Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: Hot Dudes Reading

If you're both a book lover and a social media lover, you've probably already heard of the @hotdudesreading Instagram account. If you haven't, check out that link and get a sense of what the book of the same name is all about. I will wait. *hums tunelessly* Fun account, right? I didn't really think the book Hot Dudes Reading was exactly necessary - until I read it. There's just something about actually holding the book in your hands that made the experience that much more fun.

Here's a description of the book:
Humans of New York meets Porn for Women in this collection of candid photos, clever captions, and hilarious hashtags about one of the most important subjects of our time: hot dudes reading.
Based on the viral Instagram account of the same name, Hot Dudes Reading takes its readers on a ride through all five boroughs of New York City, with each section covering a different subway line. Using their expert photography skills (covert iPhone shots) and journalistic ethics (#NoKindles), the authors capture the most beautiful bibliophiles in all of New York—and take a few detours to interview some of the most popular hot dudes from the early days of the Instagram account.
Fun, irreverent, and wittily-observed, this book is tailor-made for book lovers in search of their own happy endings—and those who just want to get lost between the covers for a while.
Hot Dudes Reading is just that. Pictures of good looking guys reading in various places in New York City. The Instagram account has pictures from other cities but the book focuses on NYC. I liked how they separated the book into chapters based on the subway lines and neighbourhoods around the stations. It makes the book feel like a bit of a love letter to New York City.

I loved the interviews with a few of the Hot Dudes the authors captured on Instagram. The authors (we don't actually know who they are, how many there are, if they're young or old, or male or female) emailed questions to the guys asking what it's been like since they were featured, what their favourite book is, and why they prefer physical books over the digital variety. It was great getting to know some of the Hot Dudes a bit better.

I did find myself wondering if any of the photos were staged or what kinds of permissions were needed to publish this book. There are all sorts of blurry lines surrounding social media and what's free domain (and I absolutely do not pretend to know any of the rules) so I wasn't sure if the authors had to only use pictures of the guys they had heard from or if they could use any of the pictures they feature on the Instagram account. One of the reasons I got thinking about this so much is because some of the photos include other people in the background and all of their faces are blurred out. Does anyone have a legal or behind the scenes reason for why that'd be the case?

I read an ARC so it was a soft cover copy with black and white photos. I'm definitely going to check out the finished book when it's out in the wild (it's to be published today by Atria Books!) to see it in all its hard cover, coloured glory. Imagine how hot the dudes will look in colour in an actual book!

I absolutely loved the captions on these pictures. The authors toe the line between hilarity and propriety really well. Some may find the book sexist and, in a small way, it kind of is but it's coming from a really good place. The authors are celebrating really good looking men who are reading actual, physical books in public. As a book girl, I know this to be a rare thing. And, let's be honest, I thoroughly enjoy the eye candy. But back to the captions. They are clever and tongue in cheek and so so good. Because I want to get this review up before I have the chance to check a finished copy, I'll share a recent-ish pic from their Instagram page so you can get an idea of how amazing the captions are. And how hot the dudes are, too!

Hot Dudes Reading is a perfect gift for your bestie (and yourself). I giggled throughout the book as I mentally took the subway through New York City with the authors and Hot Dudes. I know you may think the book isn't worth it when you can just look at the Instagram account but the interviews with some of the guys add a little something, as does actually being able to flip the pages of a physical book. Does anyone else love the Instagram account? Do you think you'll pick this one up?

*An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Colouring Book Review: Lost Ocean

I've been a colouring book fan for years. Obviously I loved them as a kid but I also had a couple I worked on while I was in university. There was something about colouring a picture with crayons that helped with the stress of essays and exams. What bugged me was I didn't have much choice when it came to colouring books. I had a couple of Disney princess books and a My Little Pony one. Fun, absolutely, but a little strange for a 20 year old to be colouring. I hadn't realized exactly what it was I was missing until Johanna Basford's Secret Garden was released in 2013. I didn't buy that one (I wasn't working much then and pretty books lost out to necessities like, you know, groceries) but I did eventually cave and I bought myself a copy of Enchanted Forest early in 2015 when it was published (just before it sold out everywhere!). I absolutely loved it! It was just what I was looking for in a colouring book so when I had the chance to review Lost Ocean, published in October 2015, I jumped at it!

I did have a couple of issues with Lost Ocean. The main thing was I didn't find the paper quality to be as good as my copy of Enchanted Forest. The pages were a bright white instead of an off white and they just didn't seem as thick. I also found a lot of repetition in some of the illustrations. Maybe it's just me and my perception but sometimes it just seemed like the same kinds of drawings were on every third page. I thought I'd lovelovelove every design because the colourful scenery is one of my favourite things in The Little Mermaid but I think fish aren't what I love to colour! (The things you can learn about yourself, eh?)

