Sunday, 25 March 2018

Keeper by Kim Chance

Published: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Flux Books/Northern Star Editions
Author's Youtube


Lainey thought the SATs were the worst thing in her life. Then, a 200-year-old witch attacks her in a parking lot. The witch shows up, bleeding, scaring the bejesus out of her. She also meets a handsome new boy. Then, everything she thought she knew about her life gets blown out of the water -- the world of the magical rises up and threatens everything she has known. To avoid the evil that is pursuing her, she will have to: 1. Believe in the unbelievable, and 2. Be stronger than she ever thought possible.


The beginning was boring, I'll say it here. I'm surprised, with all the beta readers she has listed, that this is what was published. I really had to make myself keep reading. The ending was a huge payoff for my efforts, but seriously, the beginning and most of the middle was a slog to get through. I considered abandoning the book. I had been watching Chance's Youtube channel for a while now, and I know she's better than this lousy beginning.

Atmosphere/Overall Feel

This book is mostly a Buffy the Vampire Slayer kind of romp. Which isn't bad, but it's predictable. I was hoping for a bit more horror. We get a bit of that in the beginning, with the bloody witch following Lainey around. But where does this happen? In a parking lot of a comic book store. That's terribly mundane. Most of the novel takes place in familiar settings such as: parking lots, cars, and home. Sometimes they go to a bookstore, and hey, they go to the cemetery a couple of times.

There is also a lot of comic book and general nerd references from best friend Maggie all the time. I didn't mind the references, but Maggie's catchphrase got old real fast.


Although the term "love" isn't thrown around much until the latter half of the book, here is another pot of instant love/love at first sight. I'm sick of this. I get that younger people tend to be smitten, but how naive do we all think young adults are?

The Good Parts

I know I'm throwing this book to the wolves. There were some great parts. Unfortunately, I don't want to spoil the entire latter portion of the book. However, the pace picks up, the stakes are raised, and Lainey stops being so bloody mopy/dramatic. There are many moments where my cold, frozen heart started to melt with the sad turn of events--and there are many!

At the end, there's a major betrayal. On par with the movie Frozen. All I'm going to say is that someone needs to get revenge in the next book.

Final Thoughts

I'm glad I made it to the end. I'm sure her sequel will be better, as the world building and set up are done. Would I recommend it for a library purchase? Sure. Librarians don't need to adore every book in their collection. There isn't anything subjectively offensive (blood happens, and that's all I can recall), and a few mild swears. I'd say if someone asks for it, buy a copy and put it in your collection. When the sequel is released, read that, and maybe the series will begin to sway you.

I did, however, notice two mistakes in the writing. Why does this happen? Self-published books that are put out way too soon, I see why it happens (still not saying it's ok, btw). Keeper has a traditional publication, with an editor!

Lilo basically sums up my thoughts for this book. Great premise, boring beginning, two writing mistakes, but a great ending, and a desire to read more of the good writing.

Friday, 9 February 2018

The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics

Published: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen


The Cranes are a family of five sisters that look picture-perfect from the outside. What the world doesn’t know is that their home life is less than ideal. When tragedy strikes, it threatens to rip their world apart, but their mother steps in with a mysterious fix that has disastrous consequences. The dead don’t have to stay dead, for a price.

NB: If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read the book blurb! I know the jacket blurb isn’t up to the author, so she gets a pass. It’s a poor decision on the publisher’s part to spoil the entire plot if you read the dust jacket. I’m very glad I didn’t read the whole thing before I read the book.

Family Dynamics/Characters

The Cranes are so dysfunctional it’s hard to read at times. If you’re looking for a book to compare and/or contrast family life in literature, this is a good pick as there is lots of evidence. The mother is mentally ill and an addict, and not equipped to be a caregiver. The maternal responsibilities fall to the eldest daughter, Juliet, which causes resentment. Next in line is Taylor, who cannot separate herself from Juliet, and she really doesn’t have any other outstanding character traits. Anya uses...illicit substances, but is otherwise fine. Mona, the main character, has her own problems. The youngest, Rose, is too young to have any real problems, yet, and she is loved by the family. Their father is in the military and is deployed or otherwise engaged outside of the house.

