Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Ever the Hunted Blog Tour: Interview + Review

Friends! Today is a fun day to stop by the blog. You wanna know why? Well, I get to take part in the Ever the Hunted Blog Tour. Ever the Hunted is the start to Erin Summerill's debut YA fantasy series. Raincoast was awesome enough to let me read and review the book for you guys. So check out that below. But even more wonderful; Erin doing a small Q&A(also below). See, all the fun to be had today!

About Erin Summerill

Erin Summerill was born in England. After spending years bouncing between Air Force bases in Hawaii, England, and California, her family settled in Utah, where Erin graduated with a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. She had aspirations to write the next great American novel, but writing proved tougher than she first thought. So she grabbed a Nikon and became a professional photographer while crafting manuscript after manuscript. The scenic detour of shooting weddings across the United States, as well as internationally, provided world-building inspiration. It gave her the vision to draft her debut YA fantasy, EVER THE HUNTED. Now when she isn’t writing, or shooting a wedding, she’s chasing her four kids, two dogs, one cat, and five chickens. This could be why she downs massive amounts of Coke Zero and Hot tamales.

websitetwitterfacebookgoodreads| instagram|


Brittany: I see that you're a photographer too; was seeing our world through a lens the tipping off point for you to create your own fantastical world? I can imagine that you were able to create a truly vivid image of the kingdoms with your imagination, but was there a destination/place that inspired you the most?

Erin: Hi Brittany!
Yes! My love of photography has played a huge role in writing. I am a terrible landscape photographer, but I enjoy viewing the world around me and imagining how I could possibly capture it by the camera in a fantastical way. Eventually, that led to writing fantastical landscapes into my book. In fact, with photography as a backbone, I tend to look at light as a tool in terms of how it changes a landscape. When I build a scene, that’s what I usually think of first in terms of setting.
On a family trip, we visited the Oregon coast and the California redwoods. Some of the forests were inspired by the landscape of Oregon and California, with a little bit of Harrison Hot Springs, Canada thrown in. That charming town is magical!


Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #1)Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication Date: December 27th, 2016
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1
Pages: 400
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3/5
Add to Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Ever the Hunted caught my attention early. Firstly because of the cover, simple and pretty. So it made my want to know more; what is this book? Then it sounded like the story was going to be a kick-ass lady. And I am always looking for more strong females to read about. Ever the Hunted was 100% on my radar because of a pretty cover and tough sounding lady, #noshame Also, Britta; Erin you seem to have forgotten two letters. An N and Y and hey look the perfect name.

Britta is an outcast. Having a mother(even a dead one) from the other side of the border is not something that makes you well liked. Britta knew from a young age that she'd have to know how to take care of yourself. Her father taught her to always been on her toes. But now he's been murdered and Britta is in hiding. Until she's caught and offered clemency for catching her father's killer. Except for no way, it can't be Cohen, Britta's childhood BFF and her father's apprentice. Here starts Britta's journey to realize nothing is as it seems and secrets are everywhere.

I liked Britta well enough. She's grieving and lonely when we met her, but as the story progresses she does a pretty good job at knowing herself and what she wants. Britta isn't really one to back down when things get tough. She's alone, she thinks her best friend killed her father but Britta doesn't get all ragey for revenge. Britta's more like let's find Cohen and go from there. She doesn't jump the gun and I really appreciated her toughness well seeming to keep a level head.

There are some side characters, like the three guards tasked with helping Britta find Cohen. They fill out the quote pretty well;  one friendly, two creeper and third mysterious. But Cohen is the focus. Britta has it bad for him; insert love eyes x 100. And this is where the story wobbled for me. Honestly, there's nothing special about Cohen. He fits the mold of childhood best friend who ran away to keep MC safe because he loves her so much but is still keeping secrets to a tee. This is where Britta loses focus. I am all for romance, if you guys know me you know I needs it in my books. Except there are times where it becomes too much. Ever the Hunted is a YA romance set in a fantastical world. It may not be marketed as such, but it is. Britta spends more time focused on getting together with Cohen and his body then Erin spends on building a fantasy world and the magic system.

Talk of Cohen being molded to a tee, well the story in Ever the Hunted is predictable to a tee. There was absolutely nothing that I didn't see coming from page 1 or way before it happened. Did that take away from me loving the book, yes. Did that hinder my enjoyment of the book, nope. This is no epic YA fantasy, and I found that out pretty early on well reading. The predictable factor is high and the world building and magic system are lacking in explanation. But overall it's an easy, light read. Ever the Hunted has elements of what makes a good, but simple fantasy story; it's political with the two warring countries, which of course leads to finding traitors in the mix. And there's a magic system. Did I understand how this magic system worked, uh, not really. But it's there and I know magic is a no-no in Britta's land, well-being more sacred on the other side of the border.

Ever the Hunted falls into a lot of YA tropes; Britta is a special snowflake, and well that can be over done, I actually don't mind it as long as I like the snowflake. And I did. I like Britta. Ever the Hunted is a good book. It reads fast and it's not one you have to spend a lot of time mulling over, nor figuring out. It's a romance heavy plot, but I say as long as you know that going it there's no reason why you wouldn't enjoy Britta's story. The ending didn't leave me in shock, but I'm still super interested in picking up the sequel next year. Again, I'm all for easy reading during this super busy time of year, and Ever the Hunted sure provided that.

