Tuesday, 10 October 2017

2017 Favourites Part 3

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

Oh hey. I'm still kinda hanging around here. Think about my blog sometimes. Like when I realize we're 10 days into October and I'm late doing this post. I leave for vacation early tomorrow morning, so this is going to be a rush job. But I want to get it done and out.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to me fellow Canadians! If you're anything like my house, there are now two weeks worth of turkey leftovers.
The 2017 trend continues; my reading is going alright. I've yet to discover that stand out read for my reading year. I've read a lot of blahs. Done a lot of rereads. And read some pretty good books. But in all honesty, I had to refresh myself on the past three months because nothing stood out. Which means this list doesn't even have ten books on it. What even. The rest of the year better give me some spectacular books!

July 1st-September 30th stats:
Read: 35
Reread: 9/35
DNFs: 1
Total Read So Far: 129
Most Read Genre: Romance
Total Pages Read(of finished books): 44,386

A super gay tour of Europe. Some of my favourite cinnamon roll characters of 2017.

A really solid ending to what I believe is an underrated trilogy. Historical Scotland + fae + broody princes + banter = a good time.

Gothic Europe at its best. Flirty banter(400 pages of sexual tension). Mystery. These books are bloody fantastic.

Zuzana's and Mik's first date with spectacular illustrations. This book is everything.

Emma Mills adds another adorable read to her repertoire. Clueless Claudia makes me a little frustrated. But in a good way. Family, friends, a little romance and perfect dialogue.

Cute! June is super pretentious(above high school). But that's what made her growth and realizations so spot on.

One of Young's best books to date. Broody Scotish men, self-growth, sexy moments and a bunch of emotions.

A very different CoHo book. This family needs a fuck ton of therapy.

Keep this one on your radar for early 2018. A dark and twisty Little Mermaid retelling. A bloody good time.

What's been your most favourite recent read?

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Fraternize Blog Tour: Review + Excerpt + Giveaway

Hi friends. Thanks for stopping by for my stop on the Fraternize Blog Tour. Fun times are being had, thanks to Thomas Allen. Continue reading for my thoughts on a Fraternize, an excerpt, and a giveaway!

About the Author

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

About the Book

Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken

Publication Date: Sept.12th, 2017
Publisher: Skyscape
Series: Players Game #1
Pages: 320
Add to Goodreads

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken kicks off a brand-new series in which romance is a game and love is a touchdown. 
Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done… 

No fraternizing with the players. 

Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too-sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way. 

Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart.
indigoamazon.caamazon.combook depository


Haven’t read part 1 of the chapter one excerpt yet? Check out yesterday post to find out how this flashback fits in!



“Are you sure this is okay?” I glanced around the empty locker room and shivered. My body ached in all the wrong places, places I didn’t even know existed. Practice had ended a half hour ago, and even though I’d rolled out my muscles and nearly cried from the impact of the foam roller, I still hurt.

“Sure.” Kinsey shrugged. “I use it all the time. Just make sure to lock up when you’re done. It’s one of the perks of being a Bucks Girl.” She dumped the last bag of ice in the tub and pointed. “Ten minutes, no complaining. No tears. Buck up, Bucks Girl.”

I shivered/ “I hate ice baths.”

“Everyone hates ice baths, psycho.” She patted me on the back and then gave me a friendly shove toward the tin tub. “Keep your sports bra and underwear on just in case one of the night janitors walks by or, you know, a player.”

I glared. “A football player?”

“No worries. It’s preseason, and practice is at the ass-crack of dawn tomorrow. It’s too late for them to be out, the big babies.”

“Okay.” I sighed, buying myself more time before Kinsey crossed her arms and waited. “You’re not leaving until I’m in the tub, huh?”

“I’m not leaving until your ass is in the tub.”

“I take back what I said about you being nice.”

Laughter burst out of her. “I don’t give a rat’s ass. Now get in the tub, Em.”

With jerky movements, I pulled my tank over my head, tossed it on the floor, and jerked down my black leggings.

“Get in.” Kinsey pointed.

“I am!” I snapped. “I just…was thinking.”

“You were stalling.”

“You’re a bitch.

“Name calling? Really?”

I gripped the sides of the tub and slowly lowered my sore body. A rush of cold stole the breath from my lungs as tiny needles started jamming into my skin.

