REVIEW: the mermaid’s voice returns in this one.

Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy
the mermaid’s voice returns in this one is available March 5th, 2019


I’ve loved Amanda Lovelace’s work since her first collection and even though I don’t know her personally, I want to mention how proud I am of her for her women are some kind of magic series.

I really enjoyed this final instalment of her first series and can truly see the growth in her poetry in comparison to the princess saves herself in this one. That being said, I did struggle with getting through this one. Rather than being able to read it over the course of a few hours as I was able to do with the previous two books, this one hit closer to home. As a victim of assault myself, it pressed on a lot of nerves in a way that I’m not yet ready to deal with, which meant taking many breaks in between poems in order to collect myself.

I more or less knew that would be the case and definitely appreciate that Amanda’s books all begin with a reminder to practice self-care, even while reading her poems. This is a strong and viscerally real collection on what it means to survive as a victim and not. It reads like a slap in the face for a lot of the poems, but not in a bad way. It’s a reminder to be strong and that you are strong even when you don’t think you are.

So thank you, Amanda, not only for your poetry, but for the message behind each word. Not all of us have a voice, so thank you for sharing yours so that we might find our own.

The Matchmaker’s List Blog Tour!

dityjorvqaa1mmcSonya Lalli’s debut novel, The Matchmaker’s List, follows Raina as she struggles with the pressures of her family and her culture in regards to getting married. Her best friend is set to be married on Raina’s 30th birthday and with her ex-boyfriend still looming in her mind, Raina is having a hard time handling the stress of her crazy busy investment job on top of all the blind dates her grandmother is setting her up with. I was lucky enough to have a chance to ask Sonya a few questions regarding her amazing book!


Lucien: Congratulations on the North American release of The Matchmaker’s List! Have there been many new experiences between the UK release of The Arrangement back in 2017 and now releasing over here?

 Sonya: Thank you so much! Both experiences have been incredible and I’m so thankful to the wonderful people who have made it happen, and the writing and book bloggers community who have been so supportive. The big difference has been that my book is now being released in my home country. Walking into a bookstore and seeing my book on the shelf for the first time was priceless — it was at the WH Smith in Liverpool Street Station, by the way! — but it’s going to be absolutely overwhelming when I go home to Saskatoon and see it on shelves there.

You have such a strong writing voice. Was pursuing writing always a goal of yours?

 That’s really nice of you to say. And I think so, even though it wavered in terms of priority. During law school for example, I don’t think I wrote at all. I actually don’t think I even read anything that wasn’t a textbook.

What drew you to writing romance?

I don’t think I intended to write in a certain genre. Before, I didn’t even think about genre when I wrote. But in retrospect the fact that I ended up here makes perfect sense. I am a complete sucker for romance.

What’s harder, law school or writing a novel?

Writing a novel. One hundred percent. Yes, law school was hard but everything was concrete. You had the text books, the classes, the exams — you knew what you needed to study and when the tests would be scheduled for and what the passing mark was. Writing a novel… everything is up in the air. There is no set path or right or wrong. You just have to go for it, stick at it, and hope for the best.

From Canada to the States to England and back again, which was your favourite city to live in?

Hmmm. I absolutely loved London, but part of the reason I loved it so much was that I knew being there was temporary. So I think my answer is Toronto. It’s diverse and buzzing and vibrant, and it also is where I see myself spending the rest of my life. Saskatoon will always be home to me, but now Toronto is too.

In the novel I loved the comparison of “modern arranged marriage” to online dating and dating apps. When did that idea come to you in terms of explaining how things work?

While I was writing the book. Some of my friends use dating apps where you can be matched with people who are similar to you, and I thought: well, that’s just like if one of their auntie’s set them up with a guy they thought was similar.

You tackle the social issue of coming out to an unwelcoming community. What drew you to that plot line? Have you ever witnessed something so polarizing in your own social/family circle?

A good thing about my culture is the importance of family, but that also means that our choices in that respect — relationships, marriage, children — can be heavily scrutinized. It can be difficult for the older generations especially to come to terms with choices that don’t meet their family values. As the book shows, these values are changing and modernizing, but the process is slow and every family and community is different.