What I did like about this family is how each of the characters has their own personalities. Have you ever read a book that has many characters but they are all flat? Where you could easily cut 50% of the characters because they don’t add anything? It is not the case for this book, as all of the characters add something and move the plot forward.


Just as with The Women in the Walls, the horror scenes were fantastic. They elicited a visceral reaction that you don’t always get with horror novels. Unlike The Women in the Walls, the other writing was mostly improved. When there wasn’t guts and gore being thrown around, the story was just as engaging. My only point of contention here is the swearing. Yes, young people swear. It’s true! But it’s inserted in here so much it’s awkward. It’s a part of speech that needs to flow, but it’s jarring here and disrupts the regular patterns of speech.

I do have to say, the inciting incident was poorly written. It is reminiscent of a main character’s death in Sever. I stopped and asked, what actually happened? I can’t envision it. It’s also unbelievable. I can think of a few ways to at least make it more believable, but we got what we got, and it’s disappointing.

Military Aspect

I had written A LOT on this, and ultimately, I took off a star from my review. I have chosen to remove the critical bits because the last thing we need is the military calling my husband because they don't like what I wrote on the internet. I'll only give my briefest comments, but it is something that really took the novel down a peg for me.

The Cranes live on a military base, but it is evident that the author doesn’t have substantial knowledge of the military. Maybe don’t rely on only one person to give you info for the setting of a book. There are many parts of this novel that I cringed so hard because it was wrong by varying degrees. Every gif is at least a paragraph that I removed.

The end. I rolled my eyes so hard it’s a miracle I can still see. The military police would have been involved MUCH more than the regular police. You live on base, that’s it. And in all probability, their dad wouldn't have his job anymore. That's all I say.

The dad being deployed/posted, considering their family situation. Unlikely. All this information is readily available on the internet, btw.

Yeah, there was more. This whole page would be gifs if I kept going. So, below are some spoilers. Feel free to go to the Final Thoughts.

Other Issues

I expected THEM to drive the convertible to their mom and Harlow to see what was keeping their mom/get the cure themselves. To me, this is the obvious course of action that just isn’t taken. I don’t recall it ever being suggested, either.

End of Spoilers

Final Thoughts

Despite all the gripes I have against the setting, and some of the holes I found, I really did like this book. Could it be better? Yes. (Instead of the military setting, he could travel internationally for business.) Aside from the compare and contrast with this dysfunctional family, I can’t think of other ways to utilize this for academic work. The military aspect should have been axed-Lukavics needs to stick with what she knows if she can’t be bothered to research properly. But for a horror story with a dysfunctional family, it was great. If your library is alright with horror for a YA audience, such as Lukavic's other book, Women in The Walls, I recommend this book.

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

Published: 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Author’s Website:
On Goodreads
My Review on Goodreads


The book is set in a Victorian mansion in contemporary times. It is a great setup for a horror story: lots of space (dark halls, empty rooms, attics, repetitive wallpaper, fireplaces in the rooms), no neighbours (particularly isolated), and surrounded by woods. There is a hint of female madness, men trying to keep control, ghosts, disappearances, all the good stuff.

Essay prompt: Gothic tropes in literature - compare the classic Bran Stoker’s Dracula (1897) or any literary gothic horror (this whole list is available from Goodreads and has great suggestions) with The Women in the Walls (a “then vs now” comparison for gothic themes would be great).

However, I feel like this book could have been set 100 years ago, and it would have been more dynamic because of gender roles. But you can’t conveniently boot up the computer and Google your house LIKE YOU NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE THAT BEFORE.

Essay prompt: The Women in the Walls vs The Yellow Wallpaper or Jane Eyre and madness with gender (women’s power vs the infantilization of women).


Overall, the book did have some memorable characters. The further you go away from the protagonist, Lucy, the better the characters are developed. 

