Saturday, January 30, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (191)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Bookish friends! Hello! Not much chat this week because not much happened and I can't quite think of anything interesting to talk about beyond the normal rainy winter and me struggling to build up a review buffer. Maybe next week!

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse (Tuesday) and These Vicious Masks by (Friday).
The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky (finished copy from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (borrowed from the library)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Me on The Abyss Surrounds Us

Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Release Date: February 8, 2016
Publisher: Flux

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She's been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas's first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas's dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water. There's no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea. But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she's not about to stop.

The Abyss Surrounds Us is a futuristic adventure on the high seas, a tale of harsh pirates and frightening sea monsters. Of danger, fear, and strength.

Cassandra is a smart girl caught up in a dangerous situation. Kidnapped by pirates, forced to raise their stolen Reckoner pup, watched by a rough pirate girl, her back is against the wall in more ways than one. But she has her ideas. She has a plan or two. She knows Reckoners, how they grow up, how to train them. Cas could use this situation to her advantage. But pirates are treacherous, none more so than Santa Elena, and sometimes appealing, like the street smart but possibly helpful Swift.

This is a different sort of science fiction, the kind that's grounded on Earth but pushing the limits of current technology. Like the Reckoners, genetically engineered marine creatures bred to grow, to protect and defend ships out on the high seas. Some things, like pirates, will never disappear over time. There will always be scavengers and dishonest hunters out there, searching for unsuspecting victims and a bounty they can use until the next battle. The pirate fill the book with their standard shades of grey when it comes to morals. Yes, their actions are criminal, and yes, they know what what they're doing is wrong, but everyone has a family to feed. Everyone protects their home, their way of living. The longer Cas spends on the ship, the longer she treads water in those murky grey waters.

I wish books like this were more common, genre fiction with heroines of colour who are attracted to other girls. There are so few main characters in sci-fi and fantasy who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, and all the other terms that are part of the LGBTQ spectrum. More of their stories are being told, being published, in a contemporary setting, but what about in genre fiction? I would love to read more YA like this, to find more fantasy settings and futuristic settings with main characters where are anything but white and straight.

I found this book to be dangerous and exciting, full with rocks and hard places and seemingly impossible decisions that Cassandra was forced to make. I loved the futuristic setting, the ships and the Reckoner on the wide open ocean. I loved how Cassandra's attraction to Swift was just there, how it didn't feel the need to explain or justify itself. How it said 'this book is going to be about sea monsters and pirates and a girl who want to make out with another girl.' It shouldn't feel so refreshing to find a book like this, it shouldn't be so rare. If you're looking for something different, a book about sea monsters and pirates, a book full of complicated female characters, for a massively diverse genre fiction YA, then read this book.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Flux through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (263)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Saving Montgomery Sole
Author: Mariko Tamaki
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Montgomery Sole is a square peg in a small town, forced to go to a school full of jocks and girls who don't even know what irony is. It would all be impossible if it weren't for her best friends, Thomas and Naoki. The three are also the only members of Jefferson High's Mystery Club, dedicated to exploring the weird and unexplained, from ESP and astrology to super powers and mysterious objects.

Then there's the Eye of Know, the possibly powerful crystal amulet Monty bought online. Will it help her predict the future or fight back against the ignorant jerks who make fun of Thomas for being gay or Monty for having two moms? Maybe the Eye is here just in time, because the newest resident of their small town is scarier than mothmen, poltergeists, or, you know, gym.

I'm looking forward to this. I've read Mariko's (You) Set Me on Fire, which was about being a first year at college and being away from home and toxic relationships and girls kissing girls. It felt rather Canadian. And there's This One Summer. I'm curious as to how this book will go, what will happen to Montgomery in this small town, what she'll discover. It's intriguing when authors can write somewhat different books.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Me on Revenge and the Wild

Title: Revenge and the Wild
Author: Michelle Modesto
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it's perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler. Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She's determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there's nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways. But Westie's search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel's latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There's only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie's kin. With the help of Nigel's handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she's not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

Revenge and the Wild is a tense search for answers and revenge in a dry, desolate, magic-filled setting. A look at trust and belief, and making the decision on whether or not to trust a gut feeling.