There have been instances in my community where somebody does something ‘different’ for the first time — and it draws attention, sometimes negative attention– but then eventually it stops being a big deal. Often, no one bats an eyelid the next time that same thing happens.

You also get into the sexism issues of more tradition Indian culture. Do you think that sexism is an issue that is getting better or worse?

I think it depends on the family and community. In my experience, yes, it has gotten a lot better. (A tiny example: thirty-five years ago when my mom didn’t give up her maiden name, people talked; when I didn’t change my name after my wedding, nobody cared.) But I can’t speak for everyone. I know that in general we still have a long way to go.

I loved Raina’s friendship with Shay, even when they were fighting. You’ve said that Nani was inspired by your own grandmother. Was Shay drawn from any real-life friendships?

Shay is a composite of a few of the strong, funny, amazing women in my life: my cousin, who is like a sister to me, and a few of my closest friends.

At its core, The Matchmaker’s List seems to be about finding your place in the world. Whether that’s fitting in with expectations or demolishing them entirely. What kind of advice would you give someone struggling with finding themselves?

Thank you. Even though this is a romance, you’re right, it’s also about Raina’s journey to becoming who she is, and respecting herself enough to be in the ‘right’ romance. I can’t remember who said this — it’s probably been said in a number of iterations — but we first need to love and know our true selves before we can allow another person to love us. That’s easier said than done. So I guess I would say don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t try and stick to some timeline.  Believe in yourself and your choices, and you’ll come out the other end stronger.

I’ve got to ask, what’s next for you?

I have another book coming out with Berkley in 2020. It’s not a sequel, but another standalone rom com. I hope there will be more after that. I will continue to work in publishing by day, and write by night!

Thank you, Sonya, for taking the time for the interview. I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to your future work and wish you all the best!


And now it’s time for the review!

What I loved about this book was that it wasn’t what I was expecting. I went in looking for a girl going on dates as she’s told to do and finding the perfect guy. Very Hallmark. Cute and simple.

What I got was a story about not just finding love with someone else, but with yourself and your community. It’s about breaking down expectations within Raina and her community as she struggles with her life, as Shay fights against a traditional marriage rituals, as others within their community struggle against homophobic views.

Raina’s character really grows across the year the novel takes place and it was a touching story. Inner strength is powerful, and a lot of us are far stronger than we believe. That’s the reminder The Matchmaker’s List brings to us. Definitely worth picking up under either of it’s publication titles!


I would like to thank Penguin Random House Canada, Berkley Publishing, and Sonya Lalli, herself, for providing me with a copy of this book and for talking the time to allow this blog tour post to happen. 

REVIEW: Slayer

As many of my friends know, my hero is Buffy Summers. I wrote essay after essay on why she was so important to me. I had several seasons of both Buffy and Angel memorized. I drafted letters to the creators and show runners. I avidly read the comics every month. She is and always will be my number one idol.

So to say I went into this book with the bar high is to put it mildly.

Slayer follows Athena (aka. Nina) as she is constantly brushed aside by the rest of the remaining Watchers, her mother included. After Buffy threatens the world again, Nina ends up as the world’s newest, and final, Slayer. As if things couldn’t get any worse for a girl who’s whole life has been ruined by Buffy Summers time and time again.

I won’t lie, this book started off a little rocky, and I was concerned I wasn’t going to get into it since I had a hard time connecting to Nina in the beginning, but the second the ball really gets rolling, I was hooked. Nina’s struggles to come to terms with being the Slayer were really interesting to me because I’d never really seen anti-Slayer attitudes from anyone but bad guys in the show. The rational of the Watchers was really interesting and what I loved the most was that Kiersten White tied it in to the movie!!! I know next to no people who have seen the terrible Buffy movie but I love it and was so happy that it’s properly tied into the canon along with the connections made to the comic books.

For all y’all new fans, knowledge of the show is recommended, but not necessary. Same goes for those who haven’t read the comics. It’s a great way to dive into this 90s classic and I hope it inspires people to go back and watch the show regardless of whether they’ve seen it already or not.

I’m so happy that this turned out well and can’t wait for book two in the series.

