THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY by Lauren Morrill

trouble-w-destiny_07-24-14

1.5 out of 5

[ARC provided by Paper Lantern Lit in exchange for my volunteer position as a VIP Trendsetter.]

All aboard the Destiny, a cruise ship hosting a high school music competition where the winning group receives a $25,000 cheque. Liza is the only one who knows how desperately her band needs it, and her one goal as she boards the ship is to win the prize and keep her marching band afloat.

A huge mishap involving an out-of-bounds bowling alley and a stray bowling ball throws the entire competition in jeopardy, and Liza finds herself putting all the blame on the school’s quarterback, Russ, on the trip as a form of detention. Serving as the band’s—and thereby Liza’s—lackey, Russ only causes more harm than good in Liza’s eyes. To top it all off, Liza is sharing the cruise not only with her arch nemesis Demi, but with her crush and son of the band director, Lenny. She can’t afford any distractions, but one little kiss wouldn’t hurt…

It’s rare that I finish a novel and ask myself what on earth just happened, but that’s what I did upon finishing this. The Trouble with Destiny lacks the charm of Morrill’s Meant to Be and is a severe let-down in terms of plot, character building, and writing style.

Let me start off by saying that the opening was good but very long; there is not much action until about a quarter of the way in. That being said, the plot is predictable, and the writing and pace are both flat. There is way too much going on and not enough space devoted to properly developing relationships or the varying storylines in order to make the outcomes believable. For example, there was zero chemistry established between Liza and Russ. Therefore the shift in Liza’s characterization and tone, particularly towards Russ, is so sudden that I was experiencing whiplash. It takes about a paragraph for Liza’s entire personality to change, with no decent reason or warning.

Additionally, as someone with seven years of concert band experience, the band setup seemed very unrealistic to me. For example, the sheet music for Pirates of the Caribbean or Star Wars isn’t that difficult for a band with experience and skill (I’ve played both pieces in band at the senior level), so it seems unlikely that they would win a competition using such simple music. With this in mind, it is quizzical to me why someone headed for Juilliard would be wasting their time with a band that plays such lower-calibre pieces.

Overall, The Trouble with Destiny is incredibly, incredibly disappointing. Definitely steer clear of this one, but bear in mind that Morrill has done better. I look forward to seeing her next novel and hope it demonstrates the quirky skill that I know she has.

-Ember Book Reviews

Check out this book on Goodreads.

Stay Tuned…

Hey everybody. Tomorrow I will be posting another book review. For the first time ever, I have given a book 1.5 stars out of 5. Check back in if you’re interested to see which book it is (it’s an ARC, by the way) and why I gave it such a low score.

-Ember Book Reviews

Book Love: Bookish Centrepieces

Having been with my partner for five and a half years, I have weddings on the brain. What does that mean? Décor, of course, and with the American Thanksgiving weekend upon us, I see no better way to celebrate than by showing you all the ways you can create a bookish centrepiece.

Here are some of my favourites for both weddings as well as holiday gatherings. I tried to find ones that could be adapted for all occasions, so explore and let me know which ones are your favourites in the comments below.

I love the rustic feel of this centrepiece. Plus, leather-bound books allow for almost any kind of colour scheme to go with your special event.
rustic book
[Pinterest]

Heading into winter and the Christmas season, this centrepiece has a gorgeous wintry feel and again, the colours would go well with absolutely anything.
wintry book
[Booklicious]

Here is a good example of how the colours of the book bindings can really inspire your overall colour scheme. Don’t the books just tie everything together?
blue book
[Pratham Books]

This is a unique take on the bookish centrepiece theme. I may have gone with a slightly more attractive setup, but the general idea—especially the cut-out pages pasted to the mason jars and illuminated from within by gentle candlelight—is a wonderfully creative starting point.
glass book
[Pointless Pretty Things]

Have you ever done a bookish centrepiece?

OF THINGS GONE ASTRAY by Janina Matthewson

of things gone astray4 out of 5

“You are the reason I’m glad there are words.” -pg. 66-67

Mrs. Featherby loses the front wall of her house. Robert heads to work one morning to find that the building has gone, as if never there at all. Cassie has lost her lover and, determined to wait forever for her if she has to, begins to turn into a willow tree. These are just three of the whimsical cast of characters that Matthewson throws at you on your journey through Of Things Gone Astray. All of them have lost integral pieces of their lives and must decide whether or not they will carve new paths for themselves. The result is a lovely, engaging novel that redefines life, loss, and personhood.

Of Things Gone Astray is positively delightful. Matthewson’s writing is liltingly musical and fraught with mesmerizing tension throughout. Additionally, the book’s cover is captivating; the aesthetics alone were enough to reel me in.