I want to give massive thanks to Raincoast for including me in this blog tour. And of course, thank you to Erin Summerhill for taking the time to answer some questions.
Ever the Hunted releases on December 27th. Which makes winter break a perfect time to check it out. 

Happy reading!


Friday, 11 November 2016

Heartless Blog Tour: Meet Hatta + Review

G'day friends! Welcome to my stop of the Heartless blog tour. Are you guys excited for Heartless? Was it one of your 2016 most anticipated? Have you already read it? I know it's one of those things if not all three. Right? I mean it's Marissa Meyer, anything that lady writes is going to be gold and find its way into my hands immediately. Anyhow, I'd like to thank Raincoast Books for having me participate. And for giving me the chance to introduce you guys to a special character you'll meet in Heartless. Keep reading for an excerpt and my review.

About Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer

I live in Tacoma, Washington, with my husband and beautiful twin daughters. Published works: The Lunar Chronicles; Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Fairest and Stars Above) and Heartless.

Introducing..... Hatta

Hatta(The Mad Hatter), the bizarre. Seriously, Meyer captures what I love about The Mad Hatter in all his head scratching glory. Hatta and his magical hats and his entertaining tea parties are some of my favourite parts of Heartless. That being said, Hatta has his dark side. The mystery behind him is something I wouldn't mind Meyer exploring in the future(hint, hint). Hatta has his angry and cunning side as he continues to try and outrun time and his ultimate descent into madness. It's all so much fun!

Heartless Excerpt: Hatta

With one hand on her elbow, Jest guided Catherine around the table, toward the man who was occupying the throne at the far end. He was exquisitely dressed, with plum coattails and a crimson silk cravat. One finger skimmed idly along the brim of a matching purple top hat. Though he was young, his hair was silver-white, with a few choppy locks tumbling around his ears and the rest tied with a velvet ribbon at the nape of his neck.

He was slouched and apparently bored, feet set up beside a half-empty cup of tea.

Then his attention landed on Jest and turned lively, a grin fast to brighten his face. He swung his feet off the table.

“Well, well, if it isn’t our star performer, returned from the world of gallantry and riches.” He stood and gave Jest a quick embrace, before pulling away and grasping him by the shoulders. His smile had turned to scrutiny.

“Don’t seem much changed,” he mused, shutting one eye at a time to complete his inspection. “A bit scrawnier perhaps. Don’t they feed you in that fancy castle of yours?” He pinched Jest’s cheek, but was pushed away.

“Like a cow for slaughter,” Jest said, “but I’m also forced to work for my pay. A novel idea to you, I know.”

“A horrific waste of talent is what I call that.” The Hatter—for Cath assumed this must be him—grimaced suddenly and cast his gaze toward the Hare and Squirrel on the table. “That’s enough! I can’t take any more.” Grabbing a cane that had been propped against his chair, he whapped the handle of a spoon, which flicked a cashew from a bowl of nuts and sent it soaring right into the Hare’s open mouth.

The Hare froze. A sudden silence fell over the tea parlor. The Hare pounded on his sternum—choking. His red eyes bugged. Catherine tensed.

The Boa Constrictor slithered onto the table, encircled the Hare’s body, and squeezed. The cashew sailed out of his mouth and kersplatted into the Turtle’s teacup.

Catherine watched, appalled, but the rest of the tea party guests had already taken back up with their conversations and tea drinking. She seemed to have been the only one concerned.


HeartlessHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 8th, 2016
Pages: 464
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3.5/5

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The queen of re-tellings takes on a different world in Heartless. It's no secret that Wonderland, particularly starring Alice, are quite a popular commodity in the book world. I'm sure it has something to do with the bizarre world and characters that Carroll created. There's a lot to explore there. What I was really anticipating with Heartless, though, is Meyer's take on The Red Queen before she became the evil "off with their heads" tyrant. With no back story provided by Carroll, Meyer had the world at her fingers(and her imagination too) to provide readers with an interesting prequel.

Catherine/Cath lives in Hearts. It is a sleepy kingdom that thrives on gossip, parties, and characters of all sorts. As a Lady, Cath has expectations attached to her life and name. She's a noble lady, therefore she must act and live like one. Her love of baking and the dream of opening a bakery with her maid and best friend Mary Ann is farfetched but that doesn't stop Cath from dreaming of the impossible. Things starting going sideways when Cath realizes the King has taken an interest in her, a romantic interest. In fact, he plans to make her his Queen. Cath wants nothing to do with that life. She just wants to bake her days away. Then Jest shows up; the new court joker is mysterious and appealing. There seems to be an intense spark between Cath and Jest, one that Cath eventually falls into. Jest leaves Cath even more determined to control her own destiny and have the love and husband she chooses. Of course, that's not how the story goes.