Even though I didn't think the paper was as good as it could have been, I was still happy to find I could use my thin tipped markers in this book (I use Crayola ones). I like using markers for a couple of reasons. It gives me more options for colours but it also adds more saturation to the drawing I'm colouring. I find that Basford's intricate drawings seem to demand a few punches of intense colour. I only use those markers and pencil crayons in her books. Does anyone have any other suggestions for colouring materials? I'm always looking to up my colouring game!

My little issues are just that - little. Basford has created another beautiful colouring book that I had so much fun colouring over the holiday season. (It helped calm the rage created by working retail at Christmas, holiday craziness in general, and bingewatching Making a Murderer!) I don't know how Basford creates such intricate designs. I know a lot of people don't like the tiny parts to her illustrations but I adore it. I am in awe of her work and colouring her beautiful design is a wonderful experience for me.

Up next for Johanna Basford is Magical Jungle which is due to be published this summer. If you check out her Instagram account you can see some sneak peeks. I'm definitely intrigued! Have you jumped on the adult colouring book bandwagon? Do you have any tips or tricks for me?

*A copy of this book was provided by the published, Penguin Random House Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Readalong: On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God

Can you believe it's already time to discuss the second book in the Georgia Nicolson readalong? (Side note: Maybe by book three my brain will finally remember that there is no H in Nicolson.) On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God was just as funny as the first book, Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, but...it happened, readers. I finally found myself getting super annoyed by 14 year old Georgia. I'm actually quite distraught about this!

If you want to read more about the reasoning behind the reread of these books, check out Jessica's post here. Again, we'll be reading one book every three weeks and we're discussing them on social media using #GeorgiaNicolsonReadalong, on our personal blogs, and on Goodreads in a special group.

Here's the synopsis of book #2:
Georgia Nicolson has started dating the Sex God (aka Robbie). So life should be perfect...except in Georgia's life, nothing is ever perfect. Her cat, Angus (the size of a small Labrador), is terrorizing the neighborhood. Her sister, Libby (who is slightly mad), hides her pooey knickers at the bottom of Georgia's bed.
Then the Sex God breaks it off because she's too young. It's time for a plan. It's time for a Red Herring. It's time for Georgia to become a "heartless boy magnet!"
As I mentioned, I was a wee bit frustrated with Georgia in this book. Usually I don't read YA books featuring characters under 16 because I, at almost 29, can't quite handle being back in a young teen's brain. Living through it once was bad enough! I tried really really hard to not judge Georgia for things she was doing that she would have no idea were actually quite ridiculous. For example, after Robbie the Sex God dumps her (he's quite a smart bloke, actually, and realizes that, at 17, he's much too old for her, at 14) she decides to get her revenge by dating someone else - and leading him on - just to make Robbie jealous. Poor Dave the Laugh. I can see that Dave is actually a really good guy but she's all moony over Robbie and refuses to see that Dave is completely worth her time. I was proud of Dave for basically calling her out for using him. I hoped Georgia would snap out of her "bad boy" phase. (I know I've read the books before but it's been ages and I actually can't really remember what happens with Dave the Laugh.)

I did find myself laughing throughout the book though. Actually, at one point, I had to try really hard not to burst into uncontrollable laughter while eating lunch at work. I don't think my coworkers would have quite understood what was so funny.

This book also gave me and my friends a new favourite saying when we first read it: "We have to put our feet down with firm hands!" I have no idea why we loved it so much (was Georgia really very smart? I now wonder...) but we did!

I also found a Doctor Who reference (Georgia's Uncle Eddy puts some toy on his head that makes him look like a Dalek) that I most definitely didn't understand when I first read the books. This is why rereading is such fun sometimes...there are moments and cultural references you may not fully grasp the first time around and it takes time, age, and experience to really get it.

In all honesty though, I just couldn't get into On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God. Georgia is so self-absorbed, whiny, and sometimes downright rude to the Olds (aka her parents) that it was hard to have as much fun with this book. I'm hoping the third book, Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas (these titles are so ridiculous! haha) provides more laughs than cringes. And more Dave the Laugh! The next review will be up May 3.

Now, this readalong installment was also meant to discuss the movie adaptation of book one (which was inexplicably changed to Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging). Here's the problem. I've actually never seen it and I couldn't find it anywhere near me. Neither library I'm a member of had it and the one movie rental store (yes, we actually still have one) near me didn't have it either. There are other ways to find movies, I know, but I suppose I was feeling a tad lazy. I'm going to try to do an interlibrary loan for it soon though so stay tuned!

