Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous – Suzanne Park

I want to officially start this review by disclaiming that, as a general rule, I adore summer camps, whatever the type. Very fortunately, SUNNY SONG WILL NEVER BE FAMOUS was not an exception to this little rule of mine.

I do admit that I’d never read a summer camp story that featured a rehab-type of setting before, where characters are meant to detox from something. But you know what, it worked quite well. Sunny Song, like many young people in this heavily digital age, is addicted to her phone, her social accounts and the internet in general.

Can anyone reading this review not relate to that? Yes, alright, maybe you’re not checking your phone every minute, seeing if you have a text or comment, but it’s such an addictive thing if you do own a phone and love to engage with people who don’t live right next to you. All that to say that I found Sunny Song’s addiction completely believable and was excited to see what would come out of this camp for her.

The camp itself is pretty interesting. There are various fun activities that are meant to engage the campers in real life more than in a virtual one. Phones are not allowed. You want to connect with others outside the camp? How about sending a good old letter? Sunny Song is not exactly taking this (huge) rule very seriously, seeing as she is part of a big competition that could boost her social platforms’ popularity and she has her best friend back home helping her go around the rules here at camp.

There’s romance, too, and rivalry, and friendship, and growth. Overall, it’s simply an entertaining, fast-paced summer story that I encourage you to read while on a stationary bicycle at the gym. The fast-pacing of the story motivated me personally to cycle faster. So once it’s out, I encourage you to give Sunny Song a chance.

Thank you Raincoast Books for the free copy in exchange for an honest review. SUNNY SONG WILL NEVER BE FAMOUS will be out on June 1st, 2021!  

Better Than the Movies – Lynn Painter

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When I think of ‘‘Better than the Movies,’’ the movie Clueless comes to mind pretty much immediately. Throughout the story, the main character Liz Buxbaum discusses plenty of romantic comedies and tropes and I simply cannot help but associate this book’s ‘‘vibe’’ to that of Clueless’. The two may have few elements in common and Liz may be rather different from Cher, and yet.  

Liz is not a top girl (popular and cool) and yet she kind of needs to be to attract the attention of Michael, a childhood friend who has moved back home and who Liz believes belongs with her. She’s also not particularly shallow, and yet when it comes to love, she idealizes, overthinks, deceives and avoids. Loves does make us crazy, but to Liz it seems to make her crazy and immature and delusional and a really bad friend.

So why did I actually like her? I have to say that I’m not lining up to sign up as her new best friend anytime soon, based on how she is treating hers throughout the story basically, but the part of me that enjoys rom-coms and wants to believe that romantic love is an ethereal kind of special that deserves being consumed and being let to consume us could not help but slightly encourage Liz in her questionable endeavours.

That does not mean that I fell head over heels for the miscommunication, best-friend and step-mother mistreatment or the unrealistic scenes. I guess, just like visual romantic comedies, there is content worth smiling at, swooning over, questioning and rolling our eyes at. Is it better than an actual rom-com movie?  Well, no. There is more ideation than heartfelt emotion for me to really have felt the love. But I did feel the character and relationship developments, which does matter. So what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for a written rom-com, you are welcome to take a shot at this one, just try to go along with Liz’s idealistic romantic expectations as much as possible. That will certainly improve your reading experience.  

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending a copy of the advance book. On sale May 4th, 2021!

In the Key of Nira Ghani – Natasha Deen

38528858In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2019
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Family, Friendship, Drama, Culture, Romance


REVIEW:

You’ve probably read this story before. A daughter of immigrant parents wants to become something other than a doctor or anything else super stable financially, which is what her parents wish for her, and she denies herself happiness to make THEM happy. Continue reading

Dare Me – Megan Abbott

12982393Dare Me by Megan Abbott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2012
Publisher: Reagan Arthur
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Mystery, Friendship Drama, Sports, Crime, Manipulation


REVIEW:

I’m obsessed. It’s rare that I read one book and already I know I want to read everything the author has ever written and follow her on every account, but that’s how I feel right now about Megan Abbott after reading the crazy rollercoaster of psychological manipulation that is DARE ME. Continue reading

More Than Just a Pretty Face – Syed M. Masood

42655335More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: August 4th, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Family, Romance, High School, Culture


REVIEW:

This was much more than I expected. In the beginning, I thought it would be a cheesy rom-com with an obnoxious male protagonist who can only think about girls and nothing else. I was going to give up after only twelve pages, because I just didn’t find Danyal all that amusing and did not care for his boyish inner thoughts. Continue reading

Make Your Bed – William H. McRaven

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2017
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Non-Fiction, Memoir, Motivational, Self-Development


REVIEW:

I used to make my bed in the morning, when I was 10-12, and not just because my mom wanted me to. I had this pink room, with Barbie bed sheets, and a dozen stuffed animals around/on my bed. When my bed was made, and everything else was organized, the atmosphere of my room was just so vibrant and my overall room so beautiful I absolutely loved spending time in it and inviting friends to join me. Continue reading

Love à la Mode – Stephanie Kate Strohm

35065036. sy475 Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Cooking, Boarding School, Friendship, Love-Triangle


REVIEW:

Love is brewing in the Parisian air. Love for food, life, friends, new experiences, and of course for those special people who make us feel alive in the best ways possible.

Rosie and Henry are not just a meet-cute story. They are two of the new students who won a place in an elite cooking program at Chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris. They are ecstatic to be there and study with other classmates who are crazy about cooking.

But their place is not guaranteed. They have to perform or they could be sent home after the first semester. Rosie is especially worried because her skills lie in baking. But Henry’s mind isn’t at peace either, since his parents do not approve of his life goals and he must actively prove to them that he belongs in the cooking world.

I found myself enjoying this novel a little bit more than the author’s Prince in Disguise release. The writing and tone were much more mature and the overall language used much easier to read. I also found both protagonists fairly relatable. The love-triangle was a source of curiosity in the beginning but shifted to a source of exasperation after the halfway point. Overall, it’s a flawed and perhaps not entirely original story, but it does entertain.

Prince in Disguise – Stephanie Kate Strohm

25844635Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Recommended Age: 11+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Reality TV, Family Drama, Romance, Humor


REVIEW:

This was kind of silly… and also kind of cute. I don’t remember the last reality TV show book plot that I’ve enjoyed, and already I’m not a huge fan of reality TV to begin with (except for KUWTK obviously) so I’m kind of shocked by the fact that I managed to finish this book… and enjoy it. Continue reading

Shut Out – Kody Keplinger

10757771Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2011
Publisher: Poppy
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Drama, Romance, Sexuality, Love Triangle, High School


REVIEW:

I would love to see this book become a movie someday. It’s the kind of teenage romantic drama/comedy that is perfect for a period like this one we’re in.

It’s the battle of the sexes at Hamilton High. The football and soccer male players have a rivalry that is starting to really affect Lissa and her relationship with Randy. She comes up with a plan to end it and joins forces with the players’ girlfriends in order to execute it. The idea: withhold sexual activity until the rivalry is over. Continue reading

Story of a Girl – Sara Zarr

Story of a GirlStory of a Girl by Sara Zarr

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Family Dynamics, Redemption, Romance


REVIEW:

What an achingly realistic story.

Deanna hasn’t had it quite so easy since her own father caught her having sex with an older guy (Tommy) in the backseat of a car. He hasn’t been able to look at her in the eye since then and it seems like he isn’t close to forgetting what he saw anytime soon. Same goes for her classmates and many other people in her neighbourhood, who have heard the many versions of the story as told by Tommy. Continue reading