We all know how this story ends before we even open the book. We know that Cath doesn't have a happy ending in store(well that could be argued but I digress, this is not a happy ending). Now we just have to know she got to that place of evil Queen. Cath starts out as a dreamy, intelligent and proper lady. She does what's expected of her, is nice to all the caddy people of the kingdom. Well, she plans her future in private. I love me a villain starter story. It's super intriguing to see their fall into wickedness. And admittedly Heartless was no different. As soon as Jest appeared it was quite obvious where Cath's story was going. But I guess I held out a teeny bit of hope that Meyer was going to change Cath's ending... As people kept trying to keep Cath away from her wants. As people kept trying to control her future. As the jobberwock wrecked havoc on Hearts, Caths decent into a less than content and starry-eyed dreamer was slow but obvious. The Red Queen was there on the horizon, love was going to change Cath in her. Nobody saw her coming(well nobody in Hearts).

Heartless is full of the characters that intrigue us, probably even love, from Carroll's Wonderland. Cheshire, The White Rabbit, Hatta and everyone at his mad tea party. Even just mentions of beloved characters were fun to realize. Hatta is as mad and bizarre as we know him to be. Cheshire is as cunning and truthful as expected. But Jest, Jest is a new one. It's hard not fall for the court joker. He's mysterious and swoony all rolled into a lovely package. My heart hurt from the moment I met him because I didn't foresee a happy ending for him.

Meyer took liberties with her version of the pre-Wonderland days. But all the charm and weirdness was in every page and every character. I could imagine this as part of Carroll's world. These characters are Meyer's yet fit in right with the magical world Carroll created. I did go in with high expectations. I mean The Lunar Chronicles is one of my absolute favourite stories. I fell in love immediately upon opening Cinder. So Heartless had big shoes to fill. At the end I thoroughly enjoyed Heartless, it is absolutely a great spin on Wonderland. There were just some bumps along the way. Cath's story was a slow one. I, unfortunately, was not dying to read every day. And that takes away a bit from my enjoyment. But those that last third was more on par with the action and adventure and intense scenes I loved from The Lunar Chronicles. So thank God for those last 150 pages(even if they were a tad bit sad).

Heartless is a fun and bizarre love story. Don't mistake it for anything else. It's about what happens when, in a world where anything can happen, your destiny is made for you. Cath's love for Jest is ultimately her downfall. Her transformation in The Queen of Hearts provides the entertainment value I love about Wonderland in all its impossible weirdness.

I want to thank Raincoast for including me in this blog tour. Very much appreciated.
Guys, make sure you check out Heartless. I know there's a Wonderland fan in all of us, so this one fits perfectly into that category. You should also check out the other tour stops so you can get to know many of the other characters Heartless introduces us too! Follow the tour on social media; #HeartlessIsHere

A photo posted by Brittany (@britsreadinglife) on

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

2016 Favourites Part 3

Check out Part 1
Check out Part 2

These posts always seem to fall on some kind of holiday. Well, I'm writing this on Thanksgiving, so that totally counts. So, Happy Thanksgiving to me fellow Canadians. I know these past few months, even year really, has been pretty sparse around here. Me and 2016 have not been the best of friends and unfortunately that's affecting my blog. Something 2016 and its terribleness has not been affecting? My reading. So there's that. Following on with this years trend, romance has been my main squeeze.  And I don't see that changing anytime soon. I've also continued to be surprised by the number of good books, even amazing books, I'm picking up. Very few duds. I'm still doing a bunch of rereading because obviously; rereading is possibly my favourite thing to do.

July 1st to September 30th stats:
Read: 45
Reread: 5
Most Read Genre: Romance/NA
Total Pages: 15,028
Total Books Read So Far This Year: 170
Total Pages Read So Far This Year: 57,798

These books are intense! Political scandals in a rich, exclusive high school in D.C. Need I say more? This series is amazing!

JLA can do wrong, and Torn fully proves that. Ivy is kick ass. Ren is sweeter than ever. And Tink; I mean "his secret" and him getting a cat are perhaps two of my most favourite scenes JLA has ever written.

This book is super relevant for this election year. But beyond that, one of the most solid debuts that has a strong family focus.

The ending I put off for far too long. And of course, it was stellar. This trilogy is all sorts of smart, shocking and fun. A definite space opera that I live for.

Yes, I love this book. But the best part and why I loved it even more? Karole keeps it real about the consequences of bullying. And erasing the stigma surrounding people in wheelchairs. Pax is a fully capable rugby playing guy, who has insecurities but won't let his wheelchair define him. 

Romance lovers this is a must read. Talk about life imitating art. Smut is fun, hilarious, sexy, adorable and mostly, totally meta. You don't have to be a romance writer to appreciate this book for what it is; perfectly awesome.

I inhale read this like I couldn't breathe until I reached the last page. Funny, real and loveable. I adore this book. It will be a top favourite of 2016. Mark me. 

Adorable. Perfect. Sweet. Exactly why I love Kasie West.

Loved Pippa and Jensen. Loved how much Hanna and Will are in it. Loved all the epilogues. Sad that the series is over but a satisfyingly perfect ending nonetheless.

Sherlock meets The Madman's Daughter in a super creepy Victorian London. With a total feminist MC that is down to kill stereotypes. Plus, that ship is everything.

