Summer Bird Blue – Review

Summer Bird Blue – Review

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Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: September 11th, 2018

Pages: 375

Price: $25.99 CAD (hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


Synopsis

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

First Sentence 

“Summer.”

Review 

Yikes. I picked up this book at my local public library because I wanted some stupid summer themed books to read during my road trips and in my hammock, and Summer Bird Blue seemed like the perfect choice, but it was actually much different than I anticipated.

This book had absolutely zero plot. Nothing. Nada. I have no idea what the actual point of this story was other than the fact that Rumi is grieving her sisters death and is going to live with her aunt in Hawaii. Like other than that she’s just sitting around on the island for most of the days grieving her sister, which was really boring to read.

The idea of the book was good, not man YA books really hit you with a close loss like Summer Bird Blue, but the book is just repetitive and annoying. Like we GET that life without Lea is going to be terrible and is going to be hard but repeating it in different ways in every chapter? It gets rough after a while!

There was also the fact that there were so many characters with no actual importance to the story at all and were only people for Rumi to say her sob story to. Like the hairdresser at the salon or all of Kai’s friends, did not accomplish or contribute anything, yet we head so much from them. Another example would be the drama between Kai and his borderline abusive dad who wants him to join the military. Kai gets into big fights with him about it and Rumi talks to him about it and they make it all a big deal like “wow Kai is going to defy his dad! Thats so good! Be your own person!” but then he proceeds to willingly join the military at the end of the novel…. so what was the point of any of that dialogue?

The ending was pretty loosely closed too, we never hear of Kai’s friends again, we have no idea if Rumi has figured out her orientation yet, she has a big moment with Kai and then it takes her about three weeks before she can talk to him again, their goodbye was terrible, we don’t really know what happened to Mr. Watanabe or his family, Rumi just decides one day to forgive her mom after going off through the whole novel that she’s the most terrible person on the planet, and when her mom shows up she just goes back home like its all no biggie and she hasn’t been throwing fits whenever her aunt brought up her mother before! I thought it was just this super quick slope to the ending when it took her 300 pages to get used to Hawaii and its almost as if the author ran out of time or something and had to end the story then and there because it left alot of unfinished and confusing stuff in its wake…

Maybe its because I’ve never actually had to deal with grief before, but this story seemed overly immature and agonizingly long! I try to be polite and respect stories like this because grief is something that many people must deal with, but I just feel like it was wrongly portrayed in this book. Rumi also changes the way she feels all the time. One second she likes Kai, the next she doesn’t, one second she’s coming to terms with her sisters death and the next she digs herself this big hole and tells herself that she will never be able to live normally without her sister. Very confusing.

Final Review/Recommendation 

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Nope. The whole point of this book was for her to finish the song she began to write with her sister before she died, Summer Bird Blue, but the song she writes seemed like it had nothing to do with any of the words she chose. I heard lots of amazing things on this book, but for some reason it just isn’t for me! I really tried to love it but I thought it drifted and dwelled on so many things and I just was not having it with this one. Writing a novel so bold like this one though is something to be reckoned with! I’ve also never read a book with a seemingly asexual character so pros to that!

I’d recommend this book to someone who wants a dramatic and coming of age story about grief, identity, and change!

Dark Horses – Review

Dark Horses – Review

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Author: Cecily Von Ziegesar

Publisher: Soho Teen

Publication Date: September 13, 2016

Pages: 336

Price: $11.45 CAD (Hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


Synopsis

Merritt Wenner has been self-destructing ever since the tragic deaths of her grandmother and her horse. After an epic all-night bender, she walks out of the SAT and disappears. Her parents, looking for a quick fix, ship her off to a residential equine-assisted therapy program.

At Good Fences, Merritt meets Red: a failed racehorse and a terror in the barn. Red has never bonded with anyone, but Merritt is not afraid of him, which makes all the difference. Soon they’re sneaking rides after curfew. Red’s owner, recognizing their potential, funds their launch into the hunter/jumper circuit.

Against the cutthroat backdrop of competitive riding, Merritt finds herself unexpectedly attracted to Red’s groom, Beatrice, and at the same time drawn to Carvin, a rival rider. But in Red’s mind, Merritt belongs to him alone. Anyone else poses a threat. And Merritt can’t imagine the lengths Red will go to keep her to himself.

First Sentence 

“I’m dying.”

Review

Surprisingly enough, reading is not the only hobby I have. I like to bike, take pictures, cross-stitch, sleep, but most of all; ride horses. I have been an equestrian for eleven years and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I’ve tried pretty much everything and I’ve just currently settled on eventing.

It was a random day at Chapters and I was browsing the cheapo section when I ran across Dark Horses, as someone who has read The Saddle Club and Heartland series to their completion during my elementary school days. I was really interested in a YA equestrian themed novel because it is something you NEVER see. i don’t know if maybe I’m looking in the wrong places or the usual equestrian just does not like to read, but I can’t find any books that aren’t for ten year olds on horses. It was in the sale rack on sale for five bucks and they had so many copies of that book so I knew that the book was obviously going to be crappy, but I bought it anyway because, you know, horses.

