By the Book Review

The cover of this book is so cute that it drew me in immediately. Then I read it was a book about a girl who loves classic books and I already loved it even more.

Mary Porter-Malcolm knows a lot of classic literature, but she doesn’t know a lot about being a teenager. When she’s sent to a normal high school she makes friends who teach her about teenage life while she teaches them about boys, using men from classic books.

I found that Mary could be a little bit pretentious. I love classic novels too, but I found that she acted a little bit like she was better than everyone else because she reads so much. However, I think that might be part of the point and she definitely grew on me as the novel went on.

On a whole, I had trouble getting into the book at first, but once I got into it I was all in and actually quite enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of classic novels and YA romance, this book might be for you.

The Black Kids Review

The Black Kids is a coming of age story set in LA in the 90s. After LAPD police officers are acquitted after almost beating a black man to death, rioters start lighting the city on fire. Ashley Bennett, a wealthy black teenager tries to maintain her normal life in the middle of a crisis.

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The premise sounded interesting and I’m always here for diverse books. Unfortunately, there were a few things that took me out of the story. The author waited too long to reveal that the book is set in the 90s and it took me by surprise when she did. I just wanted time and place to be revealed a little sooner.

I also feel like most of the things that happened in this book were in the background and that the protagonist wasn’t very active.  I didn’t want to compare it in my head to The Hate U Give, but I couldn’t help it, and it just didn’t stand up to that novel.

That being said, it was still an enjoyable and poignant read that fans of The Hate U Give will enjoy.

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly Review

This book was so much fun! I can’t resist a good girl-power story, and this novel had that in spades.

When Kit Sweetly replaces her brother for a night as a Knight in a show at a medieval-themed restaurant, she starts a revolution against the boys only hiring practice of the knights.

I’ve said it time and time again, my biggest pet peeve with characters is when they can’t communicate and they lie to each other or keep things from each other. I found Kit to be frustrating because of her insistence on keeping things from her friends.

Despite that, I loved her tenacity. The pop culture references were abundant, but I found them to be quite charming. Overall the book was really sweet and empowering and I give it 4 stars.

Sing Like No One’s Listening Review

Thank you to Peachtree Publishing for sending me an ARC.

This book was such a beautiful tale of literally finding your own voice again after a tragedy.

Nettie Delaney has been accepted to the same prestigious theatre school that her mother went to, the only problem is that she hasn’t been able to sing since her mother died. With help from a mysterious piano player, Nettie just might be able to find her voice again.

The characters and the emotions felt so real to me. I really loved that aspect of it. It was a simple plot but the characters and emotions were so complex that it didn’t need anymore.

However, there were a couple of loose ends in the plot that I really felt needed to be tied up. There were so many hints about her father and some of the teachers and I would have liked the ends to be tied up a bit.

The theatre nerd in me was delighted with this. 4 stars.

What I like About You Review

YA books and cupcakes? Sounds like a perfect combination. This book is just as sweet as it sounds.

Halle Levitt lives a double life. She’s Halle, a teenage girl who just moved to a new town with her brother to live with their grandfather while their parents work on a documentary. She’s also Kels, a book blogger and the creator of One True Pastry, a blog that combines YA book covers with cupcakes. What happens when her two worlds collide when she meets her internet best friend in real life?

I thought the premise was cute, and even though I usually find characters lying to each other b=very frustrating, it sort of made sense here and I was able to forgive it.

One thing that did bother me though was the constant bashing of adults reading YA. I get what the author was trying to say, that YA is especially for teens, but as an adult who reads and writes YA, I can’t help but feel insulted.

Despite that, the book was still a delight and I give it 4 cupcake covered stars.

The Perfect Escape Review

The Perfect Escape was just that, it was a great little escape away from the world right now.

Nate Kim works at a zombie escape room and is always looking for a way to make some extra money. When Kate Anderson also starts working at the escape room and signs Nate up to join a zombie survival challenge with her, he seems to have found an easy way to make money. Will it really be as easy as it seems when he starts falling for Kate?