Have you guys read and loved any of these?

Happy reading!


Friday, 30 September 2016

Vassa in the Night Blog Tour: Q&A + Review

Good day friends! Today I'm lucky to be taking part in the Vassa in the Night Blog Tour. Thanks to both Raincoast for having me and Sarah for taking the time to answer some questions. Vassa in the Night is a re-telling of a few popular Russian fairy tales. I'm unfamiliar with both of them, but that didn't stop me from being super intrigued by the synopsis. Read on for a Q&A and my review. 


I write stories that seem to me to be quite true enough for all practical purposes. Among them are VASSA IN THE NIGHT, THE LOST VOICES TRILOGY, and the forthcoming WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW and TENTACLE AND WING. Realism makes little sense to me and I experience more truth in the fantastic. I always have new novels underway, both Young Adult and Grownup/ Literary/ Speculative. When not writing my own weird stuff, I can often be found leading creative writing workshops with amazing young NYC public-school writers via Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Or I might be drawing, or gardening, or wandering wraithlike through the streets. I live in Brooklyn, land of mystery, with my awesome husband Todd and our two cats, Jub Jub and Delphine. websitetwitterfacebookgoodreads| instagram


Brittany: Fairy tale retellings are one of my favourite sub-genres. But we normally come across theSnow White, Sleeping Beauty, Disneyfied ones. I love seeing something so different; a
folktale I don't already know of. What drew you to Vassilissa the Beautiful and Baba
Yaga? The creepiness? The magic? Maybe you're a Russian history buff?

Sarah: Hi Brittany, I grew up with Russian fairy tales, so it wouldn’t have occurred to me to retell anything else. VASSA IN THE NIGHT is a kind of tribute to my childhood mythology.
I don’t have any particular emotional connection to Snow White or Cinderella or any of
the Grimms’ stories; they’re beautiful stories, but they didn’t form my imagination
in the way the Russian ones did. I can’t imagine retelling a story that I didn’t have
a deep personal connection with; writing a novel is such a long, immersive process that
you’ve really got to have your heart in it.


Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Pages: 304
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 4/5
Add to Goodreads

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair… 

Vassa in the Night has one of those synopsis's that absolutely pull you in with its intriguing yet weirdness. It totally caught my attention. I'll stray from my comfort zone every once in awhile when something like Vassa comes along. I mean I really didn't know what to expect going in. Something just really called to me from this book, so here I am.

Although unfamiliar with both Russian fairy tales that Vassa in the Night is based upon, that didn't stop me from wanting to know more. I like the fact that Vassa is something different in the horde of re-tellings oversaturating YA these days. And being unfamiliar with the original work just makes it all the more intriguing for me as I can go in knowing nothing and hopefully come out wanting to know more. Also means I have nothing to compare Vassa too, which let's face it is something that happens less and less these days.

How to sum up Vassa in the Night is close to impossible. It is one bizarre tale about a girl named Vassa and the corner store, BY's, that's pretty much taking over her Brooklyn neighbourhood. It's a store that walks around on chicken legs, with an old lady inside who seems fit to behead anyone who steals. Add in the fact that the nights are getting longer and longer and Vassa and the rest of Brooklyn are in a very lethargic state. Vassa, who is an orphan, lives with her stepsisters and stepmother and a little wooden doll named Erg; who eats more than should possible and gets Vassa into some tight situations with her sisters. One night finds Vassa going to BY's for lightbulbs and sees her being forced to stay there and work for three nights. That situation doesn't seem to have an ending that sees Vassa coming out of the third night alive. Especially when Babs, the owner, is giving Vassa tasks that are literally impossible for a human to complete. But hey, maybe Vassa is more than meets the eye as well.

Okay, seriously this book is a huge mixture of bizarre, intriguing and magical. There is absolutely no way I could describe this book or it's plot to someone. Which is possibly a huge check mark in Vassa's favour as every reader will go in blind not knowing what's coming their way. Did I understand what was happening half the time? No. But I liked it that way. I was seriously on this weird magical journey with Vassa; discovering the night is stuck, Babs is a psychotic old witch and there's a lot more to Erg than just a little wooden doll. 

Vassa is a cool girl. For someone that feels like they don't have a home, she's not outwardly upset about it. Vassa just accepts that she's in a way has a family, well she misses her mom. Erg and her one sister Chelsea don't necessarily see it that way. But it might just take the book for Vassa to get it as well. Vassa finds herself in a disturbing and undesirable situation working at BY's. She fully expects to not live through the three nights on her employment, yet she doesn't let that get her down. Showcasing that being helpful and nice do go a long way. Not to say Vassa doesn't have her own brand of cunning and sass. It's just that being nice means that people/things are wanting to help her. Also, no one likes Babs, so seeing someone take her on(finally) is a blessing. Like I said, Vassa learns a lot about herself and her life in those three nights. She's a very cool girl.