Right on the first page, I was already in awe at the writing of this book. The novel starts in the POV of Red, a horse. You’d think this would be a cool twist to your average horse crazed girl book, but no! This horse was talking like the girls at my high school, using slang and expressions and had so much attitude! Whose horse is this? Red also know the names of all the tack, judges the main character, Merritt, by the way she looks, and sings along to songs on the radio…. he even knows the artists of the songs. I’m sorry, the horse I ride is scared of fence gate, there is no way that horses think like this at all! Has the author ever been around horses or are we just winging this POV?

Good Fences, the equestrian therapy facility is a cool touch to the story and that is actually the meeting point of Merritt and Red. Although Merritt goes to Good Fences because she’s having a rough time in her life, as soon as she is seen jumping on Red at Good Fences, she’s taken off to like Florida to train to compete… I’m sorry, how does this make sense? If Merritt is in a therapeutic facility, I think it’s for a reason, and I don’t think you can just snatch someone who is having mental health and behavioural issues out of their program just because show season is about to start!

There are also so many parts of this story that they try to make important that really just aren’t, yet Red literally kills a stable hand half way through the book and thats like “not that big of a deal.” There was also a bit of homophobia if you ask me, because Carvin, Merritt’s rival during the shows, seems to show no interest in girls and Merritt talk all the time about how she thinks he’s gay, and how she can’t ask him out because he’s gay. Like how about you stop making assumptions and ask him! Geez!

This novel was much more mature than the other middle grade horse books I’ve read when I was nine, but it was quite cringy nonetheless and not all that fun to read. Also, the ending was absolute trash. I hated that ending, there was no closure and it sorta made it seems like the whole story did not matter and that I just wasted my whole time reading this story.

Final Review/Recommendation 

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Was a pretty rough novel. I don’t need to be a horse whisperer to know that no horse acts and thinks the way Red does. Good Fences just seemed like a means to an end, rather than an actual facility for Merritt to get better, the ending was ridiculous and I’d honestly much prefer if Carvin was never introduced because his character does absolutely nothing except make Merritt question if he’s gay every time she sees him. I would give the book one star, but I’m adding another one just because the author tried, I never see any equestrian YA books so she did a leap with this one. Even though her leap, in my personal opinion, sucked, at least I got to revive my nine year old self by reading a horsie book.

I have no idea who I’d recommend this book to… at first I thought a fellow equestrian, but the amount of times I’ve cringed at the inaccuracy was physically painful. Read this if you want to I guess… but I’m telling you now, I was able to buy this hardcover book brand-new for five bucks at Chapters for a reason.

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People Kill People – Review

People Kill People – Review

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Author: Ellen Hopkins

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: September 4th 2018

Pages: 431

Price: $25.99 CAD (hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

Someone will shoot. And someone will die.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins tackles gun violence and white supremacy in this compelling and complex novel.
People kill people. Guns just make it easier.
A gun is sold in the classifieds after killing a spouse, bought by a teenager for needed protection. But which was it? Each has the incentive to pick up a gun, to fire it. Was it Rand or Cami, married teenagers with a young son? Was it Silas or Ashlyn, members of a white supremacist youth organization? Daniel, who fears retaliation because of his race, who possessively clings to Grace, the love of his life? Or Noelle, who lost everything after a devastating accident, and has sunk quietly into depression?
One tense week brings all six people into close contact in a town wrought with political and personal tensions. Someone will fire. And someone will die. But who?

First Sentence

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Review

I landed upon this book while watching some random youtube review video that I usually watch aimlessly because I know I won’t read any of the books, but I was actually intrigued with People Kill People because of the books realism. It’s not often I see a book that is so direct with such sensitive and controversial subjects like gun laws in America. Although I do not live in the US, I am still very well informed on the gun laws they withhold thanks to media and the many research projects we do at school. I’m also constantly hearing about school shootings and protests going on down there.

What should be illegal is hate. For you. For me. For anyone different.
-Ellen Hopkins, People Kill People

We don’t have any hunters in my family and I don’t know anyone who owns a firearm. I’ve seen a gun once or twice, hidden in the belt of the schools police officer, but I don’t even think he carries it around all the time… the only time iv’e seen actual firearms are at museums, other than that, I’m relying merely on TV shows. I don’t know what it’s like to be constantly under the pressure of such dangerous weaponry, so, I thought that by picking up this book, I could put myself in the perspective of someone who sees guns all the time and, hopefully, understand what is going on next door much easier than before.

This novel is a mix of short stories split up through the book, and poems. I liked the mix because I could get a break from the heavy parts, and then we could go back to them after I’d had a chance to really think about them. Although, the amount of different short stories got sorta confusing. There were so many characters and I forgot their names and who did what and also they are all related somehow, which made it so much more confusing. Even at the end of the book, I wasn’t really sure who was who.

“Despite every claim otherwise, he’s a coward. And a coward with a gun is treacherous.”
― Ellen Hopkins, People Kill People

Once again, the realism of the stories and poems made it all the more interesting. I liked how we got to see the different point of views of each character, some of them minorities, part of white supremacy groups, in the police force, or as just someone who knows someone with a firearm. I just wished that maybe the stories weren’t as mixed with each other and the poems because I got confused, but other than that, a really great read!