“S-so cold.” I hated Kinsey. “I hate you, I hate you.”

Her answer was to shrug then grab a red kitchen timer and crank it up to ten. “Alright, see you tomorrow morning, friend!”

“I have no friends!!” I yelled back at her. I heard her laugh as the locker room door closed.

Teeth chattering, I tried to think of something to distract myself with while I was blanketed by chilly silence and an insane amount of pain. But the agony was intense, and my muscles seized with every breath I tried to suck in.

The locker room door opened again.

“We still aren’t friends!” I yelled as my body convulsed beneath the icy water.

“Well, that’s disappointing,” came a dark, sexy voice. “I could have sworn we made a pact of sorts this morning.”

I glanced up through frozen eyelashes to see Sanchez towering over my icy hell with a grin on his smug face.

End of Excerpt…want to find out what happens between Sanchez and Emerson next? Check out tomorrow’s tour post to find out!


So, I know I claim to be this huge romance reader. Which yea, super true. But this was my first foray into a Rachel Van Dyken book. A little ashamed there. Now that's been remedied, and I can say I liked what I read we can move on. 

Fraternize surprised me. Which is a not thing that happens in a straight up romance. I 100% assumed this was going to be a cookie cutter romance. I don't really like to be wrong, but I do like being surprised. So there's that.

I liked Emerson well enough. She's got a lot going on in her personal life. Add in that her love of cheerleading doesn't look kindly on curvy girls. Emerson has to work twice as hard for her talent to be seen just because of her body. I have no doubt that the girl has a killer, strong body. Of course, she makes the squad and in enters Sanchez; cocky, big talker, determined to make Emerson his best friend/more. Sanchez is so obviously fronting with all his over the top dramatics, that it's really hard to not like the guy. 

Emerson still misses her childhood best friend, Miller. It's a thing she constantly thinks about even though he hurt her. Well, hey, guess what? Miller just happens to be traded and apparently, he hate misses Emerson too. Fraternize also gives us alternating chapters from Miller's POV. It was a most excellent way to see Miller and their shared pass in two different lights. Because clearly, Emerson doesn't know the whole story. And vice versa. 

I want to say that yea, Fraternize has that love triangle thing going on. But at the end of the day, all there are in their early twenties. Emerson is leading neither of them on. And things might just surprise you. Feelings and emotions get confused and messy. Just maybe the past should stay in the past. Who knows what the future really holds. 

Fraternize is a super light and fun sports-centered romance. It gets silly and cheesy at many a times. But that's what I was expecting. I wanted a good time. Emerson has to put up with caddy cheerleaders who hide their jealousy through mean comments. Sanchez offers her an escape. Well, Miller offers her the truth. It's not all about boys and love. Emerson makes a few strong friendships along the way. Body image is a talking point. But these boys are great about hyping her up.
I thoroughly enjoyed Fraternize; my first Rachel Van Dyken read. I am so looking forward to the next book in this companion series. 

The winner will receive 1 copy of Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken! Giveaway Details:
- Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
- Giveaway ends on September 28th at 11:59 am EST
- Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email & will have 48 hours to claim their prize

Thanks again to Ambur and Thomas Allen for setting up this blog tour. I hope you guys will check out Fraternize.

Happy reading!


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Mid-Year Book Freak Out TAG

Full credit to A Book So Fathomless for coming up with these questions. Find their post here.

I've done this post/TAG for the past two years, so I figured might as well keep it going.

292838841. Best book you've read so far in 2017?
You know what? I've yet to read a book that I want to scream and yell about being an instant favourite forever and ever. But I do have some excellent reads. I think because it's the freshest in my mind, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. A romping good time!

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2017?
Two parter;
Companion sequel; Pucked Off. Surprisingly heartwarming and wrenching, different tone from the other books. But in a very good way.
Sequel in a series; Cashmere. This book is hilarious and different, well being a bit meta. I know the vampire craze is long over, and this series knows it by making fun of it.

337843733. New release you haven't read yet but want to?
I'm pretty much caught up on the releases I was most anticipating in the first half of the year. I do really want to read Flame in the Mist. But there's a good chance I'll wait till the sequel releases next year so I can do a binge.

