Review/ The Agony of Bun O’Keefe

Review/ The Agony of Bun O’KeefeThe Agony of Bun O'Keefe by Heather Smith
Published by Penguin Teen on April 2, 2019
Pages: 224

Little Miss Sunshine meets Room in this quirky, heartwarming story of friendship, loyalty and discovery.
It's Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O'Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house. Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and Bun has had little contact with the outside world. What she's learned about life comes from the random books and old VHS tapes that she finds in the boxes and bags her mother brings home. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun's mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John's, Newfoundland. Fortunately, the first person she meets is Busker Boy, a street musician who senses her naivety and takes her in. Together they live in a house with an eclectic cast of characters: Chef, a hotel dishwasher with culinary dreams; Cher, a drag queen with a tragic past; Big Eyes, a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and The Landlord, a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost. Through her experiences with her new roommates, and their sometimes tragic revelations, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother's house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family -- a family of friends who care.

One of  the things I love about the upcoming MTL YA Fest is all the new to me authors coming in for the event and Heather Smith is one of these authors coming in. I have never read any of her books before today and I am not quite sure why since I have had this one on my wishlist for some time.

Heather is originally from Newfoundland and is currently living in Waterloo, Ontario with her husband and three kids. She is the author of Chicken Girl (which I am hoping to get to this month), Bay Girl, Ebb & Flow, Angus All Aglow, and A Plan For Pops.

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe was a super quick read that I manged to read pretty much in one sitting. The books follows the main character Bun who is only 14 years old on her journey after her hoarding mother has told her to leave. Bun leaves with the clothes on her back and nothing else.

Once she leaves she hitchhikes into St. John’s (Newfoundland) she meets a boy named Busker Boy (because that’s exactly what he does he is a street musician) and he takes her under his wing because he knows that she has no clue about the outside world. I should tell you that the story takes place in Newfoundland in the late 80s.

Busker Boy takes her back to his place where you get to meet a wide range of characters such as Chef (who works in a local hotel as a dishwasher), Cher aka Chris (who is a drag queen), Big Eyes (a catholic girl who is trying to figure things out) and the Landlord (who is a jerk with a sketchy history). All these characters play an important role for Bun in her life and to the story.

As you read the book you can’t help but feel bad for Bun, she has missed out on so much in her short life from going to school to having friends. She has also lived with the guilt of thinking her father left because of her. Will she ever find out the truth and what will happen when she does find out? But more then that Bun has basically stopped herself from having feelings. So her bumping into Busker Boy could possibly be a good thing.

I was instantly drawn in because I was curious how Bun would survive on her own because she has lived a very sheltered life with hardly any contact with the outside world. She was pulled from school by her mother with the promise of homeschooling and that never happened so everything Bun knows comes from the books she reads and old movies her mother brings home from her shopping trips.

I have to say that I didn’t like Bun’s mother at all because I can’t understand how a mother can call her child all kinds of names and then tells her to leave? Then on top of that she doesn’t even try and find her once she is gone. Can a mother truly not love her child enough?


Review/ The Beauty of The Moment

Review/ The Beauty of The MomentThe Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
Published by Penguin Teen on February 26, 2019
Pages: 368

Susan dreams of being an artist. Malcolm wants to move him and his sister out of a bad living situation. Sparks fly when the two teens meet at a fundraiser for Syrian refugees. A Canadian YA romance for fans of The Sun is Also a Star.
Susan is the new girl -- she's sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents' expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy -- he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since. Susan hasn't told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn't know what he wants -- until he meets her. Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.

Before I begin my review I quickly have to thank the lovely people over at Penguin Random House Canada for sending me this book and for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour for it.

Today is my stop on the tour so thank you for stopping by.

Before I get into my review I just have to take a quick moment to gush over the cover of the book and the chapter headers. Not sure if anyone else wanted to do this but I felt like I wanted to color the flowers in as I was reading the book. Granted I didn’t actually do that but I really wanted to. This is very fitting considering our main character Susan loves art and wants to study art in university.

Another thing I loved about the book is that it takes place in Mississauga, a city just outside of Toronto. I have been to Mississauga several times over the years because we have family there. So reading about places brings me right back to those places. I love when a book takes place in a city you know about.

This is Tanaz Bhathena’s second book. Her first book is called A Girl Like That, which I currently own and hoping that I can get to before I get to meet the author when she comes to Montreal for the MTL YA FEST in May. She also has a fantasy duology that is coming out called Hunted By The Sky. The first book in that duology will be coming out in the Spring of 2020.

Tanaz was born in India, raised in Saudi Arabia and currently lives in Toronto with her family.