Final Review/Recommendation 

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I’d recommend this book to anyone like myself who is uninformed and unexperienced with firearms a chance to be on the right side of the fight. This novel emphasizes the importance of restrictions and laws when it comes to such dangerous weaponry that, at the hands of the wrong people, can turn extremely fatal. I’d also recommend this book to someone who is interested in activism because a lot of inspiration can be found within these pages that could help you make a difference.

Maybe the people who support the current laws for guns should also check this one out… just so that they can experience a bit of what others have had to go through thanks to the feeble laws, and to see that, not all people have good intentions with guns. Guns are after all, meant to hurt of kill.

See, the absolute truth is people do kill people. A gun just makes it easier.

-Ellen Hopkins, People Kill People

Wintergirls – Review

Wintergirls – Review

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Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Publication date: March 19, 2009

Pages: 278

Price: $22.50 CAD (Hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame. 
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit. – Goodreads

First Sentence 

“So she tells me, the words dribbling out with the cranberry muffin crumbs, commas dunked in her coffee.”

Review

I think my favorite type of books are books that actually mean something. Not just an a random love story or end-of-the-world dystopia, a book that reflects on life from a different angle than the one everyone else seems to perceive. A novel with words that can change the way you see and think. Wintergirls, is not like any novel I have read in a long time, Laurie Halse Anderson continues to astonish me with her inquisitive and remorseful writing.

“This girl shivers and crawls under the covers with all her clothes on and falls into an overdue library book, a faerie story with rats and marrow and burning curses. The sentences build a fence around her, a Times Roman 10-point barricade, to keep the thorny voices in her head from getting too close.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

I read this book in one day and it was so… calming? The way Anderson writes makes me feel so calm and I read this on a drizzly rainy day and everything around me was so quiet and the book was so calming…. that day was so great omg. Anyway! In case you haven’t all ready caught on, Lia is struggling with an eating disorder and her friend, Cassie, who’d also been struggling with an eating disorder killed herself so now Lia must struggle and grieve on her own.

This novel was brutally insightful and thought provoking for me. Although I am not presented with the same exact issues as Lia, I know what it’s like to be in doubt of yourself and how hard it can be to be content with oneself. I feel like many people also struggle with self image issues so Lia’s story can find common ground with many of its readers.

The writing is beautiful. Once again, Laurie Halse Anderson has a special way with words like no other YA author I have read. I love the metaphors and descriptions and the comparisons that are somehow so accurate. I’m no author, so I really have no way to describe it but her writing is just so heartfelt and serene. She knows how to write some good books!

“Another page turns on the calendar, April now, not March.
………
I am spinning the silk threads of my story, weaving the fabric of my world…I spun out of control. Eating was hard. Breathing was hard. Living was hardest.
I wanted to swallow the bitter seeds of forgetfulness…Somehow, I dragged myself out of the dark and asked for help.
I spin and weave and knit my words and visions until a life starts to take shape.
There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.
I am thawing.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

All in all, Wintergirls is a work of excellence. The plot was smooth and was not boring or too eventful and I found myself getting really invested in the characters. I also got a little teary eyed at the end of this one so you know it had to be good if its worth some tears!

“I believe that you’ve created a metaphorical universe in which you can express your darkest fears. In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves, and sometimes we do such a good job, we lose track of reality.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

Final Review/Recommendation 

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I give Wintergirls five out of five stars. Not only does this novel show you how secretive and quietly some people struggle, but it also shows to those who are or have been going through a rough time, that there’s a light at the other end of the tunnel, and they will overcome the rough times. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who wants a brutal story to read, to someone who would not be triggered by Lia’s issues, or to someone who has read Speak or Shout since Shout will make much more sense after reading this one and Speak is confrontational about mental illness such as Wintergirls, which makes for them both to be riveting and outspoken yet distinguishingly important reads.

“We held hands when we walked down the gingerbread path into the forest, blood dripping from our fingers. We danced with witches and kissed monsters. We turned us into wintergirls, when she tried to leave, I pulled her back into the snow because I was afraid to be alone.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

Let me know what you thought of Laurie Halse Anderson’s works! I’d love to hear what you think!

-Emma 🙂

The Darkest Minds – Review

The Darkest Minds – Review

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Author: Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Publication date: January 2, 2018

Pages: 488

Price: $11.99 (CAD) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis 

Book one in the hit series that’s soon to be a major motion picture – now with a stunning new paperback look and exclusive bonus content!

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

But when the truth about Ruby’s abilities-the truth she’s hidden from everyone, even the camp authorities-comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. On the run, she joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp: Zu, a young girl haunted by her past; Chubs, a standoffish brainiac; and Liam, their fearless leader, who is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

While they journey to find the one safe haven left for kids like them-East River-they must evade their determined pursuers, including an organization that will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. But as they get closer to grasping the things they’ve dreamed of, Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living. -Goodreads

First Sentence

“When the White Noise went off, we were in the Garden, pulling weeds.”

Review

Being one of the most notoriously known YA dystopian series, I knew I’d have to eventually pick up The Darkest Minds, except I had no idea it would be this soon and this fast. I can tell you right now that I am writing this review after binging the whole series, which means my thoughts are a little blurry on this first novel, but I will still write this review nonetheless.