Vassa in the Night is magical realism at it's best. Honestly, with Sarah's poetic writing and strange storytelling, the reader is in for a head-scratching ride. Yea, I was confused at parts, but I also found the book to be utterly compelling. I needed to understand every little facet that was thrown into the story. Is that night on a motorcycle? What is Erg? What is the story behind Babs? The questions are never-ending. I know vagueness is a common theme in the synopsis and my review, but I'm pretty sure that's the point. Vassa in the Night is a magical fairy tale with an interesting set of characters and an even more intriguing plot. 

I want to give a huge thank you to Raincoast for allowing me to participate in this blog tour. And to Sarah for answering my question. 
Vassa in the Night is out now. It's the perfect fall/Halloween read. So just the right time to be picking it up.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Labyrinth Lost Blog Tour: Q&A + Review

Hi friends, Today I am lucky enough to be part of Labyrinth Lost Blog Tour. Labyrinth Lost was a book I was super eager to get my hands on upon hearing all about it moons ago. As chance would have it Raincoast announced they were hosting a blog tour in partnership with Zoraida Cordova and here we are. Keep reading to see what Zoraida has to say to the question I asked her. And I've got my review on the book(spoiler; it's good, guys) too.


Zoraida Cordova: Zoraida Cรณrdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of The Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and Labyrinth Lost. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. Send her a tweet @Zlikeinzorro

Q & A

Brittany: With the importance of We Need Diverse Books and #ownvoices, and just the general whitewashing in the SFF genres; How important was it for you to showcase your culture and be inclusive by having LGBTQ+ characters in a fantasy novel? I love how the Latin American myths and tradition were weaved into this magical world in Labyrinth Lost.

Zoraida: Thank you. Let me start by saying that I 100% believe in We Need Diverse Books and #ownvoices books. They are quality books that need more spotlight. I’m not here for people who argue that diverse = not of good quality. I’m also glad that readers feel that what they read in Labyrinth Lost feels authentic. But please don’t think that you’re learning about Ecuadorian myths because that’s not what I’ve created. I’m still writing fantasy, I’m just representing People of Color as well. Let’s unpack this.

“What’s real in Labyrinth Lost?” I’ve been answering a form of this question a lot lately. I think because my background is from South America, there’s an assumption that the stories in Labyrinth Lost are real/taken from stories I heard as a child. Don’t get me wrong; I’m super flattered that my world feels real. I thank everyone who is reading this book. It is exactly what I aim for as a fantasy author, and I thank my readers for that.

Let’s unpack Latin America. Latin America has many superstitions, despite the deep roots of Catholicism. There is no all-encompassing Latin American mythology. It’s not real. It doesn’t exist. My brief childhood in Ecuador doesn’t come with all the superstitions of all the other countries in South America. The UN recognizes 33 Latin American countries. That includes U.S. territories, former Spanish colonies, Portuguese and French speaking countries. What we think of Latin America is a U.S. media portrayal of white Mexicans and sexy Colombians and Italian-looking Puerto Ricans. We think of the parts that Spain conquered and colonized. At the end of the day, Latin America is extremely complicated because we are all so different and individual, but also united under region and language.

So what’s real and what isn’t?

We tend to paint Latinos as these magical and superstitious beings, and some of us are. The Native American community knows all too well what that’s like to a much worse extent. In hopes of stepping outside myths associated with Latinos, I decided to make up my own superstitions and my own stories and gods. It was so hard to take out the Llorona myth that everyone knows because even we have that story in Ecuador.

The gods of Labyrinth Lost are all made up. The other realms of Los Lagos is entirely made up. The Meadow is more inspired by Alice in Wonderland than any other culture. One of my favorite parts of writing this book was writing the cantos (spells) and epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. Writing creation myths is something I love, and the story of La Mama and El Papa (the major gods) was a lot of fun.

There is one monster in particular that is inspired by my childhood in Ecuador. When you’re a kid, everyone scares you with monsters. Duendes are evil elves that can steal you away. The Duendes in Labyrinth Lost are a little different, and hopefully I’ll get to bring them back in another book. But the one that’s stuck with me for a long time is the Cuco. In Mexico, there’s the Cucuy, which is a demon. For us (Ecuadorians), we scare kids with the “Cuco.” It’s a demon that eats children who behave badly. I always pictured a black beast with sharp teeth and claws. So, naturally, I turned it into the Maloscuros in Labyrinth Lost.


Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 4/5
Add to Goodreads

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Labyrinth Lost was a book I was instantly attracted to as soon as I came across the synopsis. Witches and magic are total buzz words for me, but Labyrinth Lost has that something different going for it; here we have bruja/brujo's

Alex is a great character. Sure we're working with the chosen one trope, but you know, for the most part, I'm fine with that trope as long as the "chosen one" is a likable character. And that Alex is. She's been secretly containing her magic because she wants nothing to do with it. Her family believes her magic will show itself soon, so Alex continues to let them think that. Until that moment the magic explodes out of her and Alex is on the path to becoming a very powerful witch. Alex wants nothing to do with that and thinks she can make her magic disappear; well, of course, that's not how that works and she makes her family vanish instead. Forcing Alex to make a deal with Nova, a boy she barely knows, to help her travel to Los Lagos to get her family back.

