Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (15): Top Ten Books I've Read in 2015 (...So Far)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which bloggers post their "Top Ten" of whatever that week's theme is! This week's theme:


Despite being 13 (oh goodness) books behind on my Goodreads challenge, I have managed to read some really good books this year. I've put them in the order I read them in because I'm not ready to rank them just yet. Here's my list!

- Ally Carter killed it (once again!) with this one. I adored mah gurl Grace like nobody's business. 

My blog tour post for The Orphan Queen
- Probably my ultimate OTP of the year. Also just a FANTASTIC book. (Which should surprise no one since it's a Jodi Meadows book. *counts down days until The Mirror King*)

4) All the Rage by Courtney Summers
- A DOUBLE SUMMERS WHAMMY. My top read of the year, so far (and, let's be real, probably my top read of the year in general). This book is a gut punch. And you guys all need to read it. 
(If you need even more reason to read it, I literally hosted an ENTIRE MONTH of reasons why ATR is awesome)
- I didn't expected to love this book as much as I did but it was AWESOME. I binge read this one and I can't wait to continue the series.
6) The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
- Nova Ren Suma writes incredible novels, and The Walls Around Us is, quite possibly, her best yet. Seriously, this book blew my mind. 
7) The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
- Kasie West contemporaries make my heart happy and this one is my favourite of the three!

8) Like It Never Happened by Emily Adrian
- This book was intense and incredible and surpassed my every expectation. So. Dang. Good.
9) Noggin by John Corey Whaley
- Second book club pick making the list, woo! Man, this book was odd. But in the best way. A fun and heartfelt novel, and very well liked by my book club peeps!

10) Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
- So, I wrote an almost 800 word review on this one yesterday but here's a summary: Finding Audrey was wonderful in every way.

So, what were your top ten books of the year (so far)?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Finding Audrey
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
Source: ARC Received from Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review

My Rating: 5/5

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family. (Summary from Goodreads)

When I heard Sophie Kinsella was writing a YA book, I was SO EXCITED. One of my favourite authors (who I've been reading for almost 11 years), writing my favourite age range? YES PLEASE. Then I heard the protagonist is a 14 year old girl with anxiety issues and my excitement went to a whole other level. I had HIGH expectations for this one, and Finding Audrey blew them all out of the water.

I think the best word to describe this book is wonderful. Kinsella brings her signature humor to Finding Audrey which had me laughing and smiling the whole way through. She always manages to put so much heart into her novels and I honestly felt just so happy reading this book. 

Audrey was a fantastic character. I was cheering for her the entire book. She was strong even when she didn't think she was, and so caring. I loved getting to read this book from her perspective. Audrey's family was just fantastic. They were dysfunctional in the best way. Her Mum was stubborn and bossy and cared about her kids so dang much. Even when she was yelling at Frank about his computer or going on "mum-rants" you could tell she did it out of a place of love. The scenes she had with Audrey were so heart-warming, I just loved it. Audrey's dad was a riot. Some of the most hilarious scenes had him in it.Audrey's brother Frank was so much fun. He was a caring older brother, but also a clever and sarcastic teenager. The dynamic between Frank and Mum as well was just awesome. One of the greatest things about this book was how supportive Audrey's family was. Both of her and her anxiety but also of each other. They didn't always understand or agree with each other, but they were always a family.

Linus was another great, supportive character. He was funny, kind of nerdy, and really worked hard to earn Audrey's trust. He didn't walk away or judge Audrey, but stuck by her and believed in her. He fit into their weird family perfectly. 

I knew I wouldn't be able to read (let alone review!) this book without it getting me in the Personal Feels. I'm not entirely open about my anxiety issues (and they differ from Audrey's in many ways) but this book had me looking internally at them. And relating to Audrey so, so much. I find that anxiety is one of those mental health issues that isn't talked about in books often, but affects so many people. And it's hard. I loved that Finding Audrey didn't shy away from how hard it can be to live with anxiety. How much it can affect every part of your life.

There was also an almost unspoken element of bullying in the novel. We never saw Audrey be bullied but the aftermath of it and how it impacted her life. The bullying wasn't sensationalized. Kinsella never went into flashbacks if it or really detailed the extent of it. It was horrible. It affected Audrey severely. That was all we needed to know. I think, for this story, to not have that element was so important. This was a story about Audrey's recovery, her strength and courage and that was really what mattered. It was so important to not put the focus on the bullies, but give Audrey her own voice, let her tell her own story.