I stumbled upon these books in one of Emma Giordano’s YouTube videos… I honestly forget what it was about, but then I realized they were making these books into movies, and I knew I’d have to read them if they were that widespread in the YA community. I ended up watching the movie first because it was there and I did not buy any of the books yet, and I was bored, so I watched it! It wasn’t that bad, it pushed me to hurry and read the books so I could find out what happens next though lol.

It took me two weeks to read the series, I took out The Darkest Minds as an ebook from my library and then waited four days for the ridiculously inexpensive box set to come in from the mail and read Never Fade, In the Afterlight, and Through the Dark as fast as my eyes would let me. I’d bring them to work with me to read during lunch break! I was utterly hooked for those two weeks!

The Darkest Minds was a good read because it was similar to all the OG dystopian YA series I read when I first started this craze, but it still had differences and twists that were totally uncalled for. I got Hunger Games and Divergent feels while reading this one! Something that was different than Divergent though, was the characters. Bracken delineates her characters in the utmost meticulous detail. I felt like I was there with those characters, that I was friends with them, whereas in Divergent, we could not really make any ties to the characters because they were so closed off and secretive. The Darkest Minds was riveting straight from the get-go, because on page one there is automatically some drama and suspense, the first line of the book made me ask questions! I like books that start straight to the action like that, it helps me get invested in the book faster than if it were just a plain old “once upon a time” or something of the sorts.

“They were never scared of the kids who might die, or the empty spaces they would leave behind. They were afraid of us-the ones who lived.”
― Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

At first, it was debatable as to if I liked Ruby’s character that much, I think it was just because we were firstly introduced to her in the camp so she was a little damaged and fragile, but when she’s hanging out with the gang later in Black Betty, I liked her character much better.

There were also times here and there where I thought the book took an unexpected dramatic turn for no reason, which made me loose a bit of interest in the novel itself because I was like “umm okay. Not that big of a deal there buddy, I think we can calm down a touch,” but other than that the only real problem I had was the length of the whole story… the novel was a total of 500-ish pages, and IT DID NOT NEED TO BE SO LONG! There were scenes that seemed to go absolutely nowhere and had no relevance to the main story line, we were dwelling on such small unimportant things, and it took them literally 250 pages to find the Slip Kid, they were mostly just driving around for 3/4 of the book – and I know that the drives in Black Betty are supposed to show the development of Ruby’s relationship with Liam, Chubs, and Zu, because she makes reference to it so many times in the following books, – and that made me loose a lot of interest as well because, I mean, they were just driving… like we had this super awesome action packed first quarter of the novel and now nothing is happening until they find East River…. I don’t know, I just thought it was a little tiring to read. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I feel like another thing I should quickly address is the freaking deal this box set was. I bought the four book box set off Indigo’s website for 29 dollars and yea they are just paperbacks but the quality of these paperbacks are outstanding. The spines don’t bend and the corners don’t fold and the book is super ploppy and I can’t remember the last time I had such nice paperbacks like this! You can also buy them individually for like ten bucks! Meanwhile, Casandra Clare is selling me 32$ hardcovers that you buy with an already cracked spine because it’s Cassandra Clare and it’s supposed to be worth it. I’m happy with my purchase of this box set even though it was in use for about a week… the books still look new even after I read them and the box set spells out “DARK” which is really spooky and neat!

“I’m a monster, you know. I’m one of the dangerous ones.
No you aren’t, he promised. Your one of us.”
― Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

Final Review/Recommendation

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I give The Darkest Minds four out of five stars because I thought it lacked a bit plot-wise, there wasn’t much happening in the middle of the book that was really important, it was more like just a bunch of small events that were not really bringing us anywhere. Other than that, I thought this novel was really enjoyable and I loved the characters and the general idea of the book. It reminded me a lot of Red Queen, The Hunger Games, and The Divergent Series, so if you liked any of those series, this might be the next one for you!  The series is also really inexpensive so its perfect for a reader on a budget!

“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”
― Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

Let me know what you thought of The Darkest Minds or my review!

Have an awesome day!

-Emma 🙂

 

Looking for JJ – Review

Looking for JJ – Review

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Author: Anne Cassidy

Publisher: Scholastic Canada

Publication date: February 1, 2016

Pages: 304

Price: $7.80 CAD (Kobo eBook) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of town toward Berwick Waters. Later that day, only two of them came back. Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago, though it’s still hard for her to believe it. She’ll never be able to forget, even though she’s trying to lead a normal life—she has a job, friends, and a boyfriend whom she adores. But Alice’s past is dangerous, and violent, and sad… and it’s about to rip her new life apart.

A gripping and emotionally searing novel by accomplished British author Anne Cassidy, Looking for JJ infuses a terrifying subject with humanity and hope.

-Goodreads

First Sentence

“Everyone was looking for Jennifer Jones.”

Review

I picked this book up at the used bookstore in Bathurst. At first, it seemed a little boring just by the cover, but after reading the synopsis I actually found myself to be quite interested. I love the suspense murder/mystery novels have and this one was in the YA section for two dollars so I said “why not?”

Turns out this book was more “middle grade” than I anticipated. The story was obviously made to be read by younger readers but I actually was not bothered by this as much as I thought I’d be, because the novel was still super suspenseful and exciting as any other book. The jumps in the timeline made things much more easy to understand but also helped me feel sympathetic towards Jennifer’s character because I saw both sides of the situation. This novel really reminded me of Missing by Becky Citra, a book I read probably in the fifth grade or so that was sort of similar in many ways. I really enjoyed Missing in elementary school and I still like the story now. Same can be said for this novel too!

