All About Books

All About Books

My passion is reading, I especially enjoy children's, young adult, fantasy, science fiction and realistic fiction-but read a wide range of genres.

A Step Toward Falling
A Step Toward Falling - Cammie McGovern

A Step Toward Falling is a book that is beautifully written and has a wonderful message of friendship and love, of fear and bravery, and of learning to reach out and stand up. This is a book that is well worth reading.


Lucas and Emily. One a successful football player and part of the popular social group at school, the other an academic activist. Now they are connected by one night where they both failed to act when Belinda, a fellow student with developmental disabilities, was being attacked. As Belinda deals with the aftermath of the attack she must decide what direction she wants her life to take, while Emily and Lucas must each deal with their guilt while undertaking community service at a relationship skills class hosted at the local centre for people with disabilities.


While this book is about Emily and Lucas' journey, it is equally, if not more so, about Belinda. It is about falling in love, but it encompasses two love stories not one, and it is also about friendship and learning more about caring for the individuals around you.


Belinda was my favourite character. She is so strong and brave and smart. She has been hurt, but is pretty smart about what she needs to do to move forward and about learning from something bad that ends up bring a lot of good for people. Emily on the other hand kind of drove me nuts. Now, no character in this book is perfect, they all have flaws and quite a bit to learn about being nicer to people, but Emily really takes the cake. She isn't mean on purpose, she just sometimes seems oblivious to how what she says hurts others. I thought she was especially obliviously rude to Lucas. But this book is about becoming aware and Emily does learn to reflect on what she says and assumes, I just found that Belinda is far more aware of this and reads as a much nicer character as a result. Lucas makes a nice contrast to Emily. As the story is not presented from his view point, we never really get much of an insight into his life, just fragments as he talks with Emily. There was a lot more I wanted to know about Lucas, about his home life, his goals for after school and his relationship with his father. Unfortunately we don't get to see much of this, but there are a lot of different stories in this book; Belinda and her mother and grandmother, the respective friendship and class groups at school and of course the Life Skills class group at which Emily and Lucas volunteer. I have to say I learnt a lot about communication and expectations from reading about their interactions, and I loved all the different characters and personalities that emerged as a result.


At first the story really jumps all the the place time wise, moving from Emily's first day at the centre, to just after the attack, to before, to during and back again. As the story continues though, this straightens out, with just a few jumps back to clarify the details of that night. As the story progressed I also became more connected with the characters.


I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved that it was Belinda's story and that she got to tell it. This is a book that is perfect for changing world views, or maybe just changing how you see and treat the people around you.


The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4 Stars
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris- Review
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris - Jenny Colgan

No prizes for guessing why I picked up this novel! Romance + chocolate + Parisian backdrop sounds like a recipe for a good love story to me.

I very much like the book’s setting, and think the author encapsulates the Parisian well - though I’d have loved more description of this most romantic of settings, and perhaps a little more exploration of French characters beyond the stereotypical brusque ones.

The chocolatier element of the plot is delightful - really evocative and fascinating, and I confess I found myself craving a sliver of fine chocolate several times during the reading! I love the inclusion of recipes at the back, and will be sure to try out one or two.

One of my favourite elements of the book is the way the author blends together two stories - those of modern-day Anna and of Claire when she was young. I especially engaged with Claire’s love story; she’s a very likeable character, even if she frustrates us a little for having waiting so long to fight for love.

I love the character of Anna’s roommate - exhibitionist, eccentric, very ‘Moulin Rouge’; just what a sad and lonely girl who’s new to Paris needs to thrust her into the thick of life.

This is a romance novel, but different in the sense that it deals with some serious issues, and the undercurrent of the book is far from light and fluffy, but really quite dark and thought-provoking. Not a book to pick up for romantic light relief, but one to read if you like grande tragédie and love grounded firmly in reality. And Paris!

