#Book #Review: Hockey Karma by Howard Shapiro

This week I am taking on reviewing a duo of graphic novels by Howard Shapiro. Yesterday I reviewed The Hockey Saint and today it’s Hockey Karma. Each book packs a heavy punch into a short number of pages, and while the stories revolve around the struggles of growing up and finding your place in the world the messages transcend well beyond the hockey rink and are bound to be relatable to a wide variety of audiences.


karmaTitle: Hockey Karma

Author: Howard Shapiro

Publisher: Animal Media Group

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Sports Fiction

Themes: Hockey, Relationships, Addiction, Alcoholism, Fame

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

The highly anticipated sequel to the award winning “The Hockey Saint” taking place ten years after “Saint” ends. The legendary Jeremiah “Jake” Jacobson, now thirty two, has been the world’s best hockey player over his fourteen year career because of his out of this world talent level and his smart play. But he can’t stay on top forever, and when he starts making mistakes on the ice, his career and family life start to crumble.

At the same time, Tom Leonard, his agent and best friend, is completely overwhelmed by a project that he and Jake were supposed to be working on together. A project that could have a huge impact on people throughout their city in need of a helping hand. As Jake sinks deeper into a funk over his lost status due to his deteriorating play and the emergence of teammate and rookie phenom Barclay Pedersen, Tom realizes he’s on his own. At the same time he rediscovers someone from his past who he never thought he’d see again. In that burgeoning relationship, Tom discovers the importance of taking chances and starts to believe in himself.

Can Jake break out of his downward spiral and Tom finally find the courage to step out of Jake’s shadow?


My Review

While The Hockey Saint was good, Hockey Karma takes everything to another level. The art is absolutely stunning, the writing shows growth and maturity, and the characters and their actions also reflect a similar degree of growth. The ten year difference in the characters has really been embodied, and the challenges that Tom and Jake are facing are no longer the trials of adolescence.

I’m not going to lie, I was hoping to see Tom and Jake playing on the same hockey team, but I also think that it’s important to show how few players actually make it into professional sports – even after they have been college stars. The storyline of Jake struggling with an up-and-coming edging him out of the team also particularly relatable. It doesn’t matter if it’s in sport, the office, or even volunteer efforts, there will always be a new batch of brighter, more energetic, and potentially more talented new recruits is always waiting in the wings. It important to learn how to mentor them and welcome them into the fold with grace and this is the perfect tale to relay the dos and don’ts of how this can be done.

I was also pleased to see the return of the addiction theme, as well as the expanded discussion on how addiction affects friends, family, and relationships. I want to talk more about it, but I’m afraid of spoilers! All I can say is that the behaviours, comments, and depictions were so incredibly realistic that I would consider this more of a life-lessons book than a hockey book, and I don’t even feel bad saying it!

Finally, I really, really loved Tom’s story. Whether it was his romance, his relationship with Jake, or his self-discovery through the revitalization project he genuinely felt like someone I might know as I made my way through the book. The presence of volunteerism and community involvement (and sudden withdrawal from it) was incredibly impactful and I’m glad that it was carried over from The Hockey Saint. Without question, I was rooting for Tom at that end that everything would come together in his project and really wish that it were a real thing because I would be so involved with it!

As usual, the art was fantastic, particularly the hockey scenes. I loved the subtle differences between the first and second book, as well as how the characters were shown to have aged. The colours were vibrant and expressive, and I was never once left guessing what a gesture or moment meant. The transitions were seamless, and the pace was consistent throughout. I wish I hadn’t been so glowing in my review yesterday! Because, we’re basically talking about something good that was made even better.

Would I recommend this book? Heck yes! The Hockey Saint and Hockey Karma and hands down amazing graphic novels, and straight up relatable and relevant stories!

 


Many thanks to Howard Shapiro and Animal Media Group for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#Book #Review: The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro

This week I am taking on reviewing a duo of graphic novels by Howard Shapiro The Hockey Saint today, and Hockey Karma tomorrow. Each book packs a heavy punch into a short number of pages will surely extend to audiences beyond YA readers. While the stories revolve around the struggles of growing up and finding your place, the messages transcend well beyond the hockey rink and are bound to be relatable to a wide variety of audiences.


hockey saintTitle: The Hockey Saint

Author: Howard Shapiro

Publisher: Animal Media Group

Expected Publication Date: September 10, 2014

Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Sports Fiction

Themes: Hockey, Relationships, Addiction, Alcoholism, Fame

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

The highly anticipated sequel to “The Stereoypical Freaks” and the 2nd book in the “Forever Friends” Trilogy, this is “The Hockey Saint”

Twenty-one year old Jeremiah Jacobson is the world’s best hockey player, but he wasn’t prepared for the frenzy and scrutiny that came with that title. Tom Leonard is an average college sophomore… just a guy trying to find his place in the world as he sorts through issues that are both very real and seemingly insurmountable.

