Title: The End of Temperance Dare
Author: Wendy Webb
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: June 6, 2017
When Eleanor Harper is fired from her job as a crime reporter, she applies to be the director at Cliffside Manor. Cliffside was originally a Tuberculosis sanitarium but the owner, Chester Dare, turned it into a retreat for artists. His daughter, Penelope now runs it but she has decided to retire and pass the reins off to Eleanor. However, the day Eleanor arrives, after learning the basics of how the building is run, Penelope Dare is found dead in her room with an apparent suicide note on her chest. After the initial shock, Eleanor finds a letter from Penelope that says she has left a puzzle for her to solve. Once the writers and artists arrive for the four week retreat, Eleanor soon finds out that all of the fellows have prior connections to Cliffside which led Penelope to choose them to come. Eleanor is left with the mystery of why all those fellows were chosen to come to this haunted manor.
I loved this book! It was so spooky. It reminded me of The Shining, because a new person has come to run this old building, but they discover it is somehow haunted.
I really liked how everything was explained at the end. I figured out some of the twists just before they happened. But they were still exciting.
This story is also a little mysterious because you have to figure out the connection between the people at the manor right along with Eleanor.
This is a really good story, but I don’t recommend reading it at night!
Title: Be Ready For The Lightning
Author: Grace O’Connell
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Veda’s life changes when she is trapped on a hijacked bus in New York City. She reflects on her life growing up in Vancouver. Her brother got into many fights. She blames herself for starting them because his first fight was to defend her. Veda would always look after him following these fights, until she gets involved herself. Then she decides to leave Vancouver and get a fresh start in New York. She never expected it would lead to this hostage situation. Veda has to use a strength that she didn’t know she had to get off the bus.
This story is very character driven. It follows Veda’s life before and after the hostage situation. Each of the eight parts of the book begins with a chapter about Veda’s time on the bus.
Usually I prefer plot-driven novels but I liked this one. It kept returning to the life changing moment in Veda’s life when she was trapped on the bus. I kept expecting something very dramatic to happen, but when there was a major plot twist, it was soon resolved. The “lightning” wasn’t as big a flash as I thought it would be. However, I liked the image of lightning and how it kept coming back up in the story.
This is a good story and it’s very well written!
Title: Downward Dog: Very Serious Haiku From A Very Serious Dog
Author: Samm Hodges, Phinheas Hodges
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: June 6, 2017
This book is full of haiku poems by a dog. Yes, haiku poems from the perspective of a dog!
If you know me, you know I love dogs, especially my own bichon poodle, Skippy. These poems are hilarious! I can picture these poems coming from my dog.
My favourite one is about the “surprise” after “the ride in the car” which ended with being neutered. I laughed out loud at that one! Some of the other poems were about cuddling up with Netflix and a dilemma about his leash: friend or foe?
There are also pictures that go along with many of the poems. They’re just simple drawings, that presumably have been drawn by the dog.
I really like this book! It’s super short but it’s so funny! These haikus come from the dog from the new ABC show, Downward Dog. Check it out Wednesday nights!
Title: Finding Fraser
Author: K.C. Dyer
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: May 1, 2016
Emma travels from the U.S. to Scotland to find her own Jamie Fraser in this cute novel by K.C. Dyer. This is a great book for fans of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Like many readers of Outlander (or watchers of the TV show), Emma wants to find her own man who looks and acts exactly like Jamie. I think this is true for many readers of great romance novels (think of how many girls are looking for their own Mr. Darcy). This story shows how important our favourite characters are to us.
Emma finds many different men in Scotland, though they don’t all fit the mould of Jamie Fraser. She immediately dismisses them if they are missing that fiery red hair. Emma also meets one man who is trying to find his perfect California beach babe (and attempts to fit her into that mould even though she is from Chicago). She learns an important lesson about not judging a book by its cover. I also liked one of the messages in the book: home isn’t necessarily where you’ve lived your whole life.