5 Stars
Fish in a Tree-Review
Fish In A Tree - Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I love Ally! By the end of the first page, I was in love with her narrative voice. As I was pulled deeper into the story I fell more in love with this spunky protagonist. The teacher in me ached for her and her struggles with reading and page 13 I was tearing up and wanted to hug her and tell her she was not stupid! It didn't take long for the little girl in me who struggled with math (and still does) to completely relate to Ally.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt does such a beautiful job capturing the struggle of having learning differences and believing the wrong voices. All her characters have a wonderful balance to them. I can see kids of a span of ages reading the book and relating comfortably to the characters. I believe this should be read by all educators. It will touch you and challenge you to be more mindful of what your students are dealing with. Kids are going to enjoy this too. They'll see that it's okay when your brain works different from others. It's okay to stand up for yourself and for others. That most mean kids have another side to them, but it doesn't excuse their actions. That you have a choice about how you respond and how you treat others, but sometimes you make the wrong choice.

This book goes next to books like Cynthia Lord's Rules as a book that will be impacting lives for years to come. A beautiful example of why we know we are not alone.

Thank you, Lynda Mullaly Hunt for releasing Ally into the world and telling her story.

5 Stars
Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel Tyme #1-Review
Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel - Megan   Morrison

Fairy tale retellings are my catnip, especially when the story incorporates multiple fairy tales. Both Rapunzel and Jack the Beanstalker take the stage in Grounded, and their story is unlike any other that I have read. The third person narrative packs all the heart, voice, and emotion that first person narratives often do and provides the reader with uncountable moments of witty, hilarious, and meaningful dialogue. There wasn’t a second after I passed the first page that I wasn’t eager to keep reading and desperately hoping the to-do lists of the day would vanish for the sake of adventure.

The quick but steady pace, delicious plot twists, and honest writing set up a heart-pounding fairy tale, but the characters, both main and secondary, are what will steal the hearts of readers. Rapunzel is beautifully flawed, unapologetically herself, and a character whose growth will quite possibly draw a few tears from time to time. She is a top-notch role model whose steadfast sincerity and loyalty will captivate both young and adult readers. Alongside her, Jack is absolutely adorable, a brave dreamer, and a fantastic friend whose own journey is full of meaning and maturing. Megan Morrison does a stunning job of crafting a villain for the story who draws compassion, uncertainty, and above all, complexity.

This invigorating story is perfect for fans of the movie Tangled, readers of fairy tales, and anyone looking for an unforgettable adventure. As one of my favorite reads ever, I can’t wait to flip through these pages again and again, soaking up the magic of Rapunzel and Jack’s journey. Grounded has addicted me to the world of Tyme, and I wish all the speed of the fairies for the next book to come along.

Sisters - Raina Telgemeier

This is a companion to Telgemeier's wonderful Smile, in that it's also about her life. You could very easily read either book without ever having to read the other, but why would you want to do that? They're both great.


Sisters, naturally enough, is about Raina's relationship with her younger sister Amara, from Amara's birth through Raina's teens.  Nobody can push your buttons like a younger sibling.  Anyways. Raina does a great job with showing just how difficult the relationship between siblings can be, and she does it without sparing herself. Yes, Amara is often difficult in this book, but Raina is, too. True, Amara does come off a little better through most of the book, but this is filtered through her own memories. I'm sure it must have been very, very tempting to make herself look better.


This is definitely in Raina's signature style: cartoony, simple, expressive. I like it, it's clean, and it works for what she's doing here.

5 Stars
Bewitching - Alex Flinn

What if the fairy tales we all grew up on got it wrong? What if the evil step-sisters weren't so bad, but cruelly manipulated by Cinderella? What if the mermaid didn't get her "happily ever after" with her prince,but a tragic end? What if the witch wasn't an evil shrew, but just a lonely girl who tries to help others, sometimes with disastrous results? Bewitching, re-telling classic tales through the eyes of the witch, breathes new life into these stories and shows us (to quote my favorite witch, Alex Russo) "everything is not what it seems". I have to start by saying that Bewitching caught me completely off-guard. I expected the story to be a little fun and cute, but I didn't expect the lessons learned and to have as much fun as I did! The story is primarily from Kendra's point-of-view, but does switch to the view of the character she is helping at the moment, mainly Emma. Emma is a sweet, but plain girl, bookish and quiet, living a happy life with her mother and step-father. But her life takes a dramatic turn when her beautiful, perfect, and seemingly fragile step-sister Lisette comes to live with them after her mother's death. Emma is desperate for a sister, and wants to be close to Lisette, but it quickly becomes apparent that Lisette is out to destroy Emma, out of jealousy. Because she is so sweet and seems innocent and broken, Lisette (Cinderella?) is automatically given the benefit of a doubt. Emma, who is plain and quiet, rarely has the courage to speak up for herself, is quickly forced into the role of the "evil stepsister". Kendra, for the most part is a quiet observer to Emma's pain, only offering bits of advice. But when Lisette goes too far in her effort to destroy Emma, she decides to step in and help. Will her efforts turn out as tragically as it did with a certain mermaid? Or will she be able to change a life for the better, as she did with the Beast?