Another thing I loved was how Audrey's treatment was normalized. As it should be. I think there's a tendency in some books to perpetuate a stigma around treating mental illness. Words like "medication" and "therapy" become loaded, even though they are a perfectly normal part of treatment. In Finding Audrey, Audrey's treatment isn't some hush-hush, don't-talk-about-it thing, but rather a helpful and healthy part of her life. Dr. Sarah is funny and insightful and completely supportive of Audrey. She tells her hard truths sometimes, but there is an underlying faith there that is so important. I think Kinsella hit it on the nose with this one.

A poignant, touching novel about mental illness, dysfunctional (but loving!) families, and one girl's courage, Finding Audrey was brilliant. Pick this one up for yourself, your mom, your siblings, your friends. Everyone is going to fall in love with Audrey.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca

Title: Last Year's Mistake
Author: Gina Ciocca
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
My Source: ARC Received from Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review

My Rating: 4/5

Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey's parents decided to move away, she couldn't wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go...

Now it's senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David's family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey's second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go. (Summary from Goodreads)

Last Year's Mistake was 320 pages of emotions. From both the characters and from me. Because it didn't take long at all for me to become invested in Kelsey and David's story, to be so committed to it I ignored everything else until I was done. This was a great book, and a perfect one to take to the beach with you this summer. 

I've become a bit of a YA romance fan in the last couple of years (something I did not expect to happen!) and Last Year's Mistake was the perfect edition to my awesome-romances list. It was heart-wrenching at points, but also so sweet. I loved the alternating chapters that switched between the past and the present. The dichotomy of watching Kelsey and David's relationship develop and reading about why it was broken really intrigued me. The chapters complimented each other well, and kept me absorbed for the whole novel.

I think one of the things I loved about this book was that it wasn't easy. Kelsey and David's relationship was messy and complicated. There were other people involved, misunderstandings, and miscommunications. You kind of wanted to yell at them to just talk it out, but being in that situation versus looking in on that situation are two very different things. The way the story played out felt authentic to me. And it stayed messy. Because life is messy, and I really appreciated that Last Year's Mistake didn't shy away from that.

Of course, Last Year's Mistake had it's fair share of cliched moments, but that didn't really take away from the story for me. Once I hit about the 100 page mark, there was no going back for me. I wanted to see how this story would turn out, and I wasn't putting the book down until that happened. I just needed to see what was going to happen with this story and these wonderful characters.

Speaking of characters, I loved David from the start. It was pretty hard not too! He was sweet and funny and the chemistry between him and Kelsey was undeniable. I loved every scene they had together, even when it was heartbreaking. In some respects, I could really identify with Kelsey. She was pushed out and bullied by people she considered to be her friends, something I experience when I was in school. I could empathize with her need for change, as scary as that can be. She didn't always make the best choices (neither did David!) but she learned and grew. I was really glad we were able to see the story from her perspective!

Although I was pretty focused on Kelsey and David, I did have some feelings about the side characters. Candy, in particular, stood out for me. She was a really solid friend, lots of fun, and had a strong backbone. Just the kind of person Kelsey needed in her life. Vi was a pretty cardboard character to me. I didn't really get much from her, until the very end and even then it wasn't enough to make me feel for her. And then, there's Ryan.

At first, I was solidly Not A Fan of Kelsey's current boyfriend Ryan. He just seemed like your typical egotistical jock, and I was counting down the pages until he was out of the picture. And although I really disapproved of some of his actions, I started to feel for him at the end. He grew as the story progressed, and I could see where a lot of his actions were coming from. He was a really interesting character, despite my first impression.

Overall, I seriously enjoyed Last Year's Mistake. It had some fabulous characters and a complex and honest storyline that will definitely have me reading it again. Add this one to your summer TBRs, guys. You won't regret it!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Find This Book: Amazon | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | Simon & Schuster's Website

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (14): Top Ten Books On My TBR for Summer 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which bloggers post their "Top Ten" of whatever that week's theme is! This week's theme:


Okay, I cheated a bit on this one. I'm a huge fan of summer books, so I have a few more than ten. In fact, I've written two different posts about summer books here on the blog! Summer is my favourite time of year, and I love those sweet, heartfelt books that go with it. And, I'm one of those people that just can't read summer books in the winter. They make me too sad! So, I have a LOT on my TBR for this year and can't wait to start reading them all.

- I still can't believe I didn't read these books last summer, but I'm not making that mistake again!

- I have a serious love for Emery Lord, even though I haven't read her books yet. She is just such a sassy feminist on Twitter and it makes my heart happy. I can't wait to read her no doubt equally awesome books.

3. Moonglass & Golden by Jessi Kirby
- I've had Golden for a couple years now and I just picked up Moonglass a month ago. I have heard so many good things about these books, I'm really excited.

4. Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt
- I adore Lauren Barnholdt, and Right of Way is one of the few books by her I haven't read yet! 