REVIEW: The Little Book Cafe

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the ARC


This collection of Georgia Hill’s The Little Book Cafe trilogy follows the lives of three small-town women as they re-evaluate their relationships, their goals, and their lives in general. When I requested the book through NetGalley, I went into thinking cheesy Hallmark-movie romance, but I got so much more than that.

Tash’s Story

Book one follows Tash, a well-to-do estate agent manager with the perfect job, the perfect house, and the perfect – wealthy – boyfriend. But not all is as it seems as Tash starts to become unsure of her actions as well as Adrian’s. With the help of friends who also take part in charity marathons as well as the new book club, it’s up to Tash to figure out what she really wants.

Tash’s story is one of an abusive relationship as she starts to pick up on the gaslighting and the psychological abuse that comes with being physically intimidated. The way the story unravels and how Tash puts the pieces together is incredibly realistic and I appreciate the way the author approached the subject despite the series being an over-all light-hearted set of stories. I admire Tash as a character and really enjoyed her progression.

I will say though, trigger warnings for domestic and implied animal abuse.

Emma’s Story

Emma’s story was more in line with what I was expecting in terms of over-all tone. She is Tash’s right hand at the real estate agency, but struggling to keep her head above water financially. Her family is struggling, her relationship is suffering, things are not going Emma’s way. When she starts doing something for herself by taking an English Lit course, she thinks she has found something in the teacher.

The conflict in this one is very on brand to “typical romance” archetypes. Emma and Ollie aren’t happy so she looks to her intellectually attractive teacher, Joel. However the main focus of the story is communication is important to let those around you know what you want. Emma’s biggest issue is she feels bored with Ollie as he is so focused on being a volunteer is the small town’s equivalent to the coast guard and wants something new, without telling Ollie any of this.

I like Emma a lot as she represents – to me – the struggling youth who have decent, secure jobs but are still struggling to make ends meet. She represents that the grass isn’t always greener and that other side may only make matters worse when they should be getting better. Communication is key.

Amy’s Story

Amy, manager of the Little Book Cafe and leader of the book club, probably has the most relatable story line. She’s incredibly kind, smart, and talented, but taken for granted by many because she is soft spoken and self-conscious. Her mother picks on her, she doesn’t feel she has many friends, and she was even left at the alter by a man who didn’t even respect her enough to call it off face-to-face. But Amy is in love with a local author and dreads the one-sidedness of it all as she doesn’t want to risk their friendship.

I loved the heartache in this final part of the collection and enjoyed watching Amy slowly begin to believe in herself as she shows everyone in the town what she is capable of doing. Patrick is a wonderful love interest and it was just such a lovely way to close out the trilogy.

Final Thoughts

I really loved this little collection. It was a lot more engaging than I was expecting – in the best of ways – and I definitely plan on reading Georgia Hill’s previous collection that seems to have much of the same cast, Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe, as well as keeping an eye out for her future works. If you want something fun and cozy, I definitely recommend picking up this trilogy all-in-one collection.

REVIEW: The Perfect Girlfriend

Thank you to the publishers for providing Indigo Books & Music Inc. with an ARC for review as part of the selection process for the January Staff Pick of the Month.

This review does not reflect the views and opinions of Indigo Books & Music Inc. and are my own independent thoughts of the work being reviews.


I love a good domestic thriller, and am always open to supporting a debut author, so I was more than happy to pick up the ARC when I saw it on the break room desk a few months ago back when I was working for Indigo Books.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is a domestic thriller following Lily – or Juliette, as she goes by now – as she seeks to get her ex-boyfriend back in a process that gave me a similar feeling to Single White Female. Starting with joining the airline Nate works for as a flight attendant, Lily seeks to convince him how deeply, madly in love with her he definitely must be and get her perfect life back on track.

There are a few other bits that are all tied up in her mission, including wanting to be more successful than a mean girl from her childhood (who happens to be Nate’s sister) as well as still dealing with the death of her younger brother and now her estranged mother. While these added aspects added something akin to depth to the story, they also felt more loose in terms of plot planning and weak justification for Lily’s behaviour.

You have probably guessed that I was not overly fond of this title, and you would be correct. While the writing itself was strong, it felt like a story I already read. As I mentioned above, Single White Female was only one of the films that popped into my head while reading, along with Fatal Attraction and Gone Girl (in terms of the open ending). I usually don’t mind “borrowed” ideas as influence is always going to be in our media, but it just didn’t work with this one.