Through a chance meeting, these two strike up an unlikely friendship. Their bond is tested when Tom discovers that his idol isn’t as perfect up close as he seems from afar. With Jeremiah living a little too much in the moment and with his past catching up to him, will Tom be able to help him before it’s too late?

 


My Review

I kept hearing about the Forever Friends Series from one of my library friends so I finally decided that I should give the much talked about The Hockey Saint a try, and I wasn’t disappointed. Although a little on the shorter side for a graphic novel, this book covers a lot of ground in both the topics covered and the development of it’s characters throughout. Dealing with coming of age, assisting an alcoholic come to grips with his addiction, and coping with the loss of one’s parents this is a book that might be better suited to older/ more mature YA readers and adults. Yet, at the same time it is also incredibly relatable.

The sports focus was the perfect vehicle to broach some much broader topics all while keeping the action high and the plot trucking along. I really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Tom and Jeremiah, and how they both came to help each other in their own ways. It does a beautiful job at addressing the pressures that accompany pursuits such as university, college sports, professional hockey, and managing private lives in the public eye. But more than that, Shapiro talks unabashedly about some of the socio-economic differences experienced based solely upon your zip-code. The messages that good people can make bad choices, that snakes and spies can be outed, and that we really can make a difference in the world if we so chose to truly ring loud and clear.

I really enjoyed the artwork throughout as well. The colours are beautiful and striking, faces expressive, and the layout is clean and easy to follow. Just enough action happens in the gutter to spark the imagination a little – and as a life-long hockey fan I really loved how all of the action scenes were depicted. I could envision every deke, pass, and play and really got caught up in the practices and games. And what’s not to love about that recommended listing?! Quite possibly one of the best book soundtracks ever!

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Packed full with real-world moral dilemmas, and just enough of chasing the dream, The Hockey Saint is a beautiful balance between enjoyable and educational. And I would definitely suggest adding both The Hockey Saint and Hockey Karma to junior/high school and YA library collections! 

 

 


Many thanks to Howard Shapiro and Animal Media Group for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#ARC #Review: The Missing Girls by Carol Wyer

I love a good police procedural, but The Missing Girls absolutely blew me away! As someone who has never read any of the DI Robyn Carter Series prior I had no idea what I was walking into, but man was this amazing! It can be read as a stand alone book, or as part of the series, and I have no doubts that lovers of psychological thrillers and good detective stories will be fighting over this baby when it hits the shelves in a few weeks time.


missing

Title: The Missing Girls

Author: Carol Wyer

Publisher: Bookouture

Expected Publication Date: September 14, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Murder Mystery, Women’s Fiction

Themes: Serial Killers, Cyber Bullying

Features: N/A


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

One girl found dead. Another girl gone…

Long shadows danced on the tin walls. Inside the trunk lay Carrie Miller, wrapped in plastic, arms folded across her ribcage, lips sealed tight forever…

When, a girl’s body is found at a Midlands storage unit, it is too decomposed for Detective Robyn Carter to read the signs left by the killer.

No one knows the woman in blue who rented the unit; her hire van can’t be traced. But as the leads run dry another body is uncovered. This time the killer’s distinctive mark is plain to see, and matching scratches on the first victim’s skeleton make Robyn suspect she’s searching for a serial killer.

As Robyn closes in on the killer’s shocking hunting ground, another girl goes missing, and this time it’s someone close to her own heart.

Robyn can’t lose another loved one. Can she find the sickest individual she has ever faced, before it’s too late?

An utterly gripping and darkly compelling detective thriller that will have fans of Robert Dugoni, Angela Marsons and James Patterson hooked from the very start. You will not guess the ending!


My Review

Ahh! So good! So so so good! I can’t even. I love a good thriller, have a slight obsession with serial killers, and can’t get enough of police procedurals. Woooo baby! Did this one ever set the bar high. I’m not ashamed to rank it as one of my top reads this summer.

