Review: Just Like Family by Kate Hilton

Category: Adult Fiction

Published: May 2017

Read: April 2017

Score: 4/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) Avery Graham has built a life that anyone would admire. She has a brilliant career as chief of staff to Peter Haines, the charismatic mayor of Toronto. She has a devoted partner in Matt, her live-in boyfriend of 14 years. And she has a loving family and deep friendships that stretch back to childhood summers at the cottage.
But when Matt proposes, Avery’s past threatens to engulf her present. Can she contemplate a lifetime commitment to Matt after her disastrous first marriage to Hugh? And is Matt really the love of her life, when she has spent so much of it by Peter’s side? Avery could use some good advice from the women who know her best, but her closest friends, Jenny and Tara, have drifted away over the years.
When a scandal erupts at city hall, Avery must overcome her deepest fears about love and loss, and discover what it means to be a family.

Review: This book was won as part a of a Harper Collins Canada contest that I entered so I was able to get my hands on it before it’s even published. This in no way reflects on my review or what I think about it. This is an honest review of this book.

So overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a light read and fun and really hit home. I’ve grew up and lived in Toronto for many years over my sort of long/short life. I love the city and love visiting now and am invested in what goes on there. As a person who lived there during the infamous Rob Ford scandal this book was really enjoyable and really hit home.

It revolves around the main character Avery. She works as the chief of staff at Toronto city hall with her childhood crush Peter who is the current city mayor. The story goes between the now and the past when she was a child at her parents cottage with her best friends. Things happened to her when she was younger and that shaped who she is today. She is distant, obsessed with work and not friends with her friends anymore. Is it her fault or is it just the way life goes? She is also in a long term relationship with Matt who wants more and if he doesn’t get it will he leave? Than a scandal rocks city hall and will she survive?

Avery is a character who can be annoying but is someone you ultimately root for as she isn’t a bad person just made some dumb choices and has been selfish. Matt is the greatest character in the book. You can’t help but love him and how he’s written. Just an overall good guy and I love when you  meet characters like this. The mayor is a jerk, and many reasons why but I won’t go in to that too much or else I will give away a good part of the scandal.

It’s well written and easy to read. It’s not hard to figure out what time period that the author is talking about, even thou some of the chapters overlap. So in that sense it’s not confusing and I am happy for that. It’s not overly heavy content so it’s also a refreshing read as well.

My only problem with it, and why it got a four instead of a five is because of the ending. Everything was dealt with and it ended good but it felt really rushed. Things happened than were poof resolved and the book ended….(double take). Yes it happens like that and it was disappointing. It felt rushed and you feel a little cheated for putting that much effort in to this and then it’s just over and all knots are tied nicely.

I am glad I got to read this book. I do recommend it to anyone who likes these kinds of stories or knows Toronto well. It’s neat to read about places you have been and seen with your own eyes. I look forward to reading anything else this author might come out with.

 

YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK IF YOU LIKE:

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, A Better Man by Leah McLaren.

Adult contemporary novels. Anything to do with Toronto.

 

Review: Will Wilder– The Relic of Perilous Falls by Raymond Arroyo

Category: 9-12 Fiction

Published: March 2016

Read: May 2017

Score: 2/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) Will Wilder is a mischievous, headstrong twelve-year-old with an otherworldly gift—he alone can see the nefarious creatures encroaching on Perilous Falls. For nearly a century, a sacred relic has protected his hometown from the raging waters surrounding it. But when Will “borrows” the relic for his own purposes, he accidentally unleashes an ancient evil.
As boats sink and hideous creatures crawl from the rising waters, Will must set things right before it is too late. With the help of his sweet (if lethal) Great Aunt Lucille, the curator of a museum of powerful artifacts, Will proves that the actions of one twelve-year-old boy can change the world.

Review: This is a story that will appeal to some but not to others. It is full of action and demons and prophecies and good vs. evil. It’s a fast paced and easy read for this age group and over all wasn’t bad but not a book I loved or would ever read again. I will not be continuing the series.

It’s about Will Wilder, and this is where my first problem with the book comes from. He is an arrogant and annoying main character. He doesn’t listen, puts peoples lives in danger…more than once I might add and not even a hero as far as hero’s go. He get’s in trouble and needs a way to fix it so he can go on a family trip and tricks his friends in to trying to get a relic locked in the bottom of a church. There is already trouble brewing in his town…that his grandfather founded….and people are dying but he must get that relic. Problems arise but can Will be the hero and save everyone? What if it’s demons and they start to walk the earth?

It’s nail crunching in some spots for sure. It’s imaginative story and brings a whole different world around. My problems with this book is that it’s a lot like Da Vinci COde. I don’t mind Da Vinci Code but not in a kid format. Its been done and this just felt like a revamp for a younger age group. Will, as I stated before, is a very annoying character. He leaves his friends to die…and no this is not a spoiler at all…but it’s true and at that point I was over this book! Even when he was supposed to step up he didn’t I felt like WIll walked around this whole story just thinking about himself and going “duhhh”.