There were a lot of things I loved about this book. It was cute and fairly light and exactly what I needed. I thought the zombie nerdery was adorable and fun and I loved the obscure references.

The characters were occasionally frustrating. My biggest issure with characters is not being able to communicate and keeping things from each other and there is a lot of that in this book. However, it doesn’t detract too much from this sweet little zombie romance. 4 stars.

Pretty Funny For a Girl Review

Thank you to Peachtree Publishing for sending me an ARC of this book.

I love comedy and I love YA, so I figured if you put the two together I would love it even more… and I was correct.

Haylah loves comedy and wants to be a stand-up comedian but she isn’t ready to get up on stage herself yet, so she starts ghostwriting for a comedian she has a crush on.

I knew with the premise that it would either be degrading to funny girls or that it would be empowering, and it was definitely the latter. At the beginning of the book, I was worried about the premise.

I was also worried about the opening itself, where was Haylah being hard on herself and her body. To my delight, the book ended up being very body positive.

Haylah could be a little unlikeable sometimes and I found myself getting frustrated at her for pushing everyone away, but then she would do something very human and it reminded me that she was an actual human and not just being a melodramatic teenager.

Overall, I’d give this book a solid 3.5 stars. It was a delightfully charming British comedy that will make fans of standup smile.

Verona Comics Review

Book reviews are something I’ve been wanting to do and with all the great books I’ve been reading lately, I figured now was a good time to do it. I will be posting one every Friday and you can also follow along with what I’ve been reading on Goodreads. I believe people of all ages can read YA and I will be focusing mainly on that.

When I found out that Jennifer Duncan, author of Hot Dog Girl, had a new book coming out based on Shakespeare I was thrilled. Admittedly I’m not a Romeo and Juliet fan so I was also a little worried. I shouldn’t have been worried though because it was a delight. There was melodrama, of course, it wouldn’t be loosely based on Shakespeare if there wasn’t, but it was also a lovely queer story with wonderful mental health representation.

The premise is pretty simple. The stepdaughter of an Indie comic book artist and store owner meets and falls in love with the son of a huge comic book chain store, and he can’t tell her who he is. That has to go well, right?

Despite the fact that it’s based on one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, it still surprisingly felt fresh. The mental health aspect really added to it as well. Instead of the suicide at the end of Romeo and Juliet, there were heartbreaking hints of suicidal ideation throughout the novel. I won’t give away the plot, but I will promise that it ends better than its source material.

Occasionally I was frustrated with the characters and the lying. The melodrama could be a little much sometimes, but then there were these completely real and raw character moments and it made me forget that I was annoyed.

Fans of Shakespeare, comic books, and YA will love this book.

The Happiness Project: Joy

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love it but also it majorly stresses me out. I feel so much pressure to make it perfect and to enjoy it. The money aspect always stresses me out and I usually choose to make Christmas gifts late enough that I’m scrambling to finish on time. 

Then there’s the family aspect. I love my family, I really do but they can also be a bit… Much. I’m from a small town in the interior of BC and things are certainly different there than they are here in Vancouver. I get annoyed with small-town life and none of them seem to understand why I love the city so much. I love visiting my family but it’s also exhausting. So many people and so much going on. I always know that I’m thoroughly exhausted by the end of the holiday season, so I wanted to make it a nice and relaxing month with a lot of things that bring me joy. 

