Monday, 23 March 2015

Review: Better than Perfect by Melissa Kantor - pet peeve galore

Better Than Perfect

Title: Better than perfect 
Author: Melissa Kantor 
Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Publication date: February 17, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 336
Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it’s cracked up to be?
Better than Perfect was an interesting book. I liked how the whole book centered around a normal girl's problems.. problems that we have all at least faced at one point in our lives. What I failed to really notice is the emergence of a boy, when she already has a boyfriend, and the overstepping of that line into something that I will never condone or even want to understand.. and that is cheating. 
Juliet comes from a rich family but her life is far from perfect. Her dad left her mom (and herself) and now her mom is drowning her sorrows with alcohol and pills. Juliet's life is falling apart in front of her eyes and now she doesn't know if it was ever what she wanted. She is on the harvard track with her amazing boyfriend (guys, i really really love him), and she's a straight A, extra circular load up kind of student. She doesn't know if this is what she wants anymore.. enter this boy, Declan.. I did not understand how this random boy's introduction made her question everything.. or why he was even a main part of the book. He barely shows up and when he does, it's like Juliet loses all logic. I didn't think it was fair the way she was pushing away her boyfriend or the way she was handling her situation. Half the time I was frustrated with her keeping everything to herself and wanting her life to stay the same but at the same time wanting it to change. I was all right with that.. people at this age question everything in life.. but I hated how she concisely knew she was hurting her boyfriend but went ahead with it and didn't give a crap because she was also hurt. That logic is really unlikable. 
I like books where teenagers act like teenagers… but at the same time, I like books were there is growth.. because if there isn't, is there even a story to tell? people might tell me "but you just said you like books where teenagers act like teenagers".. but here's the thing.. there are some actions that are unforgivable to me, one of them is cheating. I can't support, or even care anymore about a person who does such a thing. I am all for reading about dislikable characters.. but when their initial motive and the reason they persist to act in such a way is confusing and unanswered.. i question my desire to even continue reading the book. However all in all, even though I really hated that part of the book, I do like Melissa Kantor's writing. My finishing the book and giving it 3 stars is evident enough how I appreciate her writing style. I personally won't recommend this book to anyone because I don't support cheating, but if people don't care about that aspect of the book, then I say go for it. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Sister authors interview: Sarena and Sasha - how they write together

Today I've got sisters, book lovers, and authors Sarena and Sasha Nanua. 

Here's a little bio for them:
Sarena and Sasha Nanua are twin authors. Their YA books(THE PENDANT TRILOGY: The Gemstone, The King's Jewel, The Poisoned Emerald) are available everywhere online. They love to read science fiction and fantasy novels. You can visit them online at their website, or their blog.
The Gemstone (Pendant Trilogy, #1)The Poisoned Emerald (Pendant Trilogy, #3)The King's Jewel (Pendant Trilogy, #2)
ARICA MILLER is thrilled to begin her sophomore year at Hill Valley Private Arts Academy. Little does she know that the prestigious school holds more hidden secrets than she'd anticipated-especially with the headmistress. After she accidentally comes into contact with a mysterious gemstone necklace, she receives strange hallucinations that connect to her family's past. Arica soon realizes that this is no regular necklace, but a necklace that contains power beyond her knowledge. And that's not all. Her world unwinds as she is absorbed with knowledge of a world of sorcery.  
All dating up to Halloween night, Arica must face suspicious friends, monstrous creatures, and the truth of her family's connection with sorcery. But worst of all, she must face a powerful enemy keen on only one thing: the gemstones. 
I decided to ask Sarena and Sasha if they would guest post about something that is relevant to this blog and us co-blogger sisters. I wanted them to talk about how they work together, be sisters, co-bloggers, and co-writers. Basically how's their writing process, and all things related!  

Hey, guys! First off, we want to thank Maji Bookshelf for letting us guest post today. We love your blog and Booktube channel! And it seems fitting that we’re both sister bloggers. But also, Sarena and I love to write together. We started writing when we were nine, so for half of our lives. Since a young age, we’ve loved books and soon wanted to write together. I know you might be thinking, ‘Isn’t it hard writing together?’ But actually, we think it’s easier than writing alone.
Now, when I say together, I mean, like, not physically beside each other. Because that can get a little awkward… and intimidating. So we both like to write scenes separately (usually we choose who writes what scene, and it tends to work out well), and then we’ll show each other our work. We give each other advice on what to fix, and though we don’t always agree, we usually—mostly easily—come to a consensus. Of course, we fight. Of course, we’ll disagree on certain things. But not for too long, because writing is our one true passion, and nothing can stop us from continuing.