Westie is rough and bitter, as jagged as a piece of broken glass. She was let loose by her adoptive father Nigel, allowed to run wild as she grew up, making her rather 'unladylike.' She doesn't necessarily care. She's too busy searching out the missing pieces of her past, searching for the cannibals who killed her family. This search of hers, this hunt, drives her, pushes her. Haunts her. The attack on her, losing her arm, changed her. Thanks to Nigel, she grew up in a safe home, a home that helped her. But it doesn't mean she isn't still haunted by why she saw. What she smelled.

There's some intriguing world-building going on here. It's reminiscent of a historical western setting, what with the saloons and the brothels, the horses and the coaches. The slow encroachment of white people and industry onto Native lands. But then there's an extra layer of clockwork and steampunk-type machines, and a layer of the paranormal on top of that. Of vampires and werewolves and of magic in the land that's starting to disappear. It's a giant combination of genres but I found they all worked together. It didn't seem like too much was happening in terms of the setting.

I wonder when I'll stop being surprised when main characters in YA genre fiction aren't able-bodied, aren't straight, aren't white. Maybe when it happens more often. It was awesome to see Westie, a rough heroine, look to kick ass and take names in a magical Western setting with a mechanical arm. Losing it did shape her, change her, make her focused and ruthless, but the loss of her human arm and gain of her copper one didn't make her less of a person, even though some of the townsfolk see her that way. She was still hunting down cannibals, still searching out clues. Still getting into trouble. Still making mistakes. Still getting tunnelvision and not looking at a bigger picture. Just because she's not able-bodied doesn't mean she won't work as a main character. Hopefully we'll see more main characters with disabilities, physical and mental, in fantasy settings.

There were a number of plot lines circling through this book. Westie's search for revenge. The investors coming to town. The magic in the area slowly disappearing. Westie's own relationships with Nigel and Alistair. Because so much was going on, there was a time or two when I wondered why there were so many. I got a little caught up in so much going on and the excitement of having so many different things from genre fiction in one book. I would recommend this to those looking for a new fantasy standalone with a battered, gruff heroine.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (190)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello to everyone on the East Coast currently buried under any certain amount of snow! It's trying to be sunny here today. Which we need. Winters are usually as gloomy as heck out here and it depresses people something bad.

I've been reading some more manga lately, and I'm still reading a lot of webcomics, so I was wondering if people would be interested in a once a month spotlight/highlight post. It would just be on one comic/webcomic/manga at a time, like one I did on Tumblr last year. I might end up doing it anyways, but if people say in the comments that they'd like to see it it'll appear sooner.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto (Tuesday) and The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (Friday). :)
Horimiya Voume 2 (Bought)
See How They Run by Ally Carter (Borrowed from the library)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Me on The Dark Days Club

Title: The Dark Days Club
Author: Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Viking (Penguin imprint)

London, 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation at the royal court of George III. But at the same time, she finds herself drawn into the shadows of Regency London. One of the Wrexhall's housemaids has disappeared, and the only person with any answers is the disreputable Lord Carlston, whose reputation is as black as his lingering eyes. Soon Lady Helen and Lord Carlston are caught between two equally dangerous worlds-the glittering social whirl of the Regency upper crust, and the terrifyingly demonic conspiracy that threatens to plunge a newly Enlightened world back into darkness.

The Dark Days Club is darkly mysterious and enthralling, filled with inescapable dangers and impossible choices.

Lady Helen is intelligent, spirited. She has a number of traits that weren't acceptable for young women of the time period. Her days leading up to her debut presentation are spent walking on egg shells around her guardians, her aunt and her bitter, pious uncle. With a mother who's reputation was ruined when rumours of her being a spy for Napoleon appears around the time of her death, she must be careful in order to secure a place in high society. No sense in proving that her mother's rebellious blood runs true in Lady Helen's veins, yes? But Helen doesn't agree. She doesn't believe the stories, she knows that the truth must be out there somewhere.

When Lord Carlston appears before her, telling tales of dark creatures and Lady Helen's own surprising discoveries, her skill of reading others exceptionally well, her ability to see actions play out step by step in her mind briefly before they happen, she learns part of the truth she's been wondering about. A truth about her mother. But it isn't as simple than that, and Lady Helen becomes caught between two worlds, the glamour of high society and her duty as a young woman to find a rich and titled husband and the shadow world Lord Carlston and his associates show her. A dangerous world of deception and demons.

