Saturday, 28 November 2015

Heart's Journey

Heart's Journey

By:  Kristen McKendry
Published: October 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Source: Netgalley
My Rating: 5 out of 5


Adventure is in her blood, so when wealthy eighteen-year-old Rachel Hamilton’s treasure hunting father disappears in the wilderness of British Columbia, she considers only one course of action: she will embark on a quest to find him. But for a well bred woman with little understanding of the world beyond her upper class existence, the harsh realities of the trail quickly become apparent. Woefully unprepared for the hardships of crossing a wild and unsettled continent, Rachel is hungry, lost, and distraught when handsome frontiersman Peter finds her in the middle of nowhere. (x)

My Thoughts

The description of this book drew me in right away, it pretty much had everything that I love in a story. It was historical fiction, set in Canada- in Western Canada even! Plus it followed a spunky young woman on her travels across the country and a very handsome, kind man she meets along the way! There was also something about the cover that just really connected with me- maybe its because I'm a mountain girl at heart or maybe its because of my fascination with Canadian history. The cover has a very beautiful simplicity to it. 

I loved that whenever the setting was described I found myself nodding along because that is definitely Saskatchewan/Alberta/BC! I get how people might not understand just how tall the grass grows in the prairies, they assume its an exaggeration but my brother and I used to play hide and seek in the grass fields when we were kids! As well I've learned a lot about the history of this part of the country and I really liked to see how there were historically accurate elements with the various methods of travel and the harshness of the living off the land. 

 I loved how spunky Rachel is and how determined she is to keep going on her journey, even though things are super tough. The story line was kind of predictable, I did pretty much guess what was going to happen but I didn't mind that. The characters were very compelling and even if I could guess what was going to happen to them, I still definitely wanted to find out for sure what happened. I probably looked silly whenever I read this book in public because the relationship between Rachel and Peter had me grinning. They had such a kind, wholesome relationship and yet they fought and argued and glared at each other and that made their relationship seem so real. I think its safe to say that Peter is my newest book crush!

I would definitely recommend this book to all my friends looking for a 'university read'- an engaging, entertaining story with characters you can't help but love and a story that draws you in, without being a difficult read. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

By: Anne Michaels
Published: November 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Random House of Canada Limited
Source: Netgalley
My Rating: 5 out of 5


Miss Petitfour is an expert at baking and eating little cakes. She also has the most marvelous, everyday adventures. Her favorite mode of travel is by tablecloth, and on windy days she always takes her sixteen cats out for an airing.

Join Miss Petitfour and her feline companions as they embark on five magical outings, including a quest for “birthday cheddar” and a visit to the village’s annual Festooning Festival.

And if you prefer books in which nothing ever happens, books in which people (and cats) sit by the fire with buttery shortbread biscuits and steaming mugs of cocoa, books full of interesting facts that will never come in useful, and books with digressions and meanwhiles and long words and lists, then you will find plenty of that here too. (x)

My Thoughts 

This book makes the teacher in me so happy! Whenever I read a book, I read it for enjoyment but in the back of my mind I'm always thinking about how it could be incorporated into lesson plans or which lists I should put it on. My goal is to always have an answer when a child or parent asks me for a book recommendation and I can honestly say that this book has made my lesson plan list and my book recs list- its that good! 

There are 5 little adventures in this book- which make it a perfect book to serve as an introduction to chapter books, without being too intimidation. As a teacher, I love how certain words are bolded and highlighted in orange and I can already see all the vocab lessons I could use this book for! As well this book does have very beautiful illustrations that are great for kids who need a little extra visual stimulation. 

The writing in this book is absolutely phenomenal. I actually read several of the stories out loud because the words were just so beautifully combined they had to be spoken out loud. The cadence of this story was just mind boggling. As someone who reads books out loud a lot I wish every author had mastered their tone and style as successfully as Michaels has. While being extremely fun to read out loud it also still has the style that kids love to hear and read themselves. This book definitely was written for both adults and children a like- which is something I love. I've already added Anne Michaels as an author to look out for in the future, because I NEED more children's books like this one!

This is the kind of book that I would recommend for parents to read to their children, for teachers to read to their students and for young readers everywhere (or for people who enjoy stories with eccentric ladies living with a lot of cats, and readers who fondly remember reading stories like this in their childhood)

(Also can we talk about how this is pretty much my future?!?)

Friday, 20 November 2015

Save the Date! The Girls from See Saw Lane

The Girls from See Saw Lane

By:  Sandy Taylor
Published: December 4th, 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Source: Netgalley
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Dottie and Mary forged a friendship over a bag of penny sweets when they were eight years old. They’ve shared everything together since then – the highs and lows of school, family dramas, hopes and dreams and now, at seventeen, they’re both shop girls, working at Woolworths.