UPDATE! I wrote this post on Sunday and scheduled it to go up Tuesday morning. On Monday night I went to a friend's house and she surprised me by tracking down Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging! We had a lot of fun watching it, even though she's never read the books. I'm pretty sure I bothered poor Jess with messages as I was watching it, noting what was different and finding great amusement with life in 2008 (when the movie was released). There were changes, as there always are. Most of them didn't significantly change the storyline - Tom and Robbie were twins in the movie, and Dave the Laugh is introduced earlier than he was in the book, Mark with the giant mouth who Georgia kind of dates in the first book isn't even mentioned - so it was easy to relax and enjoy the movie. I did notice that Georgia seemed more upset about her dad moving away for work and the possibility of her parents' divorcing than she was in the book (she was actually quite mean in the book). I think that may have helped balance how awful she was to Dave and Jas (her best friend). After reading Jess's review of Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging (read it here!), I realized how negatively Georgia and her friends viewed being a lesbian - like it would be the worst thing in the world and they didn't want anyone to think they were lesbians. So, I was tuned in to how they approached it in the movie. Not well. It was just as awkward and some of the comments were pretty uncalled for. In funnier and better news, they seemed to lift lines right from the books. There are certain phrases that stick in your head when you're reading and it was amusing to hear them repeated back on screen. Overall, it was a lot of fun to watch. I wish I had watched it when it first came out so I would have been that much closer to being a teen (I actually told my friend at one point that I was oh so glad grade nine is over and done and I never have to be 14 again...such an awkward time period) but I still laughed and cringed in the appropriate spots while watching the movie. I consider that a win!

In case you missed it, here are my thoughts on book one, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Licked

Licked, a hilarious romantic comedy, is the first novel in a new series by Brooke Blaine. The book features a realistic heroine who's spunky, has a flair for vintage fashion, and is caught between two very different men. Did I mention her ice cream store that is full of flavours with naughty names? Tell me you're not intrigued! I sure was and Blaine delivered exactly the kind of novel I was expecting. It was fun and I was entertained throughout.

Here's the synopsis:
As the owner of Licked, an eclectic ice creamery and bar, Ryleigh Phillips doesn't have time for that love stuff. Serving up Nibble My Nuts sundaes and Drunken Sailor boozy shakes are as close to an orgasmic affair as she's had in months thanks to her expanding empire—until the night of her ten-year high school reunion.
When Ryleigh's crush, gorgeous ex-football god Cameron Mathis, comes streaking into her life (literally—streaking), she begins to wonder if she really can have it all.
Wouldn't it just figure that the moment you think life is perfect is when it falls spectacularly apart?
Enter Hunter Morgan, the contractor in charge of Licked's renovations. Devastatingly handsome, and a smartass to boot, he's got his eyes on Ryleigh from the moment he finds her passed out on his couch (yeah, that's a long story). There's just one tiny complication—he happens to be Cameron's best friend.
When the lines between relationships and friendships blur, and it's impossible to choose between two delicious flavors, what's a girl to do? Taste a sample of each? Or go out and get LICKED?
The actual storyline of this novel isn't what I enjoyed the most. I mean, I did like the plot but what set this book apart is the way it was told. Curse words and innuendo were used liberally in this book, which I appreciated. To me, it's just not natural if there isn't at least one f bomb in the whole novel. But maybe that's just me because I can sometimes (ok, often) swear like a sailor. Apart from the speech, the rest of the story - the setting, the characters, their lives - was so relatatable, and that is always something I love to have in the books I read.

I also liked that Ryleigh's friends are more than just the stereotypical BFFs you find in romcoms. They had their own, distinct personalities that had me interested in their lives too. I'm sure that probably has something to do with the fact that Licked is the first in a series, L.A. Liaisons, so her friends will become main characters themselves. (The next, Hooker, is out now!) Nothing is more annoying that having a vivacious main character with best friends who aren't good for anything but being spoken to. She may as well have a cat.

Of course, I did like the story. It almost veered into cliche territory with the whole reconnecting with a high school crush and then falling for his best friend, but somehow Blaine made it work. One of the relationships was so ho-hum boring and the other was blistering hot with a touch of sweetness (being a romcom, you can probably figure out which was which). Because I loved Ryleigh, I really wanted her to make the best decision for her. She did but, boy, did it take awhile for her to get there! Actually...the getting there was half the fun of the novel!

Overall, Licked was a lot of fun. Brooke Blaine has created a series with real, likeable women who find themselves in situations that almost any twentysomething could relate to. I'm really looking forward to reading Hooker sometime soon! Now, where can I find an ice cream parlour that serves flavours like Crushed Nuts and Ground-Shaking Orgasms?

*A copy of this novel was provided by the author via Rockstar PR in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own.*