[Book Talk] Sadie by Courtney Summers

Book Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Read: August 2018

Synopsis:

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Raincoast Books for a copy of this book for review!

I had been hearing so much about the latest book from Courtney Summers that when it came time to pack books for an upcoming vacation, I had to throw it in my bag. Based on what everyone was saying, this book was a major page turner and thrilling until the very end!

And they definitely weren’t wrong! This book had me addicted within a few pages and I just had to know where the story was going.

I really loved the format this was written in, with the main chapters narrated by Sadie alternating with podcast episode transcriptions. It was a great way to make the novel stand out without it getting epistolary. It was really interesting to get West McCray, the podcast narrator’s, thoughts on Sadie, the murder of her sister, and see him follow the path she took based on the clues left behind.

This novel was super dark and I wouldn’t say that it finished with any great resolution of hope or anything – if anything, it’s left a bit open-ended, which I normally don’t like, but it seemed to work with this book. But there’s nothing really within this story to lighten up the mood – it’s dark and gritty and quite terrifying if you’re a parent (and even if you’re not).

At any rate, it was a nice break from the usual type of thriller I read. Courtney Summers has a great way of telling a story that really gets you hooked.

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[Book Thoughts] The Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca Phillips

Book Details:

Format: Hardback
Source: Author
Read: August 2018

Synopsis:

No one looking at Morgan Kemper would think she had a secret-at least not one that she’s deeply ashamed of. To everyone she meets, she comes across as sweet, pretty, and put together. But Morgan knows that looks can be deceiving. For over a year, she’s shoplifted countless pieces of clothing and makeup. Each time she tells herself it will be the last, and each time it never is.

But when she’s caught and sentenced to thirty hours of community service, the image Morgan has carefully constructed starts to crumble. She’s determined to complete her punishment without her friends discovering the truth about her sticky fingers, but that’s easier said than done…Especially once she meets Eli, the charming, handsome nephew of the owner of the charity shop where Morgan is volunteering. Soon, Morgan is faced with an impossible decision: continue to conceal the truth or admit that she’s lied to everyone in her life, including the boy she’s falling for.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Rebecca Phillips for sending me a copy of this book for review!

This year I haven’t been reading a lot of young adult fiction mainly because I find a lot of them to be predictable or too full of tropes or having the same characters over and over again, BUT when I went book shopping one day I was eager to pick up Rebecca Phillips’s latest book, The Girl You Thought I Was, because when it comes to authors who aren’t predictable in their writing, it’s Rebecca Phillips. Unfortunately, my local bookstore didn’t have any of her latest on the shelf, so Rebecca was so kind in sending me a GORGEOUS copy of it!

One thing that I love about Phillips’s writing is the familial relationships. I feel like that’s something missing in a lot of YA that I’ve picked up, where we don’t get to see the parents or the siblings – everything seems to fall on the main character and their friends. Totally not the case in this book. I did love Morgan’s relationship with her friends, troubled as it became, but I loved her relationship with her dad even more. Their family had been through hard times, with Morgan’s mom cheating on her dad and leaving her and her sister, so we don’t only read a story about a girl dealing with her shoplifting habits, but we really get to the root of the problem, which stems from her family and we do that through really getting into the relationship Morgan has with her dad, her mom, and her sister, Rachel. And it’s HARD. It’s not all butterflies and rainbows, but Phillips writes real relationships that might have lots of happy memories, but are still a struggle.

And of course, this book is written about Morgan, who had become addicted to shoplifting to the point where she gets caught. I loved reading about her overcoming this addiction and really growing as a character. I feel like we got inside her head so much that by the end of the book it was hard to remember the Morgan we met at the beginning of the book. And since this is YA, there is romance (which is rare to not come by in YA) but I actually really liked it. I loved Eli and his aunt and the dilemmas that Morgan faced with her new relationship, but secret addiction she didn’t want to admit to anyone besides her family. I felt like all of the characters felt real and flawed and the relationships didn’t seem forced at all – I even had my worries for one relationship, but Phillips didn’t go the typical route I’ve read about in other books, which made me so happy.

This is the third book of Rebecca Phillips that I’ve read now and I feel like her writing is just getting better and better. I highly recommend checking out her writing as she’s definitely one of the Canadian YA authors that I’ll be keeping an eye on from now on.

[Book Talk] The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Schrum

Book Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Read: July 2018

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane has wanted to be a chef since she was old enough to ignore her mom’s warnings to stay away from the hot stove. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: a prestigious scholarship competition in Savannah, where students compete all summer in Chopped style challenges for a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. The only impossible challenge ingredient in her basket: Reid Yamada.

After Reid, her cute but unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to screw her over on day one, Carter vows revenge, and soon they’re involved in a full-fledged culinary war. Just as the tension between them reaches its boiling point, Carter and Reid are forced to work together if they want to win, and Carter begins to wonder if Reid’s constant presence in her brain is about more than rivalry. And if maybe her desire to smack his mouth doesn’t necessarily cancel out her desire to kiss it.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Thomas Allen & Sons for a copy of this book! 

This book probably would’ve gone unnoticed by me had it not been for my friend Ambur who works at Thomas Allen & Sons. She sent me a list of upcoming releases and the title and cover caught my eye. I loved the cute little macarons on the cover, the Julia Child-ish title. And then I read the synopsis – a book with cooking, romance, and a competition? Sign me up!

The Art of French Kissing was just such a cute book. I was a little worried because when I added it to my Goodreads currently-reading shelf I noticed that the rating was a little lower than I would’ve liked. Would I still like it? Turns out, it was just what I needed at the time. This book made me think of when I started reading The Selection by Keira Cass – that one was a spin on the Bachelor TV shows. This book is like a spin on Chopped, where a group of young adults are chosen for a cooking competition with the prize being a full scholarship to a prestigious cooking school.

I loved all of the cooking, even if I was a little skeptical of Carter’s acceptance to the show after writing about grilled cheese, of all things. BUT, I was still totally sucked in. I loved the competition aspect of it, even if it maybe wouldn’t have happened that way in real life. There’s romance, which was adorable. The attempts at sabotaging other players was fun (even if one was definitely overstepping boundaries) and I enjoyed the “evil” character of Andrew.

The only thing that kind of drove me nuts was Reid’s nicknames for Carter, one being “princess” which had me cringing. I also would’ve loved this book to be a bit longer (it’s just under 250 pages) – it would’ve been great to have more from the cooking show, more detail, more competition. I also would’ve loved something more at the end since the book pretty much ends after the competition is over. But it was still such a fun read, perfect for summer!