January 2016

Divergent, Finding Winnie, Lindsay Mattick

Happy Friday, friends! I haven’t done a monthly summary for a LONG time, so I thought that I’d start doing it again in the new year. This January I ended up reading a total of 11 books, which is way more that I’ve read in a month in a long time. To see my 2016 50 Book Pledge Read shelf, click here!

This month, I read:

*99 Days by Katie Cotugno
*How to Love by Katie Cotugno
*Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
*The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
*Divergent by Veronica Roth
*Insurgent by Veronica Roth
*Allegiant by Veronica Roth
*Catherine, Called Birdie by Karen Cushman
*Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg
*Finding Winnie by Lindsey Mattick
*Disclaimer by Renee Knight

I think one of the big reasons that allowed me to read so much was the #24in48 readathon, which encouraged me to read A LOT in one weekend. It also helped that I read a lot of young adult novels (and one picture book). This month, I started off with the opposite: the long and emotional A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize last year and I’ve heard so many great things about it. Since it’s finally out in paperback, I figured I’d give it a shot!

What are you reading this month? Did you read any of the books that I read? How was your January reading?

Book Review | Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

Young adult fiction, Bronte family

Warning: This post contains a lot of fangirling.

Once in a while a book will come along and check off all of your readerly boxes and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to read an advanced copy of it. Lena Coakley’s Worlds of Ink and Shadow was such a book for me. Like, (please excuse the casual tone – I love this book too much to be formal about it) I feel like this book was tailor-made for me: it’s a little magical, it’s about sibling relationships, and it’s about the Brontës.

If you’re a fan of Victorian literature, you might know that the Brontë siblings had a pretty tough life. They were not rich and thus were sent to an inexpensive school where the two eldest siblings (Maria and Elizabeth) fell ill with tuberculosis, passing away weeks after returning home. The death of their siblings was, unsurprisingly, difficult for Charlotte, Patrick Branwell, Emily, and Anne. I can’t confirm whether this is true or not, but it’s said that the remaining Brontë siblings would write to escape their dark reality, creating their own worlds such as Verdopolis, Glasstown, Angria, and Gondal. Some of the stories written in those worlds have been published (See: Tales of Angria).

The Brontës’ lives have always fascinated me but I never got around to reading any in-depth biographies. That’s why I appreciated Worlds of Ink and Shadows so much. It’s still considered fiction (especially when you get to the more magical parts), but Coakley draws inspiration from real events experienced by the family, making it almost like an intro course to the Brontës. Of course, readers should take the biographical details in the novel with a grain of salt, but I found that the book did teach me things about the family that I didn’t know before.

Aside from the biographical details of the Brontës, Worlds of Ink and Shadow is really just a well-written, well-plotted book, so even if you’re not specifically interested in the Brontë family, I think you’ll still enjoy the story. In the book, readers learn that Charlotte and Branwell have tried to resist the lure of writing but have failed, and it is only until later that you start to suspect that there may be a reason for it. Coakley expertly blends the in-universe reality with the stories the characters write, making the readers question what is real and what is not. This is a story about the price of art, but it’s also a story of family, and how far we would go to save one another.

If what I’ve said so far appeals to you, then you should definitely read Worlds of Ink and Shadow. (I really, seriously, cannot love this book enough.)

Verdict: A book that I can’t stop raving about. It gripped me from start to finish, and even had me excitedly explaining the biographical details of the Brontës to my friends. It was a fun read and reignited my interest in learning more about the Brontë family. LOVE.

Read if: You’re a fan of literary biographies with a fictional twist, you are a Brontë fan like me, you want to lose yourself in an imaginative story with well-developed characters that you’ll grow to love.

Are you a fan of the Brontës? Do you have a favourite Brontë novel?

Book Review | The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

[I received this book from its Canadian publisher HarperCollins Canada. This does not affect my review of the novel.]