4. Most anticipated release for the second part of the year?
Honestly, nothing I NEED right this minute. The Language of Thorns, Renegades and Hunting Prince Dracula are all highly anticipated though.

5. Biggest disappointment?
The disappointment of the century you mean. A Court of Wings and Ruin let me down in a lot of ways. After the gift that was ACOMAF I may have expected too much. Either way, ACOWAR barely delivered. I'm still not over this disappointment... Back to the ice cream I go.

319319416. Biggest surprise?
Eliza and Her Monsters; it wasn't even on my radar till about a week before its release and a whole bunch of reviewers were raving about it. So I downloaded an e-ARC and found myself fully invested within the first page. It's the perfect book for us that find homes in fandoms.

7. Favourite new to you author?
Jo Watson; I read her Destination Love series(or what's out so far in it) and thoroughly enjoyed her sense of humour.

8. Newest fictional crush?
I'm one to hoard book boyfriends like a squirrel hiding nuts. But 2017 you haven't been super kind to my shipper heart. Pucked Off finally gave me the chance to get to know Lance. And my perception of him definitely changed for the better. So feel in love with him.
9. Newest favourite character?
Monty, you flirt. He is a literal character. Gets himself into situations and the plans he comes up with to get out of them, zounds. I saw a post on Tumblr say(perfectly sums up The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue):
Everybody: Monty, no!
Monty: Monty, yes!

10. Book that made you cry?
Letters to the Lost caused plenty of tears. Not necessarily sad tears. The feels sure piled up and overflowed well reading that spectacular book.

11. Book that made you happy?
Damaged Like Us made me happy in the way that I was so damn happy to be back in this world. Back with some of my most beloved characters. Getting to know a new generation of Calloway's.

12. Favourite book to movie/T.V. show adaptation?
I really, really liked Netflix's adaptation of Thirteen Reasons Why. But because it was a book long before Disney got its hands on it, Beauty and the Beast(2017) wins. AMAZING! LOVED!
13. Favourite review you've written this year?
What reviews? Haha. Let's go with A Court of Wings and Ruin because I put a good effort into my ranting and disappointment.

14. Most beautiful book you've received so far this year?
This(>>) BEAUTIFULLY STUNNING edition of The Beauty and the Beast. The perfect birthday gift from my cousin and aunt.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
As I always say, any review books I acquire(or have already acquired).

Did you guys do this TAG? Hook me up if you did!

Happy reading!


Monday, 3 July 2017

2017 Favourites Part 2

Find Part 1 here.

Happy Canada Day! #Canada150 (or if this post goes up late Happy Canada Day Weekend).
These past three months have been decent. I've lacked on the posting and keeping the blog consistent; again. But I've done a good amount of reading. So close to the hundred mark. I honestly don't have any major standouts. I've had a few 5* reads, but mostly 4 and under. One massive disappointment; which if you know me you will see missing from this list. I need to try a little harder at choosing my reads. I need some books to make me super excited(like Belle >>) and get me back to being a reading machine.
As expected/assumed, romance has been my go to. Also, read some great YA contemps. Check the stats below:

April 1st to June 30th stats:
Read: 46
Reread: 9/46
DNFs: 1
Total read so far in 2017: 94
Most Read Genre: Romance
Total Pages Read(of finished books): 31,499

Adorable, frustrating, sex positive, movie buff awesomeness.

Sweet f/f romance with a few harder hitting moments.

Fandom, fame and mental health was written(and illustrated) perfectly. READ THIS BOOK. 

What happens when an 18 year old wins the lottery? A little bit of fun and chaos. Jen Smith is one of my fave authors. She's so dependable. 

Three days at a con with three awesome friends. Absolutely fun and perfect. Super positive rep for autism, mental health and LGTBQI+.

Smart, nerdy kids. There are some pretty big nerd-offs. With a hate to love manipulated romance. It's pure fun.

Hunting always knows how to deliver a great romcom. The relationship is a slow burn that borders more towards the sweet side. 100% approve.

Fun. Hilarious. A raging good time. 

Quirky and darkly funny. Friendship to the max. I mean, mature friend group. 

Oh Erickson.  I LOVE this author duo. Trust me when I say they create swoony romcom gold together.

I feel like I've been waiting a lifetime for this book. Moffy is everything I needed him to be. Loved Farrow. LOVED being back in the Calloway world!