To begin with, the book doesn’t take enough time to set up the characters and bonds before those characters begin to be plucked off. Why do I care if a character goes missing in the first few pages of the book? I feel like I am supposed to care, but I can’t. More time should have been given to conveying them to the reader. 

The main character, Lucy, doesn’t have a consistent character. I know at 17 you are still figuring that out, but what are her hobbies, her fears, her hopes, her manner of speaking, etc.? She self-mutilates, but that really shouldn’t be the only thing we know about her. (Plus, please don’t think that someone who cuts is this simple and flat. People who genuinely start cutting do so for very complex reasons.) She’s entrenched in the Acosta’s legacy. She seems unreasonable to her father (even though, yes, a lot of what is going on needs to be questioned) and that’s the only consistencies I could find. She mostly lets the plot happen to her, which gets old. 

Her father seems to have more of a defined character than Lucy. Margaret was an unlikable character, but she had more character than Lucy. Perhaps Lucy is a Mary Sue, which is an avatar for the author. The country club’s wives, their husbands, the new cook, the supernatural presence, all have more character than the main character. 


When the author isn’t writing about something scary, the writing isn’t the best. The sentences could be tighter and clearer. I found as I was reading them, my brain was automatically correcting the sentences. However, I have read that her latest book, The Ravenous, is a much better example of good writing, and I look forward to reading it (I actually own all three of her currently published books already). I want to stress that when Lukavics does write the “scary” passages, they are genuinely unsettling. Because those passages are so engaging, the book was a quick read that didn’t make me want to skim. 

Final Verdict 

The main character’s lack of individuality and inability to move the plot herself is frustrating, it may turn off some readers. With the addition of the non-horror sections not being especially well-crafted, I can see this be disappointing to some readers. However, I do recommend it for its horror qualities. Plus, it is a fast, engaging read. If your library isn’t squeamish about horror, non-suicidal self-injury, and gore, I recommend this. This book can be very versatile for high school essays (if you’re a teacher who is adamant about pushing the classics, pair this book with a literary classic). I also think Lukavics is an author to watch, if the reviews for The Ravenous are to be believed (and I will be starting that book tomorrow). Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and I will be keeping it on my shelf.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Online Crisis Chat Services

Disclaimer: I have not used any of these chat services. I have checked out their online resources but I have not engaged them.

These three resources provide chat support for youth and adults. I am in Canada, and I have also included some American resources. I hope to add to this list in the future. These resources are available if you are in need of emotional support (stress, abuse, anxiety, school issues, relationships, etc.). You don't have to be in crisis to access these services, but you still can if you are. (Canadian resource)
If you are under 30 years old, every night from 6PM and midnight PST you can go on their website and click "Online Chat" or "SMS Text Chat" and speak to a trained volunteer. (American resource)
This resource is available regardless of age. Every day the chat is open from 2PM to 2AM Eastern Time.

Unsuicide (Canada, US, Australia, UK)
This wikia has many links to online crisis intervention websites - they are not solely for suicide prevention.
*Note: I have not clicked on all of the links. The ones that I have appear to be very helpful. In the future, I hope to check them out more fully and link to them here.

I highly recommend users Google for crisis centres in their area and see if they also offer online chat support.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Lauren DeStefano's Video on Wither's Publication

Way back in 2013 I wrote a review of Lauren DeStefano 's Wither (spoilers, I really like her series).

Today I stumbled on a vlog the author did on her publishing journey for Wither. The video is below:

You can also watch the video on Youtube here. I recommend that you go to her Youtube channel and show her some love. Her story about publishing is fantastic, and we share basically the same experience with getting a BA in English when you want to be writer (with the exception is that she got a big break and is now a best selling author).

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Published: 2007
Publisher: Razorbill


Hannah Baker has committed suicide. In the wake of her sudden departure, the people who knew her get a set of tapes with a map. On the tapes is the voice of Hannah narrating the thirteen reasons why she chose to kill herself. Nice guy Clay receives his and he listens to the harrowing story that was her life; one event after another. Everyone who contributed to her decision is on the tapes, and they have, or will have, their chance to listen. Clay is eager to know, yet terrified - why is he on the tapes? What did he do to her?