The novel is told from Lily’s perspective which gave me a hard time since I had a hard time connecting with her. At one point in my life, I was also a badly bullied little girl, but the extremes that Lily went through to not only get revenge but also to justify her behaviour to herself. It wouldn’t be a domestic revenge thriller without murder and even that part had me more rolling my eyes and wondering why no one suspected how out of her mind this woman is. It all seemed just far too over the top for me.

As always, perhaps this book just wasn’t for me. If you like the films/books I’ve referenced in terms of “borrowed” influences, then you might enjoy this book. I hope Karen Hamilton keeps writing and I enjoyed her style enough to give her next book a chance. 2 out of 5 stars from me.


This book is available now at any Indigo, Chapters, or Coles location and has an official release of December 31st, 2018.

REVIEW: Lying In Wait

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


When I read Liz Nugent’s last novel, Unraveling Oliver, I felt that it was an interesting character study rather than the thriller I was expecting. Much can be said the same for this most recent novel.

The story follows three characters from two families as they come to terms with what has happened to a girl Annie Doyle once she is murdered. Lydia and Laurence are mother and son, and it was Lydia’s husband who murdered the girl. The third character to get POV chapters is Karen, Annie’s sister. Similar to Unraveling Oliver, the narrative is purely character driven and written in a style that reminds me of True Detective (season one, of course).

The way the story moves non-linearly, it reminds me of unreliable witness testimonies that featured into the story telling of True Detective or many true crime documentaries that are on Netflix. It’s a style that greatly appeals to me as it’s an interesting approach to the domestic thriller genre and having all three POVs written in first person also add to the atmosphere of the story. It is very much a psychological story where we really get to know the characters before we see them fall to pieces.

However, as much as I liked how the story was written, it wasn’t my favourite. I had no real sympathy for any of the characters and almost felt that it would have worked better as a novella that ends without resolution rather that a 300-page novel that feels to really drag on in the second act to the point where I almost stopped reading several times. The ending was worth pushing through, but I was disappointed that it felt like work to get there.

While I think her previous novel was more to my liking despite the problematic characters, this is by no means a bad book. If domestic thrillers are your thing, I definitely recommend picking up this book full of bizarre people and their strange lives.

A solid three out of five, in my opinion.

REVIEW: Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic

Thank you Annick Press for sending me an ARC in return for my honest review


I normally don’t read much non-fiction, but on the rare occasion a title jumps out at me. This time, a book jumped out at me because of the author.

Michael McCreary and I became friends several years ago as I have always been a film geek (and was in film school at the time) and he was dressed as Patrick Bateman. We hit it off right away and I’ve never felt better about things than I do when spending time with someone as bright and funny as Michael. When I saw in a Facebook ad that one of my favourite people had written a book about his life and experiences with having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) while being a comedian, I just knew I had to get my hands on it.

The way this book is written is exactly the way Michael talks. He has a very specific way of speaking that just wraps you up in whatever story he is telling you and is more than capable of making you laugh. The chapters are episodic glimpses of his life and experiences regarding solving the puzzle that is telling the difference when someone is being mean or actually telling a joke, or even dealing with being a performer in general. Broken up by colourful “soundbite” quotes and little charts or descriptions about stereotypes or helpful tips for others who have ASD, the book almost feels like a magazine article/interview rather than a book which not only feels like the better way to visualize the narrative, but is also very much Michael.

You may be thinking I am biased given that Michael is a very dear friend of mine, and I probably am. That being said, I was not just approaching this as Michael’s friend but also as someone who – although not neurotypical – does not have Autism, I found this to be rather insightful about something I am not ashamed to admit I don’t know very much about.

This book will be available in early 2019 and I really hope that people, whether autistic or not, pick up this book. I feel it could be a very useful tool for parents, teachers, or even children to understand ASD whether they have been diagnosed themselves or have friends/family/classmates who have been diagnosed.

I am so proud of Michael’s hard work and am so thankful I was able to get my hands on the ARC.


eARCs are also now available through NetGalley! Click here to request it!