I had no issues with Alex. In fact, I totally understood her. Yea, she's a bit selfish, but what teenager isn't? Yea she believes in what some stranger boy tells her about getting rid of her magic. And yea, she decides to take it upon herself to cast a spell that's powerful and honestly has no business casting; yet again, how many teenagers try to do everything themselves? Most. So here she is a normal 16-year old who's scared out of her mind to become this very powerful bruja because her past makes her want nothing to do with the world she's grown up in. There's something about Alex, she's the quiet bookworm type, which really works for her when she's trekking through Los Lagos trying to find her family. She listens to her heart. She's kind and brave and turns into a total kick ass women when the time arrives. I cannot wait to see how Alex grows throughout the rest of the series.

Family is one of the biggest parts of Labyrinth Lost. They are the most important thing in Alex's life. This isn't another book where the main character is off to save their love interest and there's very little family present. Alex feels like the outsider in her family, but she's learning to just find her place. And it's a great story line.

As for Alex's companion, Nova. He's that mysterious guy with an angry past. And I spent the whole book trying to get my finger on what his real motives were for helping a girl he's just meet. Nova is a guy you should keep your eye on. Just sayin'.
Then there's Rishi; Alex's best friend/only friend at school. Rishi is smart and an utterly compelling girl. Like Alex, I was drawn into her larger than life personality. But also her loyalty to Alex. Rishi is in the dark with regards to Alex's magic. But she follows Alex into Los Lagos because of her need to be with her, help her. Not only is their friendship strong, the love there, but just maybe something else starts to bloom. Let's just say real feelings are coming to light.

The fantastical world, Cordova has created in Labyrinth Lost is wonderfully dark. Alex's family and then the world of Los Lagos is heavily influenced by different Latin American's myths, legends, and culture. Everything is from Cordova's mind, I loved how you can see the threads that are woven into the story from what is probably her childhood and the stories she grew up on. Los Lagos is that in between land. Think of it as a Wonderland of sorts. There're creatures and spirits and a dark power is trying to control it. It's not a place I'd like to find myself but it makes for an adventure that is great to read.

Labyrinth Lost is a fresh start to a series saturated in diversity of every kind. It's a perfect start to a trilogy, that I see getting better and better with each book. 

I want to give a huge thank you to Raincoast for having me participate in this blog tour. And also to Zoraida for getting involved with the Q&A.
Labyrinth Lost is out now, I highly suggest everyone go buy it or borrow it from the library.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite TV Shows of the 90's

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme held by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is: Honouring fall TV in some way. So I choose to go with my favouire shows of the 90's; my elementary/very start of high school years.

Let's face it, this is pretty much going to be a list of Disney cartoons because do you know me? Although TGIF was a staple time slot of mine. I also watched a few "adult" shows. But I'm sticking with shows that only ran through the 90's. No crossing decades here. 


"Who's the baby?" Dinosaurs being people in all our dysfunctional family ways. What is not to love about that?

Breaker High

Baby Gosling. Although short lived, this show was gold. I don't know how many times I watched every episode. It was my dream high school experience.


Looking up these shows have brought to my attention how very little episodes all of them had. Apparently watching the same episode 100 times as a kid is the same as getting a new one.


God this show was scary. Between this and Are You Afraid of the Dark? I don't know how I slept through the night. 

Ready or Not

This was the perfect show for an adolescent girl. They covered everything from boys to periods to bullying. Everything. 

Image result
Funny and action filled. I effing live for Gargoyles. I need to youtube the crap out of this right now.

The Little Mermaid
Image result
Favourite movie turned into a TV show. What was this magic?! Talk about a little girls dreams coming true.

"It's time for Animaniacs. And we're zany to the max." They sure were kooky. Now I will have this song in my head for the next week.

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers

The original Power Rangers are still the shit. Look at this high-tech set. And just so you know I was the Pink Ranger. I played the hell out her character. 


This dog was adorable. Plus he could read and act out favourite classic stories. This is literally my dream show(even now), dogs and books.

You guys remember these shows? Did you also love them? Hook up your TTT below.

Happy reading!


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Review: The Cursed Child by Jack Thorne & John Tiffany

The Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany & J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: July 31st, 2016
Pages: 320
Series: Harry Potter #8
Source: Purchased
Rating: 2/5
Add to Goodreads

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Like the rest of the world, I was counting the minutes until this next chapter in the HP universe was released. Went to the Midnight party, and stayed up into the wee morning hours devouring this play. As I was reading my thoughts were more along of the lines of !!!!!!!!. I finished and was like not amazing but great. And then I came out of my HP haze and was like nooooooo. So much terribleness and my good mood plummetted. This is why I had to let myself sit on this for a month before writing a review. I think I could have been really harsh after I did that emotional 180.

Any new Harry Potter is always going to make my life; having it connected to JK Rowling in some way, her being involved is like having your cake and eating it too. But at the end of the day, this isn't Rowling's work and it is NOT the 8th Harry Potter story. 

I have no doubt that seeing this on stage will bring about stronger emotions than just getting by with your imagination. Reading a script is easy but it doesn't give you the narrative an actual novel will. That really comes across when, like me, you know the original source material better than anything else in life. But I will admit just seeing the trio interact as adults are literally everything my heart desires. Draco and Ginny, of course, add to that dynamic. Being a parent and overcoming the past that won't leave you alone was never going to be easy for any of them.