I was impressed and intrigued by the level of research done by the other on the Regency England time period and location. The details when it comes to how Lady Helen and all other characters navigate their way through the spaces available to them because of both their gender and their standing in society. The boxes in Vauxhall Gardens or the balls in stately manor homes. The dark, dingy alleyways behind drinking houses. The palace, being introduced to the Queen. The kitchen where the servants have their dinner separate from the lords and ladies of the house. What the author highlights wonderfully is how Lady Helen is caught of the spider's web of propriety and custom. How, as an unmarried young woman, she has no power whatsoever, and would only get some if she married. Or decided to live without consequence or care of rumour. Bold, intelligent, passionate women suffered in this time period, held ransom by law and marriage and senior male relatives who believed that being obedient meant you were the best at being a woman.

This book is an in-depth mystery rich with historical accuracy and detail. There was a moment or two that hinted at a potential romance, but I imagine it will be developed more as the series goes on. This is the start of Lady Helen's adventures, the point at which she is presented with two doors and told to pick one to walk through. Her interactions with Lord Carlston were intriguing, as the two were very much at odds with each other. She's rather innocent (when it comes to the situation at the start), inquisitive, and resistant, while he's angry and jaded. It's somewhat clear that he wants to help rid England of the Deceivers, but beyond that? His motives are unclear and muddy, much like a fair chunk of his past. I'm desperate to know more, to know what happens next, and so I'm greatly looking forward to the next book.

(I received an advance copy of this title from another book blogger.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (262)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Devil and the Bluebird
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

From Goodreads:

"Devil-at-the-crossroads" folklore finds its way to YA via this moody, magical tale

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it's her runaway sister's soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue's voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother's guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.

I'm very intrigued by the 'devil at the crossroads' story in this book, how Blue will lose her voice in her deal with the devil. I want to know what happens after, what journey Blue ends up on. And I like the cover, the two figures on the guitar, the little things that will probably pop up as Blue searches for her sister. Anyone else looking forward to this? :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Me on Faerie

Title: Faerie
Author: Elisha Marjara
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Just days before her eighteenth birthday, Lila has resolved to end her life. The horror of becoming an adult, and leaving her childhood behind, has broken her heart. Lila is a hyper-imaginative girl who is on a collision course to womanhood. She likens herself to a half-human fairy creature who does not belong in the earthly world; but in the cold light of day she is a psychiatric patient at a hospital, where she is being treated for anorexia―her sickness driven by the irrational need to undo nature and thwart the passage of time. Lila tells the story of how she ended up on the Four East wing: we flashback to her childhood in the '80s, growing up in a small town as an overweight brown kid to Punjabi immigrant parents: her father, a literary scholar whom she idolizes, and her mother, a housewife―"the most female of all females who found comfort in cooking." Faerie weaves these passages with Lila's downward spiral into life-threatening illness, her budding sexuality, and her complicated recovery in hospital that comes with a price.

Faerie is an honest and painful look at a young girl's battle with herself, with her hatred of her fat teenage self and her suffering as nothing more than a skeleton in a hospital gown. Here are the ups and downs of Lila's life, her belief that being thin will change her and her decision on whether she wants to live of die.

When the book starts, Lila is depressed and broken. A skinny splinter of a girl. She's angry, defeated, and will defend her decision to not eat until her last breath. Even if it causes her to take her last breath. Something Lila confronts in the hospital is change and her dislike of it. Ever since she was a child, she hated change. Especially when it came to her body. She hated how her body grew as she got older, hated how her sister's grew in a different way. In the hospital, she hates how she is forced to put on weight. But change is inescapable. Her constant battle with weight and eating is a battle of control over inescapable change. Lila believes she can control how many calories her body takes in, even in the hospital. Lila believes she can control all of it.

This book pushes and pokes at 'traditional beauty standards,' the ones that have been drilled into girls' heads since they were young. That you're only beautiful if you look like a Barbie doll, that you're only beautiful and desired if you're thin, if you have blonde hair. That anything else is ugly. Those 'standards' ruin Lila, who can't see that she's beautiful the way she is. This book also pushes a number of things into the reader's face that aren't talked about much in literature or seen in movies or TV. That girls get periods. That fat girls have sex drives. That Punjabi girls have the same problems as white girls. That the world can crush a girl so much she begins to hate food, hate that she needs to eat to live.