Final Review/Recommendation 

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This was a really good book! Especially since it was middle grade. I loved how in the end, Alice has to leave it all behind to become someone new all over again. There is a second book, but I’m honestly pretty satisfied with the ending  of this one and I have so many other books to read lol. I’d recommend this novel to any young reader who loves mystery/suspense/murder stuff (I know ten year old Emma would of loved this one more than I do now) or to someone who just wants an easy quick read. I read this one after finishing my reread of The Infernal Devices and it was just an easy breezy read that did not really require much emotional attachment as Clockwork Princess (If you’ve ever read that one you KNOW what it’s like!) Anyway, overall pleasant read, made me realize that I really need to pick up more crime and mystery novels because I don’t read enough of them!

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Happy Canada Day!

-Emma 🙂

Speak – Review

Speak – Review

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Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

First publication date: 1999

Pages: 198

Price: $15.99 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

The first ten lies they tell you in high school.

“Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say.”

From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.

-Goodreads

First Sentence 

“It is my first morning of high school.”

Review

Laurie Halse Anderson has been one of my favorite authors for quite some time now. I first landed upon Speak, at a used book sale and I’ve read it twice since. Her writing give me chills and delineates hurt and redemption all at once. Her stories are meticulously crafted, fictional, yet underlined with so much truth. Since reading Speak, I have read Wintergirls, which is another blog post on it’s own, and Catalyst, all very powerful stories that have changed my perception of the world.

“I have never heard a more eloquent silence.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

Speak has gotten lots of attention, being one of the most notoriously known YA novels published in the end of the twentieth century. A very controversial novel, read throughout schools but also one of the most banned/challenged for the decade after its release all the while racking multiple literary awards. Its controversy is what attracted me to the novel in the first place, and I am happy to say that this one was most definitely worth my time!

This novel was so interesting to me because it quite literally speaks out the truth, and being published during the years it was, the truth was not always easily welcomed. We can see how hard the toll of sexual assault can have on someone as young as Melinda and how her struggle reflects onto other things in her life, like her friendships and her grades at school. I don’t really have much to say on this novel, truth be told. I find that Laurie Halse Anderson writes important books and I am really happy to be able to read books that matter as much as hers do. Speak was revolutionary during its release and still is for many now, myself included. A truly powerful and thought-provoking read. Speak is a novel we should all have on our shelves.

“You can’t speak up for your right to be silent. That’s letting the bad guys win.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

Final Review/Recommendation 

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Reading Speak really changed my perception of my everyday life. Some people are struggling every day and we don’t see it. I read this novel for the first time freshman year and even though I have not been through what Melinda went through, I could still attach myself emotionally to her story. I’d recommend Speak to someone who has maybe gone through similar struggles as Melinda and want to know they aren’t alone, or to anyone who just wants a truthful yet short read for the summer. (since its only 198 pages)

“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them. They need us to be brave enough to give them great books so they can learn how to grow up into the men and women we want them to be.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

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Let me know what you thought of Speak or my review!

Have a nice day 😉

-Emma

Shout – Review

Shout – Review

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Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Publication date: March 12th 2019

Pages: 304

Price: $19.18 CAD (Hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


Synopsis

A searing poetic memoir and call to action from the bestselling and award-winning author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson!
Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore. -Goodreads

First Sentence

“Finding my courage to speak up twenty-five years after I was raped, writing Speak, and talking with countless survivors of sexual violence made me who I am today.”

Review

Laurie Halse Anderson has been one of my favorite authors for quite some time now. I first landed upon Speak, at a used book sale and I’ve read it twice since. Her writing give me chills and delineates hurt and redemption all at once. Her stories are meticulously crafted, fictional, yet underlined with so much truth. Since reading Speak, I have read Wintergirls, which is another blog post on it’s own, and Catalyst, all very powerful stories that have changed my perception of the world. I believe I first heard of Shout in January… not sure, but I just by the title that I was going to read this when it hit the shelves.

Speak has gotten lots of attention, being one of the most notoriously known YA novels published in the end of the twentieth century. A very controversial novel, read throughout schools but also one of the most banned/challenged for the decade after its release all the while racking multiple literary awards.

“the only thing that helped me breathe was opening a book”

Shout is another strong work of Anderson, except its no longer Melinda’s story. It’s Laurie Halse Anderson’s story through poetry. She explains her books, her story, her childhood, her lived injustice, others stories, through the form of poetry. Now, I am no master poetry reader, I like to read poetry from time to time, but it is not a frequent thing. Although, Shout is generally aiming for younger readers, I mean I found it in the YA section at Chapters and not the poetry section completely across the store. Being focused on younger readers somehow made me much more confortable reading this… I don’t know, I sometimes think that I’m not understanding the poetry I’m reading like I should but if Shout is for younger readers I should get it right?