I’ve been seeing Patrick Ness around the blogosphere for a while now, but I hadn’t had a chance to check his work out until Suman from @HCCFrenzy kindly gifted me a copy of The Rest of Us Just Live Here this summer. And while it took me a chapter or so to get used to the concept of the book and really get into it, I was emotionally attached to all of the characters by the time I was turning the final page. Better yet: I was emotionally attached and crying as I turned the final page. If you ask me, that’s a sure-fire way to make me give a book 5 stars.

“They better not blow up the high school again,” Jared says. “My cousin had to have his graduation ceremony in the parking lot.” – pg 9

The Rest of Us Just Live Here has been compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer a lot, but instead of following the “Chosen Ones” (or “indie kids” in Ness’ world), the story focuses mainly on a group of friends during their last few weeks of high school: there’s Mikey, an anxious boy who has the tendency to get stuck in “loops”; Mikey’s sister Mel, who has her own demons to overcome; Henna, the daughter of a music minister and a Finnish foot doctor; and Jared, who is “three-quarters Jewish, one-quarter God” (pg 74). I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these “ordinary” characters, and I was so impressed by how well-developed they were. (Extra shout out to Meredith, Mikey and Mel’s younger sister, who absolutely stole my heart. I loved her.) Everyone is facing their own unique set of problems, whether it be about mental health, family, or secrets that they feel like they can’t disclose. Ness treats them all as individuals, and never claims to speak for anyone but his characters.

“I can’t tell you what’s real for you. But in return, you can’t say what’s real for me either. I get to choose. Not you.” – pg 77

On top of this, Ness does a fantastic job at showing the anxieties that come with starting a new chapter in life: will the group of friends keep in touch even when they’re all separated? Will they all forget each other when they’re off living their lives apart from one another? These common anxieties recur throughout the book, and they make this fantastic novel about mysterious lights and “indie kids” universal.

Speaking of the more fantastic side of the novel, I love how each chapter in The Rest of Us Just Live Here starts with an update on the “indie kids.” It cements the fact that the book is indeed about the “unchosen ones,” and the “chosen ones” are merely operating in the background. That being said, Mikey and his group of friends do interact with some of the strange elements of the town, and it’s thrilling and exciting to read about. (I was reading this book on the couch while my boyfriend had some friends over one night, and I audibly gasped at one part. Not embarrassing at all…) The stakes just keep getting higher and higher for the characters as the novel progresses, and it makes for a gripping and compelling read with a spectacular conclusion.

I find it especially hard to review books that I’ve loved, so I’ll just end my review with this: whether you’re looking for some adventure or just a really really well-plotted and well-written novel, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the perfect choice.

Verdict: While the background story in The Rest of Us Just Live Here is fantastic and strange (mysterious lights that have been killing Chosen Ones!), its main characters are universally relatable. Whether you’re about to start a new chapter in life, have secrets you feel like you could never share, or are simply just trying to get by, you will love this book.

Read if: You’ve ever been interested in reading about those who aren’t chosen to fight monsters and vampires, you want to read a touching story about friendship, you want to read a book that will move you to tears.

Are you a fan of Patrick Ness? Will you be checking out The Rest of Us Just Live Here?

#PippaGreene Blog Tour | Leading Lines by Chantel Guertin

Leading Lines by Chantel Guertin Pippa Greene Book Review

[I received these books from their Canadian publisher ECW Press as a part of the Pippa Greene blog tour. This does not affect my opinion of the novels.]

This summer was a weird one for me in terms of reading as it seemed like the only thing that could hold my attention was beachy, fun reads. Whenever I’d try to read something more “serious,” I’d just fall back into my slump. But I guess I really shouldn’t complain about this because there’s really nothing better than relaxing on a nice summer’s day and getting caught up in a wonderful book (or two)! I had never read any Pippa Greene novels before, and I found that they scratched that summer reading itch for me.

Warning: Since this is a review of a book in a series, there will be series-related spoilers ahead!