I really enjoyed how the POV jumped around at the beginning of the book, but narrowed down to Robyn’s at the end. It really mimicked the chaos of the investigation and caused me to hone in and become more critical of the evidence present as the case got closer to its resolution. I won’t say that I enjoyed the segments written from the victims point of view, but they were incredibly powerful and at times difficult to read. Withholding the word carved on the girls foreheads had a massive impact, and I most definitely choked up with the big reveal.

The premise of the story is so spot on and timely it hurts, and I think that it would really benefit parents of teens. Children and teens can be so cruel to one another, and too often they don’t understand the impact that their words can have on others. The Missing Girls is full of unexpected victims, crazy plot twists, and more than a few red-herrings to take you down the wrong path. I was completely unsuspecting of the ending until it actually appeared on the page, and it’s not very often that I don’t have a guess or an inkling somewhere along the lines!

Robyn, without question, has taken the top spot as my favourite procedural character. She has just enough personal drama to balance out the police work, and I love that her internal dialogue is so vulnerable. I am particularly drawn to realistic characters and the candidness of Robyn’s flaws (I too am an obsessive post-it noter and forgetful eater), and the overarching story of the loss of her fiancé is a clever tool to tie together the series without having the actual police cases span across books.

Would I recommend this book? YES! A million times yes! I can’t say enough amazing things about The Missing Girls. It is sure to please those who love psychological thrillers, police procedurals, and murder mysteries.

Now, pardon me while I go read everything ever written by Carol Wyer.


Many thanks to Carol Wyer and Bookouture for providing an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Awesome Blogger Award

Processed with Rookie Cam

Hello Everyone! Another award today – The Awesome Blogger Award. I am starting to really LOVE our (not so) little blogging community, you are all amazing! I was nominated for this award by Yesha @ Books Teacup and Reviews and you can read her answers for this award HERE. Thank you so much for the nomination!


This Award was created by Maggie @ Dreaming of Guatemala and she said:

This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Include the reason behind the award.
  • Include the banner in your post.
  • Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.
  • Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
  • Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.
  • Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.
  • Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated!

My questions from Yesha:

  1. First book you read.

The first book that I can remember reading on my own is The Velveteen Rabbit, although I know that I was read Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends and I’ll love You Forever by Robert Munsch on a regular basis – so I’m going to assume that I was reading those pretty early too!

If this was meant to be what was the first book I read for my book blog, then it was Pam Jenhoff’s The Orphan’s Tale. It’s amazing. I’ve read it again since. I highly recommend checking it out.

  1. Genre you hate.

Wooo, I’m pretty diverse in my reading habits so I can’t really pinpoint one genre or another that I absolutely hate. But, I do have a really hard time with books depicting, or rather trying to force, very specific gender roles. Woman get in your place just doesn’t fly in my world… nor does the man will work and protect. Ugh.

  1. What makes you comment on any blog post?

Anything that makes me laugh. If I get my giggle on I can resist hitting up that comment box.

  1. How do you manage your followers? Do you read all the post of blogs you follow? (I’m curious, I find it very hard to read each and every post. It takes lot of time so I want to know how you guys are managing.)

Ah, sadly I must admit that I do not read each and every one of the blog posts for those that I follow. If someone posts multiple times in a day, I do tend to read the ones about the books that I think I will enjoy. I also tend to avoid cover reveals (sorry!). I do, however, seek out author Q & A and excerpt posts as I really enjoy them.

  1. Do you use digital planner or keep diary? (I need a paper taped on wall that stays in front of my eyes or else I’ll forget.)

A mix of both? Maybe? I keep flip-flopping between the two and seem to have everything duplicated in both. Right now I’m mostly doing everything online as I can more easily manage my work/ blog balance as my boss is a pretty heavy Google Calendar user.

  1. What type of book/genre you find most difficult to review?

Biographies and autobiographies. I really struggle with reading the first-person perspective – either I love it or I hate it. And then, I always struggle with the inherent challenges of autobiography such as aging recall, bias in memory, and the glossing over and/ or enhancing of controversial facts for a desired effect. Even if I really love a biography, I always hesitate to review as it represents a ‘truth’ and I never believe that there is just one.

  1. Are you participating in reading challenges currently? Which one and where?

The only reading challenge that I am currently participating in is the Goodreads one. I’ve set myself a challenge of 90 books this year, but have the habit of forgetting to add them to my read list so it always looks terrible!

  1. Memes / any bookish feature that you enjoy doing.

Eeep! I think the only memes I do are when I thank people for sharing on twitter! Sorry for the lame-o answer on this one.