- This is another book I've actually been meaning to read since it came out. It is SUCH a Ciara book!

6. Hundred Oaks High Series by Miranda Kenneally
- I have only read the first two in this series, which is a tragedy. I'm planning on catching up on this series over the summer!

7. Forever Summer by Alyson Noel
- I've owned this book for years now and it's time I finally checked it out!
8. When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
- This cover is just gorgeous, and this story sounds like a it'll be a heartbreaker. I really need to check it out this summer.
9. How to Love & 99 Days by Katie Cotungo
- I've heard just amazing things about Katie Cotungo's books! Now that I have copies of both, I'll be reading them very soon.

10. Sarah Dessen Collection
- Sarah Dessen is an author I've been hearing about since elementary school. And it took me almost ten years to finally read her and man, was I missing out! I've been slowly collecting all of her books, and I'm really hoping I can dive into most of them this summer! 

And there's plenty more where that came from. What books are you reading this summer?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review: Like It Never Happened by Emily Adrian

Title: Like It Never Happened
Author: Emily Adrian
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Source: ARC Received from Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review

My Rating: 4.5/5

Stereotypes, sexuality, and destructive rumors collide in this smart YA novel for fans of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, Siobhan Vivian’s The List, and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.

Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe. (Summary from Goodreads)

This book was so unexpected. I picked it up thinking it would be a light, fun book about theatre kids and high school drama. What I got instead was a poignant, intense read about friendship and family and coming-of-age.  I was shocked and awed and emotional and angry. Honestly, I didn't expect to have such a reaction to this book. It surpassed my every expectation, and made it's way on to my 2015 favourites list.

One thing I just loved about this book was how real Rebecca was. She was most definitely a teenager. She made mistakes. She was over-dramatic. She didn't have the right answers. But she kept going, kept adapting, kept trying to figure out what to do and how to move forward. And I connected with her completely. She was a character to admire, and I loved being brought along for her journey. 

There's not a lot I can say about the plot without spoiling, so I'm just going to say I loved it. There was so much going on and it was all really well thought-out and realistic. It was shocking at points and absolutely heart-breaking at others. I felt so immersed in Rebecca's world, in her story, I didn't want to let it go. There were so many important themes and ideas brought up here. I felt like I was being punched in the gut at some points, but in the very best way.

There's a lot of gray area in this book. A lot of things that are hard to process and harder to make sense of. As a reader (and as someone who appreciates true-to-life books) reading the gray areas here were hard but so, so thought-provoking. In certain aspects, the line between right and wrong was pretty clear. But, in others, it was hard to see where the separation was. And if these characters really understood how much damage they were causing. It was an element of this book that brought it to a whole other level for me.

The only real reason I couldn't give this book five stars was because I didn't feel some of the side characters were fleshed out. I didn't have a picture of them or who they were at points. But, I also think that was kind of what Rebecca was feeling. She was never quite sure where she stood in the Essential Five, and part of that was not really getting who these people were outside of the characters they portrayed. This really was Rebecca's story, and I was totally okay with that.

I never include favourite quotes in my reviews, but I'm doing it now cause this one stuck with me. I knew as soon as I read it that I had picked up a special book:

"Girls your age always think they will be rewarded for destroying themselves. And if that's what you believe, it's not your fault. But it also isn't true." -page 74  
*note I checked this quote against the final version and it's correct*

I can name a bunch of different reasons why this line stuck out for me but I won't. It's powerful and poignant on it's own. This book was full of gems like this. I just want to read this book all over again to find them all. 

Like It Never Happened hit me like a ton of bricks. This review doesn't do it justice, I'm telling you that right now. Read it, then come back and tell me how much you loved it.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Find This Book: Amazon | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | The Book Depository | Emily Adrian's Website | Penguin Random House's Website

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Expo America: Recap + Book Haul!

Hey, lovely readers!

So, you may have seen my excited (also terrified) posts on Twitter about the fact that I was attending BEA for the first time this year. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing, but it ended up being such an incredible experience! I met so many lovely people, got some amazing books, and had just a generally awesome time. Here's a recap of what happened!

It all started early Tuesday morning when I headed to the airport for my flight to NYC. Jess and I were flying together which I was grateful for because I do not like flying. Like, at all. We made it to NYC with little trouble (minus some terminal confusion and crazy children) and met up with Emilie, Katherine, and Katie at the airport. From there it was off to the apartment we were sharing with roommates Kaley and Kathy. I have to give a huge shout out to my roommates who were honestly incredible. From the pajama parties to the bagel bites to the laughing fits, I had the best time hanging out with these girls.