It’s easy writing and kids would be able to read it no problem. The demon parts might be scary but nothing that should give nightmares. I can see this being a long series. The book ended on a note of what is going to happen next. I will not be checking them out but if you like this than I recommend you watch out for more as the second is already out.

Overall not happy with this book.

 

YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK IF YOU LIKE: Action and adventure ya novels, a younger version of the Da Vinci Code.

Review: I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb

Category: Autobiography

Published: 2013

Read: March 2017

Score: 5/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

Review: What can I say about this book? It has changed my life. Malala is an incredible and wonderful human being who shows up the spirit and love and passion for life will help you survive.

There is not much I can do to sum up the book. Everyone knows her name and the fact that because she spoke out about education and women’s rights in a country that doesn’t have them she was shot by the Taliban when she was just 15 years old. It shows the cowardice and the fear that people like Malala puts in the Taliban when they have to shut her up in that horrific manner. She survived and started a foundation in her name to help women around the world and provide education opportunities. Obviously she is here for a reason.

What I really enjoyed about this book is the fact it’s not just about her. It’s also about her family and her life in Swat. How they lived from day-to-day. Who her parents are and why they are the way they are. How they met and what her extended family is like. It’s interesting to see how they live and how it’s different from the ways I know. How they are very closer and if anyone visits their house..if it be a big house or a shack, they would give them the shirts off their back if they had too. She also talks about her faith and Islam and how it’s been twisted by sick people for their own personal gains. 

It’s hard sometimes to read what people can do to each other but that is the reality of the world. It’s cold and harsh and unforgiving.

I think everyone should read this book. For a better understanding of life in other countries and a better understanding of the religion of Islam. I look forward to anything else she might come out with as well as following her on her path to make a better world.

I won’t give any other recommendations as I feel there isn’t another book quite like this. Or if there is I don’t know of them and I can’t in good faith just recommend without being certain.

#TBT Review: Longbourn by Jo Baker

Category: Historical Fiction

Published: 2013

Read: 2014

Score: 3/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.
 In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Review: This is an interesting book and a different take on a classic. If you a lover of Jane Austen like I am you would be as excited as I was to read this book. I was a little disappointed but some parts of this book were entertaining and great from a different point of view.

It’s the story of Pride and Prejudice but from the point of view of all the helpers and staff in the houses featured in the book. You get glimpses of the story through out the entire book of what you know from Pride and Prejudice.

It’s all mainly from the point of view of Sarah and she travels from both the Bennett house to the other houses either by her self and with the Bennet’s. This is how she gets to meet the different servants and all these other people in the house. It’s interesting to see how different households are run depending on how much money the owners have.

I found the writing very well done. It was fast paced and fun to read from different points of views. What I didn’t like is the fact is was sooo long. I felt the book could have been cut in half and still been a great story. Plus some of the interactions with characters we already know and love were upsetting as they were painted as not nice people and Mr. Wickham like a rapist or soon to be rapist.

As the first book I’ve read of Jo Baker I was not happy but it will not stop me from reading more books by her and give her another chance. I will not read this one again thou. 

YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK IF YOU LIKE:

Pride and Prejudice, anything by Jane Austen. Historical Fiction.

Review: Foxcraft #1 – The Taken by Inbali Iserles

Category: 9-12 Fiction

Published: September 2015

Read: March 2016

Score: 2/5

Synopsis:(Goodreads) Isla and her brother are two young foxes living just outside the lands of the furless — humans. The life of a fox is filled with dangers, but Isla has begun to learn mysterious skills meant to help her survive.
Then the unthinkable happens. Returning to her den, Isla finds it set ablaze and surrounded by strange foxes, and her family is nowhere in sight. Forced to flee, she escapes into the cold, gray world of the furless.
Now Isla must navigate this bewildering and deadly terrain, all while being hunted by a ruthless enemy. In order to survive, she will need to master the ancient arts of her kind — magical gifts of cunning known only to foxes. She must unravel the secrets of foxcraft.

 

Review: This was an okay book. For the age group and for people who like these stories based around magic and animals this one is for you. As far as I am concerned I will not be reading the series but am happy with the fact I tried. 

It’s the story of young Isla who is a young fox living just outside the city. Her family is taken, or killed or we do not know and she is now all alone. As a young fox she can’t really fend for herself yet and no one with help her. There is also a group of very mean foxes around that are trying to find her but not sure if they want to kidnap her or kill her. Another fox turns up to help her out but he’s got the Foxcraft down and he can change bodies of animals. But is he friend or foe? Will she find her brother who she feels is alive and will she survive herself.

