#BookReview Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

I love exploring new cultures, so having the opportunity to pick up Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was absolutely thrilling for me!

This novel follows the lovely Alaine as she gets sent to Haiti to fulfill a school project. Along the way she helps out her Tati’s PATRON PAL app/company, meets a cute guy, learns who her real friends are, and deals with some large, life altering issues. Oh, and did I mention this book felt so darn real?!

It was a true gift to receive the opportunity to read this book. The authors make Alaine feel like a real person and present this book in a really unique matter. Emails, letters, postcards, diaries, text messages and so many different mediums of communication are present in this novel! All of these mediums make it so easy to jump in and out of the book and I felt like I lost nothing! It truly was a marvelous feat and it makes me want more from these lovely sisters and their writing abilities.

The big standout for this novel is Haiti. Obviously, it’s in the title, but Maika and Maritza make it feel like you’re there. The cultures and traditions are presented so beautifully and naturally. I didn’t feel like anything was forced, it felt so REAL. It’s hard sometimes – being a Canadian who has only visited the U.S.A and Canada because I don’t know what other places are like. Sometimes reading a book like this, you get caught up and wonder if the authors actually knew what they were talking about. But this book? It read so wonderfully and you could tell the authors weren’t just making up what they thought Haiti was like. I LOVE it when that happens.

The other lovely standouts of this book are:
1. Alaine’s sassiness is legit how I felt as a teenager. She did have some worrisome moments (like the reason she was sent to Haiti to begin with), but she had the teenage angst we all had back in the day. Other words you might use to describe her are: feisty, fierce, and fabulous! She’s such a strong lead and she has flaws which makes her more lovable. She’s no Mary Jane/Mary Sue!
2. Jason, Estelle, Roseline and our large assortment of characters didn’t feel like background characters. They were used effectively and written in a way that made them have a point to being there.
3. Alzheimer’s. Medical issues SUCK, but having a book that shows the good and the bad sides of these diseases is PERFECTION. This book wasn’t just ‘boo hoo Alzheimer’s’, it also showed the hope people can have.
4. The relationship between Alaine and her parents made me feel really connected to her. I had a parent that worked more than I wanted too and I am sad to say I lost a lot of time with them. Seeing that exact feeling put into a book (but have a more happy ending) made me have butterflies and feel really affectionate towards this novel. Maika and Martiza connected with teenage me SO HARD with this plot thread.
5. PATRON PAL. I’m always down for a plot line that brings up actual, real-life issues and presents them in a manner that makes sense. How can we help people? Make an app! Donate! Help people who need help! This book also presents helping poorer countries/nations in a really smart way – we want to provide them a sustainable way to pull themselves back up and take care of themselves, not just give them money forever and wish them luck. I’m glad they pointed that out in this book because it’s a REALLY important lesson for people to learn.

I would love to hear the thoughts of reviewers who are Haitian, Haitian-American or have lived in Haiti. I think this book is pretty darn swell, but my background isn’t of this culture. One thing that I hope comes out with this book is more people want to read about other cultures. Books like these make me want to know and learn more!

Do I have any negatives? Yes. I would have liked a couple of more chapters to see what happened after the project, but the book wasn’t set up that way. I really grew to love these characters and I wanted a little more time with them. Other than that, my negatives are non-existent. I think this book is unique, beautiful, and full of stories that need to be heard. I truly respect these authors and love that there are books like this out there. We need more authors and books like this.

Also, the cover? Oh-my-gosh it is stunning! Having a physical copy of this book in my house is a real gem for me! It’s eye popping and gets your attention but at the same time it’s really fabulous and subtle. I LOVE IT!

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Find out more about this book on:
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http://www.maikaandmaritza.com/
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Amazon.com
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If you enjoyed this review (or book!) check out something else you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Rainbow Vintner by Geza Tatrallyay
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

 

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#BookReview Dance with a Vampire by Ellen Schreiber

This is one of my fave throwbacks to my teen years – Ellen Schreiber and her Vampire Kisses series. To say I was obsessed with this series is an absolute understatement. Recently, I picked this book up again and decided to throw myself into this series, and I still love it!

This series is full of cute-sy YA romance with Alexander and Raven. The book is written for a younger audience, but if you’re like me and love sinking away into a fantastical world then it will be no issue to you. If you’re expecting a “True Blood-esque” novel, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

The fourth book in this series, Dance with a Vampire, continues Alexander and Raven’s epic love story. Except, this time around we’ve got more crazy antics that the pair have to deal with. Valentine is now up to her trouble, making it seem impossible for our love birds to have a happy ending.