After having finally self-published our first novel The Gemstone, we made a blog that same year (2012). I can still distinctly remember having no idea on how to run a blog. Soon we figured it out, though, and working together has really put some of the load off each other’s shoulders. Working alone—especially when writing—can be tough because there’s no one there to critique your work. I mean, you can find friends or people on the internet you trust, but having a sister who understands the kinds of books you like to read really helps. That way it’s like a quick trade off: I’ll say, “Can you check this out?”, then Sarena will read it over and edit for grammar while I steal a quick ten minutes of reading time. So overall, it’s actually really helpful to have someone who enjoys and understands the kinds of things that I like. I’m not saying it makes the writing process any less painful (because let’s admit it, every writer has some doubt in what they write, especially in those horrid first drafts), but it makes writing worth it in the end. To be able to share our involvement in writing truly makes it an unforgettable experience.

I like to ask authors and bloggers I interview these quick questions every reader is interested in! You can always tell what kind of reader you are by just knowing the answer to these questions:

Favorite book read in 2015
       Sasha: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
       Sarena: The Help

Current favorite tv show
       Sasha: Survivor
       Sarena: Once Upon a Time

Favorite book to movie adaptation
       Sasha: Catching Fire
       Sarena: Catching Fire

Upcoming new release most excited over
       Sasha: Winter by Marissa Meyer
       Sarena: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase #1) by Rick Riordan

Top 3 all time favorite books
       Sasha & Sarena: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone series

Sunday, 15 March 2015

MASSIVE BOOK HAUL! - yes it's finally back

I can't even remember the last time I did a book haul on the blog. I suck immensely at making them because every time I film a video book haul, I forget to take photos of the books, only to remember after I returned everything to its place and I get too lazy to do that process all over again. Still, I am going to be more conscious about this from now on and post as many blog book hauls as video book hauls. There are around 35 books here and most of them were given to us by the brilliant Britney at The Story of my Reading Life, as well as Giselle from BO-OK NERD Canada and Lynn from Words of Mystery. Review books from Penguin Canada, Random House Canada, and Raincoast Canada. 
We All Looked Up: Got this from Lynn, looks like a coming of age novel
Gone Too Far: A mystery novel that I'm excited to read! picked it up from Britney
The Wrath and the Dawn: A one thousand and one night retelling! SO excited for it
Daughter of Deep Silence: Another mystery thriller that I'm also interested in
Veronica Mars Mr. Kiss and Tell: I love all things Veronica Mars
Shadow Scale: Went to the Rachel Hartman luncheon and picked this up
Salad Love: I am not a cook and this is an AMAZING book to make salads

The White Queen: I have been wanting to get this for ages because I want to read a Philippa Gregory book
The Immortal Rules and The Eternity Cure: I own the first in hardcover but couldn't pass up on these because they're in the new beautiful paperback editions and were only three dollars each! 

I got all of these from Britney except for The Maze Runner (Dylan O'Brien <3) which I got from Giselle! I have already read Falling into Place as well as Unbreak My Heart. The rating for the Starcrossed trilogy is SO HIGH on Goodreads, I had to get them. 
More books from Britney! That girl has spoiled us so much! All of these are books I'm super excited for or ones I already read and highly enjoyed! I am super excited for Anya's Ghost! The art in the book is just super cute! 
What did you guys get in your mailboxes? 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Cook book review: SALAD LOVE by David Bez - all in photos

This is the start of something new! I am going to start reviewing cooking books. I suck at cooking. There I said it.. actually to be honest.. I just never gave cooking a chance. I tend to over think everything and make the stupidest mistakes (i.e.: one teaspoon on recipe but I somehow end up thinking it said one tablespoon and doing just that). I've had several stupid mishaps so I gave up on bothering to cook all together. However, this book was the perfect start for my (hopefully) successful home cooking career! I will be making a monthly or biweekly post with one or two salads that I made. I'm actually quite excited! 

