Alyssa’s Reviews – Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali (ARC)

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

One of my goals this year was to read more culturally diverse books, so I was thrilled when received an ARC of LOVE FROM A TO Z by S.K. Ali from Simon and Schuster Canada!


Synopsis (

A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.
Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.
Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…
Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

This book focused on a lot of very important messages, including islamophobia and equal rights. It also had a lot of great representation, since the main character, Zayneb is muslim, and Adam, the other main character, has multiple sclerosis. I really enjoyed both of the main characters throughout this novel, and found several connections between myself and them while reading this story. Since this book focuses on a lot of heavy topics, I found myself rooting for them and hoping that everything would work out in the end.

This book is set in Doha, Qatar, and follows Zayneb travelling throughout the city and experiencing a lot of the tourist attractions. Even though I have never even thought about visiting Qatar, I found the city and attractions fascinating.

My absolute favourite part about this novel was learning about Zayneb’s culture and family history. I love learning about different religions and cultures, as I find religions fascinating. Whenever they were eating cultural food, or saying different prayers or phrases, I looked them up online to learn more about them. Since this is an own voices story, I loved how S.K. Ali took things from her own culture and placed them in her book.

Another thing I loved about the story was the journal format/idea. “Marvels & Oddities” was such a cool concept, especially since it was based off of something that both Zayneb and Adam loved. I liked how even when they were talking about an oddity, they still tried to find something positive to talk about.

The one thing that I did not enjoy in this book was the writing style. This book is written in dual perspective (Zayneb and Adam), however, I found the writing quite choppy at times, especially during the beginning of the book. Fortunately, I thought that the last third of the novel was written a lot smoother and read with ease.

Overall, I gave this book 4/5 stars. Thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for the ARC! LOVE FROM A TO Z is currently available wherever books are sold, so make sure you pick up a copy at your nearest bookstore or library!

Good Night Book Owls!

Alyssa’s Reviews – Again, But Better by Christine Riccio (ARC)

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

If you are not aware of who Christine Riccio is (besides recently becoming an author), then you clearly are not very well versed in the bookish community. Christine (also known as “Poland Bananas Books“), is one of the most followed people on BookTube. She has gained over 400k subscribers on her YouTube channel, and has several thousands of other followers across other social media platforms. Christine was the first BookTuber I EVER watched, and she is the sole person responsible for exposing me to the bookish online community! When I found out that Christine was writing a book, I was overjoyed and watched her writing videos every time they came out. I had the pleasure of receiving her debut novel “Again, But Better” in advance from Raincoast Books, which I am so incredibly thankful for! I tried my best to separate the writer from the novel, and I think I did a pretty good job doing that.


Synopsis (

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!
Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.
Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

“Again, But Better” is now one of my all-time favourite contemporaries. It was THAT GOOD. I know some people were skeptical about reading a book written by a BookTuber, especially since others have not been great. However, Christine’s was truly phenomenal.

My favourite thing about this book was Shane, the main character in this novel. I found a lot of similarities between myself and Shane, such as being an only child, shy around new people, always wanting to make my parents proud, and much more. I understood a lot of her feelings in several different situations throughout this story, and I thought she was an amazing main character. The other side characters were great as well! Babe, Pilot, and Atticus were my other favourite characters, and I think they added a lot to the story.

The first quarter of the book made me (literally) smile, the second quarter made me (literally cry), the third quarter shocked me, and the last quarter made me feel so proud of the character Shane had become. This book put me through in emotional roller coaster, to say the least (which was quite strange since I read the book in one day!). I felt so connected to not only the characters, but also the storyline overall.

The story and plot were fantastic. The events that took place over the story were all important to the flow of the plot, and nothing seemed irrelevant. Her writing was also fantastic, which made this book read smoothly and not seem like a debut novel. I really enjoyed the different mixed media sections she included in this story, including text conversations and postcards.

The setting and places they went to in this novel were great, and places that I definitely want to visit as well! The thought of them travelling every weekend throughout their study abroad program was a bit unrealistic, but it was so fun to read about!

Another element of this story that I loved was the subtle connections to Christine throughout this novel. Although I wanted to completely separate the story from the author, Christine was literally all over this book! She frequently mentions books she has loved and read in real life, YouTube and the success you can gain from starting a channel, her love of documenting things on her channel (just wait until you hear the name of Shane’s blog!), and many other references. While not everyone may understand them if you are not familiar with Christine’s channel, you definitely won’t be confused by them.

Overall, I absolutely adored this book and gave it 5/5 stars. Christine, if you are reading this, you did a phenomenal job on your debut novel and you deserve all of the success that comes your way because of this book. I cannot wait to read your other future novels! Thanks again to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of “Again, But Better”!

Good Night Book Owls!

Alyssa’s Reviews – My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

I can’t remember the last time I reviewed something that wasn’t an ARC or a book I had received for review… but here we are! Last week, I visited one of my favourite book stores and picked up a copy of MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing, which was my most anticipated release for April. I finished it early Wednesday afternoon, so it is actually featured in my April Wrap-Up since I read most of it in April. However, since I have been sharing my reading updates throughout this book, I thought it would be nice to post a full review!


Synopsis (Goodreads):

Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting…
Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.
We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.
We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

Is that not the BEST Goodreads synopsis you’ve ever read?! It got me hooked on the book before I even began reading it! I first want to say that I recommend going into this book completely blind (other then knowing the synopsis). This synopsis literally only tells you the tiniest fraction of what the book is about, and nothing about the plot is spoiled in it. One of my least favourite parts things in books are when authors take 100 pages to finally tell readers the things that are shared in the synopsis. This book does not do that at all, which makes it way more shocking. So PLEASE, if you want to read the book, DO NOT read this review! Come back when you are done, so we can discuss it! I will, however, say that I gave it 4/5 stars!