I bought this book in April and I read it on that same day in April. Once again Anderson’s writing is so powerful! I was hooked! Hearing her stories and stories from other victims really opened up my mind to the atrocities and the injustice that so many women, and men, have to go through, and how it stays with you forever. I loved this book. I loved hearing others voices and how Laurie Halse Anderson wrote Speak and Wintergirls, but Shout was not a book for me. I read it and enjoyed it, but I’m happy to know that there are books as good as this one out there for people who really need it. For those who have gone through what Laurie or so many others have gone through and feel like they don’t have a voice. Such powerful words splayed on these sheets… I hope they help someone else shout too!

“too many grown-ups tell kids to follow their dreams
like that’s going to get them somewhere
Auntie Laurie says follow your nightmares instead
cuz when you figure out what’s eating you alive
you can slay it”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Shout

Final Review/Recommendation

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I give Shout four out of five stars because it was a super awesome read BUT personally I thought some of the poems where hard to understand. Maybe it was because I’ve never been in a similar situation. I also think that maybe writing poems was great but including a short story here and there might have been cool. But again, this book does touch some very challenging and personal subjects so detailing the scenarios more throughly might make it uncomfortable for some readers or the writer. This is just my opinion though! I am not really one to critique a book like this one because I in no way understand the agony and discomfort the author had to endure throughout those years and just the fact that she was brave enough to get up and speak about it through her books shows more power than anything I could ever do. What I’m saying is that Laurie Halse Anderson is a super powerful woman and we need more strong people like her in our world!

“This note about anatomy
from me to you
is for the remembering that
after you speak
after you shout
your open mouth
will breathe in the light
for which you’ve hungered
and your backbone will unfurl,
until you can again dance to the beat
of your steadfast heart.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Shout

I think everyone should give Shout a try. Even if you are not a victim, knowing what others have gone through can help you to help those and to understand those who need someone there for them. It is also a very truthful and bold read that makes you reflect on our society and bring awareness to these sorts of situations that sadly happen everyday. If you have read any of Laurie Halse Andersen’s other books and enjoyed them, I also suggest you pick up Shout because she explains the inspiration behind her other stories and characters and what stories they are loosely based off of. I thought, as a person who has read her other books before, that this was really cool to see the provenance of her novels.

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“Shame, turned inside out, is rage.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Shout

Let me know what you thought of Shout, Speak, Wintergirls, or my review! Have a great week!

-Emma 😉

Deadly Class #1 to #35 – Review

Deadly Class #1 to #35 – Review

Hey everyone! Today I’m going to review the Deadly Class series volume 1-7. I know my pictures only have from one to five, it’s because #6 and #7 only came in after I took the pictures. I’m also doing all of these books at once because if you did not know, these are comic books! (Or are they graphic novels? Not quite sure but let me know if you know the difference between the two!) Very new for me, also very fast for me to read, so the reviews will be short but I will add them all together to form a full review. Hope you enjoy!

*Cover photos from amazon.com*

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Deadly Class, Volume 1: Reagan Youth

Author: Rick Remender 

Illustrator: Wes Craig 

Colourist: Lee Loughridge 

Introduction: David Lapham 

Publisher: Image Comics 

Publication Date: July 16, 2014

Pages: 160 

Price: $12.95 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


Synopsis

It’s 1987. Marcus Lopez hates school. His grades suck. The jocks are hassling his friends. He can’t focus in class. But the jocks are the children of Joseph Stalin’s top assassin, the teachers are members of an ancient league of assassins, the class he’s failing is “Dismemberment 101,” and his crush has a double-digit body count. Welcome to the most brutal high school on earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical.

Collecting the first arc of the most critically acclaimed new series of 2014, by writer RICK REMENDER (BLACK SCIENCE, Fear Agent) and rising star artist WESLEY CRAIG (Batman). Experience the 1980s underground through the eyes of the world’s most damaged and dangerous teenagers.

Collects DEADLY CLASS #1-6.

-Goodreads

This is my first time reading an adult-focused comic book. Let me just say. It’s so weird. You need to look at the illustrations AND read the texts. It confused me, I’m so used to novels where I read the scenes and I can read the emotions but here I am presented with the scenes already shown and sometimes in different ways than I imagined. Reading comics is pretty fun though, takes me like 30 mins to read one volume and the art is really vivid and representative of the 80s. I’ve never read any book that takes place in the 80s but I love watching TV shows that take place in the eighties. The reason why I started reading these books in the first place was because of the TV show!

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“Morality’s just comfort food — it holds no meaning outside of our minds.”
― Rick Remender , Deadly Class, Volume 1: Reagan Youth


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Deadly Class, Volume 2: Kids of the Black Hole 

Author: Rick Remender 

Illustrator: Wes Craig 

Colourist: Lee Loughridge 

Introduction: David Lapham 

Publisher: Image Comics 

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Pages: 128

Price: $22.50 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


Synopsis

Marcus Lopez is settling into life at Kings Dominion for the Deadly Arts, a secret elite school, to train the next generation of assassins. He has a girl, a circle of friends, and he’s learning a trade: the craft of killing. But his murderous past is about to catch up with him, and there are a few things about Marcus that even his friends don’t know. Secrets that threaten the lives of everyone around him. Because there’s a reason Marcus was sought out by the school’s shadowy principal Master Lin, a man who’s long had an eye for Marcus’s unique talents. Continuing the story of a group of damaged, deranged, and struggling teenagers living through one of the country’s most vibrant and chilling eras.