What's been your favourite book this past quarter?

Happy reading!


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Blog Tour: Until It Fades by K A Tucker


Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania (population three thousand outside of tourist season).

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed date, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has rescued: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. There’s an immediate connection, and it’s more electric than the bond of two people who endured a traumatic event. It’s something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something she is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine...before the spark fades?
amazon.com| amazon.caindigobook depositoryB&NBAMindieboundapplegooglekobo


K.A. Tucker is the author of He Will Be My Ruin and the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series. She currently resides outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.


Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Pages: 356
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 4/5
Add to Goodreads

Until it Fades is a girls dream type romance. You know growing up when you imagine your celebrity crush(or just a celebrity) coming into your life in some way and sweeping you off your feet in some whirlwind romance? Until it Fades is mostly that for Catherine. She saves the life of one the NHL's biggest stars and her life immediately changes. Catherine is a small town girl, who had a really rocky and tough time in her later teen years. A scandal that the town blamed her for and then becoming a mom at eighteen. Catherine works at a truck stop diner to support her daughter, Brenna, well trying to build a relationship with her family again. Then enters Brett. Catherine saved his life and well that's going to bond two people whether they want it to or not.

Until it Fades is a pretty light read. There are a few grittier subjects that shaped Catherine and where she is today. But for the most part, Tucker lightly touches on what could have been a really dark book. Romance is the genre here, but I feel like it wasn't fleshed out enough. Until it Fades it quite plot heavy. Catherine isn't in the best head space, so she needs to build up her confidence again. The fact is that Catherine and Brett spend more than half of the book apart and barely talking. So yea there was that element of the slow burning, but also once they get together it really is a whirlwind. I mean rich guy, poor girl, you know. I really liked it. It really worked the for the book and their characters.

Let's talk characters. Catherine is super likeable. She fell for the wrong guy as a teenager; more like manipulated into falling for him and that caused her life to derail. But she knows what hard work is. Catherine is humble and kind(almost to a fault). Being there for her daughter, Brenna is everything to her. Brett is a really stand up guy. I dare you not to fall for him. For someone who could be a total douchebag based on his families status, he's the farthest thing from him. Watching him fall for Catherine and Brenna is really sweet. The accident made him realize that even at twenty-six he needs to plan for a future that can change at the drop of a hat. Brett is a truly nice guy who gives a crap. He's caring and adorable. Where do I find a Brett?
Not being a kid person, I'm surprised by my thoughts here. But Brenna totally stole the show. She's a really smart five years old. Has her wits about here. Listens to Catherine and her grandparents. But like any kid, she's going to repeat things or speak her mind. Which is really hilarious on the page when it gets Catherine into an awkward moment.
Supporting cast is awesome! Keith, Catherine's best friend is so dependable and a true friend. Misty is a bit of a mess herself, a little overeager, but you can't fault her where Catherine is concerned. Leroy and Lou, Cath's surrogate parents. The owner's of the diner and her safe place.
Catherine's family could not be any different than Brett's. It's funny to watch them interact the few times they do. Jack, Catherine's brother is a mischievous college hockey player whom I'm crossing my fingers gets his own book soon.

Until it Fades is a really solid book. It's more of a plot-driven romance, and although that's not my favourite I still found it to be super enjoyable. I sped through the story just wanting to see Catherine and Brett finally kiss. I know patience is a virtue that I don't have. But it definitely pays off. If you're looking for something on the lighter side of the romance scale. Something that leaves you wanting more with a side of great characters than pick up Until it Fades ASAP.
P.S. That easter egg for Toronto fans; I see what you did there, Tucker. 


Happy reading!


Monday, 5 June 2017

Review: How to Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

How to Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

HMH Kids
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4/5
Add to Goodreads

Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances.

One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again. How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.

Guyyyssss, what a sweet little book. I mean, there's definitely some sniffle-inducing moments. But all and all, so sweet and lovely. I read Ashley's debut, Suffer Love, last year. I remember thoroughly enjoying it. Buuutttt that's about all I remember. So, that's not great(but will make a good reread; be like I'm reading it for the first time(again)). Could be my fault because I read a bazillion contemps in a year. Where I was going with this is that, How to Make a Wish promised a bi MC in a gay relationship, so automatically I signed myself up to some non-existent list that promised me I would find a way to get my grabby hands on this one. And well I obviously did, but with a bit of trepidation because of the whole realizing that Suffer Love was ultimately forgettable. I think I'm safe here, How to Make A Wish leaves me with quite a bit to remember it by.