The Pippa Greene series is a young adult series about Pippa, a high schooler who dreams about attending Tisch, the art school that her photographer father went to in New York City when he graduated from high school. The series starts with The Rule of Thirds, where Pippa enters Vantage Point, a photography contest with the ultimate grand prize: the opportunity to spend a two-week photography camp at Tisch. It’s everything you’d want from a YA novel: a heroine with a clear goal, a trusty best friend, and a “villain” to get in her way. Oh, and cute boys, of course. In Depth of Field, the second book in the series, Pippa heads to New York, only to uncover some deep secrets. Leading Lines, the third book in the series, is the one that I will be reviewing more in depth!

In this book, Pippa has returned home from New York with some hard-to-digest news. Not only does she have that to deal with, she also has to figure out her feelings regarding her boyfriend and the guy she became close with while at Tisch photography camp. It really doesn’t help that her boyfriend has been acting aloof since they’ve reunited and that he knows nothing about what she found out at Tisch. Will Pippa figure it all out?

I have to say that I really enjoyed reading about Pippa. I love how passionate she is about photography (something that I can totally relate to!) and that she’s ambitious about wanting to pursue it as a career. The books are written in first person, and they really remind me of what it’s like to be in high school. 10 points for writing real, true-to-life characters! Besides Pippa’s aspirations, Guertin also adds in Pippa’s family backstory, which makes her a more rounded character. While romance is a part of the series’ plot, you get a sense that that’s not the only part of Pippa’s life, and it’s nice to know that there are YA books out there that can find that perfect balance.

Leading Lines, like The Rule of Thirds and Depth of Field, is full of drama, but thankfully, it’s not over the top. Leading Lines sees Pippa and her family dealing with the aftermath of her discoveries in New York as well as reconciling her feelings towards two very cute boys. These are major plot points and are just as juicy, enticing readers to keep turning the page to find out what happens. Overall, I found Leading Lines and the rest of the Pippa Greene series to be fun, light-hearted reads that were perfect for a relaxed weekend.

The only critique of the series would be that it was quite obviously written for a series. At the end of The Rule of Thirds, one big storyline isn’t quite resolved, which means that readers are required to pick up Depth of Field in order to get closure. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, especially since I had planned to read the whole series anyway, but it could be a little frustrating to finish a book only to find out that the story won’t be resolved until the next one. A similar situation happens at the end of Depth of Field; which, again, wasn’t a huge problem for me since I had Leading Lines on hand, but I wonder if I would have felt cheated to reach the end of a book only to end on such a cliffhanger. Luckily, things are more or less resolved by the end of Leading Lines! There’s a sense that there’s more to come, but you can also put down the book knowing that Pippa will be able to get through the things she’s facing.

So, if you’re looking for a new series to start, I’d highly recommend the Pippa Greene series! Just make sure to have all of the available books on hand so you’re not left craving the next one. 😉

Verdict: A really fun YA series that combines some of my favourite things: photography and cute boys. It features a determined and relatable heroine that’s easy to root for!

Read if: You’re looking to commit to a new YA series, want to read a YA novel that doesn’t just focus on boys, need something to help you bust out of a reading slump.

Have you read any Pippa Greene novels? What did you want to do after high school? (Pippa and I both wanted to be photographers!)


Want to read more thoughts on the Pippa Greene series? Here are the other blog tour stops:

September 5: Tour kickoff, Review, and Giveaway, Booking it with Hayley G
September 6: Giveaway, Chapter by Chapter
September 7: Review, Books Etc
September 8: Review, Read my Breath Away
September 9: Review, One More Page (Me!)
September 10: Review, Sukasa Reads
September 11: Guest Post, Dear Teen Me
September 12: Review and Excerpt, Brains Books and Brawn
September 13: Review, Musings of a Writer
September 14: Review, Ramblings of a Daydreamer
September 15: Review and Giveaway, The Book Bratz

Book Review | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon Book Cover Review

[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Penguin Random House Canada. This does not affect my opinion of the novel.]

