Friday, 17 April 2015

Review: The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

The Truth About Us

Title: The Truth about Us
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher:
 Raincoast Canada 
Publication date: April 7, 2015
 
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 304
The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care.
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.
The Truth about Us was a total whim read. I received this book from the publisher during their spring preview and I never really thought about it since then. However last month, I wanted to read something quick and breezy and I decided to try it out for two reason 1) Janet Gurtler is a canadian author, 2) I was in a horrible reading slump and needed a contemporary I knew nothing about. I am so glad I picked up The Truth about Us because it was fantastic! It definitely took me out of my reading slump and now I will be picking up all of Janet Gurtler's books. I actually own Who I Kissed so that will be next on my list. 
The Truth about Us revolves around Jess, a girl coming from a rich family.. but definitely not a perfect one. It seems like her family is falling apart. Her mother is in her room all the time due to an incident the readers are kept in the dark about. Jess's dad is working constantly, while her sister pretty much moved into her boyfriend's family's house and is never seen at home. This leaves Jess alone all day, or hanging out with her one friend.. who is a horrible influence on her. Jess ends up getting in trouble for something stupid she did (she bought a ten thousand dollar dress online), and her dad finally puts his foot down. Next thing she knows, she is signed up to volunteer at a soup kitchen called New Beginnings. 
Honestly? Jess is so down to earth, I loved that she wasn't the stereotypical rich kid. Yes, she isn't used to poverty or seeing poverty. Yes, she was uncomfortable during the first days at New Beginnings, but who wouldn't be? when one has only known luxury living? What was more interesting to me was how everyone pretty much discriminated against Jess for being rich. It was so shocking how she was ostracized at times just because she has more money than them. I just feel like only when someone rich discriminates against someone poor does it turn into the issue.. but when the opposite happens… then it is justified. I really do not like the double standards of our world. I loved the friendship Jess strikes up with Whilf, a 70 year old who takes care of the greenhouse he gave to the soup kitchen. I loved their banter together and enjoyed their scenes. As for Flynn, the love interest.. I really really liked him. He had his insecurities and it was so cute seeing them together.. however, I truly did not like the ending… it felt like Janet Gurtler tried to deviate from the typical YA endings, but decided against it in the last minute. This was the one time I was happy if the couple didn't end up together because it felt realistic and appropriate. That is mainly why I didn't give The Truth about Us higher than 4 stars. Still, overall this was such a quick and enjoyable read and I can't wait to see what else is in store for me when I pick up more of Gurtler's books. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Salad Love: seafood and asian ingredients


Another month, another post of SALAD LOVE! This time I went a little eastern (the far east to be specific) and made a crabmeat, avocado, cucumber, and nori salad! One thing I did change was the cucumber. Unfortunately I thought we had some at home but turned out we were out. So instead of cucumbers, I added raw zucchini and honestly? I think that was more delicious than just adding cucumbers. 

As usual, this recipe had a "raw alternative" and that was basically replacing the crabmeat 
with something vegetarian. I really enjoyed making this salad and it was definitely less work 
and effort than the previous two that I made. 
You'll be seeing more cooking/baking posts in the upcoming months. They are such a nice change from the monotonous book reviews. Do you guys like them? 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Review: Mr.Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas - Veronica Mars love

Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars, #2)
Title: Mr.Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars, #2)
Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Publisher:
 Random House Canada
Publication date: February 3, 2015
 
Genre(s): Adult (Mystery)
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Pages: 330
The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?
Mr.Kiss and Tell was another great addition to the world of Veronica Mars. I am a huge fan and have been since the show was airing back in 2004-2007. Seeing the Veronica Mars world told in books brings me so much joy and I really enjoyed this second installment. The mystery aspect was a plus and I enjoyed guessing and trying to figure out (and always failing!) who the perpetrator is. 
In Mr.Kiss and Tell, we get to meet many of the old Veronica Mars crew and actually spend time with them. This includes Weevil, as well as Wallace and Mac. I really love the three (V, Wallace, and Mac) and their scenes together were hilarious, as usual. Having Rob Thomas be a part of the book is so important for keeping the authenticity of the characters and their voice. We also see more of Logan, hallelujah! I have been waiting so long for this and was slightly disappointed when all we got were Skype sessions on The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Logan and Veronica just give me all the good feels. They are one of my favorite tv couples ever and I love them together. So bonus to Mr.Kiss and Tell for finally giving us marshmallows more scenes with those two. This book is a mystery, and it was definitely an interesting one. It is interesting how even the mysteries (whether victims, accused, or witnesses) always tie in to people we already have seen or caught a glimpse of in the show. 
The mystery in Mr.Kiss and Tell definitely made my blood boil. Because it is basically about someone who raped and then physically abused a girl and dumped her like a piece of garbage on the side of a road. I wanted the rapist and abuser to be caught so badly and the book definitely taunted us with those feelings. I like that even with the mystery, multiple stories are still continuing including the problem with the corrupt sheriff's department, as well as Logan's impeding deployment. I definitely enjoyed Mr. Kiss and Tell and I can't wait for more books in this series. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