So great concept. Along the lines of the Survivors and Warriors series. So as I said earlier if you like the whole animal adventures you will defiantly like this book. I am not a fan thou. I found it very hard to get through. It was not very fast paced and it took forever for her to even find a friend. I don’t mind the other names for things  like the city and humans but having to refer to the glossary all the time got tiring very fast. There was also no real conclusion for this story, which I get it’s a series but it was disappointing that nothing was actually solved. I will say thou that it did suck me in past the first 50 pages so I had to finish it. 

The writing was well done and very descriptive. If you are in to these kinds of story this is for you. It’s not overly hard to read at all and is good for this age group. It does deal with things like death and it can be scary for the younger kids but for anyone aged 10-12. The pictures were also very nice and I only got an advanced copy so I can imagine what the full published book will look like.

Would I personally read this again, nope and I will not follow the series. I am glad I gave it a try thou.

YOU WILL LIKE THIS IF YOU LIKE:

Warriors Series, Survivors Series, Books about animals that are more than just Animals.

Review: The Killer Book of Cold Cases by Tom Philbin

Category: True Crime

Published: August 2011

Read: March 2017

Score: 3/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) Shocking Stories of the Most Infamous Unsolved Crimes
Every criminal dreams of committing the perfect crime. A crime that is so well executed, with clues and evidence so scarce, that even the experts are left baffled. The Killer Book of Cold Cases takes you behind the crime scene tape and deep into the investigations of some of the most puzzling and notorious cold cases of all time from murders to kidnappings to massive bombings that were open for years before the criminal was finally brought to justice.

Review: This is your typical crime book with a number of different stories in it. Most of them you will probably have already heard of or researched because they are older and have been solved (or not) but they are still here anyway. It is written with trivia, and similar cases in each one profiled it does have a little more than your average crime book like this. 

PhotoELF Edits:
2011:08:02 — Save – Overwrite — crop; paint; resize
2011:08:02 — Save – Overwrite — crop; paint

There are stories such a D.B. Cooper who hijacked a plane and took off with a ton of money (for the time) and was never seen from again. No one know who he is or where he went after jumping out of the plane mid-flight. There is also a stories of Jaycee Dugard whom is now found and safe home after 18 years of captivity. Also the story of the Tylenol murders which were never solved.

It’s a collection of cold cases that are solved and not which is interesting. What I really liked about it is it described way how the cases were messed up, particularly in the case of Jaycee Dugard and how the system failed her over and over and over again.

If you like to read stories like this you will defiantly like this book as it gives a bit more. It would have been better if it was cases that were all cold case and not solved but the mix is alright too as you can see from both sides of solved and not. The extras were good too. That is the reason why I only gave it 3 thou because it’s your typical cases that are so famous that you already know about them anyway. It would also have been a better read if it was cases that are not so well-known but considered cold cases. 

I know this author has a whole bunch of books along these lines and I will probably read them if I get a chance but I have read better true crime books.

YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK IF:
You like anything by Tom Philbin, like cold cases, like true crime books.

Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Category: Adult Contemporary

Published: January 2013

Read: February 2017

Score: 4/5

Synopsis: (Goodreads) Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.
Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

Review: This was a really cute and quick read and overall I thought a great book. It’s funny, with a love story that isn’t so lovely dovey or anything along those lines. The best way to describe it is to compare it to The Big Bang Theory television show. Quirky characters who are clueless but super smart.

It’s about Don Tillman, a genius but a awkward man with what they describe but never outright say, a form of autism. He’s socially awkward and blunt and doesn’t have a lot of friends. He decides that he needs a companion for life and makes a survey to start to weed out bad ones from good ones. There are questions like how often they drink. Than he meets Rosie who is the complete opposite of what he is looking for. He doesn’t like her at first but helps her by testing all these men to try to find out who her biological father is. During this time they get feelings for each other but what kinds of feelings are these anyway. Can someone like Don like someone like Rosie and vice versa. 

It’s a bit slow to start but it picks up and becomes a funny and moving story. Are they going to find out who Rosie’s father really is? Do they like each other or is this just a professional thing? Is Don ever going to change? The age-old question that women have been asking since the beginning of time. There were parts that made me laugh out loud and parts that just warmed your heart. You got invested in these characters and loved them or hated them.

The writing was well done and it’s clear that the author did his research on the subjects that Don knew about. The only downside is the slow beginning but it picks up as I said. I also loved the movie type ending. You could picture it in your head and loved every second of it. It’s not overly romantic so if you’re not in to those books that are oooey and gooeey or full on romance this may be the book for you. Plus if you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory you will also really enjoy this book.

There is a second book based on the same characters and I can’t wait to read it. If this author keeps pumping out books like this I can see him becoming a fan of mine for sure. I can also see this becoming a movie…not that I have heard it will be but it would make a good one.

YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK IF YOU LIKE:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Funny Contemporary Novels