This book is like rubbernecking a highway traffic accident. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it gets dark. If you’re sensitive to uncomfortable topics such as the obvious suicide, bullying, sexual situations, etc., stay clear. Some people just don’t want to read about that, and that’s fine. However, I don’t advocate that this book be kept from teens or adults who wants to read it just because of its content. If you are alright with tougher subjects, go ahead and read it. If you don’t think your kid is up to the challenge, talk with them.

Also, you can write some amazing essays with this book. Comparing it to other books, or talk about glorification of suicide, bullying, sexual assault/consent, or the reality of suicides, or how the media handled it (sensationalized).

Hannah’s Character
Got this from here.
She comes off more of a psychopath to me. Clever like Jigsaw or Grandpa Rick, but not something glamourous. At many points in the book she seems to be more of a monster. Not because she has killed herself, but because she tries to drag everyone down to the hell she experienced. Her suicide was her escape, but the tapes were to punish those left behind. She's an emotional blackmailer.

The Courtney Character

Oh, hey, what a surprise, another smear on my name. Her last name is pretty cool though.

My Regular Person Opinion on the Book

Don’t give me that OMG think of the children! overreacting. Teens, adults, seniors, children - they are all capable of committing suicide, and they do. Copycat suicides? Sure, but you can get inspiration from anywhere if you are already in the mindset. The news, the bible, children’s fairy tales, urban legends, history, etc. all have instances of suicide and/or violence towards others. (Of course, video games get a lot of the flak nowadays.)

Thing is, it’s well-written. The voices are spot on, the characters are strong, which surprised me because there are so many. Aside from being on the Jigsaw spectrum, it’s story is unique. Dark, yes, and I don’t believe shielding the masses from stuff that might trigger them will help anyone. Parents should be talking with their kids - it shouldn't take a controversial book in the media to make you parent.

The End

I did love the end, and it’s exactly as I hoped it would be. The circle is broken. I’ll watch the Netflix series and report back, though they have a second season already lined up, which confuses me. It’s done, isn’t it? It’s over. Go home.  

Although I do have to say something about Clay’s tape, and a few of the other tapes. You can click right here and you’ll be directed to a page on this blog that will have spoilers and what I think is a major flaw in this book.

Suitability in a Library

Should you carry this book in your library? Depends. How’s your collection development policy? How do you handle book challenges? Personally, I’d put it in, but that’s just me and my (mostly) irrelevant opinion. Whose opinion counts, might you ask? The heads of your library that have to write policies and procedures, and then implement said policies and procedures, that’s who.

And if you start banning now, you set a precedent, and you'll be having everyone on Harry Potter and Jane Eyre and 1984 and Brave New World and The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm and Fahrenheit 451 and Hamlet and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and... 

I recently read this book and it was great - Intellectual Freedom for Teens: A Practical Guide for YA & School Librarians. I recommend it if you're an advocate for intellectual freedom.

Final Verdict

It’s a good book. Well-written with the integration of the story on the tapes, what’s happening to Clay as he listens to the tapes, and what Clay remembers. Due to the themes, it’s not for everyone - and that’s fine. If a reader is good with dark themes, I recommend this book.

I think there’s too much that happened to Hannah, though, to the point that it becomes unbelievable. I can see that might be annoying to some people. The media attention is unfortunate, but it will subside eventually and we can go back to reading instead of attending all these mandatory book burnings.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Beyond Falling Stars By Sherry Soule

Starlight Saga

*Honest Review Requested by Author in Exchange for Free eBook
Published: April 2017
Publisher: Disenchanted Publishing
Series: Starlight Saga #3
Website: Author’s blog
She’s Also on Wattpad
Amazon: Here
Goodreads: Here


Get in the spaceship, we’re going to Reticuli.