Grace was in a really hard situation. Her mom is the farthest thing from providing a stable parental unit. Grace had to grow up super fast, she's the adult in their relationship. And it shows on Grace's exterior. Grace's attitude and hard shell is hard to get pass at times but makes sense for the life she lives. How to Make A Wish is a book about different kinds of relationships but is also a great coming of age, self-growth story.  We start the book as Grace is coming home after being away for a few weeks, to find that her mom has moved them in with her new boyfriend. New boyfriend isn't a terrible guy, but the situation, living situation is terrible. Who ups and moves their teenage daughter to some strange guys home? And strange guys home also happens to be the home of his son; Grace's ex-boyfriend. Let's just say they didn't end of pretty terms. That's pretty much the icing on the cake when it comes to Grace's mom, the revolving door of boyfriends, drinking, no job, constant moving. As I said, not stable. It's really really hard to feel one ounce of sympathy towards her mom. Even when it's obvious that she's not mentally stable. To see the life Grace is living, the situations she has to save her mom from. Her mom even sells her piano. Which is Grace's love and life; her ticket to college. So there's the biggest and most complicated relationship in Grace's life.

Luca, Grace's best friend is a real treat. I want to call their friendship more sibling like. But it is a true and strong friendship. There are no secret lingering romantic feelings. Thank God. Luca is loyal and the most stable person in Grace's life. Which also brings his family into Grace's life. His mom is a better mom to Grace than her own. I love their relationship too. Like I mentioned, Grace is hard to get through to sometimes. She's got a hard shell that she can't let crack, and neither Luca or his mom ever shy away from being there for her. A lot of the time it is about Grace and what her mom has done now, Luca is perfect at talking Grace down, bringing her to reality. It's one of those things where Grace can say whatever about her mom, but if someone else, like Luca or his mom brings a dose of reality Grace is quick to be angry at them. But that never keeps them away, they understand. Two of the least selfish, wonderful people.

Eva is somewhat of a salvation for Grace. Yet also a complication. Luca's mom becomes Eva's guardian after her mom unexpectedly and quite suddenly passes away. Eva and Grace bond immediately. Over their art; Eva being a dancer and Grace being a pianist. Over their broken families. Both feel lost and unsure about their futures. The chemistry is definitely there. In a very sweet and innocent way. I mention this relationship is a complication for Grace because she doesn't want to care for and eventually lose someone else. She sets out to protect Eva from her mom by keeping the truths about her mom secret from Eva. Luca is on her to tell her everything. But Grace is convinced if she just tells Eva the bare minimum and asks her to keep her distance everything will be fine. Until it isn't. There's no falling out, there are just times where both Grace and Eva need time. I love them together. Even being a YA book, and them being young, their relationship has that timeless more mature feel to it.

Grace is a complicated character. Becoming the adult at such a young age will change how a kid grows and sees the world. Grace lives in a small town, she loves her town. But she wants out. Grace knows there's more for her. She is a very talented pianist. Grace works hard even with all her mother's setbacks. Grace doesn't provide the reader with an easy time. She is self-involved a lot of the time. She blames the world for giving her such a hard leg to stand on. Eva brings hard truths based on her life growing up as a dancer and being bi-racial. Luca's tough love starts to crack her shells. Grace's moms actions eventually really take their toll. I mean, that ex-boyfriend Grace was trying to make us hate so much showed a very different side to their relationship. Grace could be as uninterested as her mom at times. I never let her faults affect how I saw Grace. There was just something about her that made me connect with her instantly. And she showed major development. Yes, she could be quick to anger but it didn't always fester and Grace eventually learned to stop placing blame.

Yes, How to Make A Wish touched on some deeper topics, like grief and mental illness, but I never felt like the story went dark. It was a sweet first love with some very dimensional characters. I cannot wait to see what Ashley will give me in future books.

Happy reading!


