Monday, 16 November 2015

Juhina's most anticipated realases in 2016

I have finally had the time to sit down and look through some of the upcoming releases of mostly 2016. There are so many great titles but recently I have become even more picky, if that was possible. You'll notice here there are barely any contemporaries because surprisingly, I have somewhat moved away from that genre (not completely!) and became more interested in fantasy and also adult fantasy. However, this post is mostly YA books. Also, only books that actually have covers are on here. Because books such as Leigh Bardugo's sequel as well as any Marissa Meyer upcoming release would have been on here.  Let me know which books from this list are you excited about, as well as the most anticipated release for you that isn't on this list! 

There are two series finales here (The Raven King and Morning Star) and holy crap am I dying to get my hands on both. Both these series are currently 5 star reads so I am expecting a huge showdown for both! Shimmer and Marked in Flesh are the books before the last in the series (Shimmer being #3 and Marked in Flesh being #4) and man the paranormal and adult urban fantasy series, respectively, are both blowing my mind. Lastly is The Rose & The Dagger which is an anticipated sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn, a book I LOVED because of how well the author handled this retelling. 

High fantasy galore guys. So many kingdoms and chosen ones and assassinations, i'm living in heaven. I don't know too much about each one but after reading the synopsis of each, man am I excited to hopefully get sucked into gear fantasy reads and worlds. 

This batch is a little bit all over the place. The first book, A Study in Charlotte is a contemporary mystery thriller set in a boarding school. What MORE do I want? Riders is Veronica Rossi's sophomore YA series and man did I love Under the Never Sky! Truth witch I already own and I love anything witch related that is written well. Heir to the Sky? another unique fantasy plot that I'm hoping won't be riddled with cliches. Passenger I'm excited for because Alexandra Bracken wrote The Darkest Minds trilogy which I only read the first book of but I think was very well done and unique. I can't wait to see how good this one is. 

Three contemporary authors I read anything they write: Morgan Matson, Kasie West, and Jenny Han. However only the former two currently have coming soon releases. I can't wait for both The Unexpected Everything and P.S. I Like You! Summer Sloane is set in Hawaii and sounds like a fantastic contemporary. Summer in the Invisible City does sound like a typical contemporary but something about the synopsis had me interested. Lastly, Love & Gelato! Like, Gelato? I'm in. The synopsis sounds super cute so I'm in. 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

No-Churn Ice Cream - over 100 simply delicious no-machine frozen treats

It's official, I'm never eating store bought ice cream when I can make ones that are not only delicious, but I actually know every single ingredient that goes in and I control how much sugar, fat, and flavours that go in my ice cream. 

To put it simply, I feel like I was robbed somehow because making this ice cream was THE simplest dessert I EVER made in my life. I ended up choosing to make chocolate ice cream because if you know me, that's basically the only ice cream I ever buy. The ingredients were so simple, and I didn't even need any baking equipment, just a bowl, a hand mixer, and something to put the final product in and put in the freezer. I also modified some of the ingredients, the first is only putting in half of the required sweetened condensed milk, and it STILL came out a bit too sweet for our taste. My family doesn't really eat overly sweet desserts so our taste buds are sensitive to sweet things. Also, I added instant coffee instead of vanilla extract (something the book mentioned as a replacement if we love coffee, which my family loves a little too much). That small addition of coffee made the whole ice cream taste SO much better. The bitterness of the coffee also covered up the slightly too sweet taste of the overall ice cream. 

I ended up serving this to two guests at our house and one of them was very surprised that this was all done manually without the use of an ice cream machine and they both really liked it. My dad, who is an ice cream junkie, gobbled it up, and my brother, who rarely eats dessert, ate one spoon forcefully (by me) but ended up taking the spoon from me and eating a couple more. That, my friends, is all the confirmation you need to know that this book is worth it. It does not only have ice cream, but sherbets, gelato (which is different than regular ice cream), cakes, and other ice cream incorporated desserts. I definitely recommend it to fans of ice cream who don't like all the additives in the store bought ice cream as well as ones who can experiment with different flavours and basically make the ice cream exactly how they want it, in half an hour, with the least amount of utensils. The only sad part is having to put the ice cream in the freezer for 6 to 8 hours before you can actually eat it. 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Review: Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales

Tonight the Streets Are Ours
Title: Tonight the Streets are Ours
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Raincoast Canada
Publication date: September 15, 2015 
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 342
Recklessly loyal.

That’s how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Caring for her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But lately she’s grown resentful of everyone—including her needy best friend and her absent mom—taking her loyalty for granted.

Then Arden stumbles upon a website called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, who gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known how to express. He seems to get her in a way that no one else does, and he hasn’t even met her.

Until Arden sets out on a road trip to find him.