On the other hand, I am not sure how I feel about the ending. A lot was left unresolved, to the point where it is not clear exactly what happened with certain characters. The whimsy is fantastic but in this instance it served as a weak point, where explanation was needed and not provided. In addition, we could have done without a select few characters, such as Marcus and Jake. Their storylines were blurry throughout the course of the novel and, specifically in Marcus’s case, were simply abandoned towards the end.

The true gems of the novel are Delia and Robert. They never interact, but Delia is a darling eccentricity, while Robert and his wife Mara are bright sparks of life that were greatly appreciated.

-Ember Book Reviews

Check out this book on Goodreads.

Ben & Jerry’s Book Tag

ice cream

Hey everybody! Last week I was tagged by Mosquiteo to do the “My Life in Books Tag” but I found that I had already answered those questions under a different tag name. So instead I will be doing the Ben & Jerry’s Book Tag.

1. Vanilla Caramel Fudge: Pick a light, fluffy contemporary.
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill was an easy read and incredibly enjoyable.

meant to bevanilla caramel fudge

2. Mint Chocolate Cookie: A new release that you wish everybody would read.
Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman is fairly new (review here). I was lucky enough to read the ARC in the summertime and absolutely adored the complexity of the interwoven fictional and factual plot lines.
legacy of kingsmint choco cookie

3. Karamel Sutra Core: A final book in a series that you were completely satisfied with.
Is it terribly cliché of me to say Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling?
hp deathlykaramel

4. Cherry Garcia: An ending that was bittersweet.
Definitely Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson (review to come). Not everything wrapped up in the way I would have wanted, but I was still strangely satisfied with the storyline in the end.
of things gone astraycherry garcia

5. Strawberry Shortcake: A book containing your OTP of OTPs.
I don’t want to include any spoilers, but I will just say The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson (review here).
the shadow cabinetstrawberry

6. Milk and Cookies: The ideal author collaboration.
A really unique and interesting one for me would be Jennifer Worth (who wrote the Call the Midwife memoirs) and Janina Matthewson. Unfortunately Jennifer Worth has passed away, but it would have been really interesting to say the stories that would unfold from these two.
call the midwife 1of things gone astraymilk and cookies

7. Boston Cream Pie: A book that had you turning the pages late into the night.
Definitely The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (review here). I still miss reading that book.
the goblin emperorboston cream pie

8. Chocolate Therapy: A book that makes you feel better after a long day.
Once again, Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth (review here). My boyfriend caught me reading it with a huge grin plastered on my face at least twice a day and didn’t understand how a single book could make me so blissfully happy.
call the midwife 1choco ther

9. Coffee, Coffee, BuzzBuzzBuzz!: A book not yet released that you can’t wait to get your hands on.
I will have to go with Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan for two reasons: 1. She is an excellent storyteller and 2. I hear it’s a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, and I am interested to see what she does with it.
tell the windcoffee coffee

I tag:

RatherTooFondofBooks

Books and Lesser Evils

Mosquiteo

And P.S.: I’m lactose intolerant.

Enjoy!

-Ember Book Reviews

CALL THE MIDWIFE: A MEMOIR OF BIRTH, JOY, AND HARD TIMES by Jennifer Worth

call the midwife 1

5 out of 5

Jennifer Worth describes what it was like working as a young midwife in late 1950s East London following the devastation of WWII. Her tale is riveting, shocking, admirable, and—most of all—will leave you begging for more.

Fantastic. Nobody can ask for more in a memoir. Worth’s tale of herself as young Jenny Lee had me wishing I could swap places with her. Her descriptions of the squalor of East London will at times make one flinch, but her story is truly remarkable.

As she is praised on the inside sleeve of the memoir, Worth is a true story-teller in every sense of the phrase; she transports you to a place and time so distinct in imagery and emotion that it is almost as if you are sitting on the carpet before her, with a fire crackling gently in the background, while she tells the grandkids about the good ‘ol days as a midwife.

When you buy it (because you absolutely should), make sure to check out her appendix of Cockney speech at the end—we speak in much the same way today!

-Ember Book Reviews

Check out this book on Goodreads.

Book Love: Bookish Coasters

Today I was playing around with the idea of bookish drinks. You know, coming up with mixed drinks inspired by your favourite novels, characters, etc. (more on that in a later post, I promise). I went on Etsy, which is where I found the wonderful From the Page, and came across a variety of book-inspired drink coasters that I just had to share with you guys.

I will be including links to the business sites on Etsy so you can browse around and buy them if you want (which I recommend!). Let me know how much you love these and which ones are your favourites!
Shop: Neurons Not Included
Jane Austen Book Coasters: $30.72 CAN
jane austen coasters

Shop: Kelly’s Magnets
Generic Book Lovers’ Coasters: $10.92 CAN
book lovers

Shop: Oh Gaud
Harry Potter Coasters w/ Chapter Illustrations: $27.30+ CAN
harry potter coasters

Happy Reading!
-Ember Book Reviews