Okay enough rambling lets get into my thoughts about the book. I have to say right off the bat that I truly enjoyed reading this and didn’t want it to end. Its been a few days since I finished it and I am still thinking about Susan and Malcolm.

The main character is Susan. She has just recently moved to Canada with her mom from Jeddah (Saudia Arabia) where her father is still living. Her parents are very much set in their ways and they have her whole life planned out that she will become a doctor or engineer. But for Susan, she doesn’t want that she wants to study art and become an artist.

On the outside it looks like Susan as the typical teenager life but she doesn’t. So many things are going on that she is struggling just to fit in. She is the new girl at school, her parents are fighting and it doesn’t help that they are in Canada and he is in Jeddah and to add to all that she is expected to pass her driver’s course but she just can’t grasp it because the instructor is always discouraging her.

Enter cute boy Malcolm. Malcolm is another one who looks like he is your typical teenager but he is also struggling on the inside and trying to deal with what life has given him. He has earned the reputation of bad boy who loves to party. He has just recently ended a relationship and is heart broken and the ex is nothing but drama. Home life is not ideal because he is still struggling with his mother’s death and the fact of have quickly his father has moved on to another woman. Whom he isn’t the biggest fan of.

The relationship between Susan and Malcolm is a slow sweet one that gradually grows into something more. I loved that it was this way because you got to discover more about them and that it just didn’t happen. It was a hate/love relationship that turned into an almost forbidden romance that wasn’t all smooth sailing they hit many road bumps but in the end it all worked out for them. I love story lines like this because its real and not all rainbows and unicorns like most books make it out to be.

I wish I was a teenager reading this book because I am sure I would have loved it just as much as my adult self did. The Beauty of the Moment tackled so many issues that made it all blend in so well with the story line such as peer pressure, bullying, alcohol abuse, child abuse, etc things that our teens are going through on a daily bases.

I am excited to continue reading Tanaz’s books. She has definitely become an automatic buy for me.

Review/ Recipe for Adventure

I am a little embarrassed to say that I have had Recipe For Adventure, the first book in the series, sitting on my shelves since May of 2013. I have no idea why I never read it at the time since it was the first book in a new series and it was a super fun and quick read.

I was lucky enough to have had  the chance of meeting Giada and she was a super sweet. She took a few minutes to talk to everyone waiting in line to get their book signed.

This is the first book in a eight book middle grade series. The books in this series are: Paris, Hong Kong, New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro,  Hawaii, Miami, and Philadelphia.

The books follow brother and sister duo, Alfie (short for Alfredo) and Emilia along with their aunt Zia. When Zia is offered pizza she tells the kids that they don’t know pizza like she knows pizza and scolds the family for not having more home cooked meals. That evening she takes it upon herself to whip up some magical zeppoles.  BTW there is a recipe for zeppole and pizza in the back of the book that I can’t wait to try and make. After the kids eat the zeppole they are magically transported to Naples.

The kids are confused on how that happen but go along with the adventure. They meet a boy named Marco. Marco’s in a rush to go and pick up the best ingredients for the pizza festival because his family is determined to win it this year. Marco soon realizes that they are being followed by another boy named Enzo.

As the story progresses we soon realize that there is more to Marco and Enzo will the two boys ever get along? Can Alfie and Emilia make the family change their minds?

This was a super cute book that was so much fun to read. I think this would be perfect for any child who loves to read about traveling and food. I devoured this in one sitting.

Review/ Upside Down Magic

Review/ Upside Down MagicUpside-Down Magic (Upside-Down Magic, #1) by Emily Jenkins, Lauren Myracle, Sarah Mlynowski
Published by Scholastic Press on September 29, 2015
Pages: 208

From New York Times bestselling authors Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins comes the hilarious and heartfelt story of a group of magical misfits.
Nory Horace is nine years old. She's resourceful, she's brave, she likes peanut butter cookies. Also, she's able to transform into many different animals. Unfortunately, Nory's shape-shifting talent is a bit wonky. And when she flunks out of her own father's magic academy, Nory's forced to enter public school, where she meets a group of kids whose magic is, well, different.
This new, offbeat series from hit authors Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins chronicles the misadventures of Nory and her oddball friends, who prove that upside-down magic definitely beats right side up.

I am a little embarrassed to say that I have had Upside Down Magic, the first book in the series, sitting on my shelves since May of 2015. I have no idea why I never read it at the time since it was the first book in a new series and it was a super fun and quick read.

This is the first book in the series of 5 books out already with a 6th one coming out October 2019. The other books in the series are: Stick & Stones, Showing Off, Dragon Overnight, Weather or Not and The Big Shrink.