“Love is worth everything. Everything.”

I first heard about Everything, Everything at the wonderful #RHC Blogger Preview the ladies at Random House Canada hosted back in February. Everyone was super excited about it, and I couldn’t wait to read it! So, was Everything, Everything like the title suggests?

Everything, Everything is the story of Madeline Whittier, who has been confined to her house her whole life due to a sickness that makes her allergic to the outside world. She lives a sterile life inside her house with only her mom and her carer Carla to interact with. Then, one day, a new family moves in to the house next door. Suddenly, Maddy is tempted to risk everything, everything…

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, the story is captivating (in fact, I read the whole book in only a few sittings), and it features illustrations that Yoon’s husband created (so cute!). It was a lot of fun, if you can call it that, getting to know Maddy and learning more about her situation as the book went on. I can hardly imagine not being able to go outside for something as simple as fresh air. Her friendship with the boy next door was exciting and dangerous and it reminded me how falling in like was like as a teenager (rare disease excepted).

That being said, it has been a few months since I read the book, and besides remembering all of the excitement I had for the first half of the book, I also started rethinking how I felt about the second half. It’s really hard to talk about it without revealing any essential information, but it did end up being quite unrealistic and over-dramatic, if I can say that. (Although, one could argue that the premise is unrealistic to begin with.) When I was reading the book I was completely swept away by it, and I guess what I’m trying to say is that after thinking about the book for a few months, I wish that there was more of a resolution at the end. I’m sure this paragraph has been terrible to read as I’m kind of beating around the bush, but I’d love to talk to anyone who’s finished the book already!

Verdict: I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for a quick teen read with a unique plot (and adorable illustrations), but be prepared that the second half (while incredibly fascinating) may not be as strong as the first half.

Read if: You’re looking for a quick read to get you out of a slump, are intrigued by how someone might live without ever going outside, want to read something created by a husband and wife team!

Book Review | Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella Finding Audrey Book Review Cover

Oh, how do I love Sophie Kinsella? Let me count the ways… Finding Audrey is Kinsella’s first venture into the young adult demographic and it is so, so good.

Being a teenager is hard enough, but being a teenager who suffers from anxiety and depression is even more difficult. That’s what Audrey faces every day. After a traumatic experience, Audrey is finding it extremely hard to go outside or even make eye contact without feeling anxious. She’s dropped out of her regular school, enrolled in another, and hides her eyes behind dark sunglasses. As she waits for her new school to start, she stays in at home, limiting her contact to her family members and Dr. Sarah. But when Audrey unexpectedly comes face to face with her brother’s friend Linus in her house, she starts feeling things she’s never felt before…

One of my favourite things about Kinsella is her uncanny ability to create distinct characters that transcend the page. In Finding Audrey in particular, she takes special care to characterize Audrey in an honest way, never reducing her to a stereotype or forcing her to do anything that would make her feel uncomfortable (for example, the details of the traumatic event isn’t revealed until Audrey is ready to tell her readers). The supporting characters are just as expertly written. They all read as real people, and I was pleasantly surprised by how on-the-nose Kinsella is in nailing teenage voices. (Audrey’s gamer brother Frank comes to mind here. I loved that his story took up a significant part of the text and it didn’t seem like Kinsella was trying too hard to emulate “teenager speak.” Let’s face it: very few young adults actually text “C U L8ER” anymore.) When paired with Kinsella’s signature humour, Finding Audrey becomes a novel bustling with energy and heart.

Unsurprisingly, one of my favourite things about the novel was Audrey’s friendship/relationship with Linus. Linus is incredibly understanding and sensitive, creating many swoon-worthy moments. It really highlights how important having great friends is. Audrey is buoyed by Linus’ friendship, and it’s so heartwarming to see.