Emma tries to follow the same route that Claire took throughout Scotland in Outlander, so this book is perfect for those of us who would love to follow in the footsteps of our favourite characters. Though you would get more out of this book if you know the story of Outlander, this story is also great for anyone who dreams of living their own romance modelled after their favourite novel.
Title: The Only Child
Author: Andrew Pyper
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Lily Dominick is a forensic psychologist. She analyzes dangerous criminals locked up in New York’s Kirby facility. One day, a man comes in who ripped the ears off a stranger with his bare hands. But he tells Lily that he did it so he could be sent to see her. He tells Lily things about herself to prove that he knows who she is. She lived in a cabin with her mother in Alaska, but her mother was brutally murdered when Lily was six. She never knew her father. Now, this man claims to be her father. Once he escapes police custody and murders one of Lily’s colleagues, she is led on a chase to find out the truth behind the mysterious man, Michael, and her true lineage.
This story had a lot going on. Michael claims to have been the inspiration for Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula. Normally, I like contemporary stories that are based on classics. However, this one had too much going on with Michael claiming to be all three monsters.
I didn’t have a big enough emotional connection to root for Lily in the story. She made a lot of bad decisions and didn’t seem very stable so she wasn’t a very likeable character.
I enjoyed the end of the story. It was a thrilling chase leading to the conclusion. It was very intense. But the story still dealt with too many possible thriller plot lines for me: it had monsters, vampires, spies, murders, fake passports, abandoned cabins, and an orphaned girl. I think if it had less of these typical aspects of the contemporary thriller story, it would have been a better story.
Title: A-Force Volume 0: Warzones!
Author: Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson
Genre: Graphic Novel
Release Date: November 18, 2015
A-Force is an all female superhero group in Arcadia. The members are She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Sister Grimm, Dazzler, Ms. America, Loki (female), and Medusa, among others. In this opening graphic novel, they first battle a giant megalodon. Ms. America puts civilians in danger so Dr. Strange orders her to be banished to the Shield for the rest of her life. Sister Grimm is the most distraught over the loss of Ms. America. However, she finds a new creature that looks like the night sky. But this new girl also creates dangerous portals that bring enemies to Arcadia. They have to decide if she is a friend or foe.
I love this female driven comic! She-Hulk is my favourite superhero so I love that she is their leader. It’s important to see all of these powerful women, since there are so many male-dominated superhero groups, such as the Avengers. It’s amazing to see how many female superheroes there are in this comic, when they aren’t normally given the spotlight.
This graphic novel is just the introduction to the A-Force series. There are two more volumes that I hope to review soon!
Title: Follow Me Back
Author: A.V. Geiger
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Tessa Hart has severe agoraphobia following an incident at a writing program she attended in early summer. She can’t leave her bedroom. Her therapist holds sessions for her in her room. Tessa is obsessed with the pop star Eric Thorn. She wrote a fanfiction story about him that went viral. She even started the hashtag EricThornObsessed that was trending at number one. Meanwhile, Eric Thorn’s manager and PR team are loving the attention he’s getting from this hashtag. But Eric isn’t as into the attention. He is still freaked out by the death of a fellow singer. Dorian Cromwell was stalked by a fangirl and then she slit his throat. Eric is worried about this happening to him too. He creates a fake account to try to give himself some negative attention, so his fans will move on to someone else. But his interactions with one fan leads to more than he ever expected.
I almost read this entire book in one sitting. I read until 2 AM and then continued as soon as I woke up in the morning! It was so thrilling!
The narrative of Tessa and Eric is interspersed with police transcripts about an incident that happened involving both of them. This hinted at them meeting one day and something serious happening!
The premise of all of these interactions happening on twitter is so realistic. You never know who you’re talking to online. This story really shows how dangerous it can be to blindly throw yourself into an online relationship.
The ending was amazing! There were so many twists and turns, until the very last page. It’s also amazing that this story was first published on Wattpad. A.V. Geiger is very talented. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future!
