Review: The 11th Hour


Title: The 11th Hour
Author: Kristine Scarrow
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Dundurn
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Annika Dietty thinks her future is with Dylan Sopick — until they run away together.

One day, after weeks of secret planning, seventeen-year-old Annika Dietty leaves home at dawn to run away with her boyfriend, the charming and popular Dylan Sopick. She tried telling her friends and family how amazing Dylan is, but seeing as they all seem set against the relationship, she’s decided their only chance is to run away together.

But not everything goes according to plan, and Dylan seems to be having more and more trouble dealing with every obstacle they encounter. At first Annika is sympathetic, knowing that he’s had a harder life than she has, but very soon Dylan’s behaviour becomes unsettling, and Annika realizes that her safety is at stake. She finally admits to herself that Dylan needs help she can’t provide. She wants to get him to help — if she’ll get the chance.


This is a moving story.

It was very emotional and relatable. The story of Annika and Dylan’s relationship is devastating. It was clear right away that something wasn’t right. Dylan lied about many things. And the way that he wanted to move Annika away from everyone else was a big warning sign for me. But Annika had that teenage innocence where she didn’t think anything could go wrong, as long as she was with her first love.

This story shows an important side of mental illness. If Dylan wasn’t ashamed of his illness and the fact that he took medication, these events probably wouldn’t have happened. It’s important to be open about these problems and not hide them. Keeping those feelings inside can lead to dangerous outcomes, just like what happened in this story.

Review: The Price Guide to the Occult


Title: The Price Guide to the Occult
Author: Leslye Walton
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Rating: ★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.


This book had a lot of potential, but it didn’t work for me.

I really liked the beginning of the story. The way that Rona Blackburn’s story was set up was exciting. It reminded me of The Scarlet Letter, because Rosa was excluded from the rest of the island for being a witch.

I didn’t like the main character, Nor. She was very one dimensional. She only focused on what her mother was doing and she pushed everyone else away. She was strange and boring.

Another problem was the title. It is the title of a book that Nor’s mother publishes, where she uses to sell spells to people. But it doesn’t really make sense as a title for the whole story.

Many events could have been explained better. There were gaps in the story. For example immediately after the final “fight” happens, everyone ends up back at a house to celebrate. There was no transition, or explanation to how people survived. I think some people even showed up who were supposed to be dead, so I was really confused.

I wish this book had been a little more thought-out and detailed, because that would have made it much better.

Review: Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)


Title: Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Purchased
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

The enchantment continues….

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century…


Since I finished the Lunar Chronicles a couple of years ago, I’ve been missing the stories! This collection of stories was a great way to get back into the series.

The stories begin before the events of the Lunar Chronicles and ends with a story about the characters after the Lunar Chronicles. The stories come full circle by beginning and ending in the same location.

I love that these stories give more detailed backgrounds to the main characters. The series has characters based on Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. There is also a short story based on the tale “The Little Mermaid” which is called “The Little Android.” My favourite story was the first one, “The Keeper,” which is about Cinder. It answered a lot of questions that I had about how she came to Earth.

I loved this book! I’m so glad the story is continuing in the graphic novel series, Wires and Nerve.

Here are my reviews for Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter.

Review: The Hate U Give


Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Purchased
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


I have FINALLY read this book and wow! It was so amazing. I kept putting it off because it’s fairly long, but I flew through it.

I loved Starr’s voice in the narrative. She was so real! Each of the characters had depth so they seemed very realistic too. Especially Mav. He was one of my favourites, because he worked hard for what he had. He started out in a gang and went to prison, but he worked hard to turn is life around so his kids would have a better lifestyle. He was very inspirational.

I have seen many riots on TV, like the ones described in this book. I could never imagine being close to something like that. What was amazing about this book is that puts you right in the middle of the action. You get to see exactly what Starr and her family and friends are going through. That’s the side of the story that they don’t show on the news.

On a happier note, I loved the Harry Potter references in the story. It gave me such a warm feeling to see her relating to Harry, because those books are an important part of my life. My favourite part was when Mav compares the Hogwarts houses to gangs. It was hilarious because it actually makes sense! Though I don’t have much in common with Starr personally, I could relate to her love of Harry Potter and pop culture. This brought me right into the book and made me love it even more!

Review: Doctor Who Archives: Prisoners of Time


Title: Doctor Who Archives: Prisoners of Time
Author: Scott Tipton, David Tipton
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source: Purchased
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Doctor Who Archives: Prisoners of Time Omnibus  celebrates the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who with a twelve-part tribute to one of the most beloved heroes of all time. Follow the first 11 incarnations of the intrepid traveler on an epic adventure as he explores time and space with fan-favorite companions, and comes face to face with some of the galaxy’s deadliest foes! Featuring the complete Prisoners of Time story arc, as well as a stunning cover gallery, this is a must-have addition to any Whovian’s Doctor Who collection!



I’m a recent Doctor Who fan (I started watching it a couple of years ago) but I love everything with the Doctor! I have lots of merchandise! And I love the comics and novels! They’re so fun because they have different stories that aren’t seen on the show.

One of the great things about this graphic novel is that it features all of the Doctors up until number 11. Though I’ve only watched the new series, and a couple of the original episodes, I loved seeing all these versions of the Doctor. Though he looks different, he’s always the same guy.

After many of the chapters in the graphic novel, there is a page with some commentary from people who worked on the comics. It’s interesting to see the changes that the comics went through over the years, as well as the process of moving Doctor Who from the TV show into print.

This is a great graphic novel for fans of Doctor Who!

Review: Tournament Trouble


Title: Tournament Trouble
Author: Sylv Chiang
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Annick Press
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

An exciting new middle reader series from a debut author.