This is a story that is all to familiar to some teenage girls. The battles we have with our appearance, with our weight, with our family. With wanting to look like someone else, someone we've put up on a pedestal. The prose here is lyrical and honest, unflinchingly honest. Horrifying at times, what with the descriptions of Lila's emaciated body, the sudden dips and hollows in her body where muscle and fat would normally be on any human being. I think this book brushes up against the line between YA and adult. Lila is telling her story here, reflecting on her past and her imaginations, but she's telling it as an adult. Still, I can see this being read by those looking for an honest look at how far an eating disorder will take some girls, at the reality that many girls face when it comes to their bodies and how they want to look. I hope this book makes it into high school libraries so all teens can read Lila's story, see the truth of how far eating disorders can go. See the truth of what we've done to ourselves in terms of perception and media influences. See the truth that we can't always control everything.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Arsenal Pulp Press.)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (189)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

The cloudy, grey drizzle is settling again, like it does for 3 our of the 4 seasons here.

I hate how my reading slumps go, how I can read a bunch of comics easily but when it comes to prose some days it's a struggle to get through a chapter. It's really frustrating because I want to keep sticking to a schedule but I don't want to rush through and give you guys a review that looks like I've phoned it in. One day I will figure this all out.

Reviews going up next week will feature Faerie by Eisha Marjara (Tuesday) and The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (Friday). :)
You Were Here by Cori McCarthy (e-galley from Sourcebooks through NetGalley)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Me on The Radiant Road

Title: The Radiant Road
Author: Katherine Catmull
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they'll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they're both in great danger from an ancient foe.

The Radiant Road is a magical and mysterious fairy tale rich with imagination and possibilities, of history and fireflies. Of hope and fear and purpose.

Clare is a quiet, lost girl. A lonely girl. A girl who locked away all of her memories of her mother and her mother's stories because it was too painful for her to remember. And so she stayed alone in her head, travelling with her father, writing her words in her secret notebook. Because not every child grows up with stories of making and of the Strange. Not every mother taught their daughters about faeries and magic and secrets tucked away in their commonplace books. Clare, with her stories and talk of faeries, is seen as weird and foolish by other kids, so she makes herself grow up fast. Until she and her father return to Ireland. Until she sees the boy with the black hair, until she remembers it isn't all stories and nonsense.

There is a rich world here full of faeries, if that's what you call them, magic, and creation. There is a realm of possibility living alongside Clare's human world, a realm that invites dreaming and making the impossible. A realm of wonder but also of deep, dark, dangerous secrets. With the human world growing, changing, this other world needs protection. It needs Clare and her glorious house with a tree inside of it.

Clare is caught in that space between the fantasies of childhood and the harsh realities of purpose and decision-making. Between possibility, between running through the streets barefoot and fancy-free, and hitting those teenage years when you're forced to start thinking about your future. High school, college, jobs. But in this space Clare discovers who she is, what she can do. What her true purpose is in this little hill house with the yew tree inside of it. I would recommend this to fans of magical and almost poetic storytelling, to those looking for a lost heroine who's on a hard road to find her way again.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Penguin Random House Canada.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (261)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Two Summers
Author: Aimee Friedman
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Point (Scholastic imprint)

From Goodreads:

ONE SUMMER in the French countryside, among sun-kissed fields of lavender . . . 

ANOTHER SUMMER in upstate New York, along familiar roads that lead to surprises . . . 

When Summer Everett makes a split-second decision, her summer divides into two parallel worlds. In one, she travels to France, where she’s dreamed of going: a land of chocolate croissants, handsome boys, and art museums. In the other, she remains home, in her ordinary suburb, where she expects her ordinary life to continue — but nothing is as it seems.

In both summers, she will fall in love and discover new sides of herself. What may break her, though, is a terrible family secret, one she can't hide from anywhere. In the end, it may just be the truth she needs the most.

From New York Times bestselling author Aimee Friedman comes an irresistible, inventive novel that takes readers around the world and back again, and asks us what matters more: the journey or the destination.