  1. Do you collect anything other than books?

Lols – More books. No, seriously. I have a massive antiquarian book collection. Mostly history books and scientific dictionaries with a smattering of classical literature. But I think you could say that I collect book bindings. I am fascinated with the de/construction of books and the ways in which they are decorated. Oh, and fairy tales. I collect fairytales from the around the world.

  1. Tell us something about yourself?

I am an elementary school librarian, passionate freedom to read advocate, and am proud to be a part of the transition of libraries from staid repositories of books to community centres and hubs for the creation of information. Oh, and I love working with teenagers – they are my favourite age group to run programming for. I love reading YA but I rarely get the chance to talk books with my teens, and I’m perfectly fine with that! I may also give sneaky information literacy, media literacy, and research methods mini-lessons whenever I have an opportunity and an open ear. My partner is sick of it, I’m sure, but I think that everyone should be able to spot fake news and identify bias in reporting.


My Questions:

  1. When reviewing a book, are you a note taker? If so, do you prefer print, mobile, or a computer to help you out?
  2. What’s your favourite genre to read? And is it the same as your favourite genre to review?
  3. How do you maintain your blog tour and personal TBR balance?
  4. Do you have a favourite blog tour that you’ve taken part in? If so, what was your role on the tour and what made it so enjoyable.
  5. What’s your favourite vacation spot? Is it the same as your dream vacation spot?
  6. If you were given a million dollars, what’s the first thing you would do with it?
  7. When buying books, do you go in with a plan or fly by the seat of your pants?
  8. What’s your favourite book series?
  9. If you could choose any skill to master, what would it be?
  10. What book best describes your life right now?

My Nominees

Abby @ Anne Bonny Book Reviews

Amy @ Novel Gossip

Eva @ Novel Deelights

Tina @ Reading Between the Pages

Christine @ Northern Crime 


Thank you again Yesha for the nomination!

#Book #Review: Brewing Up Murder by Neila Young

A few weeks ago I posted an excerpt for Neila Young’s cozy murder mystery Brewing Up Murder, and today I am delighted to share a glowing review for it. For me, this was the perfect book for a lazy day on the beach and I have no doubts that I will continue to follow the Coffee Cup Mysteries as the series progresses.


brewingTitle: Brewing Up Murder

Author: Neila Young

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Publication Date: July 19, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Murder Mystery, Women’s Fiction

Themes: Family, Murder, Romance

Features: Feature Recipes


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

As the owner of Mystery Cup Café in Wilton, Missouri, a town made famous by a string of long-ago murders, Blake Harper is used to the mysterious. When her barista is found strangled in a mound of coffee beans, Blake vows to find the killer, even though her sister, the town’s lead police detective, tells her to stay out of it.

Blake finds plenty of suspects, like the owners of a rival coffee shop and the handsome new bookstore owner. But when new threats are made, she soon realizes the danger is centered around Mystery Cup and someone is targeting her personally.

Will Blake be able to solve the murder, find a new barista, and perfect her recipe for espresso brownies before she becomes the next victim?


My Review

There are few things I love more in this world than a good book and a great beach, and that’s exactly how this baby went down. Now add in the fact that there’s an awesome setting, a steamy little love triangle, a good degree of mystery without the hardcore gore, and an enduring yet bumbling protagonist and the situation is just about perfect! At 205 pages I powered through this baby in between swims, and I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series.

Yes there are a few things that we see a lot of in chick-lit and cozy mysteries – there’s a love triangle with the good boy and the bad boy, there’s another cozy set in a coffee shop, and heck there’s even the family that’s always trying (and failing) to set someone up. But here’s the thing, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And the formula behind Brewing Up Murder certainly isn’t broke! Part of what I loved so much about this book is that it had just enough of what you’ve come to expect from the genre that I powered through some scenes with that empowering feeling of ha! I got that right, but also more than enough red herrings to throw you for an unexpected loop.

I loved the humour, wit, and easy to read writing style. Also, the nicknames. I giggled more than my fair share at some of the names, but also found them helpful when it came to remembering characters and their actions. And while some of the characters weren’t entirely as flushed out as I typically enjoy, I wasn’t overly concerned as this is just the first book in a series and I am sure that the character development will continue with each instalment. On this one I am taking the stance that this one is a marathon, not a sprint.

Would I recommend this book? Oh heck yes! It’s perfect for beaches, gardens, living rooms on a rain day… If you like murder mysteries and chick-lit Brewing Up Murder is the perfect combination of the two.

 


Many thanks to Neila Young and Red Adept Publishing for providing an advanced copy  in exchange for an honest review.