A note for the reader: These books are relatively short, which makes them a fun, sweet, and smooth read. It’s really easy to binge all of these books in a day if you have the nerve to. I read the first four books (back in the day) on a bus ride to a school swim meet. I re-read these books many times because of how short and fun they were. So, it’s not a big time commitment if you read these babies one by one.

Final note: The manga version of this series was one of the first mangas I ever read and made me fall in love with that “genre” (is genre the right word? Probably not). The pictures were beautiful, the story was magical and I’m glad it got me so into reading! Thank you Ellen for being one of my early reading addictions. Hopefully I’ll find some more newer books by her soon! Her writing just vibes well with my reading style.

I’d highly recommend these books. They are on the younger side of YA, but they are funny, sassy and absolutely adorable. My biggest con for this whole series was that it ended! I loved each book and I really want more by this author. So many YA novels take themselves way to seriously and try to make the teen be an adult. This series makes Raven be a fun, young girl who makes mistakes along the way (but she somehow gets an epic romance out of it).

Five out of five stars!

 

You can locate this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo (Canadian Retailer)

 

If you enjoyed this book, check out another book or review you might enjoy:
#BookReview Once Upon a Vampire by Mari Mancusi
#BookReview The Coffin Club by Ellen Schreiber
#BookReview Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

 

If you love YA, check out my top ten list for Young Adult reads!
Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1

 

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#BookReview Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Many eons ago in my high school/teens years, I used to read J-14 magazine. That magazine was my lifeline to society – celebrity gossip, posters of the Jonas Brothers, and book recommendations! During those formative years, I remember seeing endless advertisements for Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and I never truly forgot about this book… Fast forward to my mid-twenties! I’m at a local charity book sale and I see THE BOOK! The book was right there within my reach! I picked it up, put it on my book shelf and forgot about it… until recently when I cleaned my house and donated many books so I had room on my shelves.

I am SO glad I finally picked this book up. This was another one of those books that gets me hooked instantly and falling in love with some teenie bopper characters. Throw in fantasy, typical YA “I can save the world”-esque plots and magic and you’ve got me hooked!

This book is funny, super sweet and sometimes sassy. It’s absolutely the first book in the series and it leaves off with one of those dreaded cliffhangers that makes me want to read the next book ASAP.

We follow Sophia (she goes by Sophie) in this adventure filled novel after she performed a love spell a little too well. She gets sent off to Hecate, Hex Hall, and the rest is history! Sophie gets roomed with Jenna the vampire, she holds classes with some ‘Mean Girl’ clique-y girls and might be falling for the school’s bad boy. She’s the daughter of a powerful warlock, everyone seems to hold that against her and she’s got some wild family history behind her. Yes, this sounds like the typical YA plot but it’s written so wonderfully that I didn’t even care! Rachel opens this world and makes me feel like I was apart of the journey. I felt for Sophie and Jenna, I ogled after Archer and I absolutely HATED Elodie. Hey, I was a teenage girl once. I remember the mean girls ruining all of the fun.

My favourite part of this book is all of the sassy one liners thrown around. Sarcasm is the way I live my life, so I loved that this book is full of it! Sophie, Jenna and Archer are absolutely hilarious. I also adored the side characters, the Groundskeeper being my favourite.

My least favourite? STUPID CLIFFHANGERS. I hate them and I truly believe that a book should be able to stand on it’s own. I hate when I’m left off feeling cheated at the ending. Yes, I know Rachel wants us to read the next book in the series but I don’t like when I’m left feeling like I HAVE to read the next book – I WANT to.

Overall, this book is a real gem! I’m glad I finally found it. Back in my teenage years I didn’t have the funds (I mean, I’m a college student…I still don’t, but I know how to bargain hunt now!), so it’s awesome that I found a book I’ve been dreaming of! I still remember that ad page distinctly…

Five out of five stars!

 

You can purchase this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo – Canadian Retailer

If you enjoyed this book, check out another book or review you might enjoy!:
Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1
#BookReview Once Upon a Vampire by Mari Mancusi
#BookReview Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

 

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#BookReview Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I bought this book YEARS ago when I got my wisdom teeth out. Actually, my Mom bought it for me because I was drugged up from having my wisdom teeth out and there was a massive book sale. I gave her a list of books and she got them for me, and then this book sat on my shelf because I forgot I told my Mom to go buy me books when I got my wisdom teeth out.

