn’t pick it up. But then I learned that there was an audiobook and that Allison and Gaby perform it together. I thought, this might work. AND IT SO DOES!

Gaby voices the character Gen, who I imagine to be a younger version of the Gaby portrayed in Just Between Us. Likewise Allison voices Ava, a younger version of JBU’s Allison. However, both Gen and Ava are toned-down versions of the characters in JBU. The listener follows along as the two characters part for their first year at university on opposite sides of the country, navigate self-exploration, expression, and romance, and, like an old married couple, work out the kinks in their newly long-distance relationship. Allison and Gaby’s performance is imbued with warmth and a genuine care for the characters and each other that I think would be, potentially, missed in the printed versions. They both have excellent comedic timing and perform the novel in such a way that I truly believe the audiobook is the only way this novel should be experienced. I loved it so much that I plan on listening to it again and again until the disk breaks. The story is timeless, relatable, and genuine. I can’t recommend it enough.


Goodreads     Indigo

Review | Watermelon | Marian Keyes



Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1Asset 1

A hilarious and bittersweet tale of baby-blues and fruitless men.

At twenty-nine, fun-loving, good-natured Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to her first baby, James visits her in the recovery room to tell her that he’s leaving her. Claire is left with a beautiful newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a body that she can hardly bear to look at in the mirror. So, in the absence of any better offers, Claire decides to go home to her family in Dublin. To her gorgeous man-eating sister Helen, her soap-watching mother, her bewildered father. And there, sheltered by the love of her (albeit quirky) family, she gets better. A lot better. In fact, so much better that when James slithers back into her life, he’s in for a bit of a surprise.

Think Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Gilmore Girls with a dash of Kristen Wigg from Bridesmaids; that’s what you get when you enter into Claire’s head the day her daughter is born and her husband leaves her for another woman. Marian Keyes uses something akin to stream-of-consciousness writing to turn something really tragic into something also heartwarming and hilarious. I felt the plight of Claire’s broken heart while also laughing out loud at the ways she deals with it. I’m sure anyone can understand why she would spend the next month or so rotating through the motions of sleeping, drinking, feeding her baby, forgetting to bathe, and refusing to change out of her mom’s neck-to-toe nightdress—but then she climbs onto the stationary bike in said nightdress at three in the morning and I couldn’t help but smile imagining it.

Anyone who’s grown up with sisters will also love Claire’s family dynamic when she returns home to Ireland to live with her parents at the very beginning of the book, after her husband has left her and she has a newborn daughter to care for. Helen is absolutely hilarious—and awful in the best way—and I can’t wait to read the novel that is from her perspective. I’m sure we’ve all met someone that one of the characters in this novel will remind you of. Hopefully one of those people is Adam! Oh, Adam. So handsome and wonderful, and another one of the aspects that makes this novel hilarious. I related so hard to the way Claire felt around him, and the difficulty she had in trusting another man since her husband left her! I think any romance fans will love that thread of the novel.

My one and only complaint is that, when we finally do meet James (the adulterer husband), I can’t understand what Claire ever saw in him in the first place. He is downright awful! He honestly triggered so much anger and anxiety in me that I couldn’t wait for him to disappear from the novel again. This character could have been killed off and I would have thought, “Right. Good riddance.” Anyone who reads it will know what I mean. He is abusive and manipulative and everything I have worked so hard in my romantic life to avoid that I wanted to throw the book at the wall whenever this character opened his mouth. Little Kate, you are better without him!

I am now reading the next in the Walsh family series, which is Rachel’s Holiday, though I have taken a break to read a holiday story, The Afterlife of Holly Chase (Rachel’s Holiday is way better, though). What novels do you all like to read around the holidays?