My month was filled with Christmas activities. I kicked it all off by decorating my apartment and my rats’ cage with all my decorations. I treated myself to two advent calendars this year. One from Lindt now that I can eat chocolate again, and a tea calendar from David’s tea. We had our annual craft exchange at the caffe I hang out at. I crocheted a friend a blanket for it, and even though I was a little disappointed that I ran out of time and couldn’t make it as long as I wanted it to be, it still turned out pretty well. My girlfriend and I went to Glow, which is a Christmas light display, and even though it was disappointing, it was a lot of fun. She also surprised me with tickets to go see my first Cirque de Soleil show, which was absolutely amazing. I went to my first work Christmas party. It wasn’t for my own work but a friend invited me to go with them and it was great. It helped that the food was free and that there was a lot of wine involved. My friends and I also held our annual bad Netflix Christmas movie and gin night. Another tradition I did this year was Sistermas. Andrea, my self-proclaimed sister, and I spent the last couple of Christmases together but this year since we were both going home to our families, we decided to have it earlier in the month. I stayed over after Gin night and we went for brunch the next morning before doing some Christmas shopping and going back to Andrea’s for cat cuddles and some Christmas movies. The following weekend was the annual Christmas party with the nerds at the caffe. As per usual we all ate too much food, were forced to watch the worst Christmas short film known to mankind (if you feel like being tortured like we were, go check out “Treevenge”, but honestly, don’t do it), and had a super fun white elephant gift exchange. The last Christmas event I did before going home to my hometown was going to the Burnaby Heritage Museum with another friend. I’d never been and it was so much fun to go with her since she used to volunteer there and told me so much information about it. Naturally, I did celebrate Christmas with my family once I got to my home town, but really all my Christmas activities happened while I was still in Vancouver. 

It wasn’t just holiday activities that brought me joy this month. I tried to find joy in all the little things. Self-care was a huge deal for me this month. I made a self-care advent calendar and didn’t follow it every day but followed it as much as I could. I also continued reading a lot and finished out the year with a total of 140 books read in 2019. Along with reading, writing and podcasting were other things that not only brought me joy in December but brought me joy in 2019 in general. Between this blog, my writing for WWEST, and my writing for Sartorial Geek, I published 31 blog posts. I also launched my own podcast with my co-host Andrea, and we published 16 episodes. 

The last thing that brought me a lot of joy this month was Star Wars. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love everything to do with Star Wars, so between the new movie and The Mandalorian (I love you Baby Yoda!) I was in my own nerdy heaven. I have a couple more posts on the go about Star Wars, so I’m not going to say any more about it here, but it certainly brought me a lot of joy.

I ended the month spending New Year’s Eve with my girlfriend and a friend watching movies from our childhood and eating too much junk food. Not the wild party that’s expected, but I preferred this so much more. 2019 was a year full of challenges, but also a lot of joy. Join me next month for “power”.

The Happiness Project: Passion

Let me just start by saying that this month didn’t go exactly as planned. I love October and I love Halloween so I had planned to dress spooky all month and live my best witchy life. I tried but over the course of the month, I had a bad migraine, the flu (well, flu-like symptoms from my flu shot), and food poisoning. So, I spent a lot of time at home in bed instead. 

My love of Halloween stressed me out this year. The past few have kind of sucked so I decided to go all out this year but it just ended up putting too much pressure on it. I found myself getting upset if things didn’t work out my way. My costume, spooky makeup, making my rats’ cage spooky (they destroyed that real quick). I’m writing this before October 31, so I’m not sure how actual Halloween is going to go yet, but so far I’m disappointed. I was having way too much social anxiety to enjoy the Halloween party this year, and I couldn’t help but be disappointed with my costume. It was fine, I guess, but everyone else had far better costumes. I’m a cosplayer, you think I could up my Halloween game a bit. That’s fine, I’m not going to give up and you won’t believe what I have planned for Halloween next year.

Okay, that’s enough of me sounding petty and bitter. I promise there were good things this month too. I decided to watch as many fun Halloween movies as I could and even though I didn’t completely get through my list, I watched a lot of them and got to live my best witchy life. 

Now the real highlight of my month was how many books I read this month. I love reading and I wanted to read 50 books this year. Well, after I passed that number, I had a new goal. I wanted to pass the 100 books mark during October since it’s passion month and I am very passionate about my reading. I am happy to say that as I write this I have officially read 117 books so far this year. 

Another thing that happened this month was a couple of blog posts of mine got published. I finally published the first of my own makeup dupe blog posts on my blog: Cult Classics vs. Dupes: Skin. Even more exciting, I had an article on Disneybound makeup for Halloween published on the Sartorial Geek website. I was so excited when I got accepted to be a contributor for the website and I’m even more excited now that I have an article published. You can read it here

Anyways. It wasn’t the best month but it’s behind me now. Onto Solo month.