Title: Hockey Karma
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Jeremiah Jacobson is a 32 year-old hockey player. He has back problems and his game is suffering from it. Everyone can see that he is close to retirement. He starts taking a lot of pain medication, so much that he forgets to spend quality time with his wife and children. His friend Tom Leonard wants him to look over a plan he has to improve their neighbouring city, Bump City, but Jeremiah keeps forgetting. Meanwhile, Tom is having his own romantic issues. He is dating his high school crush, Jaelithe, but she lives across the country in Pittsburgh. Tom goes back to a high school reunion and is reunited with his old bandmates. Jeremiah has to deal with his new drug problem, while Tom has to decide what to do with his new relationship.
I loved this graphic novel! It’s the third and final part in the Friends Forever series from Howard Shapiro. This one is definitely my favourite in the series. I love that it brings together the points from the first two books. I didn’t see as much of a connection between the first and second books, but this one brings back all of the characters from the series in a reunion.
The only part that was a little confusing was determining which character was which while they played hockey. Since they were all wearing helmets, I couldn’t tell which character was speaking at first glance.
I really enjoyed this series. This third book was a great conclusion to this heartfelt series.
Title: The Ice Maiden’s Tale
Author: Lisa Presoisi
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Xist Publishing
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Casper and Johanna have to go stay with their neighbour, Mrs. Kinder, while their mother visits their father in the hospital. They are a little scared of her because she reminds them of the witch from Hansel and Gretel. Mrs. Kinder reads them a story from a mysterious book. She tells the stories of two men: Gabriel and Sebastian. Gabriel is a sculptor who sculpts a woman out of ice. Then he leaves her but he wishes she was alive. He embarks on a quest to bring her to life. Sebastian is a magician who uses his powers to kill people in his way. When he finds Gabriel’s ice maiden sculpture he also wants to bring it to life. Sebastian then goes on a quest to bring life to the ice maiden too.
This story reminds me of a fairytale. Casper and Johanna are similar to Hansel and Gretel since they go to the old woman’s house. They even have German names like in the tale. It also reminds me of the story of Pygmalion, who made a sculpture of a woman. When the Greek goddess Aphrodite saw how much he loved the sculpture, she brings her to life. This is like Gabriel’s story, since he sculpted the ice maiden and then wanted to bring her to life.
The dueling stories between Gabriel and Sebastian were a little confusing at times because they were so similar. They both involve magic and going on quests to bring the ice maiden to life so they could get mixed up.
I like the way this story brought a fairytale/folk tale into the modern world. Casper and Johanna were told the story, but the reader also gets to experience the stories of Gabriel and Sebastian.
I also like that the two main characters are a boy and a girl, so the book isn’t specifically aimed at one gender. However, they did follow gender stereotypes with Casper wanting to hear about dragons and Johanna wanting to hear a love story.
This is a good story with a unique premise.
Title: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Rachel Chu goes to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick Young, to attend his best friend’s wedding. However, she doesn’t realize what that will entail. When one girl overhears them discussing travelling to Singapore, the news spreads like wildfire back to Singapore and to Nick’s mother. She has to investigate everything she can about Rachel. Though her last name is Chu, she isn’t a Chu of the Taiwan Plastics company. She grew up in the U.S. with her single mother, which is unacceptable to the Singaporean elite. Rachel soon finds out that she doesn’t fit in with their lavish lifestyle. This story is filled with gossip, family drama, parties, and lots of shopping.
I loved this book! The elitist attitudes of the characters were quite funny. Nick’s mother reminded me of Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Instead of looking for her daughters to marry into a fortune like Mrs. Bennet, Eleanor wants Nick to marry someone with their high status.
Though the book was very funny, it was quite serious at times too. There was lots of family drama. Many of the girls were also very mean to Rachel just because she isn’t as wealthy as them.
Though there were many characters, most of whom were related and in the same general age group, I was able to distinguish between them all. They all have distinct personalities. Sometimes I find ensemble casts in books confusing because they blend in with each other, but it worked in this book.
I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series soon!