Review | So You Think You’re a Millennial? | Jo Hoare

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So You Think You’re a Millennial?

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Discover how the life of the Millennial is a non-stop mix of selfies and startups, Kardashians and kale, kombucha and crowdfunding, anxiety and activism, experiences and entitlement.
Do you feel as nervous about your life prospects as you are about securing the last available table at your favorite brunch spot? Are you equally outraged by the myriad injustices in the world as you are by changes to Instagram meaning your selfies won’t be seen by your followers? If the answer is yes, then chances are you are a Millennial. So what exactly is that? If you were born between the early 1980s and the turn of the century (give or take), then it’s you. This hilarious guide, which features profiles and observations of this most self-interested of generations, plus a series of fun quizzes, will reveal exactly what it is that makes a Millennial tick, from freaking out about rent prices to checking out the latest BuzzFeed listicle.


This little book was such a joy to read! Honestly, I don’t know how it hasn’t been all over social media or Buzzfeed given its pure, unadulterated and hilarious attack on the millennial generation. Full disclosure, I am part of that generation, and reading this book was so much fun. The profiles in this book are of course exaggerated, but I was able to see little bits of myself in every profile, and was even able to peg my friends (but don’t tell them that!)

So what are some of the things you’ll find in this book? Apart from the wonderful illustrations, you’ve got such profiles as The Wellness Addict, The Perpetual Intern (that was me for a loooooong time), The Basic, The Mean Geek (my boyfriend), The Brunch Obsessive (me now), The Armchair Activist, The Fitspo Bore, The Crafter, The Makeup Obsessive, and so many more! I loved them all.

It’s clear Jo is a people-watcher, and also not a millennial. Otherwise these pages would also be dotted with her tears.

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Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and in no way reflect those of my professional associations and affiliations. 

Review | Magic for Sale | Carrie Clickard & John Shelley

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Magic for Sale

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A young boy tracks down an elusive ghost in the hidden rooms of a fantastical magic shop.


This book is so cute and fun! While the syntax is not always right, the rhymes are witty and enjoyable for all ages. Adults who loved Harry Potter will get a kick out of the illustrations, which very much feel like a search-and-discover game. Easter eggs abound!

There is one minor plot hole towards the end regarding a large pink monster–where did it come from? Why has it suddenly shown up? Otherwise, a wonderful little picture book!

*I obtained a BLAD of this book as Sales, Marketing & Publicity Assistant for Thomas Allen & Son, the distributor of this book in Canada. Canadian librarians and booksellers can order their copies here.

 

Release date: July 25, 2017

Review | A Little Something Different | Sandy Hall

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A Little Something Different

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The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….


Here’s the thing: this romance is super cute and the way the story is told really is “a little something different.” But I would go so far as to say that the story is TOO cute. There’s not much substance here, to be honest. For example, two of the viewpoints come from a squirrel and a bench, and it’s kind of ridiculous in a roll-your-eyes way. Then you have the fact that all these different characters are basically the same: they talk the same ways, they think the same things, they feel the same about stuff. Even the one character, Victor, who is supposed to hate Gabe and Lea (our couple) doesn’t actually hate them. (The author tells us over and over that he does but then he’s as obsessed with them as everyone else and it makes no sense.) It’s a prime example of telling, but not showing, and it is–quite frankly–weak writing. 

I would argue that Hillary has the potential to be one of the most unique characters and yet her parts are very short, AND Sandy Hall does her a HUGE injustice by slotting her into the “blonde bimbo” trope. I mean, COME ON.

In second place is Danny (yeah for LGBTQIA!) but he has the least amount of sections (boo!), and again, he is slotted into a few stereotypical “gay college boy” tropes.

In third place is Charlotte, who starts off as a character I could like but then turns into all the other characters (they are honestly the same–take away their names and you wouldn’t know the difference). AND everyone’s obsession with this couple for sure crosses into creepy. My frustration for this book bubbleith over.