The books on my ASAP TBR

This is for the books that I've been neglecting for ages. Ones I was SUPER excited to read when I bought but never had the chance to pick up. This is my shout out post for these neglected books. 

Because I've toned down my review book requesting by a lot as well as putting myself on a book buying ban, I've had more time to read my own books. Here are some of the books I'm reading (see? not hoping to read, or wishing to read, but straight up reading) this year:

All of these are sequels to series that I've already started. I really want to 
finish The Vampire Academy series. I read the third book, Shadow Kiss, in 
March and want to continue and finish it this year so I can start the Bloodlines 
series. I love Katie McGarry and recently read Breaking the Rules (Pushing the 
Limits #1.5) and now want to continue and read about Isiah's story in 
Crash Into You
Since The Lux series is over, I really want to finish it. I only own Origin but 
once I read it, I'll buy Opposition and read that. I read The Girl of Fire 
and Thorns back in 2012 and I loved it.. but embarrassingly enough I still 
haven't picked up the sequel The Crown of Embers yet. I wanted to wait 
and read Cress closer to Winter's release date which is this year, so that's 
what I'll be doing. I read Archetype last year and thought it was a fantastic 
futuristic NA novel. It is a duology and I want to finish it with Prototype
 
I love any book written by Jenny Han. I didn't want to start the Burn for Burn 
series until all the books are out… and they're all out so I now am free to marathon 
it all. Dangerous Girls has been on my list for years because I love 
mystery/thrillers. I finally bought it but seem to always forget that I actually 
own it. 
Ten things we did (and probably shouldn't have) was one of the 
first ever contemporaries I had my eyes on.. but for some reason I never 
actually read it. I read an excerpt of Live Through This before it came out 
and I was hooked.. it is actually a very short book. I need to read it
Seconds will be my first attempt at reading a graphic novel. 
Angelfall and World After: I own the first two and now knowing the 
series has been demoted to a trilogy, where the last book will come out 
this year, I can go ahead and read those two!




I love Maggie Stiefvater, and The Scorpio Races is the only book I haven't read by her (I don't count the fae series she wrote)Uninvited was on my wish list as soon as I read it is about genetics and now that the sequel (it's only a duology) is coming out soon, I want to read it then if I loved it, I'll buy and read the sequel 




In my attempt to read more adult books, I'll be picking up Written in Red. I know the third book is coming out (already came out?) this year which means I can pick this one up. I am obsessed with mystery/thrillers and The Cuckoo's Calling is exactly that. It doesn't hurt that JK Rowling wrote it. She's only just my queen.



Thursday, 2 April 2015

Natale Ghent's Dark Company Blog Tour: Q&A and Giveaway!







Hello guys! welcome to the blog tour for Dark Company by Natale Ghent! In today's stop, we have an interview with the lovely Natale as well as a giveaway hosted by the generous Random House Canada for a signed copy of her book, Dark Company! Here's a brief bio of the author as well as a synopsis of her lovely book


Natale Ghent has been writing stories since she was six. Her first books, written and illustrated, revolved around a family of circles: a momma circle, a papa circle and two baby circles. The momma circle wore a fur stole, distinguishing herself from the papa circle, who wore a fedora, naturally. 

Natale graduated from writing about circles to writing and illustrating stories about a small fairy, and later, to stories about talking guinea pigs and eventually humans.

When Natale was very young, she wanted to be an archeologist, a ballerina, a veterinarian, a singer and a magician, but not necessarily in that order. Later in life, she realized she could be all these things and more through her writing. She says, "I never set out to be a novelist in the way that so many do these days. All I knew was that I had a voracious curiosity about life and that I loved telling stories. I simply stumbled along until writing took me by the hand and refused to let go, though I recognize now that there were many signposts guiding me along the way. I come from a long line of consummate story tellers. It just never occurred to me that I could tell stories for a living. And now I can’t imagine doing anything else."



