We Are All Made of Molecules

Stewart and his dad move in with his new girlfriend and her daughter Ashley. Stewart’s mom died a year ago, and Ashley’s parents got divorced because her dad came out as gay. Stewart is thirteen and goes to a special school for gifted children. Ashley is fourteen and goes to the local high school. But when Stewart moves in to Ashley’s house, he decides he wants to go Ashley’s school, to improve his social skills. Though Ashley is mortified that her new step-brother is going to her school, she soon figures out that she needs him as much as he needs her. 

This book covers a wide range of problems that teenagers face. Stewart has to deal with the death of his mother. Ashley has to learn to accept her father for who he is, and not be ashamed of him. They both have to face teenage drinking and parties, and the negative consequences that can come from that. 

I really liked how the book addressed so many important issues but was still able to keep a light, humourous tone. There were both laugh-out-loud and heartbreaking parts. Most importantly, this book shows that we all have something in common, despite our differences: we are all made of molecules. 

New Release: Definitions of Indefinable Things

One day, when Reggie is picking up her prescription for depression medication, she meets Snake. Snake has a tattoo on his neck and dark hair hanging in his eyes (to Reggie, he looks like an “emo” poster boy). But Reggie and Snake have something in common: depression. They see each other a couple of days later when Snake starts working at the same ice cream parlour where Reggie works. Though Reggie isn’t ready to let anyone in, she begins to “hate” Snake… in a good way. Her mixed feelings become even more complicated when she discovers that the popular girl at school, Carla, is pregnant with Snake’s child.

I loved this story because it has a unique plot. It deviates from a traditional love triangle, since two of the people are having a child together, though they aren’t necessarily “together.” Though most of the book deals with these serious issues, there is some comic relief with the caricatures of their parents. Reggie’s extremely religious mother and Snake’s lesbian moms provided some moments of relief between the dark discussions and therapy sessions.

This amazing debut novel explores what it means to be depressed, what it means to be lonely, and how to learn to love.

Fifteen Dogs

Fifteen Dogs has been a huge award winner. Not only did it win the Giller Prize last year, but it just won Canada Reads 2017 last week!

There are many reasons this has been a bestseller. First of all, it’s a short book that is easy to read.

It also has an intriguing plot that tries to answer the question of what makes humans happy. The ancient Greek gods Apollo and Hermes meet in a bar in Toronto and make a bet to see if animals will be happy if they are given human cognition and language. They put a spell on fifteen dogs, giving them the ability to speak and think like humans. These dogs make their own packs, with hierarchies. They each have distinct personalities, like humans. They even create their own language, though they still have the basic instincts of dogs (i.e. sniffing each others’ butts). Apollo and Hermes observe how the dogs interact and progress to determine the winner of their bet.

As a dog lover, I really liked this book. Now this may be a bit of a spoiler, but not all of the dogs make it to the end of the book. Nevertheless it is an excellent book that you should definitely read!

Uppercase Box March 2017

This is my first Uppercase Box! Uppercase is a Young Adult monthly subscription box.

This book, Hunted by Meagan Spooner, is very timely right now. It is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. This box coincides with the release of the new live-action Disney film. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it came with a link to a website with special features for the book.

This box also included a pair of Jane Austen socks (my fave author!!!), a print of classic book spines, and a dragon sticker which reads “Book Hoarder.”

I was very pleased with this box and I can’t wait to see what will come in April!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

This is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series. It is a modern retelling of Cinderella, but with a twist.

Cinder is a cyborg, living in New Beijing. She was adopted by Linh Garan but he died soon after, so she lives with his wife and their two daughters. A plague is taking over the country which soon claims the life of their emperor. Cinder meets his son, Prince Kai, when he gets his personal android repaired by her at the market. This leads to her going to the palace where she finds Dr. Erland. After running some tests, he discovers that she is from Luna, the planet of their enemy. She is also immune to the plague since she is Lunar. Being Lunar is more dangerous than ever now, because the Queen of Luna is vying to become Prince Kai’s wife. The plague is brought close to Cinder’s heart when her favourite stepsister, Peony, becomes ill. Cinder has to decide how to use her secret of being Lunar to save the people of New Beijing and prevent Prince Kai from marrying Queen Levana.

This story and the following books in the series (Cress, Scarlet, Winter, Fairest, and Stars Above) are also very diverse, featuring characters from different backgrounds. The other books also have lead characters that are based on classic fairytales but they are all set in the same world.

This is one of my favourite new series! I hope you enjoy it too!

Station Eleven

It took me a while to read this book because the original printing had deckle edges, which I can’t stand! Now I wish I had read it sooner.

It’s about a virus that kills 99% of the population. It takes place in Toronto, Southern Ontario and the Northern U.S. An actor has a heart attack on stage on the night that the virus is brought to Canada from Russia. The story follows people related to the actor, from a girl who witnessed his death on stage to the paramedic who attempted to revive him to his ex-wives and friends.

Though the time and setting jump around between chapters, St. John Mandel weaves it together beautifully. The premise of a virus taking the lives of most of the world was very disturbing to think about. It was especially scary for me since the majority of the story happens in my hometown of Toronto. When the virus first breaks, it is compared to SARS, a virus that affected the city many years ago. However SARS didn’t have the repercussions that the virus in this story had.

The only part of the story that I thought was unnecessary was the subplot involving the paramedic. He was the only character on the outer edges of the main story. I think his part could be completely removed without changing the rest of the plot, making.

I loved this story and I’m so proud that it’s Canadian!

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Seventeen years after it was released, I finally read Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was laughing all the way through it, even when I was cringing at Becky’s excessive spending. I kept shouting at her in my head, “Don’t buy those clothes! Go pay your bills!” But nevertheless I enjoyed this book.

I was motivated to finally read it because I met Sophie Kinsella at her Toronto book signing a couple of weeks ago. She is a very kind woman. She was doing a signing to promote her latest book My Not So Perfect Life. Now I can’t wait to read that one. Here’s a photo of her signing my book.