Collecting DEADLY CLASS #7-11.

-Goodreads

In this comic, we really enter King’s Dominion much more profoundly. In this Volume Marcus is more aware of what he’s gotten himself into and is scared to be found out. Kids of the Black Hole was so much more spooky and suspenseful than Reagan Youth, Marcus is also developing some friendships which is really good for him considering his troubling past. Again the art in these books is so cool! I was amazed with the amount of work that was put into each line! These meticulous illustrations make the comic to be all the more entertaining for me!

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“The difference between old friends and new friends is that new friends just haven’t let you down yet.”
― Rick Remender, Deadly Class, Volume 2: Kids of the Black Hole


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Deadly Class, Volume 3: The Snake Pit

Author: Rick Remender 

Illustrator: Wes Craig 

Colourist: Lee Loughridge 

Publisher: Image Comics 

Publication Date: October 7, 2015

Pages: 128

Price: $19.59 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


Synopsis 

When homeless orphan Marcus Lopez was asked to join a shadowy school specializing in training the next generation of the world’s deadliest assassins, he figured he had nothing left to lose. He was wrong. Now, Marcus and his one-time lover Maria are thrown to the wolves when a Mexican Cartel, the family of a classmate they were forced to kill, comes gunning for revenge. The true costs of the life he’s chosen to live are only just dawning on Marcus. Incapable of staving off the ravages of love, life, and death, he plunges headfirst into a black pit of drugs, sex, and self-destruction. And just when things seemingly can’t get any worse, Finals Season descends on the school. And in this world final exams can be murder!

Continuing the cult-hit dark teen drama, writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig take readers on the darkest road through 1980s San Francisco, and the kids that ruled its streets.

Collecting DEADLY CLASS #12-16.

-Goodreads

Yikes! I’m not used to such intense stuff! The Snake Pit was action-packed all the way and absolutely riveting! I really enjoy how honest Marcus is about his mental health in this one. He also is coming to terms with life at King’s Dominion which is good! Ouf but when the Mexican Cartel comes after him, that scene had me at the edge of my seat! Once again the artwork is superb and the character are all relatable in their own special way.

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“Rush life like a yellow light.”
― Rick Remender, Deadly Class, Volume 3: The Snake Pit


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Deadly Class, Volume 4: Die for Me

Author: Rick Remender 

Illustrator: Wes Craig 

Colourist: Jordan Boyd  

Publisher: Image Comics 

Publication Date: August 9, 2016

Pages: 136

Price: $22.50 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

It’s 1988 and Marcus Lopez’s first year at Kings Dominion, the elite academy where damaged teenagers are forged into the world’s deadliest assassins, is coming to a close, and the final exam. Pass or Fail, no one survives the Freshman Finals without getting blood on their hands.

Collects DEADLY CLASS #17-21

-Goodreads

OUf! INTENSE! Die for Me is totally my favorite out of all these books. The battle in between the classmates was totally unexpected but super chilling! I can’t believe that’s how they do their final exams over there. I won’t spoil too much, but some deaths were really saddening. Also I found out that my favorite character is either Petra or Saya! Two super awesome gals!

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“Life is a series of unique opportunities.

It’s our job to find the happiness in each one.”
― Rick Remender, Deadly Class, Volume 1: Reagan Youth


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Deadly Class, Volume 5: Carousel

Author: Rick Remender 

Illustrator: Wes Craig 

Colourist: Jordan Boyd  

Publisher: Image Comics 

Publication Date: August 9, 2016

Pages: 128

Price: $19.50 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online 


Synopsis

The brutal Freshman Finals at Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts have created a new status quo. The Student Council has eliminated all its enemies and rules the halls with an iron fist. Into this shark tank comes a new class of kids, fresh blood for a fresh start.

There is Quan, a Vietnamese rockabilly, quick with his knives and a comb. Helmut, an East German metalhead with a hatred for communists. Zenzele, a hammer-swinging refugee of a brutal African civil war, and Tosahwi, a Native American skate punk with a whole nation’s history of violence to pay back.

And then there’s Saya, who alone of her group of friends survived the finals and who stands poised to become the school’s deadliest student. But when her dark past comes back to haunt her, will she ride the torrent of blood she’s unleashed or end up drowning in it?

It’s morning in America, and a new era of RICK REMENDER (Seven to Eternity, Black Science) and WES CRAIG’s (Black Hand Comics) DEADLY CLASS begins.

collects issues #22-26.

-Goodreads

Wow I am LOVING the new Freshman! Zenzele, Saya, and Petra are now all my favs. The San Francisco location of the series is also neat because not only have I already been to San Francisco but this is is San Fran from a different and even cooler era! Once again super drama-packed absolutely thrilling, once I start one of these I won’t put it down until I’m done! This volume also followed Saya’s character more closely than before and I liked how the spotlight was taken off Marcus for some time so we can really see different perspectives!

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Deadly Class, Volume 6: This is Not the End

 

Price: $22.50 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

The freshman class has gotten a bloody welcome to Kings Dominion, as the newly empowered student council holds brutal sway over the hallways and dorms. If you’re not part of the group, you’re part of the body count. Meanwhile, Saya’s own mysterious past comes back to haunt her. Betrayal and subterfuge are around every corner. And far from the bloodshed are Marcus and Maria, rare survivors of the deadliest school on earth, harboring dark desires for revenge. Don’t miss the darkest and most revealing chapter of RICK REMENDER & WES CRAIG’s smash-hit series DEADLY CLASS.