Most importantly, McGonagall is still queen. #slay

Albus and Scorpius are definitely the show's stars(of course, I'm basing that off of a script, but I doubt I'm wrong) and by far really the only thing I liked about the script. Their friendship is glorious, which just adds to their complex characters. I love how they don't let their parent's old prejudices and history taint their first meeting. They are instant friends. And for both of them, living in the shadow of their parent's history, it's something they so desperately need. There isn't much to have to overlook when it comes to Albus and Scorpius's characters; they are sweet, endearing and really just trying to become their own selves.

As for the others, the ones we know and love, well I didn't love them here. This is 20 years later and they're still children. The flaws and immatureness they had as teenagers are still there. It's obvious that the writers just changed their age but didn't actually age them into adults. Harry is still rash. I mean he says some things to his child that is pretty much inexcusable. Hermione is Hermione as Minister of Magic, which isn't believable because she's making big mistakes and bowing down to people that shouldn't be. And if she was portrayed as a 40-year-old, instead of a 17-year-old in a 40 years old body she'd make a perfect Minster. And then there's Ron. My Ron. The Mr. Mom. The goofy comic relief. I will admit to laughing to some of his one-liners. But c'mon, this is not adult Ron we all imagined. He would not be okay with sitting back letting his wife be everything well he sits ideally by. Wasn't that the whole problem throughout the series? Remember Deathly Hallows? It's just glaring obvious that this isn't really the trio I love so much.

Unfortunately, the flow is a little wacky. It's pretty obvious that Rowling didn't write this. Honestly, the script is really poorly written. It's so simple; the dialogue. It's just not the same. It feels like a whack of fanfic tropes thrown together in one big mess. I don't care if Rowling came out and said this is canon. Has she forgotten the world she created? The characters? I refuse to take this for canon. The plot is sloppy and unbelievable. So much of the plot devices are head scratchers and just whys. The big one? WHAT THE HELL EVEN? I can't get behind it because it's unfathomable for a whole whack of reasons. Who would even think of that? It's gross.

My biggest issue is the missed "opportunity" at the end. I was honestly shocked and let down because I thought for sure I spotted all the signs of something that was being built up to be brilliant and wonderful. And then disappointment. Obviously being scared of what a few idiots would say kept the creators from exploring/adding something the original material is missing. This was something I was rooting for and very excited for as it was very clearly being developed throughout the script. I'm just really sad.

Of course, Harry Potter and nostalgia ultimately win. This is bittersweet. There's a part of me that wished I never read The Cursed Child. But I was also not going to. At the end, the release of this script was a cash grab. The smarter thing would have been releasing the play on DVD along with the script. I have no doubt that would have made me enjoy and appreciate this story a little more. 

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: If I Was A Teacher My Classroom Would Be Stocked With These Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme held by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is: Back to School Freebie; So I went with the books I would house on my classroom bookshelves if I was a teacher.

I'm imaging myself as a grade 7 or higher teacher because YA is life. And I know those bookshelves would have a wide range of books. It could be because the story is an important one. Or it's a favourite and I think everyone and anyone should read it. Maybe it's a good introduction to a certain genre. There'd be many a reason why these books would find a home in my classroom and why I think they'd impact these teens in a positive way. As hard as this is, I've kept my list to ten(and yes, I'm missing the obvious that is Harry Potter because obviously).

Narrowing this down was so hard. I feel like my list is incomplete. But I love this books. Agree? Disagree? Hook up your TTT below.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Review: I'm Still Here by Clelie Avit

I'm Still Here by Clelie Avit(translated by Lucy Foster)

Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2016
Pages: 256
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 2/5
Add to Goodreads

A modern take on Sleeping Beauty, for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Elsa is spending her thirtieth birthday in the hospital bed where she's lain for months after a devastating mountain accident. Unable to speak, see, or move, she appears to be in an irreversible coma, but her friends and family don't know that she's regained the power of hearing.

That day, a stranger named Thibault enters the hospital to visit his brother, who's just been injured in an accident that killed two young girls. He instead seeks refuge in the room where Elsa lies and quickly becomes intrigued by the young woman, returning day after day to sit beside her, convinced that his words are being heard.

As their connection grows, the doctors deliver a devastating blow to her family. Is it possible that Thibault knows something no one else does, and can he reach her before it's too late?

I'm Still Here has a synopsis that draws me in. It's ultimately why I requested it to review. It sounded like it had the same vibe and base story as The Women Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes(who is a favourite and I love that book). But nope, I highly recommend reading The Women Who Stole My Life if this book sounds at all appealing to you. Unfortunately, I'm Still Here fell flat in pretty much every aspect.

A modern re-telling of Sleeping Beauty is pretty spot on. There's the creepy guy falling in love with a sleeping girl whom he's never met. Nothing was surprising. I'm Still Here followed predictable to a tee. There was a major disconnect. The story lacked any sort of emotion expecting knowing how to piss me off. I'm not sure if something got lost in translation but all I can do is review the book I read.