After some unpacking, it was off to Teen Author Carnival! I had never been before, but it was just lovely. The panels were great, the organizers were sweet, and the authors were some of the best. I was lucky enough to get my books signed by some incredible authors who were all just so friendly and amazing. I also got to (finally!!!) meet Tiffany Schmidt, an author who I've been chatting with for a while now (mostly about our deep love for Andrew McMahon). She was just so great and recognized me right away (which was super cool)! I only wish I could've gotten a picture with her, but we'll have to save that for next time. Jess and I were also two of the last people to get our books signed by Susan Dennard. Honestly, she blew me away with how friendly and funny she was. I was lucky enough to talk to her a couple times over BEA and she was just the best.


The first day of BEA was chaos. Particularly cause Kathy, Jess, and I were determined to get copies of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. We waited in line for two and a half hours, and got to chat with some lovely bloggers. It was a madhouse when the doors opened, but we all managed to snag tickets! I got my first look at the floor (which was SO BIG) and got some really great books. Sadly, I had gotten sick the day before and it really caught up to me that day. Thankfully, I managed to pull together in time to head to the Epic Reads party!

Shouts-out to the amazing Epic Reads team for throwing an awesome bash! They were all so welcoming and friendly, it was a ton of fun. I also got to meet the lovely Corey Ann Haydu at the party which was so great. We had a lot of fun chatting with her. Then, I got to meet Patrick Ness. I didn't say much (cause I was just like O.O) but he was lovely enough to sign my bag for me (which I will treasure always).


Thursday was a bit less hectic than Wednesday. I had a pretty relaxed schedule, but managed to snag some of my most anticipated reads! I also got to meet the lovely Wendy Higgins (y'all know what a huge fan I am of the Sweet Trilogy) which I was pretty dang pumped about. 

Some of the roomies and I went out to a local diner to grab a late lunch and then headed back to the apartment. From there, Katherine and I went on an adventure around NYC and, of course, found ourselves at Strand Bookstore. When we got there though, we were met with a bit of a shock when the whole street was blocked off with police and firetrucks scattered around. After asking a stranger what was going on and being yelled at by a firefighter, we ended up in Strand which wasn't shut down after all! 

I was very proud that I managed to limit myself to only a few books but damn, I got some great ones. Katherine cleaned up there, and got quite the haul. After that, we grabbed some pizza and settled into our pjs for a chill night in the apartment (which included helping Katherine with her YouTube video that I guest starred in!)


Guys, Jess and I did so well on Friday. It started when we made a mad dash to the Harper Collins booth to pick up both of our most wanted book: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. And we did it! We were so excited that we had managed to get a copy (after missing out twice before)! From there it was line jumping and spot saving and ARC spotting and general awesomeness. We managed to accomplish so much more than either of us expected. We started off the autographing day meeting the wonderful Julie Murphy, and continued on to meet a bunch of others. Including Corey Ann Haydu, again, who was so sweet as usual. And then, it was Patrick Ness time.

I'm pretty proud to say Jess and I were the first people in line for Patrick Ness. We were just so excited about it. And we were lucky we were, because the line just went bananas. It was five rows deep before they finally decided to cut it. And then we got to have our ARCs signed and meet Patrick Ness again! He saw us and said "I saw you guys tweeting about the line!" to which I flailed a little inside. He was funny and awesome and I'm honestly just so excited to read this book I can't even tell you.

We didn't have a lot to do after that, until it was time for the Blogger Dinner organized by fellow Canadian blogger Tiff! We got to meet some lovely bloggers and have a really awesome dinner and it was great. (Thanks Tiff for organizing it!)

The roommates along with Sarah and Tiff and I went for a second trip to Strand after dinner, and loaded up on even more books (cause why not).


With BEA over, Kaley and I set out to do some sightseeing (cause Kaley had never been to NYC, something I found on this day). We went to Time Square, and the Hershey's Store, and Bryant Park then headed over to FAO Schwartz to meet up with Katherine. From there it was Central Park time. We had such a great time there (although the heat was something FIERCE). I also finally got to ride the carousel AND eat Shake Shack. 

That night we went to the Paper Lantern Lit party which was a lot of fun. We met back up with Tiff and Sarah and got to chat with Lexa Hillyer whose launch party it was. I also got chocolate and a copy of Legacy of Kings so it was a very solid night.

And there you have it! Sunday we all went home and besides some chaos getting there, we all made it back safe and sound. It was such a wonderful experience to say the least. I'm hoping I'll be able to go sometime in the future!

So, what did I get a BEA? We'll here's my book haul!

(I also got some really cool totes and buttons but I was too lazy to photograph them).

And I did end up getting an extra copy of Dumplin' which is being passed on to another lovely blogger who will put it to good use :)

Did you go to BEA? Send me your recaps!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)