Sloane and the gang have been through a lot. During all their troubles, they get news that the Lancasters are going to the alien planet Reticuli. It also just makes sense that everyone else can go too, so the whole cast goes to the two-sun beach planet. Once there, not much goes in Sloane’s favor - attempts on her life, a war with her new mother-in-law, and Hayden’s ex just not letting go.


We have another round of trying to figure out a who is the person behind some nefarious deeds. In the last book I didn’t see it coming and I felt amazing at the reveal. This time, I thought, It’s definitely not X. Though wouldn’t it be funny if it is X? And…turns out that it is X, and it was still another awesome moment for me (NOOOOOO WAAAAAY!), especially because it’s a little more complicated than it seems.


For me, it wasn’t as fast of a read as the previous two in the series, but it still had that easy flow and nail-biting what will happen next anticipation. I haven’t had much time on my lunch break to read, so I’d get a few pages read and have to stop, and that was agonizing. The way it’s written keeps you hooked - I think it has something to do with the lack of purple prose and superfluous description, so the plot and general excitement keeps going.

Final Verdict

The whole series was fantastic. Alien-human hybrids, romance, action, a few mysteries - everything to keep you interested. This book did not disappoint and I highly recommend it along with the other two books. I have some more thoughts below if anyone wants to read them, but they contain spoilers.

I didn't make this.


End of the Series

I have a few thoughts about how the end wrapped everything up.

The “Let’s not do it until marriage” message is a good message. Not one that I agree with, but for a YA audience it’s good. And they seem to be sticking it out, which I think fits better with the story. It's not controlling like Twilight, it's just what they have agreed to.

I didn’t always like Hayden. Maybe for a sixteen-year-old he’s a hotbad-boy, but I couldn’t get past his communication issues. I liked how he ended up though. Looks like no more communication issues by the end scene.

Writing about a girl’s weight is difficult, as we are currently in a difficult cultural climate about women’s body image. Do you celebrate loving your body no matter what the size, or do you advocate for health and therefore a smaller size? I like how Soule handled Sloane’s struggle. Most importantly, Sloane’s happy with herself. The fact that Hayden loves her is just icing on the cake. With her new life she seems to be more active, and she tries not to overindulge, and she is losing weight without making it an unhealthy obsession. On a personal note, I am a huge horror film, video game, novel, and art nerd. Along with my librarianship and writing jobs, I (and most people) have a largely sedentary lifestyle. It’s really easy to gain weight, and I totally did during high school and university. I had to take up running and exercising a dog every day to balance this out (lol). It's just one of those common things about life that happens and it's nice that there's at least one book out there that address it without making it the focus of the book (e.g. a book about a girl's weight loss journey or anorexia).

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Library and Reading Stories from the Internet

(For some reason I had this in draft for several weeks. Opps.)

Just in case anyone is interested, here are some news articles regarding libraries, reading, and schools.

Conservative summer reading list at Alabama high school stirs attention

With a title like that, I thought it was for a standard English class, but no, it's for an "advanced-placement government class". While the reading list arguably shouldn't be so biased, having conservative material isn't necessarily bad. The teacher just should have tried a little harder to be inclusive.

These are some amazing librarians!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Under Sunless Skies by Sherry Soule

*Honest Review Requested by Author in Exchange for Free eBook
Published: July 14, 2016/April 2017
Publisher: Disenchanted Publishing
Series: Starlight Saga #2
Website: Author’s blog
She’s Also on Wattpad
Amazon: Here
Goodreads: Here


A few weeks ago I was wondering if Sherry Soule wrote the sequel to Lost in Starlight, as I was thinking about what will happen to Sloane. Then, BAM, I get the news that the author is looking to get reviewers for the THIRD book in the series. I was floored! I know I’m in the running for the slowest writer ever, but she works fast, AND look at her goodreads listing of all the books she has authored (  

Sloane and Hayden have broken up, she gets a bombshell of news from her own family, and intergalactical organizations are causing her grief. This time around, Sloane has some mysteries to solve. First and foremost, she has a mysterious blackmailer threatening to leak her secrets, putting her and her family in danger.