In a time where mental illness is starting to gain more mainstream attention, Finding Audrey is a thoughtful addition to the dialogue. It approaches mental illness in a non-judgemental way, helping to destigmatize and demystify the experience of having anxiety without claiming to speak for anyone but its characters. I think Kinsella approached the topic in a considerate way, and I think that Finding Audrey, beyond being a wonderful story, will prove to be a great companion to readers who are experiencing or have experienced similar emotions.

Verdict: Finding Audrey tackles a difficult topic with understanding and tact while balancing it with other teenage experiences to create a heartfelt novel that is perfect for teen and adult readers alike. I admired its approach and think it’s an important addition to a larger conversation surrounding mental illness. On top of that, it adds family matters and romance, making it truly a book for everyone.

Read if: You are a fan of Sophie Kinsella, you are interested in reading about a teenager dealing with depression and anxiety, enjoyed All The Bright Places and want to read something similar, want a light young adult read with a swoon-worthy romance.

Are you a fan of Sophie Kinsella? Do you think you’ll give Finding Audrey a try?

Book Review + Giveaway (Closed) | We Are All Made Of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

We Are All Made of Molecules Susin Nielsen Book Cover Review Quill and Quire

[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Random House Canada/Tundra Books. This does not affect my opinion on the book.]

Susin Nielsen was one of my favourite discoveries of 2014, hands down. You may remember the weekend where I binge-read her entire backlist or this post where I got excited about the launch of We Are All Made of Molecules all over again. Or this post, where I proudly called Nielsen’s characters my old friends that could help get me out of a winter funk. I’m honestly sorry (not sorry) if you’re tired of hearing me swoon about this amazing Vancouver-based author. (Semi-unrelated fun fact: Nielsen wrote 16 episodes for Degrassi Junior High – amazing!)

Anyway, what you can expect to take out of this review is that I absolutely loved We Are All Made of Molecules. Here’s why:

It’s hilarious.

We Are All Made of Molecules is narrated by two characters: Stewart, 13, and Ashley, 14. At the beginning of the book, we find out that Stewart’s dad, who is a widower, and Ashley’s mom, who has separated from Ashley’s dad, have fallen in love, and have decided to move in together, creating a “so-called blended family”. The problem is that Stewart, who has always wanted a sister and is enthusiastic about the move, is a little socially clueless, and cannot fathom why his “It Girl” step-sister Ashley keeps ignoring him. Cue hilarity:

“I have only met Ashley a few times. She is very pretty, but I think she is also possibly hard of hearing, because when I try to talk to her, she either walks away or turns up the volume on the TV really loud.” (p5)

It deals with realistic issues.

Beyond trying to forge a civil relationship with Ashley, Stewart has to deal with various issues throughout the book. The death of his mom has obviously and understandably affected him, as has his father’s new relationship. At school, he is a social outcast of sorts who has difficulties blending in and standing up for himself. Ashley is coping with the separation of her parents, and is having a hard time coming to terms with the reason of their divorce. On top of that, they both have to navigate the ever-looming “social ladder” situation at school, which gives Nielsen a lot to work with in terms of creating a satisfying story with problems to overcome.

It brings back characters from previous Susin Nielsen books.

Cosmo and Amanda from Word Nerd! Phoebe from Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom! I adore Nielsen’s characters so it’s always such a pleasure to see them again in her new books.

It will warm your heart.

One of the reasons why I admire Nielsen so much is because she’s able to construct realistic character arcs with stakes that will make you feel emotionally invested and interested. This was no different in Molecules, and by the end of the novel my heart felt 3 times bigger.

We Are All Made of Molecules was honestly one of my favourite books from last year. I’m confident that readers will be able to identify at least in one way or another with them, and I hope that young readers will be able to take the lessons they learn to heart. (It’s important to note that this is not an off-putting didactic text, though.) Because I loved the book so much, I’m beyond thrilled that the generous Random House Canada and Tundra Books gave me a signed copy to give away, along with a We Are All Made of Molecules t-shirt!