So colour my cheery when I finally cleaned my bookshelf and there it was! I picked it up instantly, decided to ignore my upcoming exams, and settled down with this book. AND MAN I WAS SO STUPID FOR NOT READING IT SOONER BECAUSE I AM OBSESSED.

I am an adult now, but when I bought it I was a “Young Adult” reader. Some of the YA books just don’t sit with me as well now, but this book totally did. Cinderella, fairy tale, Star Wars-esque, cyborgs, science fiction, crazy evil overlords, and more! How could someone like me not love a book like this?!

My friends had given me horrible reviews of this book so I was very hesitant to pick it up, but when I took the dive I realized that I really shouldn’t have listened to them. I devoured this book in about two hours and I could NOT put it down. Marissa Meyer crafted an intriguing story that echoes our fave fairy tales and sci-fi movies, but also sits well on it’s own. Cinder is special but she doesn’t know why (like most YA novels, wink wink, nudge nudge). The Prince needs her help so she complies. Through helping him, trying to avoid a crazy super bug/infection and dealing with some major losses, she finds herself in a world of insanity.

This is a great read, but it leaves with an awful cliffhanger. I was so furious that the book ended the way it did because now I HAVE to pick up the next book in the series. Like, thanks a lot Marissa! But good on her, she did an excellent job crafting this book to the point that I seriously need the sequels. It won’t be okay if I don’t find these books on my book hunts soon.

To list some of the positives of this book, I have to say it really works well for young readers (maybe 8 and up, as a good book with their parents) but also sits amazingly well with adults. I didn’t feel like I was reading a purely YA novel, it felt like a fun fairy tale. I almost wish it wasn’t on the YA shelf in my local book store because it’s not strictly made for the YA audience, even though the narrative fits well with YA.

My negatives? Cliffhangers. I hate them, so they will always be my negative. Also, sometimes the story just felt like it happened at the right place, right time and just happened to work out in the character’s favor. It didn’t bug me at all in this book, but sometimes that trope grates on my nerves.

Overall, SO AMAZINGLY GOOD. Five out of five stars all around! This book really got me back into a reading binge, so thank you Marissa!

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
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Kobo
Indigo/Chapters/Coles – Canadian Retailer
Amazon.com

 

 

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#BookReview Virals by Kathy Reichs & Brendan Reichs

 

What was I thinking putting this book off?! It has been sitting on my shelf for years and I never got the nerve to pick it up. That was probably one of my biggest book related mistakes!

Kathy & Brendan Reichs have a real hit on their hand! I have been reading the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs for years and I always wanted to get into Virals. Silly me bought the book and admired it for years, until I finally managed to dust it off and pull it into my reading pile. THANK GOODNESS because this book is a real gem and I need to binge this series. It’s just too freaking good to not read!

Now, before I get ahead of myself, readers must remember that this is a YA novel and not an “adult” novel like the Temperance Brennan series. There are fun story lines focusing around being a teenager, and people need to remember that this book was made for a younger audience. I love books like this, because I can get into the fun of a younger book. But, some readers won’t be expecting a “YA” novel – you should be!

Off to the races!!!

Tory Brennan is our lead (a distant, grand-niece of Temperance, if I am remembering correctly) and she’s just as smart as Tempe! She’s also sassy, barrels of fun, and gets in probably too much trouble in this book. She’s not a girly girl, she likes hanging with her guy friends and she likes being smart. Seriously, I relate way to much to this girl! Her gaggle of friends get into trouble on an island nearby, rescuing dogs, talking to monkeys and trying to solve murders. Typical teenage stuff, obviously.

I love that this group is smart and for the greater good. I also felt a twinge of “save the environment” themes going on. Mixing in all the fun and goofy scenarios the teens get into… I have to say I like this book. I also really love the terminology that’s used in the book. It’s not “dumb-ed” down and these kids know what they are talking about. Do they know too much? Maybe. Or they are just really smart kids.

What did I not like?
Mean girl subplots always annoy me because they are so common. I get this is a very typical trend, but I’d love it to see Tory have a girl friend who isn’t a total snob. Shockingly, there are some not snobby girls out in the real world! But, there has to be drama in this book so I totally get it. I remember in high school there were snobby girls all over the place too.

I also think that the introduction of fantasy was great, but it needed a little… more. There are more books in this series, so I’m assuming that the fantasy side will be explored more there. At least, I hope so! The little bits of fantasy just wasn’t enough for me! I want to know the ins and outs of it!