I was hooked on this book! I couldn’t stop reading because I NEEDED to know who the blackmailer was. I know some books make it obvious who the blackmailer is, and I DID NOT see this one coming. Everyone was acting so suspicious I couldn’t fathom who was behind it. It was an awesome experience that I haven’t felt in a while. There was also the aspect of will they/won't they get back together going on.  

This book feels to be more paranormal romance, with a light layer of sci-fi, and I enjoyed the atmosphere. The sci-fi is a backdrop and it’s unobtrusive. There's no attempt to explain crazy futuristic technology or science and I appreciate that.


Once again, I really like Sloane. I see her as the kind of girl that gets things done. She's a journalist for her school’s newspaper, a blogger, she has too many mysteries to count to figure out, and she still makes time for her friends. She pines over a boy and that drives me crazy, but in the end, she’s still just a teen. She has problems that are both relatable and paranormal, and the mix is perfect. The book is from her perspective and you get more of her interesting lines and thoughts.    

Two of my favourite quotes are:
If you stabbed me, I’d probably bleed frosting.
I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color.

Hayden angered me for about 70% of the book. LISTEN TO SLOANE SHE HAS SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO TELL YOU. I hate reading about on and off again relationships because I also hate them in real life. When an ex comes back after treating your heart like a cigarette butt and is like, hey, let’s get back together! Sure, entertain the idea. Then tell him it’s a good thinking point, as is the idea of setting him on fire.

It is realistic though. It happens all the time. A guy breaks up with you and you’re still totally in love, and you’re like I’M FINE, but secretly you hope he’ll take you back. As an adult I was screaming in my head that she needed to leave him be. He’s being a few shades of Edward Cullen/Christian Gray creepy. I wanted her to be the best kind of awesome she can be without him, and she was, though she was still pining for him. She was chasing him, which I hate, but this is a fictional character...and real people do this too. They do things we don’t like. It just made me want to shake her because she’s better than that, and punch him because he’s being mean and she deserves better.  

As for chasing boys:
(With the exception of the two with text denoting the possible creators at the bottom of the images, I have no idea who made these originally.)

Final Verdict

I highly recommend this book, and the first one in the series, for older teens who are looking for a fun romp with romance and sci-fi. Even if sci-fi isn't your thing, give these a try. These two books were written in an easy flowing way that are easy to get lost in. I have only read the first two books from this series, I am interested in checking out some of the author’s other books because I like the writing style.  

Fun (Maybe) and (Definitely Pointless) Fact:

I wore a lot of black back in the day. Then my mother told me to stop buying black clothes. So I switched to shades of darker blue...then she asked if I was in a blue cult. I know it’s more of a generational thing, but I would love to have Sloane as a daughter, as I know that there’s nothing inherently wrong with looking a bit different. But her mom seems pretty awesome too, even when she wants her daughter to be a little more “normal”. (Side note: Normal people worry me.)  I would have loved to read this as a teenager, and I would have been drooling over all the cool stuff Sloane has.   

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Teens' Vandalism Charges Receive "Read Diverse Books" Sentence

I know I haven't been posting but I'd like to post that CNN reported some teens vandalized the Ashburn Colored School back in September. Their punishment? Read diverse books.

If you just do a quick Google search you'll see the benefits of reading fiction, and the one that always sticks out to me is that it builds your ability to be empathetic. Empathy is something I think society is lacking.

As for the books they need to read? The article only lists a few, but they have to read and report on one book a month with the possibility of some films too. I wish I could see the whole list. Personally, I've only read To Kill a Mockingbird and I've seen (and recently rewatched) Schindler's List.

I love this punishment and it is something I could definitely employ in the future. Punishment for demonic offspring? Read this book and write a report. Maybe they would be grounded until they do.

As for the teens here? I also like this punishment. However, they should be responsible for the clean up of their damages, both financially and helping with the physical cleaning.