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
**CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY**

CONTEST RULES:
1. No purchase necessary.
2. Open to residents of Canada only.
3. If a winner is picked and their Twitter account only has giveaway entries, I will choose again (unless I can tell by their other accounts that they will actually read the book). I want the winner to genuinely enjoy these books!
4. Have fun and good luck!

Are you a fan of Susin Nielsen?

Book Review | All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places Jennifer Niven Book Cover Book Review

[I received a copy of All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven from its Canadian publisher Random House Canada. This does not affect my opinion of the novel.]

When I heard that Jennifer Niven’s novel was being compared to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park AND has already been optioned for film starring Elle Fanning, I knew I had to give it a shot. I went into it expecting it to be a cute young adult novel about two teens finding comfort in each other; what I didn’t expect was how emotionally affecting and important its message to its readers (teens or otherwise) would be.

The publisher’s synopsis: The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. 

All The Bright Places affected me in a similar way that Miriam Toews’ Writers’ Trust-winning All My Puny Sorrows did. While Toews’ Yoli and Elf grapple with the idea of assisted suicide, Finch and Violet cope with Finch’s depression and Violet’s guilt regarding her older sister’s fatal car crash. These themes of loneliness and loss really resonated with me, especially in the way it is presented to readers.

Like All My Puny Sorrows, depression and the notion of responsibility are subjects that are approached carefully yet surely in All The Bright Places. It is clear that Niven is urging reader’s to understand these difficult topics with an open mind, to eliminate the stigma attached to what really are mental health issues. In All The Bright Places, we learn that it is not productive to prescribe blame (to ourselves or others) when we survive traumatic events. What we can and should do is try to find at least one reason to keep going every day, and lend a helping hand or listening ear to whoever may need it.

That’s not to say that this book is all serious and no fun, because that’s not true at all. At the heart of it, All The Bright Places is about two teens who learn to open their hearts, go on wonderful adventures (or “wanderings,” as they call it), and enjoy life day by day. I loved watching Finch and Violet’s friendship grow; seeing them push each other to try new things and experience the world together warmed my heart and made me want to go and discover more of this beautiful planet along with them.

Even though this is not always the easiest book to read – especially if you’ve dealt with losses yourself – I think it is absolutely important. I am glad that 2015 is starting off with such a strong stigma-fighting book, especially because it is aimed toward teens who may feel too alone to talk to someone about their issues. I feel extremely strongly about this book’s message, and urge you all to give it a chance. (My admiration for this book has me worried about seeing the movie adaptation, but I suppose that’s just a risk I’ll have to take later down the line.) Seriously, please read this book. And then go read All My Puny Sorrows if you haven’t already.

Verdict: A book I would urge anyone to read, but especially, especially teens who feel misunderstood or isolated. There are many helpful resources listed at the end of the book, and I hope that they make at least one person feel less alone.

Read if: Anything in my review resonates with you, you loved All My Puny Sorrows like I did, you want to fall in love with two wonderful characters who will warm your heart.

Have you read All The Bright Places or All My Puny Sorrows? Do you think you’ll give them a try?

Blog Tour Book Review | Bye-Bye, Evil Eye by Deborah Kerbel

Deborah Kerbel Bye Bye Evil Eye Book Review Cover

[I received a copy of this book from its publisher Dancing Cat Books (an imprint of Cormorant Books) for a blog tour. This does not affect my opinion of the novel.]

I’ve been itching to travel lately but since I already went to Vancouver this year, I doubt I’ll be able to go anywhere else soon. So, when Dancing Cat Books invited me to be a part of their blog tour for Bye-Bye, Evil Eye by Deborah Kerbel, I jumped at the chance as the first half of the novel is set in Greece. (The second half of the book is set in Toronto!)