Seventeen-year old Caddy is haunted by visions of global destruction. They come on like seizures, taking her to a desolate place where dispossessed souls struggle to be heard. It is one possible future--one she feels she must prevent. But in a world where food and money are scarce, and the struggle over resources between the continents is escalating toward war, Caddy has little hope.  
When her father goes missing, she searches for him and is abducted into a cabalistic society called The Dreamers--visionaries who "dream" to sustain the light against the dark energies that threaten to take over the planet. Caddy is shepherded into the society by a high school classmate called Poe, and through him, uncovers long-hidden truths about herself and her father.  
The situation darkens when Caddy learns that the dreamers are hunted and killed by an ancient order known as the Grey Men--a cult dedicated to eradicating the light to assist a demonic entity they call The Speaker. By killing the dreamers, the grey men open rifts in the light that allow The Speaker to seed evil and darkness on the earth plane with the ultimate goal of destroying the planet. Things become more complicated when Meg, a girl from Caddy's high school, who has been ushered into this other reality, clashes with Caddy to supress the forces of light and to try to win back Poe's heart. 
As she falls deeper and deeper into the world of the dreamers, Caddy discovers layers of deceit and treachery realizes it's up to her to find a way to overcome the dark and prevent the light from being extinguished forever. . .
1. Describe your novel in a tweet (140 words)   
Two girls and two worlds collide in the battle of good and evil.
2. How did you come up with the idea? 
There’s a long answer and a short answer. Here’s the condensed version: I was visited by one of the characters while driving home from up north. She just got in the car and rode with me for hours. She had two very distinct aspects to her personality that eventually morphed into two different characters in the book: Caddy and Skylark. The story unfolded naturally from there.
 
3. It looks like Dark Company is a mix of genres, what are they and how is Dark Company unique from the other books with the same genres?
  
Dark Company is a paranormal fantasy set in a near-future dystopia. It’s unique from other books with the same genres because it was written by me. No two authors tell the same story—even when given the same starting point. I like to think of it as decorating Christmas trees: we all start with the same green tree (or tinsel one or plastic) and somehow we all manage to come up with something different.
The other reason Dark Company is unique is because I came at the book from a position of personal experience. I used to work as a hypnotherapist, and part of my practice and research involved spirit and entity release. It’s a fascinating field and can uncover some pretty dark and wild stuff. It gave me lots to chew on, and informed a lot of the writing in the book. 
 
4. Did you have any global issues you wanted to raise awareness about through Dark Company?
 
Yes, very much. You may be sorry you asked this question! ;))
 
I am concerned about the disenfranchising of individuals and governments by corporate entities. Money is power—so much so that governments are deferring to the demands of big companies regardless of how it impacts the earth and the people.
 
I’m also deeply concerned about the development and marketing of GMO’s. I understand that many genetically modified seeds are developed to increase crop yields. But some are also rendered sterile so they can only produce one year. When they are not rendered sterile, the seeds are prohibited from being saved and shared—a centuries-old farming practice. This is a method of controlling the market and the production of food—and ultimately, the people.
 
There is a serious problem with the unintentional crosspollination of GMO’s and unmodified seeds, and the consequent penalties for farmers whose crops are affected. Some have even been accused of stealing patents and growing restricted seeds. Farmers also suffer the financial blow when their crops are rejected by foreign markets refusing shipments due to GMO contamination.
 
We do not yet know the outcome of eating GMO’s. We may discover something detrimental down the road—something we could have never imagined. What if companies who develop GMO’s have a hidden agenda? What if they are trying to suppress a certain ability in people with the intention of gaining further control?  These musings were the inspiration for the idea put forward in Dark Company: the genetically modified seeds marketed by the Company contain a code designed to suppress people’s ability to dream, leaving the world vulnerable to dark energy.  
 
 
5. Will Dark Company be the first book in a series or a standalone?
 
I hope there will be at least one other book, maybe two.
 
6. Any other books that are in the works right now?
 
I have several books in the works but have yet to decide which one to give my attention. I have yet to write the third in the No Small Thing series as well, and fans of the book are starting to lose patience with me.

??????????????????????
Thank you so much for the great questions! If anyone would like to know more about Dark Company, please visit my new website, www.darkcompanybook.com.


Randomhouse Canada is giving away ONE (1) signed copy of Dark Company to a lucky winner. This giveaway however is for Canadian residents only. Just use the rafflecopter below and if you win, you'll have 48 hours to reply back to our email! 
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway