You are the Everything by Karen Rivers | Book Review, Q&A, and Giveaway | Blog Tour

Monday, 19 November 2018

You are the Everything

Karen Rivers

271 Pages


Sent to me for review by Thomas Allen and Sons

Where to Purchase

Can you want something—or someone—so badly that it changes your destiny?

Elyse Schmidt never would have thought so, until it happened to her. When Elyse and her not-so-secret crush, Josh Harris, are the sole survivors of a plane crash, tragedy binds them together. It’s as if their love story is meant to be. Everything is perfect, as perfect as it can be when you’ve literally fallen out of the sky and landed hard on the side of a mountain—until suddenly it isn’t.

When the pieces of Elyse’s life stop fitting together, what’s left?

You Are the Everything is a story about the fates we yearn for, the fates we choose, and the fates that are chosen for us.

I was kind of taken aback when I started this books, and that’s because of the shocking and semi-unsettling narration. In You are the Everything, You are the narrator. You are the protagonist. You are Elyse Schmidt. This narration style is shocking and sets you right within the eye of Elyse’s storm. While it takes a while to get used to, and I can see how it might be frustrating for some readers, it ends up really driving the plot forward later on in the novel. 

I didn’t find Elyse a likeable character, but a fascinating one. It was odd to be aligned with someone who I wasn’t interested in liking, as it creates this really interesting feeling of sympathy for her. She’s got a temper, she’s stubborn, and frustrating. But her memory is constantly playing tricks on her, and we as readers know how disorienting her life is. But I still wasn’t a fan of a lot of her actions, and as a character, she’s my least favourite part of the book. The narrative style, on the other hand, was incredible. 

I was expecting the plane crash to take more time within the book, but the story really follows Elyse and Josh Harris (all one word) as they try to put back the pieces of their lives. The crash leaves Elyse (or us? Potentially?) with a brain trauma, causing her to lose memories, and more often than not, time. The narrative style is confusing, jumping from point to point, but as a reader, you’re never lost. Karen Rivers’ narration is masterful, and makes for a really interesting reading experience.

Overall, Karen Rivers has crafted a really interesting story told in an incredibly unique way. While the characters are not the strongest points of the novel, the narration more than makes up for it. If you're looking for an interesting story told beautifully, this is your book.

4/5 Stars.

Karen was kind enough to answer some questions for all of us on the blog tour! Make sure to check out all the other posts to see what Karen's answers are!

IW: How do you choose the names of your characters?
KR: I’m not sure that I do, they generally arrive in my head with names already attached. I’ve only had one character in one book whose name I struggled with, and it wasn’t this one. Josh Harris and Elyse Schmidt just showed up! 

Did you listen to music when you wrote this book? If so, what did you listen to?
I didn’t! I don’t listen to anything while I write because if I do, sometimes the song lyrics leak through onto the page. I like it to be silent, only the sound of the crackling fire (in winter) or the fan (in summer) and the dogs barking at me every once in a while to go for a walk. 

What’s your top book recommendation?
WHEN YOU REACH ME, Rebecca Stead. 

What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
Give yourself permission to write crappy first drafts. 

Meet the Author
Karen Rivers’s books have been nominated for a wide range of literary awards and have been published in multiple languages. When she’s not writing, reading, or visiting schools, she can usually be found hiking in the forest that flourishes behind her tiny old house in Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her two kids, two dogs, and two birds. Find her online at and on Twitter: @karenrivers. 

Follow Karen:

Tour-wide Giveaway!
The winner will receive 1 copy of You Are the Everything (HC) by Karen Rivers.
Giveaway Details: 
-Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter) 
-Giveaway ends on Wednesday Nov. 28th @ 11:59 pm EST 
-Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email & will have 48
hours to claim their prize 


Mermaids in the Human Imagination | Guest Post by Sonia Faruqi, Author of The Oyster Thief | Blog Tour

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The Oyster Thief

Sonia Faruqi

Release Date
October 2nd, 2018

304 Pages


Sent to me for review by Penguin Random House CA

Where to Buy

Welcome to my stop on The Oyster Thief blog tour! I'm excited to host Sonia Faruqi on the blog today! She has so kindly written a guest post about the mermaids within the world of The Oyster Thief, and how the world developed! Make sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour, which will be linked at the bottom of the post.

Mermaids in the Human Imagination
- Sonia Faruqi -

Merpeople have held a fascination for humans for centuries. They have often been considered an epitome of beauty, with a brightly colored tail and a long, swaying mane of hair, or else they have been considered a source of fear in the form of sirens who beckon sailors into the water with beautiful voices then drown them.

In writing my debut novel The Oyster Thief, an underwater fantasy for adults and young adults, I stayed clear of presumptions about mermaids in literature and culture. I pretended that merpeople already existed, and that I, like an anthropologist, was simply “discovering” them.

Given that they already existed, they, like all other life on earth, would exist in accordance with the laws of science and nature. For one, merpeople would be a kind of fish, just as humans are a kind of mammal. 

The ocean is vastly deep—its average depth is about two miles, or three-and-a-half kilometers—but much of its life, and all of its photosynthesis, is concentrated in what is called the Sunlight Zone, a range of six-hundred-and-sixty feet, or two hundred meters, down from the waves. I would have liked for merpeople to live deeper than the Sunlight Zone—to live in the Twilight, or even Midnight, Zone—but it would have meant living in the dark.

It was interesting for me to think about their culture. With regard to their clothing, I leaned originally toward flowing gowns and robes, but came to the obvious conclusion that such clothing would be cumbersome—the fabric would tangle constantly with the tail. I opted for corsets and waistcoats; they would end at the hip, and their fitted design would ensure the fabric did not fly up while swimming.

I decided on shells for currency and jewelry because some cultures on land have historically also used shells as such. The phrase “shelling out money” originates from such use.

As for light sources, bioluminescence is common in the ocean. The compound luciferin, found in many marine organisms, including bacteria, generates light in the presence of oxygen. For light, I devised that merpeople should use orbs filled with bioluminescent bacteria.

Here is a piece of art featuring a mermaid that I have picked up along the way. It doesn’t quite fit with the culture in The Oyster Thief (merpeople avoid the surface because it is considered a dangerous place with ships and fish-nets) but I thought the picture pretty nonetheless. 

Author Bio

Sonia pushes the boundaries of imagination in her debut novel, The Oyster Thief, an underwater fantasy with themes of ocean conservation. The book has been endorsed by Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of My Sister’s Keeper, and Dr. Sylvia Earle, the world’s foremost ocean scientist. The first chapter can be found here. Sonia is also the author ofProject Animal Farm, a work of critically acclaimed investigative journalism about the world’s food system. A skilled storyteller and speaker, she lives in Toronto. She will be providing exclusive content about The Oyster Thief through her website and monthly newsletter at

Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe | ARC Review

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft

Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe

Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Córdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, Brenna Yovanoff

Release Date
August 28th, 2018

320 Pages



Where to Preorder

A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely--has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored. 

I really loved this anthology, and some of the stories in here were absolutely spectacular. I really loved the different settings, contexts, types of witches, etc that are featured in the book. I loved the diverse nature of the book -- there were no two stories that were the same, or even similar. And yet, the ways in which they were connected were on a cellular level. They all had the same messages, and inspired the same thoughts, while being entirely different tones.

Look I just really loved the book.

I don't have enough space to go through every story, so I'm going to just highlight my favourite ones. But know that I love all of them so much, and I love all my baby witches.

Tehlor Kay Mejia's Star Song features Luna, an artist, social media star of a Bruja, who strikes up a connection with a science, NASA loving girl on Instagram. I have never read anything by Tehlor Kay, and if everything she writes features characters like Luna, I'd be thrilled. I also really liked the complicated relationship between her mother and the generations before her. It added this really interested perspective, as most witches are seen as familial bodies, with information being passed down. I loved that this was the opening story, featuring a modern witch, debunking some old traditions, and featuring a Latina queer woman. So much love for this story.

The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe, one of the editors of the anthology, had such a beautiful concept and execution. I loved that Bettina was a kitchen witch, and that her story was built around soulmates and love. I just really loved the soft incorporation of magic, and that this was a story about Bettina being able to love who she wanted to. So beautiful and meaningful.

Lindsay Smith's Death in the Sawtooth was a really interesting story as well, that was completely on the other side of the spectrum from Star Song. This story is about Mattie, a follower of Lady Xosia, and therefore an outcast in the fantastical witch/wizard society. This story is a lot more structured, as in the magical world is more structured, than some of the other stories, and I really enjoyed that. I thought that the conflict between Mattie and most others in the story was intriguing, and the undertones about organized belief systems was right up my alley.

The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma was haunting, plain and simple. A story, narrated by a collective 'We', it deals with sexual assault, rape, and the power in numbers. I won't say more about the plot, but it gave me chills. The way it presents a group of women helping others through hardships, and dealing with such intense topics was spectacular.

Jessica Spotswood's story, Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths  was the story I was maybe the most excited for. I love her Cahill Witch Chronicles, and seeing her write sister witches again made me happy. And with family curses, beautifully integrated lgbt+ themes, all set against a beautiful Victorian setting made for such an intense story about family and the limits of magic.

Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May gives me chills just thinking about it. It's so beautifully written, sounding like a starkly honest feminist manifesto. The story, about 12 girls who are imprisoned for 'leading men to sin' aka who are accused of witchcraft, deals with the power that women have, and how women are viewed across time and society. The spine chilling style in which this is written in, matched with the intense feelings of hope and redemption, makes such a stunning end to this anthology.

Overall, This was a spectacular collection of stories, written by a collection of amazing women. And what you're left with when you finish, is not only the tales of these powerful, magical women, but the feeling that all of them are connected. That is something I wasn't expecting out of this collection -- an overarching tale of female power, courage, connection, and endurance. 

Such a beautiful collection, and I'm so glad I read it. 4.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading!

House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker | Review & Playlist | Blog Tour

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The House of One Thousand Eyes

Michelle Barker

Release Date
September 11th, 2018

354 Pages


Sent to me for review by Annick Press

Where to Preorder

Who can Lena trust to help her find out the truth? Life in East Germany in the early 1980s is not easy for most people, but for Lena, it’s particularly hard. After the death of her parents in a factory explosion and time spent in a psychiatric hospital recovering from the trauma, she is sent to live with her stern aunt, a devoted member of the ruling Communist Party. Visits with her beloved Uncle Erich, a best-selling author, are her only respite. But one night, her uncle disappears without a trace. Gone also are all his belongings, his books, and even his birth records. 
Lena is desperate to know what happened to him, but it’s as if he never existed. The worst thing, however, is that she cannot discuss her uncle or her attempts to find him with anyone, not even her best friends. There are government spies everywhere. But Lena is unafraid and refuses to give up her search, regardless of the consequences. This searing novel about defiance, courage, and determination takes readers into the chilling world of a society ruled by autocratic despots, where nothing is what it seems. 

When Annick Press reached out to me to be apart of this blog tour, I immediately accepted because I had never heard about The House of One Thousand Eyes, or any YA book set in East Berlin, for that matter. I was really interested in the ways in which a historical society would be presented, and how the story would pan out. And as I read this book, I totally got sucked in to the world, the story, and the lives of these characters.

One of my favourite things in books is when information is not only concealed from the reader, but also from the protagonist. I don't know why, but I love finding things out along with the main characters, and that's exactly what happens here. Lena, our main character, is just as in the dark on the big matters as the audience is. When her uncle goes missing, and everyone around her begins acting like he never existed, there are more questions that answers, and no answer is to be trusted. The suspense is built up so beautifully, and it made the page fly by.

I want to talk about Lena as a character. First of all, if any person ever hurts her again, I will fight them. She is a precious bean who must be protected and cared for.

An actual image of me, protecting Lena

I also loved her dedication to her family, and her desire to always see the best in people. Whenever possible, it seemed like she was giving people the benefit of the doubt, even when it sometimes meant undermining her own autonomy. I really loved the community that surrounded her. But my god, is she put through the ringer here. She's not only the victim of a destructive mental health system, but also a target of the secret police, as well as (**spoilers**) a victim of sexual violence.

I found her, and her mental state, so interesting. In the novel, the death of Lena's parents takes a huge toll on her, and after spending time in a mental facility/hospital/ward (whatever you want to call it), she has built up some interesting coping techniques. One of them being building a metaphorical wall in her mind. The duality between the wall in her mind and the wall that split Berlin in half is obvious, but in the way that it's written, it comes across as nuanced and a really striking grieving and coping mechanism.

The side characters were also really interesting. From her colleagues, to her family members, to her love interest Max, every character, from the moment they stepped into the story, felt fully realised. The small subplots, which did so much to add to the realities of the world and society they were living in, never distracted from the main story and felt necessary, as well.

The plot was also so interesting, filled with twists and turns and secret police and communism galore. I had never read anything set during this time period, or based in East Berlin, but the vivid ways in which Michelle Barker wrote about the society was so engaging. I found myself holding my breath at moments, as I was really in Lena's shoes: scared, and confused.

Lastly, I want to talk about how much I loved and appreciated the ending of the book. No spoilers, obviously, but at one point it looks like the story could potentially be wrapped up in a neat little bow. When I saw this possibility, I got super frustrated because, honestly? That felt like the easy way out. But what I will say on the ending, is that it's both satisfying, and truly what is necessary. I loved every minute of this book from beginning to end, and especially the end.

If you're a fan of historical fiction, really powerful storytelling, and great characters, The House of One Thousand Eyes is a story for you. I had a blast reading this, and I can't get Lena out of my thoughts. This book is sticking with me, and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it. 5 stars!

Also, as part of the blog tour, I've created a playlist inspired by the book! This playlist includes music from the era of the story, as well as music from the GDR, songs about revolution, and secrecy. I've linked the Spotify playlist below, and also listed the tracks, as well as why I've included them!

1. Tear me Down - Hedwig and the Angry Inch
     "Don't you know me? I'm the new Berlin wall, baby." 
An iconic start. This is a song all about the setting the tone.

2. Things We Lost in the Fire (Acoustic) - Bastille
     "All that we've amassed, sits before us. Shattered into ash"
     A song about Lena and her parents.

3. Electric Stars and Satellites - Callie Moore
     "This radio static, it may not mean a thing. But it's the sound of possibility, the waves are all around us"
     This is both a song about connection to those we can't see and grief. Both about Lena's family, and the role of the radio in the book

4. Alt wie ein Baum - The Puhdys
     "Old as a tree"
     The Puhdys were one of the most popular bands in the GDR, and this is one of their most popular songs

5. This is War - Thirty Seconds to Mars
     "I do believe in the light, raise your hands up to the sky"
     This song reminds me of all the characters in the book who are fighting for this brave new world. For Erich. For Max.

6. Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
     "Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams"
     One of my favourite songs from the 80's. Meant to juxtapose the story with the happenings in the West

7. Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
     "Are you happy, are you satisfied? How long can you stand the heat?"
     Another huge 80s hit. But also sinister. This is here to represent those 500 people behind the thousand eyes.

8. Über sieben Brücken musst du gehn - Karat
     "You have to go over seven bridges. Seven dark years, survive. Seven times you will be the ashes But also the bright glow" (Translated from German)
Karat was another huge band in the GDR, and this is by far their most popular song. It's a beautiful haunting story of survival

9. Heroes - David Bowie
     "I, I can remember standing by the wall. And the guns, shot above our heads. And we kissed, as though nothing could fall"
     I mean, we needed one love song on here. And this song was written in Bowie's Berlin period about love by the wall. For Lena and Max 

10. Everybody Talks - Neon Trees

     "Never thought I'd live to see the day when everybody's words got in the way"
     Secrecy in the novel is key. Which kinda sucks when everyone is in everyone else's business.

11. I've Had the Time of My Life - Dirty Dancing
     "I've finally found someone to stand by me. We saw the writing on the wall, and we felt this magical fantasy"
     When the Berlin Wall fell, Dirty Dancing was playing in many cinemas on the West. Many believe that this could have been the first piece of Western culture that many Berliners experienced.

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments! Thanks for sticking around, and don't forget to head on over to all the other blog tour spots! Let me know if you pick up a copy for yourself, and happy reading!