Our main character is Nory. She might look like just an ordinary girl but there is more to Nory then meets the eye. She is able to shape shift but the only problem is she is having a hard time staying in form. She is puzzled by this and wants nothing more to please her father because he is the headmaster at Sage Academy. A very elite magic school that she is dying to get into but things don’t go according to plan and before she knows it, her father is shipping her off to go and live with her aunt so that she can attend another school that is more suited for Nory and her kind of magic.

Its at this Upside Down Magic school that she meets some interesting kids who are just like her and although she wants nothing more to be like her brother and sister she soon realizes that maybe being a little different isn’t so bad but it will take something to happen to one of her friends to make her realize that.

This is such a great start to the series and I am sure a great series for the younger kids to read. I love the lesson behind the book and its okay if you are different and you need to embrace all that makes you special because we all have a place in the world.

Review/ 13 Little Blue Envelopes

Review/ 13 Little Blue Envelopes13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope, #1) by Maureen Johnson
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on December 21, 2010
Pages: 322

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.
In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke about town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous though utterly romantic results. But will she ever see him again?
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.
Ages 12+"

Going into 2019 I told myself I want to try and read more of my own books because I have way to many that need to be read. As book lovers and book bloggers we all can relate to this right?

13 Little Blue Envelopes has been sitting on my TBR for quite some time now. I remember finding it at a library sale and being excited that I finally had a copy but I never read it until now. Not quite sure why i wanted so long because I really enjoyed reading this.

One day a mysterious package arrives for Ginny and its from her aunt Peg who is deceased. Inside the package is 13 numbered blue envelopes with instructions and she must complete each task before she can open the next envelope.

Her first task is she must fly to NYC and go to their favorite restaurant for the next clue. The purpose is to get Ginny out of her shell and to live for a short time like her aunt did. Doing things she wanted to do and don’t be held back because people think she should be doing what everyone wants her to do.

Ginny is quiet and shy in her own way but yet brave enough to follow her aunt’s instructions and fly across the world and country hope alone. I don’t think I would ever have the guts to do that. As Ginny embarks on this journey she meets a lot of people who loved her aunt and by then end she discovers someone very important in her aunt’s life that is now a part of her life.

Don’t we all wish we had a free spirited aunt like Peg? I am sure if I was much younger I would love to get a surprise package in the mail telling me to follow the instructions and fly around the world when the world was a safer place then it is now.

This was definitely a fun read quick read. I loved reading about Ginny’s journey and where she would go next along with the people she would meet. Although the only thing I was cringing at was the fact she wasn’t allowed to communicate with friends and family and basically dropped off the grid, I know I would probably freak out if my son did that and not communicated at all.

As I was reading this I discovered there is a sequel to the book that I will definitely have to look for because I would love to see how this ends because 13 Little Blue Envelopes did end with a few lingering questions I had.

The Last Little Blue Envelope


New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s fun, romantic, and hilarious sequel to her breakout hit 13 Little Blue Envelopes gets a brand-new cover!

Ginny Blackstone spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how the adventure was supposed to end.

Now a mysterious boy has contacted Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure, and Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time there are no instructions.



Review/ The Exes’ Revenge by Jo Jakeman

Review/ The Exes’ Revenge by Jo JakemanThe Exes' Revenge by Jo Jakeman
Published by Berkley Books on September 11, 2018
Pages: 342

Originally titled Sticks and Stones
A wickedly dark debut thriller about three women who've all been involved with the same man and realize the one thing they have in common is that they all want revenge against him...
Divorces are often messy, and Imogen's is no exception. Phillip Rochester is controlling, abusive, and determined to make things as difficult as possible. When he shows up without warning demanding that Imogen move out of their house by the end of the month or he'll sue for sole custody of their young son, Imogen is ready to snap.
In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable--something that puts her in control for the first time in years. She's desperate to protect her son and to claim authority over her own life.
But she wasn't expecting both Phillip's ex-wife and new girlfriend to get tangled up in her plans. These three very different women--and unlikely allies--reluctantly team up to take revenge against a man who has wronged them all.

One of the best things about being able to book blog is being able to get an advance copy of a book especially when its a debut author. I was thrilled when I got The Exes’ Revenge because I was intrigued about the story line.

I have to say that I devoured this in practically one sitting because it was that good. I just could not put it down. Its been awhile since I have read a book like this. I need more books like this in my life.

This book was full of twist and turns that had me on the edge of my seat.

There is four main characters of the book, Imogen (the current wife), Naomi (the girlfriend), Ruby (the ex wife) and Philip the man making all three of their lives a living hell. The time line of the book spans from the present to the past with all three women.