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: May 16th, 2017
Pages: 400
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4/5
Add to Goodreads

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

I like Emery. I really do. Her first two books are two of my all-time favourite contemps. I had some issues with her last book, but that was a me thing. Of course, I was dying to get my hands on The Names They Gave Us. Even though I had some reservations. I wasn't sure how well I'd connect, even like The Names They Gave Us. It is about the daughter of a pastor struggling with her faith. I am not a religious person and can find that when faith and religion are one of the main plot points I find myself unable to connect to the story. Or even find that it's too in my face. Clearly, I shouldn't doubt Emery and her story telling abilities. I may not have been able to relate to Lucy on those aspects of her life but that did not take away from the enjoyment of this book. The Names They Gave Us may not be my favourite of Emery's books but I do believe it's her strongest(to date).

I had some misgivings about Lucy pretty much right away. You get this immediate impression of her; daughter of the pastor, clean cut, captain of the swim team, perfect upstanding boyfriend, hiding a few of her passions from her parents; she has a certain image to uphold. Or at least she thinks she does. My views on Lucy changed pretty quickly. She obviously had a lot of personal growth to go through. And it's not that she was a bad person, it's more that her true self had yet to have the time to shine through. Lucy was hidden behind her faith, the comfortable feeling of her trusting loyal boyfriend and captaining the swim team. The news of the return of her mother's cancer is ultimately the catalyst summer Lucy and all she'll learn. I loved Lucy for being curious and fiercely loyal. Even when shocking secrets are revealed and she has every right to be mad, Lucy remains unselfish and a decent person.

Obviously, her mom's cancer is tragic, but I want to point out the bright light that came from it for Lucy(besides her boyfriend pausing them because yea dude is nice but Lucy needs more than nice), her spending the summer as a counsellor at the camp next door. This isn't her families bible camp. It's a camp for troubled kids. Lucy goes in with misgivings. It is a very different setting than her normal summer. But that's the point. Lucy needs to get out of her comfort zone. To realize how strong of a person she is. To form new friendships. To strengthen her bond with her parents. And the big one for Lucy, learning to trust her faith and to know that it will change and grow as she does. I feel like a lot of readers will find themselves relating to Lucy in one way. Even if you live different lifestyles, personal growth and change is always a scary thing when you're a teenager. Even more so in the throes of tragedy.
Quick note on the cancer plotline; this is far from a "cancer book". Yes, Lucy mom's cancer is an element of the book but it is not the book. Far from it.

The Names They Gave Us is a character driven novel, as you would assume a contemp would be. Lucy is our leading lady, but there is a whole slew of characters that I came to love as they dealt with their own baggage, well also helping Lucy along on her summer of growth. The power of friendship really shines through for Lucy when she starts to form relationships with some of her fellow counsellors. I don't think she realized how lonely she was until that point. The four main friendships she forms are some of the best moments in the book. As a group they're dynamic is amazing and fun. They have that familial bond that is missing in a lot of YA books out there. Lucy starts to fit seamlessly into the group. Forming those new relationships, with the group and some of the other kids at the camp is truly what helps Lucy in her journey.

There is a romance; which is sweet and swoony and exactly what I wanted it to be. Never at any point does it take over the story. The romance is quite a few rungs down that plot ladder. Friends, family, faith and Lucy herself all squish up front and centre. Which is exactly how it should be for this story. I mean, I wouldn't mind more of Lucy and Jones in the future. Their relationship is super adorable. The whole always being yourself and honest with each other thing makes their lasting power as a couple believable. Even with them being so young.

The Names They Gave Us is a personal growth story. Lucy starts out pretty subdued and nieve. She believes there is so much holding her back from learning to be herself. Lucy believes things about her parents just based on their faith and that is a dangerous thing. This is where Lucy's curiosity and her ability to learn and change shape her as a person. What you believe in people, how you think they'll react or think is second nature to us. Lucy realzing that her parent's faith or somebodies home life isn't a good enough reason to judge. Just like Lucy loving make-up or not knowing what her future holds should stop her exploring her life and options in the present. The Names They Gave Us is just a great YA contemp for anyone looking for a solid one sitting read; it's got the fun times, the sad times, family, friendship and a pinch of romance. A total win for me. 

P.S. I get what Emery was doing with that ending, but open endings are my enemy. Just be forewarned. I'd like to think that leaves room for a sequel. I know that is very very wishful dreaming on my part.

Happy reading!