Ms. Flinn has the most captivating voice in storytelling and I can’t help but be drawn into everything she writes. Kendra’s story is told within Emma’s story so as I read along I learned both about Kendra, the misunderstood witch who got a bad rap in Beastly but is so fully understood and loved in Bewitching and then there’s Emma, the teenager that Kendra is wondering if she should help or not. Emma's story is a modern day re-telling of Cinderella but it’s not (~Wink~) you’ll have to read to figure that one out! Ms. Flinn’s perfectly poetic plot is full of action, suspense, mystery and of course, magic! Kendra manages to pull off some hilarious hijink’s that had me chuckling-nothing like seeing the ‘mean girl’ get hers! On top of all that, there is Kendra’s glorious history from Louis XV to the Titanic, each one a well known faery tale.

4 Stars
A Kiss in Time- Review
A Kiss in Time - Alex Flinn

Overall, I have to say it was somewhat entertaining and at times slightly far-fetched. So if you go into this story with the intention of being entertained, you’ll enjoy this book. However, if you’re looking for a re-telling, that’s where some might be disappointed and slightly underwhelmed.

Many might call the protagonist Talia pretentious, precocious and quite immature, and Jack somewhat weak and lost, but if you give them both a chance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their character growth at the end of the novel.

The majority of this story takes place after the kiss. Interesting enough though, Flinn decides to have the princess sleep for over 300 years, waking the entire kingdom into the modern world where love at first sight, jealousy and curses take on a whole new meaning. So let me focus on those aspects I found interesting.

Flinn takes a whole new approach on the curse. If you remember, the King and Queen simply failed to invite Maleficent to the celebration of Aurora’s birth and because of that Maleficent casted a curse over the baby. Well in A Kiss in Time being snubbed by the King and Queen was not the sole reason for Malificent’s or in this case Malvolia’s curse. There was more to it. A deep seeded revenge on the King, which you’ll have to read to find out.

Also, the curse specifically stated that on her sixteenth birthday, before the sun sets, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. Merryweather was unable to undo Maleficent's curse but rather only able to weaken it. The curse didn’t say “might prick her finger” or “could possibly prick her finger” it was destiny/fate for the princess to fall victim to the curse. So hiding the princess away or burning all the spinning wheels in the kingdom wouldn’t help, it was inevitable. It was interesting how Flinn spun that aspect in her story.

Lastly, when the fairy sought to lessen the curse, she said that the princess would awaken by “love’s true kiss.” In A Kiss in Time I got the impression that Flinn doesn’t believe a merry dance by the meadow between two strangers constitutes “true love” so in her retelling, she makes these two character go through a lot more to prove they truly love each other.

All pretty interesting when you change the cast; add a few more gifts by the fairies; really pay attention to the curse; extend the sleep by 300 years; and force the knight in shining armor to do more than cut some weeds and slay a dragon to prove his love.

Overall, I will have to say it requires a substantial amount of reality suspension, but don’t all fairy tales?? Fun retelling, that is either a huge hit or miss for YA readers. I enjoyed it enough though.

Towering - Alex Flinn

Towering is an enchantingly dark re-telling of Rapunzel with a modern twist.

The story opens with a clash of modern and fairytale-esq scene setting. Trapped in a tower she's never left Rachel reads classics and wonders what the world outside her confinement is like. Alternately, Wyatt checks his cell phone for reception as he exits a train and steps into the small, isolated town of Slakkill.

My favourite aspect of this book was the mystery. Flinn creates a creepy, and desolate atmosphere that adds to the overall tone of the story and immediately sucks you in. After a devastating incident, Wyatt is sent to live with Mrs Greenwood, his mothers childhood best friends mum. Upon arrival he finds the journal of Mrs Greenwood's long lost daughter, Dani. Using this journal he tries to piece together the mystery behind Dani's disappearance - all the while questioning his sanity. Did he really just see Dani's ghost? Why can he hear singing that no one else can? What secrets lie in the town of Slakkill?