Not to mention that there’s nothing about Gabe or Lea that is particularly likeable. Not that there was anything wrong with them; I liked them both just fine. But they are tertiary character material at most. While everyone is going gaga over their supposed romance, I’m sitting here as the reader going, “But why?” Honestly, they’re so boring! And everything that happens between them is SO. BORING. Another prime example of the author going, “Oh, they’re so cute, they look great together, we love them” and providing zero actual substance for these assertions. The author was shoving this down my throat and I was choking on it going, “BUT YOU ACTUALLY HAVEN’T PROVEN ANY OF THESE THINGS!”

So much potential. So do not recommend.

Review | Star Wars: Rogue One | Alexander Freed

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Rogue One: a Star Wars Story

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The Empire has finally succeeded in building a weapon that no one can fathom: they call it the Death Star, a planet-killer in the truest sense. Cassian Andor brings the rumors of its existence back to the rebel base on Yavin 4. The engineer? Galen Erso. The only person with any hope of extracting critical information for the rebel alliance? His daughter Jyn.

“Rescued” from prison, Jyn is tasked with helping the rebel alliance learn of the Empire’s plans. But Jyn is battling her own inner demons whose presence is continually heightened with the re-emergence of individuals from her past; Saw Gerrera, the man in white, and finally her father. At the same time, she is a resistor to both the Empire and the rebel alliance. How can someone who prefers to simply survive by whatever means necessary—including betrayal—cast her instincts aside and serve in a bloody war?

Meanwhile, Cassian Andor is used to obeying orders from the rebel leaders. But what about when those orders cross a line between right and wrong? What about when he has an actual chance to make a difference, but it means turning his back on his superiors?

Bodhi Rook believed in the Empire until Galen Erso told him of the crimes he was unknowingly helping to commit. All he wants is redemption, and he is promised that under the symbol of the rebellion. When the rebellion refuses to act, Bodhi wonders if his betrayal was worth it after all. Does he have the courage to do what’s right and necessary at all cost?

Chirrut and Baze have no home to go to, no temple left to defend. Will the Force guide them to the right path? Is the Force even real, or is it a part of the mythological past?

And, more important than anything, will a small band of rebels be able to take down the Death Star when the entire Empire is against them?


I am on a real Star Wars kick right now, and it is all fuelled by my love for the movie based on this novel. Rogue One is my favourite SW movie, and right now it’s my favourite novel of this year.

Right away, if you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll love this book. They adapted the movie essentially word-for-word. All of the best lines are here in print, and you get to relive the action from each viewpoint just like you did with the film—but this time in more detail.

I have to say that I liked the movie version of Jyn more; in the book she is portrayed as much more mentally unstable than you ever see in the movie. In fact, I don’t think that her mental instability came across in the movie at all, only her anger and grief. But in the book, she is very much mentally scarred by her abandonment as a child and this carries on throughout the novel. It became a bit too repetitive in my opinion, and took away from the strength of her character. At the same time, she does overcome all of her anxiety and mental blockades to ultimately succeed, which shows her strength of character… She’s definitely a highly complex MC, which has me feeling confused over how I feel about the book’s portrayal of her, but both book-version and movie-version Jyn are awesome at the end of the day.

Krennic is just as awful as ever, but I’m glad I read the book because while the movie portrays him as kind of a grovelling idiot, you see more of why he is like that in the book. I certainly don’t view him as simple as I did when I had only experienced the movie. That said, I maintain my opinion that he is a big old d**k.

The book does flip to Darth Vader’s perspective at the end, but it lacks in any real depth. It would have been really cool to have more exposure to his thoughts and motivations.

And finally, and coolest of all, is that we see, very briefly, a Jedi-like character appear in the rebel base. Unnamed and described as middle-aged, we know that it can’t be Obi-Wan. Some fellow fans have suggested it could be Lor San Tekka. Definitely possible, but I wonder if we’re being introduced to a Jedi that we didn’t know about, who might make an appearance in upcoming films…?

REBEL RISING by Beth Revis

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Star Wars: Rebel Rising

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Jyn Erso is eight years old when the Empire murders her mama. To her disbelief, her papa goes with them, and Jyn is left to wait in a dark cave until Saw Gerrara comes to her rescue. Life with Saw is hard at first, but Jyn grows to love the exciting unpredictability of living with a Rebel fighter. More than that, Jyn grows to love Saw as the father figure she lost. As years pass, Saw’s paranoia pays off in the form of Jyn’s training and her ability to forge a milieu of Imperial docs.