Now… I will not be spoiling any plot twists/reveals in this book, however, I will be sharing some extra info about the characters and overall plot line.

My favourite thing about this book was the writing style (which is never normally the case whenever I read an authors debut book… yes, this was Samantha Downing’s debut novel!!!). The writing was in the POV of the husband in this novel. It was so interesting to read from a male characters perspective, while describing a strong and fierce (and  disturbing) female character. I also really liked reading about their kids, the people he gave tennis lessons to, as well as Owen Oliver Riley, the murderer they are trying to “impersonate” in this book.

I also LOVED the plot line. This was one of the most unique and interesting thriller books I have ever read, and I was intrigued from the very first page. Like I mentioned earlier, the synopsis on Goodreads is a very small part about what the book is actually about, so the action truly starts from the first page. I did not see any of the plot twists coming, and the ending I did not predict AT ALL. I was shocked! I also loved the fact that every little tiny element of the beginning of the story was some how involved in the big reveal at the end of the book, so it was great to see those events come around full circle.

The only reason why this was not a five-star read for me was due to the fact that I never felt like I had to keep reading. I was never hooked into the plot, and it took me about 5-days to read this one, where as other thrillers typically take me two to three days to read and complete.

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you love mystery/thriller novels, and rated it 4/5 stars.

Good Night Book Owls!

May 2019 TBR

Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!

We are officially in my favourite month of the year! May brings Spring weather, continuous baseball games, and most noteworthy of all… my birthday (on May 27)! May also brings a lot of stress, as I am in the process of slowly finishing up another successful school year, and still need to complete a lot of assignments and preparation work before exams start in June. However, I still plan on managing my time well and reading a lot of fabulous May releases and backlist books!

As many of you know, TBR posts are kind of hilarious on my blog, as each of them seems to get more and more unrealistic. However, this month I am only focusing on reading ARCs, and this TBR isn’t as abnormal as the rest of them have been recently!


The first book I plan to read is AMELIA WESTLAKE WAS NEVER HERE by Erin Gough. I am actually already more than 100 pages into this novel and really enjoying it, so I plan on completing this one within the next couple of days. Thanks to HBG Canada for the ARC!


The next book I plan on reading is IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF TRUE by Susan Kaplan Carlton! This book has been on my radar for a very long time, and I was kindly sent an eARC by Algonquin Young Readers. This book looks fantastic, and words cannot describe how excited I am to read it!


The next book I plan on reading is NOCTURNA by Maya Motayne. I received this book at HCC Frenzy Presents, and it was described as a latin-inspired fantasy story! Since this book is over 450 pages long, I may read small chunks of this one while also reading other books throughout the month.


I then hope to read GUILTY by Laura Elliot. This book is a domestic(?) physiological thriller, which is among one of my top three favourite kinds of books ever! While I haven’t heard anything about this book before, I am super excited to read it and find out what it’s really about! Thanks to HBG Canada for the ARC!


Fairytale retellings were my favourite type of book to read when I was a pre-teen, but since then, I haven’t read any great ones! I hope to change that pattern with STEPSISTER by Jennifer Donnelly! This book is a Cinderella inspired retelling, which is obvious from the cover. I am ecstatic to read this one, and am so thankful to Scholastic Canada for sending me an ARC!


The next book I plan on reading is THE SUSPECTS by Katharine Johnson. I have not been accepting practically any review requests, simply due to the fact that I don’t seem to have much time to read any books I own, let alone the ARCs I receive from publishers. Although, this book sounds like something I would love, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read it! Thanks to Katharine Johnson for sending this book to me!


The next book I plan on reading is BRIGHT BURNING STARS by A.K. Small. When I found out that a new book was coming out about ballerinas, I immediately looked into it, as I used to be an avid dancer when I was younger. I was actually contacted to join in on the blog tour for this new release, and my review is scheduled for May 17, so check back then for my full review! Thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for the eARC!


I then plan on reading LOVE FROM A TO Z by S.K. Ali. I recently won a copy of SAINTS AND MISFITS, which is S.K. Ali’s first book, but I have not gotten around to reading that one yet. I have heard great things about this one, and am so thankful to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending this ARC my way!


Since May is my birthday month, isn’t it a great coincidence that BIRTHDAY by Meredith Russo is coming out just a few days before my birthday?! I have heard such fantastic things about this book, and am super excited to read it! Thanks to Raincoast Books for the ARC!


The last book I plan to read this month is HAPPILY AND MADLY by Alexis Bass! I have spoken a lot about this book on my bookstagram, but still haven’t read it! The synopsis seems super interesting, so I am definitely very intrigued by it! Thanks to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC!


I LIED… sort of! Even though I mentioned that the previous book I just shared is the last book I plan to read for May, that is only half true. I am over 150 pages in to THE EVIL QUEEN by Gena Showalter, but only plan on reading another couple hundred pages throughout this month. Since this book is 500+ pages, I’ve been reading it in-between books/perodically, and since it comes out in the middle of June, I don’t expect to finish it in May (although that would be awesome!!). Thanks to HCC Frenzy for the ARC!


And those are all of the books that I plan on reading in the month of May! I realize now that this in fact is another edition of “Alyssa’s VERY UN-REALISTIC TBR”, but that’s just the way it has to be this one! One day in the (very very far) future I will read ARCs earlier than the month they release… one day!

Good Night Book Owls!