During one crazy night out in New York City filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

I am a huge fan of Leila Sales' This Song Will Save Your Life. It really resonated with me in a way I didn't think was possible. I felt Leila Sales did such a tremendous job in making this book all about the main protagonist's journey to accepting and loving herself without the need for any significant other in the picture or someone that was necessary to validate her self worth. I expected just as much from her new novel, Tonight the Streets are Ours. While I wasn't hooked on the plot, I had faith in Leila Sales' writing and story telling so I gave it a shot. 
By the time I reached the ending, I would have been able to 100% be able to tell this is a Leila Sales book even if I didn't know who the author was. I think may girls should definitely pick up her books because I feel the way her characters make mistakes, learn from them, and grow from those experiences too. Arden was a very likeable but flawed character. I never understood why she stuck with her boyfriend when the way he's been treating her leaves much to be desired.. however I do understand that they've been together for long and that might make you hold on to things that just aren't good for you anymore. I loved how Arden wasn't a character who wanted to be in the spotlight, she loves theatre but as the backstage manager, not the actor, and I found it amusing how everyone kept on wishing and telling her that her time to act will come up soon if she keeps up the good work, but she doesn't ever have the desire to act and is content where she is. I love Peter too and the blog posts he wrote; they made me want to meet him as soon as possible.
I did feel that it took too long for the plot to catch up to what the synopsis promised, and if you know me and have read more of my reviews, you know that I dislike it when the synopsis gives away too much and the book takes at least 100 pages to catch up. That's why I kept on waiting and waiting for the road trip to finally start and for Arden to finally start looking for Peter. However once that happened (which begins part two) the events are basically told in a day or two, which I really enjoyed because it was fast paced which I started to enjoy much more. I definitely recommend Tonight the Streets are Ours to any young adult contemporary fan, especially ones who don't care much for romance in their books. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything
Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Random House Canada
Publication date: September 15, 2015 
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 320
Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.
I had high expectations of Everything Everything after I heard a publicist at Random House Canada rave about it. Once I got into it, I could totally understand what the rave was all about. I loved how different and unique the pollen was. Our main protagonist, Maddie, is allergies to everything. She basically lives in a make shift clean room that is isolated from the outside. The air is all purified and synthetic, she can never step one foot outside, and everything she eats and does is monitored  including her vitals. I felt so bad for Maddie but her optimism and how she makes the best of her situation is so joyful to see. Ofcourse she's a teen and they tend to get melodramatic, but for the most part, she's such an upbeat happy teenager. One thing I liked is how Maddie is 17. I am somewhat tired of the typical 16 year old YA heroine. I wish more authors wrote about 17 and 18 year olds, they are still considered young adults since they're technically still (most of them) in high school. 
The love interest, Olly, is just so freaking adorable. I found myself holding my breathe whenever she did, when she would peek from the curtain of her window, when she would start to want more from her life, when she finally met him in the same room. Oh boy, I had heart palpitations throughout most of their scenes. He was more than just the love interest, he was the door to Maddie's undiscovered world. He had her questioning, experiencing more, wanting to take control of her life, and I was equal parts scared as well as excited for her. 
However, two thirds in is when I started losing sight of the book's original message. Things got messy and crazy. Things got unrealistic and unnecessary resolved perfectly. I want real life stories that don't always have that perfectly constructed (and synthetic) happy ending. Everyone's life is messy and sometimes you can't get out of a life long situation scot free and perfectly new. I have to admit I was so disappointed, very painfully disappointed with the revelations and ending. My rating went down from a 5 to a 3.5 just for that. However, I hope this doesn't deter you from picking up the book because even with the last part of the book, I don't regret picking it up. It was one of the few books this year that had me obsessing over it and wanting to make time just to read more. I will definitely be reading more books by Nicola Yoon because I feel she really does have that magical contemporary touch like many authors, such as Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Stephanie Perkins, have. Also, I would like to thank her for giving awareness to a rare, incurable disease to the general public, it is always nice to see authors raising awareness to such diseases. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Review: Truly Madly Famously by Rebecca Serle

Truly, Madly, Famously (Famous in Love, #2)

Title: Truly Madly Famously (Famous in Love, #2)
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: HBG USA
Publication date: August 4, 2015 
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 352
Lights, camera, love!

After being plucked from obscurity, Hollywood's newest starlet, Paige Townsen, has a hit film to her name and Rainer Devon on her arm. But being half of the world's most famous couple comes with a price, and soon Paige finds herself dodging photographers; hiding her feelings for her other costar, Jordan Wilder; and navigating tabloid scandals that threaten to tear her and Rainer apart-and end her career as quickly as it began.
I loved Famous in Love because its plotline is one of my favourite contemporary plotlessness: average teen turned into a hollywood star overnight and the book revolves around their adjustment to this new life as well as the struggle to stay true to themselves. Of course who can forget the usual cute romances that occur with a fellow celebrity counterpart? Rebecca Serle's first book had that as well as being set on Maui, a Hawaiian island, for their movie shooting; talk about beautiful scenery descriptions! 
I honestly did not know there was going to be a sequel to Famous in Love, and when I found out, I was equal parts ecstatic yet worried. I liked how the first book ended and worried about the direction the author will be taking with the second book. Unfortunately my worry materialised into writing and the author actually went into the direction I most feared. This doesn't mean the book was badly written or boring, it just meant that I disagreed with the author's direction and personally, I wished it went another way. That is why my rating of this book is mostly subjective and to do with my own preference. Other than that, I really liked how real the characters were, the new friendships Paige made, and how we didn't have a mean girl in the book. They were all characters that were either misunderstood by others, or just really had a crap load of their own personal issues to deal with. 
I do have to say that the love triangle conflict just took too much from the book. The first book had more pages about the movie shooting as well as Paige's new life, but this book felt that it was always about the love triangle. All in all, I think people who enjoyed Famous in Love will also enjoy this sequel, and knowing that there will also be a third book? that gives me hope on the direction of the story and maybe we can get a realistic ending, possibly one that doesn't fit the usual mold of a typically happily ever after YA novel?