As they go out in the world in pursuit of love and happiness, the simplicity of their childhood dissolves as life becomes more complicated. The heady excitement of first love will consume them both, but the pain of unintentional betrayal will test their friendship in ways neither of them could ever imagine…(x)

My Thoughts 

My friend and I were talking the other day about our favourite kind of books to read while we were in university and one of the things we love is contemporary stories set in historical fiction- which this book reminds me of a bit. And while it wasn't necessarily that out there historically, it definitely had that tone (for me at least) because of its setting. I don't know much about the 60's and I definitely don't know much about Britain at that time. 

Dottie and Mary were super cute characters and I really enjoyed getting to see their friendship as it started out and then as they grew up together. They actually reminded me a lot of my relationship with one of my friends (to a point!) and I thought it was nice to see this particular kind of relationship in literature. There are so many times when two girls are pitted against each other and for once it was nice to see two girls who loved and supported each other throughout their lives.  That being said this book drove me crazy at times! I got frustrated with the characters and their reactions to things- I guess I just really wanted them to be mad, to get angry! Especially Dottie- that girl went through a lot and she always just seemed to be okay? She must be a lot stronger than me then because I would not have been so calm! 

I did really enjoy this story, it was a perfect 'university read', light and entertaining but with enough character depth to keep me interested and engaged as I read it. Sometimes the British-isms were a bit confusing, especially for words that mean one thing in Canada and a completely different thing in England. Overall this story was very enjoyable and at times I guessed the plot line but then a twist would come up that just blew me away. The emotions were so intense in this book and it made me think of all my best friends who are scattered around and I missed them, which I think lead to even more emotions for me. The girls were so young! I am older than them but they went through so much together, it was just incredible to read

Save the date for this book- it comes out in Decemeber 4th! I would recommend it to anyone who loves stories about female friendships, books set in the past or in Britian and for anyone who wants a emotionally stirring read! 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Heir of Fire

Heir of Fire

By:  Sarah J. Maas
Published: September 2nd 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Source: Bought
My Rating: 5 out of 5


*spoilers for book one and two!*

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever. (x)

My Thoughts

Wow, just wow. I wasn't sure if Maas could beat Crown of Midnight because I LOVED that book but oh boy does Heir of Fire represent! Its the first book to really have multiple perspectives in the series and at first I found that was a bit jarring and some of the characters I didn't care for as much but by the end oh boy- I pretty much love everyone! I guess that is one of the perks of being a BIG book (its 565 pages!!!), there was definitely lots of character development!

The main perspectives of the story are Chaol, Dorian, Celaena, and Manon (a Blackbeak witch). One of my biggest pet peeves in stories with multiple perspectives is when something really intense happens with one character and then you jump to another character doing something boring. Maas however has perfected her chapters and, especially as the book went on, the next chapter was always who I wanted to hear from! Yeah!

After Crown of Midnight I wasn't sure if my emotions could handle another book but it was actually super fantastic because I felt that my emotions were very much mirrored in the characters and we both grew from the trauma of book 2 (I know I get oddly attached to fictional characters!) While I have 100% never been in any of the situations of the characters I empathized with them and I really felt that I shared their hopes and fears and joys. I wanted to them to be happy and to triumph and to heal. I got so caught up in the characters and their stories that I oftentimes would make myself NOT read it because I knew if I started I wouldn't want to stop and then I would find the next morning had arrived without me sleeping! Even with that though it only took me a month to read- which given its size and the busyness of school is pretty impressive!

I did worry that this book would be too big and intimidating for me. When I'm at school I find that big books tend to put me off (probably because all my textbooks are 2000+ pages). At first I found Heir of Fire has really different pacing from the other books, it was definitely a lot slower and not as tense. However as the book went on it definitely moved to a faster pace, and I think that part of that had to do with how my attachment to the characters grew as I read. I actually found myself LOVING how big this book is. How many times have you read a book and just wanted more time with your favourite characters? I know I've felt that way a lot but with Heir of Fire it was perfect! I mean I will always want more if I love the characters (and I do!) but it didn't leave me wishing for more time with them.

This book made me laugh and cry and grimace and I even found myself stroking it as I read which is not a usual habit for me! The other thing I noticed is that there were several passages I read more than once. I would read it for the first time and then go back and read it again and maybe again. It wasn't because I didn't understand it or it didn't make sense or anything- it was just SO GOOD that I needed to experience it again, have it permanently etched into my brain.

So in case you couldn't tell from my review- I would 400% recommend this book/series! Especially if you love high fantasy, YA, warrior ladies, and big books!