I felt for Elsa. Poor girl can hear her doctors not giving a shit, her parents discussing pulling the plug on her life, her sister getting busy with a different boy every week. But as a character you don't get to know her. She's in a comatose state and yea, there're her thoughts and some memories but what can you really take away from that? Next to nothing is the answer.

Thiebault was barely any better. I get his anger and disgust towards his brother; makes sense. But what the hell kind of guy makes himself comfortable around, and ultimately thinks he's in love with women who's in a coma? Just no. It's not romantic. It's fucking creepy. Lurking in her room. Visiting her a few times a week. Making room for yourself on her hospital bed so you can sleep. Playing around with her tubes and machines. What the hell dude? Gross.

Then you see Elsa falling for this guy(Thiebault) too, looking forward to his visits(which I can overlook). She's alone in her head with a whole whack of absentee family members and friends. Random guy is the only one, creepily, paying attention to you. Actually having faith in your recovery. So I'm pretty sure, considering the situation, most of us would feel the same as Elsa.

Now what I can't overlook is the horrible medical care. What the bloody hell?! I can only hope that Avet isn't basing the doctors off of personal experience. Maybe she just hates doctors. Doesn't matter. Everything was just a piss off. Elsa's doctor could care less about her life. Elsa ain't brain dead. She's had some improvement since she entered the hospital. But head doc doesn't care. He's hell bent on convincing her parents that she's gone and it's time to pull the plug. He's not the only one; a few times Elsa shows signs of life and the doctors just rub it off as impossible and don't bother to check up on her. No scans, nothing. In fact, one doctor ordered one then saw her chart which shows that her head doctor pretty much says don't bother worrying about her, so he cancels the scan. It's a whole bunch of infuriating. Even more so knowing Elsa can hear them all making attempts to end her life. Also, how about the fact that she's literally lying in this bed for months and there's no nurse coming to switch positions, keep her muscles from deteriorating to nothing. They pretty much leave her for dead.

Which leads into what a caring family she has... Her parents barely visit. Her sister comes once a week to pretty much discuss her rolling door of boyfriends. Her parents complete lack of faith in Elsa is terrible. Her dad is so angry over how she landed in the hospital that he can't even get over it to feel for Elsa. Be sad, jackass. At least I know that if I ever found myself in Elsa's shoes I'd have a family that would be there for me every day, fighting to make sure I have the best care. Poor Elsa.

The ending was bull shit. You know when you're reading and everything is starting to happen in a rush because the ending is a few pages away? Well, that's annoying as hell. Here I am at ten pages left and Elsa is still asleep. So I just knew I was going to be angry with whatever happened. And I sure the hell was. Abrupt and stupid. I'll leave it at that....

So clearly I'm Still Here just really didn't work for me. It wasn't romantic or sweet. There wasn't that urgency for Elsa to just get better. The story lacked a lot. I definitely didn't hate my time spent reading it. I just lean heavily on the side of skipping over this one. Unless you read French, then maybe give it a go.

Happy reading!


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016
Pages: 384
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 5/5
Add to Goodreads

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

I actually first read It Ends With Us a few months ago. It's pretty simple, when a CoHo book shows up in your hands there's no waiting. That first read left me emotionally drained. So I failed to write a review. Making a reread in order. And I'm so glad it worked out this way as my second read was able to give me some much-needed perspective well knowing what was to come. Still being emotionally immersed in the story I was now able to step outside it and think about everything this story made me feel; my reactions to the raw situations and most importantly the happy ones. What I mean to really say is that It Ends With Us needs to be read twice. That first read is a prelude to what the second read will really offer you. Still, no matter how many times I read this book it will never take away from how much I love it and appreciate its existence.

The first rule of reading It Ends With Us is not spoiling It Ends With Us. This a book and story that everyone needs to discover for themselves. It is a story about Lily meeting a boy, Ryle and how their love unfolds. It is a story about Lily's past with a different boy shaping her future. It is a story about Lily's childhood mirroring her adult years in a way she never thought she'd let it. It Ends With Us is a raw and scary story saturated in Colleen Hoover's personal experience. Which is both moving and profound. It Ends With Us showcases the importance of having a supportive and caring support system. Ultimately this is a story that will have readers discussing a lot of important topics.

Naked truth, It Ends With Us was eye opening and has changed my life in less than 400 pages. This one line resonated with me, as I'm sure it will many people; as well as setting the tone for the book(actually the whole first chapter is a brilliant use of foreshadowing; after you've read the book go back and reread it and you'll see what I mean).
"Ryle looks over at me with a thoughtful expression. "Lily," he says pointedly. "There is no such thing as bad people. We're all just people who sometimes do bad things." pg.17
Lily's relationship is far from black and white. And the opinions I had before I read this book have drastically changed(on some aspects). It is so easy for someone outside of the situation to have an opinion. It is much different to be living through that situation. And I really understood those differences through what Lily experiences.

Beyond everything else, It Ends With Us is a deeply emotional story that is an important one. Tragically bad things happen and books like this one tell that story that many people are living. But also it doesn't have to end tragically; there can be a happy ending and that not everyone is alone.

Happy reading!