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!

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

Initiated: Memoir of a Witch – Amanda Yates García

43886044Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates García

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Nonfiction, Witches, Witchcraft, Feminism, Spirituality, myths, Mother-Daughter Relationship


REVIEW:

I don’t know why I thought this would be a *fun* read. I guess because I find witches, witchcraft and powers usually fun, especially when I stumble across them in my fantasy reads or the fantasy movies/TV shows I watch.

So I started this memoir expecting to be highly entertained and, I admit, I didn’t take it all that seriously. Of course, a part of me believes in the unexplainable, so while I had my prejudices about witches and magic, I was still open to be educated by the author. Continue reading

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and YouStamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi & Jason Reynolds

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: HBG Canada
Published: March 10th, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Non-Fiction, History, Racism


REVIEW:

Wait, it’s over already? But it just started… How can that be? This is probably the best not-history history book I have read in my short life. It spans hundreds of years, and yet it feels very linear, no disruptions. It’s a ‘‘story’’ with a beginning and middle, but no end… Continue reading

The Screaming Staircase – Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming StaircaseThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: HBG Canada
Published: 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Mystery, Ghosts, Friendship


REVIEW:

I feel different when I read stories that involve ghosts than when I read stories that involve other supernatural or paranormal beings.

I guess it’s because I actually do believe in ghosts and spirits, whereas I don’t, for example, believe in vampires, werewolves, witches (although I’d love to be able to say that I do) or fairies. Continue reading

Jacky Ha-Ha: My Life Is a Joke – Patterson & Grabenstein

34523188Jacky Ha-Ha: My Life Is a Joke by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: HBG Canada
Published: 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Humor, Sisterhood, Acting, Friendship


REVIEW:

I was excited to see Jacky again. I don’t feel this way about every main character. Sometimes I’m excited to see a world-building again, or feel an atmosphere again, or read an author’s beautiful writing again. And sometimes… I don’t. So it’s different every time. Continue reading

Camp – Lev A.C. Rosen

CampCamp by Lev A.C. Rosen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: May 26th, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, LGBTQIA+. Summer Camps, Inclusivity, Romance, Theatre, Masculinity


REVIEW:

I am jealous. I want to go to this queer camp so badly. I did go to day camp when I was 9, which feels like a lifetime ago, but it was nothing – nothing – like Camp Outland. You know, I do really hope that camps like this one exist, because they seem to provide a much needed safe haven for teens and adolescence is not an easy period. Just knowing that there’s a beautiful environment with incredibly open people waiting for you during summer can be what gets you through your school year. Continue reading

Jacky Ha-Ha – James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein

28096546. sx318 Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Humor, Performance, Siblings, Family


REVIEW:

Jacky is an amazingly funny and hot celebrity, and she’s looking back to her childhood period to show us how she overcame many obstacles and precarious situations to become the insanely talented actor she is today. Continue reading

The Only Black Girls in Town – Brandy Colbert

The Only Black Girls in TownThe Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: March 10th, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Family, Friendship, Racial Relations, LGBTQIA+


REVIEW:

I love it. I just love it when authors branch out. I have read YA Fiction from Brandy Colbert and now I’ve had the chance to read Middle Grade. Believe it or not, some authors don’t transition from one to the other smoothly. I think that to write a well-told story in any category, one must study the category beforehand very well and understand its audience. Brandy Colbert has managed that quite nicely. Continue reading

When You Get the Chance – Tom Ryan & Robin Stevenson

53005757. sx318 sy475 When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan & Robin Stevenson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: May 4th, 2021
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Family, Mystery, Romance, Identity, Road Trip


REVIEW:

I am always a little surprised when I enjoy books like this one, the kinds of books that don’t have memorable characters or original plotlines or even incredibly skilful writing styles; the kinds of books that you read and forget, and yet the in-between parts are quite enjoyable. Continue reading