Overall, this book is lots of fun and super smart! I really enjoyed reading it and I couldn’t put it down! Books like these are why I love reading – I can whisk myself away into another world and just enjoy myself.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves YA with a fantasy twist, loves the Temperance Brennan series but wants a bit more “fun”, people who loved Bones (this SCREAMS the fun of Bones!) or if you just want a smart YA novel with fancy terminology (to teach yourself something new).

Five out of five stars!

Purchase this book on:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
Indigo (Canadian Retailer)

If you enjoyed this book, you might also enjoy these reviews:
#BookReview Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
#BookReview The Water War by Kevin Miller
#BookReview The Mountain Man’s Dog by Gary Corbin

 

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#BookReview The Fourth Closet by Scott Cawthon

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The Fourth Closet by Scott Cawthon tied up some of the FNAF literature universe, but opened up a whole ‘nother can of worms.

I was a little too hooked to this book, but mainly because I am totally obsessed with the FNAF lore. The video games, the potential movie, the books! All of them are my guilty pleasure, which I will easily admit. But this book? It tops the other two. I found the first book to be intriguing, the second book to lag just a bit, and this book went flying off the handle to utter insanity! In a good way.

If you are going to take anything out of this book, it’s the strange way Scott is weaving and changing lore. The books don’t perfectly match up to the video games, but they will definitely spike your interest if you have played the games. There are easter eggs and references to so many different parts of the games that it’s almost hard to keep track of. Yet, it all works for perfectly well.

I found myself really hooked to this story and I didn’t want to put it down. It is fast paced and full of crazy twists and turns that you will need to read the first three books for. But, you could easily jump into this series if you haven’t played the games. Playing the games just makes the easter eggs in this book more fun!

If you don’t like sci-fi or thriller type books, this novel isn’t for you. The hype about the supernatural aspects of this book is unreal and goes beyond what I expected. The book is no longer just a silly YA novel, it’s full of technology and supernatural twists.

I found the ending… interesting. I’ll leave it at just that word, because the ending left me feeling like I had tons more questions coming out then going in. While I did get some answers and I thought the ending itself was a nice way to tie up the story, it really didn’t tie up the story that well. It made the story end, but it didn’t close the story as nicely as I wanted. So, maybe there will be another side series or another game or something that ties this storyline up. I hope, anyways.

Five out of five stars.

This was one of the few books I paid full price for. This whole series I was desperate to read, so lucky Scott Cawthon got my money on this one.

 

Check this book out on:

Goodreads

Kobo

Barnes & Nobles

Indigo/Chapters/Coles

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Check out another review by Briar’s Reviews that you might enjoy: #BookReview The Twisted Ones by Scott Cawthon

 

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And comment below – have you read any of the FNAF books? Do you play the games?

#BookReview Breathe, Annie, Breath by Miranda Kenneally

 

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is a great YA tale with a sporty focus.

I’m totally impressed that I finally found a book that centers around sports! It is quite a rare find for me, so I’m ridiculously pleased! As a former athlete, I absolutely love being able to locate a book that reflects my life. It’s always nice to know that there’s more books out there for us athletes. Throw in the fact that it’s also a YA novel and you’ve got me really interested! The YA crowd, specifically, needs some books that reflect their lives that they can sink their teeth into.

That being said, this book was not for me. I normally love a good YA but this one left me rather bored. It’s still a fabulous book and it’s fabulously written (so don’t get me wrong, I’m really impressed) but I was left rather bored. I may be moving away from the YA genre in general, or maybe this wasn’t the book I needed right now. Either way, my review reflects my opinion but believe me – this book is good even though I didn’t enjoy it.

This story follows Annie training for a marathon, and we find out about her complicated relationship history along the way. She works incredibly hard to make it towards her marathon, which is probably my favourite part of this book. Annie doesn’t give up easily and perseveres throughout the novel.

Additionally, this book carries a lot of emotion. There are some scenes that make you really feel for Annie and her situation. I liked how Miranda wrote those scenes and I applaud her for them.

My negatives for this book focus on Annie as a character. Like most YA novels, she seems to have most of life going for her. Yes, she does have some tragic parts of her life but she also gets things her way in the end. It’s a hard mix of struggle and perseverance that I felt just wasn’t met in this story. It just didn’t feel real or right for me.

Overall, I did enjoy the book but it wasn’t my favourite of the year. I think it’s a great addition to a teenager or young adult lovers bookshelf. If you’re looking for a book about sports and running with a good mix of YA drama, pick up this book!

Two out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:

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Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Kobo

Check out the author, Miranda Kenneally, on:

http://mirandakenneally.com/

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Comment below – have you read any YAs lately?