When a mission on Tamsye Prime goes bad, Jyn is left abandoned once again. Jon must forge a life for herself trapped between two enemy alliances. But when both bring about utter destruction everywhere she turns, where in all the galaxy can Jyn find any hope?


Oh my gosh, I love this book! I grew up on Star Wars, but Rogue One is definitely my favourite film in the saga. I love Jyn’s devil-may-care attitude and the way that, for once, the Rebel alliance is cast in a shadow of doubt. Unlike the viewpoint we get from Luke Skywalker’s eyes, with Jyn we see the destruction that the Rebel alliance can cause, especially when the cause is taken too far. When terrorists simply define people who cause terror, then we see that both sides have their fair share.

I loved this book in part because we get a bit of Saw Gerrara’s backstory. He always was a weird character to me in the movie Rogue One, but now I know why he wears that Darth Vader-esque suit and acts so crazed. At the same time, I can now see why Jyn would ever love someone like him in the first place.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Now, one thing I wasn’t a huge fan of in the book was the love story arc. To me, it just seems like Jyn isn’t the vulnerable type, even as a teenager, and Beth Revis didn’t do a very good job of setting up the relationship that Jyn has with Hadder. There was no spark, nothing that pointed to them being a likely match. I think that, even had Hadder lived, he and Jyn wouldn’t have worked out. Jyn needs someone strong–someone who can equal her in every way, but Hadder is too naive and un-relatable to Jyn. I just didn’t get it.

Oh, how I wish Revis would have said Cassian’s name at the end! He’s by far my favourite character, and while I know he’s there because I watched the movie, there was no need for Revis to just gloss over putting his name in the book! And I’m not saying this because I think Jyn and Cassian were a thing, ergo she would have paid special notice of him–I don’t think they’re a romantic match at all, despite those heated glances they give each other in the movie. I just wish his name had been in it for my own sake. I’m sappy, I know.

Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend for anyone, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan, but you’ll love it even if you just appreciate good sci-fi. I’m headed to the library now to check out more of the Star Wars books. I’m about to geek out so hard!

MRS. HOUDINI by Victoria Kelly

Mrs Houdini

3 out of 5

In her debut novel, Victoria Kelly revives Harry Houdini’s incredible mystery. The reader is transported in time between the rise of Houdini’s career alongside his wife Bess and the years after his death in which she attempted to communicate with him in the spirit world. Two parts love story and one part detective fiction, Mrs. Houdini is an interesting rendition of the couple’s life both together and apart.

Kelly’s strength lies in her writing of the intense love between Harry and Bess, and it is a great loss that she failed to explore that thread more; the portions of the plot detailing Bess’s search for the spirit of her husband felt haphazardly pieced together, lacked spark, and were logically ambiguous. I carried on reading for the love story, although I experienced discomfort in reading Kelly’s fictional portrayal of Harry’s “secret.” It felt akin to slandering the dead and I am left feeling unsure as to why Kelly chose this route. That being said, I encourage readers to pick this up for Kelly’s mostly loving depiction of the couple and am interested to read Kelly’s next work.

THE DETECTIVE’S DAUGHTER by Lesley Thomson

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4 out of 5

Lesley Thomson’s The Detective’s Daughter is first-rate detective fiction. Following the life of Stella Darnell after she learns about the death of her father, the plot is interwoven with threads of loss, forgiveness, and grief which make Thomson’s prose gentle and addictive. The novel is interspersed with the points of view of other characters working either together or against each other to solve the murder of Kate Rokesmith, which haunted Terry Darnell until his death. Through the unsolved case, Stella reconnects with the father she felt she never had in life. While the majority of the novel leaves the reader guessing who the culprit might be, I had it figured out by the last quarter of the book, which was ultimately disappointing; when it comes to detective fiction, I long to be surprised at the end. Circumstances also seemed to fall into place too easily, causing me to wonder just how likely it would be to solve a case like this in real life. That being said, Thomson is the bar to which other authors, and not just those writing detective fiction, must measure up. The prose comes with such ease that I was transported to those cold winter days in England by the sea. The characters are endearing and the mystery troubling. Overall very well done.

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Check out this book on Goodreads.