Collects DEADLY CLASS #27-31

-Goodreads

Going to be real here, I did not enjoy this one as much at the other volumes. I thought the student council scenes were annoying and obnoxious and I did not like those characters at all, although the Saya drama was crazyyyyy! And Marcus and Maria’s big escape! These comics are so wild! I wonder if all comic or graphic novels are this action packed! I won’t spoil much but stuff goes DOWN in this volume!

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Deadly Class, Volume 7: Love Like Blood

Author: Rick Remender 

Illustrator: Wes Craig 

Colourist: Jordan Boyd  

Publisher: Image Comics 

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Pages: 120

Price: $22.50 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis

Marcus and Maria have resurfaced, and with them a whole ocean of bad blood crashes on the shores. Shabnam and the Student Council are out to put Marcus and Maria in the grave for good this time, Saya’s maniacal brother Kenji stokes the flames of hatred, and in the shadows of those flames looms Headmaster Lin, waiting to reward whoever is left standing with a place by his side—or a sharp knife in the back. It’s 1989 and the era is drawing to a close, but it’s going to take as many poor bastards with it into oblivion as it can.

Collects DEADLY CLASS #32-35

-Goodreads

I hate Shabnam so much. I just want to say it. He reminds me of Piggy from Lord of the Flies and that’s a whole other issue of its own. Personally I think Marcus and Maria’s relationship is not that good they are both a little too mentally off to focus on a healthy relationship in my opinion. Oh, and the rest of the gang has found them! That was a fun reunion lol. I will really miss Petra and I’m really sad that she was killed in such a brutal way. She contributed so much to the story so far and volume eight is going to be weird without her! 🙁 I am eager to read the next volume although its not out at my library yet *sigh* I guess I’ll just have to wait a bit…. but that ending had me wondering and thinking forever!

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Overall, this is a really good comic series. I love the era it takes place in, the ideas and the illustrations are so vivid ans detailed! I’d recommend these comics to anyone who enjoyed the Deadly Class TV series, to anyone who wants to try reading something other than a novel (I think this is a good starter series) but I do advise that you are a mature audience because some scenes can be really graphic and included a lot of drugs, fights and swears. So not for little kids!

I will be reading the upcoming volumes as soon as they come out at my public library! I think its really soothing to read a comic or graphic novel once and a while because its a really good reading break in-between two novels, but you are still reading! They also take no time at all to read, I read all of these in seven days, one book took me about the duration of my bus ride home to read so my bus rides were really eventful!

I hope you consider ready the Deadly Class series. If you know any other comic or graphic novel series that are similar or you think I’d be interested in, let me know!

Have a great day!

-Emma 🙂

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store – Review

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store – Review

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Author: Cait Flanders 

Publisher: Hay House 

Publication date: January 15, 2019 

Pages: 216

Price: $21.00 CAD (paperback) at Indigo Books & Music Online


Synopsis 

In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy—only keeping her from meeting her goals—she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.
The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food—and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life—and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less.         -Goodreads

First Sentence 

“The idea was born on a trail, as many of mine seemed to be.”

Review

Like I always say, I’m not really into non-fiction when it comes to reading but I do have a very keen interest in reducing my toll of produced waste and being more environmentally conscious so in a way, this book was perfect for me.

When I go to stores, sometimes I buy something I know I don’t need just because it feels weird to leave empty-handed. All of my income is from my birthday/Christmas gifts and my stable hand job on the weekend, which, all together, doesn’t rack up much. I used to no be bothered by this, I mean, what am I going to do with it anyway? It’s not like I need to pay bills! Buy the perfume or that book! Who cares?! I realize now that this was a really bad way to be dealing with my money, especially if I have a bunch of unopened perfume bottles and unread books sitting on the shelves back home. Plus, yeah I just thought of it as something I’d do now because my responsibilities are limited and none of them require my money, but what if it became a habit? I could become a hoarder! (Well, I might already be a book hoarder but I’m dealing with that.) Flanders explains how she stopped hoarding and how it helped her out financially and physically all while sharing with us some rough stories of hers. (Which, in my opinion, makes the read so much more entertaining!) Plus, Cait Flanders is a Canadian author which makes this read so much cooler because I’m supporting one of my own!

But there were really only two categories I could see: the stuff I used, and the stuff I wanted the ideal version of myself to use. The stuff I wanted the ideal version of myself to use was everything I had once bought in hopes that it would somehow make my life or myself better.

Final Review/Recommendation

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I give this book three stars! I really enjoyed reading this one, it was entertaining and inspiring, I actually also did a big purge in my room after reading this and I got rid of a lot of useless stuff!

I’d recommend this book to someone who wants to learn more on how to be a mindful consumer or to someone who just wants some down-to-business truth and some good tips on how to make your life better while needing less stuff!

The ban uncovered the truth, which was that when you decide you want less, you can buy less and, ultimately, need less money.

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Let me know what you thought of my review or of this book!

have and amazing weekend!

-Emma 🙂

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