I want to start off by reviewing the book so I will be listing all the usual information for the book then getting down to the nitty gritty and oh so delicious parts! 
Salad Love: 260 Crunchy, Savory, and Filling Meals You Can Make Every Day

Title: Salad Love
Author: David Bez
Publisher: Random House Canada
Publication date: March 24, 2015
Genre(s): Cooking 
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC 
Pages: 388
Salads take the spotlight in this visually arresting cookbook that showcases a year's worth of weekday recipes so exciting you'll want to eat salads every day.
At the request of his co-workers who were constantly admiring his lunches, David Bez started the photo-driven blog Salad Pride, embarking on a year-long challenge to create one new salad every day. The blog instantly gained popularity for its creative salads that require no special cooking skills. The cookbook Salad Love pairs his vibrant photographs with accompanying recipes arranged around seasonal produce. 
In true Juhina fashion, I'll let the photos speak for my experience using the book. However some points I must make about the book and they are: 
1. The book is GORGOUS! Have you not seen all the colors on JUST the cover? the inside is even prettier and structurally beautiful. I have a thing for orderly and organized layouts that are very simplistic and that is the whole format of this book. 
2. Every single salad is accompanied with a photo. Thank you David Bez! I often find it very frustrating when a dessert or cook book has a recipe of something that I don't even know what it will look like. Photos, for me, are very important visual and confidence aids when I am cooking/baking. The below two salads are the ones I decided to make. Both from the SUMMER section, guess I was getting sick of all this winter! My only real complaint is the lack of serving size. I think the serving is for one person.. but is it as a full meal or a side? I had to play around with the amounts because I was cooking for five people.  

3. There are SO MANY useful information and options! There are vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, and omnivore salads, as well as alternatives (turning an omnivore salad to a vegetarian one) with each salad! That is just so helpful for me because I don't eat pork but while flipping through the book every salad that has this meat usually has another alternative that I can work with! I know I know.. it would be easy to just omit the pork and add whatever.. but you need to understand.. I SUCK at cooking and have no innate cooking skills so I would be over thinking what would be a good substitute for chorizo or bacon. There are also recipes for so many dressings including all different sauces, pesto, creamy, and olive based dressings. 
Now for the actual review of the salads. The book starts off with saying "This is not a cookbook" and it is true. Any pro or experienced cook would find these salads too simple, too easy for it to even be in a cookbook, however that is precisely why I love it. 
This is a book that contains 260 very diverse and unique salads for people who don't generally enjoy the usual salads or don't cook much. The outcome was also very similar to what was promised both look wise and taste wise. I ended up making my first ever pesto sauce and it was delicious! Even though they are very easy to make, don't let that deceive you. All the people that tried my salad loved it and by the end of the meal, they were pretty much eaten. 
Here's to many more delicious lunches with fantastic salads! 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Title: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: March 10, 2015
Genre(s): High Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 400
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.
The Orphan Queen is a high fantasy book about a girl named Wilhelmina who's home was ambushed and destroyed by the Indigo Kingdom. After staying in hiding for ten years, she's ready to do whatever it takes to take back her home. Throw in some magic and a mysterious vigilant named Black Knife and you have The Orphan Queen.
I was quite hesitant with this book because of how confusing it was in the beginning. There was a lot to take and some things weren't fully explained until later on. I actually wanted to put it away but I kept reading and I'm glad that I did because it definitely did not disappoint. Once you understand who the characters are in this world and how the use of magic is connected with the story, you will really start to enjoy it. 
The book is divided into two sections; The Ospreys and The Wraithland. In the first part of the book, we are introduced to all the characters. Wil, the princess, and the rest of the orphaned children of Aecor have all been together from the beginning and now go by the name The Ospreys. They plan on infiltrating the Indigo Kingdom in order to learn how to best take back their land. As it turns out, there's much more to it than what they know. This is where the second part of the book comes in. As Wil heads into the Wraithland (land that is covered in a toxic by-product of magic called the wraith- almost comparable to a radiation soaked place in real life) she discovers not only secrets the Kingdom has been keeping but possibly a solution to solve all her problems. This was my favourite part of the book as we really get to see how magic and the wraith have affected the rest of the world. Lastly, a vigilant named Black Knife also appears throughout the story. He is almost the anti-superhero of the kingdom, he stops those who use magic and will turn them into the military if necessary. I enjoyed the little bit of romance that was added throughout the book but wish it was developed a bit earlier.
As you can tell by now, there is a lot to take in. A lot happens in this 400 page book but it really does wrap up in a nice way. I definitely will be picking up the second book when it comes out next year!