Flinn throws a bunch of questions at the reader, which makes for an interesting and unpredictable read. You wonder why Rachel's 'mama' keeps her trapped in a tower, and question how she fits into the puzzle Wyatt is trying to solve. Plus, you know as the reader that the two will unite at some point...

Towering is a quick read with a solid writing style and an interesting mystery.

4 Stars
Starting Now-Review
Starting Now - Debbie Macomber

Starting Now is a new addition to the Blossom Street Novels and if you enjoy that series, this one will also warm your heart. If you haven't experienced Macomber's books, she can really wrap you up in her characters. You should give her a try -- it's not necessary to read this series in order.

That's what these books are -- heartwarming. I couldn't read books like Starting Now every day, but they are wonderful change of pace for me.

Libby is a divorced, hard-working attorney that has sacrificed almost everything to make partner in her firm. She is very surprised when instead of being made partner, she is laid off. Her boss admonishes her to take some time and get a life. It takes Libby a while, but she does change her life tremendously.

Libby's path to happiness isn't straight, by any means. Every time she thinks things are going her way, something happens to throw her off the path, but eventually she gets there -- after all, that's what these books are all about -- you feel SO GOOD when they end.

4.5 Stars
Manhunt - Kate Messner

 Manhunt is the third book in the Silver Jaguar series, but luckily it doesn't really matter if you've read the first two books or not. Messner sufficiently summarizes relevant information that Manhunt is readable on its own.

The premise--the kids are junior members of a secret society that protects the world's treasures--is a bit hokey, but exactly the kind of plot that kids find intriguing. As a grown-up, the lack of parental oversight is frustrating, but it's what enables the events to occur, and a kids' adventure book wouldn't be nearly as exciting with grown-ups following the kids everywhere.

Messner has managed to cram quite a bit of historical information into the book, and her incorporation of real-life places (like Notre Dame and Shakespeare & Co.) will connect kids to the story even more.

4 Stars
Normally This Would be a Cause for Concern: Tales of Calamity and Unrelenting Awkwardness
Normally, This Would be Cause for Concern: Tales of Calamity and Unrelenting Awkwardness - Danielle Fishel

I read this book as I quite enjoy Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World. The thing I like about most autobiographies from Hollywood types is the ease at which you can read it, this one did not disappoint in that manner. This was not a treatise on all things Danielle Fishel, rather a fun read that went through her life and career.

The thing that surprised me a bit was the lack of interesting stories from the set of Boy Meets World-there were a few but not as many as I was expecting.

All in all, Danielle Fishel did a very fine job of crafting an interesting story, that at least seemed to capture the "real" person.



5 Stars
Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret-Review
Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret - D D Everest

 I absolutely adore the world D. D. Everest has created in this book - I want to live in it. I haven’t been this desperate to crawl into the pages of a book in a long time. Librarians with magic powers! Flying books! Magical creatures! Pop out/up books!

Apart from the world building (which we’ve established is brilliant) I also thought the characters were great. The descriptions D. D. Everest gave were ideal.

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret is definitely a story that will keep you entertained from the moment you turn the first page.

4.5 Stars
Cloaked - Alex Flinn

This was an amazing mash-up of a multitude of fairy tales. Throughout the book we stumble upon retellings of many classic and lesser known tales - "The Elves and the Shoemaker," "The Frog Prince," "The Six Swans," "The Golden Bird," and "The Brave Little Tailor." I love how Ms. Flinn updates and changes the tales to blend together into one amazing journey.

The hero, Johnny, is teenage a shoemaker, working in his family's shop and trying to help his mother make ends meet. He is the epitome of a responsible and reliable teenager, until he meets Princess Victoriana. Johnny suddenly goes from living a boring life to a full on adventure of a lifetime, all to help a princess in distress. Johnny takes chances that he would never have imagined before, he learns more about who he really is and figures out that nothing is ever as it seems. Johnny sure gets the experience of a lifetime - talking animals, finding out that magic exists, and traveling in unconventional ways.

I think my favourite character in the book has to be Meg, Johnny's best friend. She is smart, sassy and practical.