Bye-Bye, Evil Eye is a young adult novel that follows 13-year-old Dani as she vacations in Greece with her best friend Kat. Dani is “pretty, rich, and popular” and, at times, a bit vain. She’s committed to finding her shy best friend Kat a boy to kiss for the first time while in Greece, and everything seems to be going well. That is, until she’s cursed. Bad things keep happening to her and it only gets worse. Now, she has to figure out a way to undo the curse or risk bringing danger to her friends and family.

I had fun reading Bye-Bye, Evil Eye. My travel bug was tempered as I followed Dani and Kat to Greece’s beaches, lying in the sun and checking out the cute boys. It definitely made Toronto’s cold, rainy weather a little more bearable. Dani and Kat’s friendship was entirely believable, so I enjoyed reading about them and tagging along on their vacation. I also found myself quite invested in finding out who cast the curse on Dani. Thanks to my English degree, I’m the type of reader who has to analyze everything and dissect the implications of certain plots. Thus, it really mattered to me who the spell-caster was.

**SPOILER ALERT – please skip the next two paragraphs if you do not want to know who was the one behind Dani’s misfortunes.**

It turns out that Kat’s mom, who was with the girls on their vacation, was meddling with Dani’s stuff – poisoning her food, vandalizing her car, etc – because Dani was getting too close to a boy named Nick who was in an arranged marriage of sorts with Kat. In the end, Kat expresses that she does not want to marry Nick at all, and Kat’s mom learns the hard way that love can’t be forced.

Initially, I wasn’t sure about the ending, but after thinking about it for a while I think it was ultimately about the mother-daughter relationship and how sometimes, what a mother thinks is best isn’t always right. I do think that Mrs. P learns a lesson by the end of the book and I am hopefully that she will become more open and accepting of her daughter’s wishes moving forward. I think this ended up being a great way to end the novel and the mystery of the “evil eye” curse!

**SPOILER SECTION ENDS**

Overall, Bye-Bye, Evil Eye was an entertaining adventure. It was a quick, light read and assuaged my desire to travel (for now!). If you want a book to make you feel like you’re on a warm vacation but also has a bit of drama to it, Bye-Bye, Evil Eye may be the book for you!

Verdict: A quick, fun book. I’m satisfied with the way I’ve interpreted the book, but I was initially unsure.

Read if: You’ve ever wanted to go on a vacation in Greece, like reading about young friendships, want to read a book that is more complex than it initially lets on.

Monday Musings | Books That Make Me Cry

Susin Nielsen Word Nerd Dear George Clooney The Reluctant Journal We Are All Made of Molecules

Have you ever come home from a long day and just wanted a good cry? Whether it be from a movie, a sad playlist, or even a book, sometimes I find crying (for no reason in particular) to be a therapeutic and cathartic experience. Of course, I don’t feel like this every day, but once in a while I tend to crave a really good cry. Do you ever feel this way?

Over the weekend I read a series of moving young adult/middle grade novels by Susin Nielsen. The one that affected me the most emotionally was The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, which won the Governor General’s Award here in Canada among other accolades. I don’t want to delve into the story too deeply as I will be reviewing it on my blog later (it’s honestly too good not to), but I have hyperlinked the book’s title to its Goodreads page, so please take a look if you want a book that is poignant, important, and moving. I wasn’t really expecting to cry when reading it but when it eventually happened I felt so much better afterwards.

This made me think back to the other book that recently made me cry: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez. The common link between the two is that the events that made me tear up (okay, bawl) were not tragic events; instead, they were instances where a community bands together to help one another out. This optimistic look on humanity really warms my heart, and reading about it will almost always move me to tears.

Of course, we all react to things differently and I can’t say for certain whether these two books will make you cry, but I can definitely assure you that there is a lot of heartwarming moments in them if you’re looking for that instead.

Now my question for you is: Do you cry easily when reading? Do you sometimes read books that you know will make you cry? Which was the last book that made you cry? (The last one is a bit of a selfish question as I need to have a stack ready for when I feel like I good sob or two, so please, please share your picks!)