All twelve-year-old Jaden wants to do is be the best at Cross Ups, the video game he and his friends can’t stop playing. He knows he could be―if only he didn’t have to hide his gaming from his mom, who’s convinced it will make him violent. After an epic match leads to an invitation to play in a top tournament, Jaden and his friends Devesh and Hugh hatch a plan to get him there. But Jaden’s strict parents and annoying siblings, not to mention a couple of bullies and his confusing feelings for his next-door neighbor Cali, keep getting in the way!

Tournament Trouble marks the first book in a planned series by Sylv Chiang, a captivating new voice in middle reader fiction. With sharp dialogue and relatable characters, it chronicles the ups and downs of middle school with a relevant, contemporary twist. Accompanied by Connie Choi’s lively illustrations, Tournament Trouble invites readers into Jaden’s world, and will leave them eagerly awaiting his next adventure.


This is a great middle grade story about video games.

I really liked Jaden. He matured through the story. He went from being a gamer at home to competing in a tournament. He was even able to convince his strict parents that video games aren’t all bad. I’ve played video games my whole life, and they can be very educational. Even if the game doesn’t seem to be obviously teaching something, you can still learn strategies and problem solving skills.

Another great part of this story is the diversity of the characters. Jaden and his friend Cali are Chinese. One of his friends was Indian and I believe his sister’s boyfriend was black. This is great, because young kids can see themselves represented in this book. This diversity was also demonstrated in the illustrations, where you can clearly see how different they all look.

This is a great book. I’m excited to see what happens in the next book in the series.

Blog Tour Review and Guest Post: A Possibility of Whales



Title: A Possibility of Whales
Author: Karen Rivers
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

The story of a girl who—thanks to her friends, her famous dad, and a chance encounter with a whale—learns the true meaning of family.

Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher loves possibilities: the possibility that she’ll see whales on the beach near her new home, that the boy she just met will be her new best friend, that the photographers chasing her actor father won’t force Nat and her dad to move again. Most of all, Nat dreams of the possibility that her faraway mother misses and loves Nat—and is waiting for Nat to find her.

The thing is, Nat doesn’t even know who her mother is. She left Nat as a baby, and Nat’s dad refuses to talk about it. Nat knows she shouldn’t need a mom, but she still feels like something is missing.

In this heartfelt story about family, friendship, and growing up, Nat’s questions lead her on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life forever.


This book was just amazing!

The characters were so real and moving. Nat has a famous father, but life hasn’t been easy for them. She has never known who her mother is, and her father tries to keep them out of the spotlight and away from the paparazzi. I also loved the character of Harry! He is a transgender boy, which is not common in middle grade stories. Harry struggles with being his true self, because his father insists that he remain a girl.

The pacing of the story was great. There were a couple of reveals at the end. Though they weren’t big mysteries, such as why Nat didn’t like Solly anymore, the suspense kept me guessing.

The kids in this story faced real, adult problems. Kids grow up very fast these days, so it makes sense that the children they read about would have to as well. I absolutely loved this story for both young readers and adults!

Guest Post from Karen Rivers:

How real life inspires fiction, what events from the book were “real” and how my own journey as a single parent informs a lot of my books.

I often tell my students to write what they’ve felt, as opposed to what they’ve known, but all fiction is probably really a combination of both.   I wrote A POSSIBILITY OF WHALES remembering how I felt when I was twelve:  I was often an outsider, not sure how to fit in.  I was betrayed by my best friend more than once.  I was scared of how puberty might mean I was no longer a child, and that once I went through it, I would have to be a different version of myself.   I carried these things in my heart and into A POSSIBILITY OF WHALES.  I knitted Nat up from an idealized version of myself, with a sprinkling of my daughter, a splash of imagination, and a large dollop of her own unique spirit.

Now that I am an adult, I also find myself a single parent.  It isn’t what I set out to do, yet here I am.   I’m often exploring single-parenting on the page, trying to look at it from all the different perspectives.   I know that one of the things my kids experience is a yearning for what they don’t have, what they might have had if things were different, not in terms of material goods, but in terms of family.   In many ways, being a single parent is easier; but in other ways, it’s so much harder.   I can never be a father to my son.  I can only be his mother, and so his journey from boy-to-man is harder than it maybe otherwise would be.  I can’t know, because we can’t know what isn’t, only what is.  In a way, I am Xan Gallagher, but Xan Gallagher is also very much himself.   We both parent with a big dose of humour, we try to be present, we hope we are hearing what our kids are saying.   But he has what I don’t have:  Vast wealth, which buys him so much time, so he can be with Nat when she needs him, and even when she doesn’t.

Plus, he can play the ukulele.

One of my clearest childhood memories has to do with interacting with whales – in my case, orcas – and seeing their bodies vanishing into the bottle green water beside the boat as they swam under us and all around, their fins rising from the water.   The scenes haunt my dreams, still.   There is something ethereal about whales, about seeing them in the wild – it’s like making contact with pure magic.

This book, like all books, is of course autobiographical, biographical, and pure fiction.  All stirred together, then baked until done.  I hope you like it.  I loved writing every single word of it.

About the Author:


Karen Rivers’s books have been nominated for a wide range of literary awards and have been published
in multiple languages. When she’s not writing, reading, or visiting schools, she can usually be found
hiking in the forest that flourishes behind her tiny old house in Victoria, British Columbia, where she
lives with her two kids, two dogs, and two birds. Find her online at and on Twitter:

Follow Karen:


The winner will receive:

1 signed hardcover copy of A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers
– Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
– Giveaway ends Mon. Mar. 19th @ 12AM EST
– Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email and will have 24 hours to claim their prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Thomas Allen & Son for letting me participate in this blog tour.