The entire story is very lighthearted and very comedic in tone. It was such an enjoyable read.

I really like that the author added notes at the end to reference the different fairy tales that the story was based upon as I recognized a few and others I had no idea about. It's a great reference and I plan to look up quite a few to read for myself

5 Stars
Written in the Stars-Review
Written in the Stars - Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars truly is a heart-wrenching novel.

“Life is full of sadness. It's part of being a woman. Our lives are lived for the sake of others. Our happiness is never factored in.''

Written in the Stars follows the ideologies within a Pakistani family unit. It talks about arranged marriage and forbidden love from a unique cultural perspective.
It's fair to warn you that you may be somewhat bothered by the graphic content. Our protagonist Naila goes through a lot of painful experiences and disgusting treatment. Seriously, I am freaking reeling from the suspense of it all. Naila's parents and other relatives are extremely conservative and I guess it's hard for us who live in progressive societies to understand. But note that there is a gigantic difference between an arranged marriage and a forced one. Naila was not even aware she getting married! I mean, who does that? At least in an arranged marriage you sort of have a say in whoever you're marrying. Whichever way you look at it, some of the treatment shown here is very abusive and I think nobody deserves that. No one. Whatever the race, the gender or religion, everyone deserves a shot choosing who to love.

“My mother always says when you fight destiny, destiny fights back. Some things, they're just written in the stars. You can try but you can never escape what's meant to be.”

Aisha Saeed is a very talented writer. She captures the feeling of the character and the moment that as a reader you get so caught up in everything. There is a tremendous amount of depth here, in the plotlines surrounding her family and her obligations as a Muslim Pakistani woman, in the comparison and bridging of the East and West cultures, in the efforts our characters are willing to put in just to be able to choose their own paths and find happiness.

There may not be a sci-fi or dystopian element in the romance, but reader can still empathize with Naila, because she's only a young 18-year old. I still consider this a YA book. A very compelling YA book that opens our eyes to the real issues that matter.

4.5 Stars
Beastly: Lindy's Diary Review
Beastly: Lindy's Diary - Alex Flinn

I have been wanting to read this for a little while now. I adored Beastly (and several of Alex’s other works) and the idea of re-reading Beastly from Lindy’s perspective was hype enough to make me want to read it. And I wasn’t disappointed. This little novella is exactly what it’s advertised as, a retake of Beastly via Lindy. If you’re read Beastly, you already know the basic plot. Kyle is an asshat and Kendra curses him to live as a beast until he finds someone to love him. Lindy turns out to be that someone.

I loved seeing her side of things. She’s sweet and caring and really has a thing for Kyle, though she tries to hide it. She struggles to make ends meet, but you don’t really hear her complaining about her situation. School, work, tutor on the side, try to keep her dad out of trouble, and she manages it all gracefully. There aren’t many people who could in that situation. Seeing “Adrian” through her eyes was also interesting to read about. I loved that she knew that he loved her without having to hear him say it or be reassured continually that she was worthy of someone like him. Basically, she is a great change of pace over the sloppy, whiny, heroines that dominate YA. 

5 Stars
Beastly - Alex Flinn

Beastly is a heartwarming, wonderfully retold version of Beauty and the Beast. It is a very delightful read, with the chat sessions, the modern-day setting, the wide range of emotions, lots of references to classics, and tons of roses. It is just perfect. I expected a fairy tale retold, I’m not disappointed.

The story deals with important issues, such as inner values over appearance, abandoned children, the parent-child relationship, true friendship, empathy, patience, and love.

BeastNYC: OK. It all started because of a witch.
Froggie: thts hw they all strt

The story is told from Kyle’s (a.k.a. Adrian’s) point of view. His character is creditably drawn. Kyle has to reevaluate everything he thought to be right and worth following before: his values and beliefs in life, friendship, love, his relationship with his father, and his attitude toward people as a whole.

Lindy appears in the middle of the book. She comes from terrible family circumstances. She is a strong and courageous character, she is smart and independent. Lindy’s character is not fully elaborated, so to understand her thoughts and feelings Lindy’s Diary is highly recommended.

It is a slow-paced read, because the setting spans two years. Although I usually don’t, I enjoyed every moment of that. There are no surprises in the plot, but the ‘hows’ are interesting.