Philip works in law enforcement so he knows how to get away with abuse etc. He has tormented each of these women with blackmail  and threats that if they were to run to the police with their claims that no one would believe them because there just is no prove of the abuse. So each of them suffers in silence until Imogen sees Naomi on her way to the emergency room with her head split open. Imogen starts the ball rolling and soon gets the other two women to help her. She will do anything including breaking the law to stop Philip.

All three women realize that in order to stop him they have to work together but when things start happening they soon realize that not everyone is in it like they say they are and will do anything to help and protect Philip even though he is getting more and more violent as the story line progresses. Can they all over come their mistrust for each other and work together to get out of this alive?

I am still thinking about the book and super excited to read more of Jo Jakeman’s work. I have checked the author’s website and don’t see any future books but I really hope that’s not the case and a new book will be out soon. I would definitely read it.

Review/ Beware That Girl

Review/ Beware That GirlBeware That Girl by Teresa Toten
Published by Penguin Teen on May 15, 2018
Pages: 336

Perfect for summer reading, this powerful and twisted psychological thriller will draw comparisons to We Were Liars and Gone Girl, and rightly so. As Quill & Quire states, "smart, dark, entertaining, and unpredictable," Beware That Girl will keep readers guessing until the very last line.
The Haves. The Have-Nots. Kate O'Brien appears to be a Have-Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she's had to snake her way out of--some more sinister than others. But she's determined to change that. She's book smart. She's street-smart. Oh, and she's also a masterful liar.
As the scholarship student at the elite Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ladder and land a spot at Yale. She's already found her "people" among the senior class "it" girls--specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she's always needed, the sister she never had.
When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration, he immediately charms his way into the faculty and students' lives, becoming especially close to Olivia, a fact she's intent on keeping to herself. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can't reveal--and can't afford to ignore. How close can Kate and Olivia get to Mark without having to share their dark pasts?

Beware that girl has been on my wishlist since I first heard about it but never picked it up until I heard that Teresa Toten was going to be at the Montreal YA fest that was held this past May (2018) and I knew I had to get it then and sadly I didn’t pick it up to read until this past week.

Even though I didn’t read it back when I got it I am happy that I finally decided to read it now. In case you didn’t know it Teresa is a Canadian author and has written several books all of which I have not read but hoping that 2019 will be the year that I do read them along with more Canadian authors.

One nice thing about reading a new author is you have no idea what to expect and wow I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to read. This ended up turning into a page turner and something I had a hard time to put down which is all good because we need more books like that in our lives.

The book is told in two points of view that of Kate and Olivia (sometimes together). Its also told almost in a daily entry that begins September 22nd and ends March 22nd, The entries are super short so you can pretty much read this in one sitting.

As I mentioned this is told in Kate and Olivia’s points of view although Kate’s is more in first person where as Olivia’s is more third person, Both girls attend a private school in NYC.  When it comes to Kate she comes off really secretive and I felt that the whole time she was up to something. Kate has no family and there is more to her then meets the eye and as the story progresses we get to learn a lot more about Kate and her growing up. Her life was the complete opposite of Olivia. She had to work hard to get where she is today and basically keep her private life private from everyone. I have to say that there was so many times that I was questioning her motivates. She seemed to be her own person but at the same time was trying to be someone else. Plus not a single adult was questioning anything about her. Such as Kate moving in with Olivia and her dad. I mean if my son wanted to move a friend in I would be questioning him why? Where is his family etc but none of these things came up during the book.

Now Olivia is the exact opposite of Kate. She grew up with everything she could have ever wanted. When you look at Olivia you think she has got it all but gradually you soon realize that there is more to her then meets the eye. She has secrets you wouldn’t think she would have. As the story progresses you begun to uncover her secrets. All of which I have to say was a shock but not overly shocking considering the times we are living in  now.

Now you know there has to be a love interest in the book and there was and that was in the form of Mark. He was involved in the school system and Mark also had some deep dark secrets he was carrying around with him. Mark was that kind of “teacher” who would make the young and old do whatever he wanted and he got away with it. They would literally throw themselves at him and flirt. Good looks alone didn’t get him what he wanted or where he wanted, he was a master manipulator.

He would search to get the goods on his victims and then black mail them. He got away with it each and every time but not this time.

This time he has met his match. Can Olivia and Kate stop him before he ruins the girls?

This was definitely one of those books where every character has flows and clearly no one was thinking straight. It basically was every man for himself to get what they wanted and they didn’t care how they got it or who they hurt along the way.