This sounds interesting, sort of like the movie Sliding Doors. I don't read a lot of contemporary YA like this, but it sounds like it could be both complicated and fun.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Me on The Killing Jar

Title: The Killing Jar
Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret. She's haunted by a violent tragedy she can't explain. Kenna's past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she's plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance. On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she's capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

The Killing Jar is mysterious and dangerous, a look at life and death, a hiding away from the past and a haunting search for the truth. But as welcome as it makes her feel, does Kenna really want to know everything about her new home?

Kenna is afraid of a number of things, like the past, like repeating it. So she keeps everyone at a distance, isolates herself from everyone including her mother and sister. She would rather be alone, in her own head playing her music, than potentially hurt others. She's a kind, fractured girl that doesn't allow herself to be happy, until something terrible happens again. Until she goes to Eclipse.

The magical realism of the book, Kenna and her ability, the people of Eclipse, has a rather old and haunted feel of it. It's there inside all of them, deep down. It's been there for a long time. It's kept them there and they can't leave it. Won't leave it. As Kenna learns more about it, more about them, she discovers how dark and dangerous it is. How it all felt wonderful at the beginning but discovers the price that needs to be paid. How it's never just about life and death, black and white. How all the shades of grey matter.

I found this book intriguing. I didn't expect it to be as dark as it is, to go into the play between life and death, power and control, as deeply as it did. It's made it a richer story, a heavier story. The mystical magic of Eclipse is explained in some ways and left a mystery in others, which was nice to see. The magic in books like this doesn't always have to be explained. Sometimes, it can just be. It gives it that hint of possibility. I would recommend this book to those looking for a haunting, mysterious stand alone with a heroine who struggles to come to terms with a dark spot in her past.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (188)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

So the year is off to a start of sorts. In terms of the weather here, it snowed earlier in the week and has been off and on foggy. Which is bizarre when the fog rolls in in the middle of the afternoon.

I see a bunch of bloggers, librarians, and authors are off to ALA midwinter this weekend. I hope everyone has fun talking up diverse books and what they're looking forward to and the awards on Monday.

Quick book rec! If you like manga and you're looking to get into something a little bit different but still contemporary (no magic), then check out Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. It's about a high school guy who writes and draws shojo manga, manga for girls all about happy, fluffy romances. It's a fun story that plays with expectations and gender roles and character. Only the first volume has been translated so far, but the anime (I watched it on Crunchyroll) seems pretty faithful to the plot of the manga if you want to give it a watch first.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth (Tuesday) and The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull (Friday). :)
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Volume 1 by Izumi Tsubaki (Bought)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Bought)
Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Me on The Night Parade

Title: The Night Parade
Author: Kathryn Tanquary
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother's village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family's ancestral shrine on a malicious dare. But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked... and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth - or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.

The Night Parade is rich with mythology and magic, with mystery and problem-solving.

At the beginning of the book, Saki comes across as a spoiled 13-year-old girl. She's more worried about her friends in Tokyo and what fun she's missing out on than her grandmother's health, than the customs and rituals that come with the Obon ceremony. Than the shrine in the mountains behind her grandmother's house. She's hard to like because of her dismissive, apathetic attitude. She's also confusing in that she wants to be back in Toyko with her friends but acknowledges repeatedly that she's tired of them, that they're really bullies. She skated the line between annoying and normal teen girl trying to fit in with friends and not spend her school days alone and bullied.

The story itself is filled with Japanese customs, mythology, and magic. Of spirits and witches, of shrines and spirit guides and curses. It's so dense with story, with situation and situation that Saki is pulled into because of her initial mistake, because of her carelessness. But one thing bugged me. I loved how the tanuki was called a tanuki, how the tengu was called a tengu, how the Japanese names for a number of spirits and items were used, but not all of them. The kitsune was called a fox and the orge with its large club wasn't called an oni with a kanabo. The inconsistency bothered me (as this is a review of an e-galley, I wonder if this has been changed in the final copy).

I like how this book is set in Japan with, while written in English, the characters speaking Japanese. The Japanese words weren't in italics, which was surprising to see. For a book about a Japanese girl in Japan falling in with the local spirit world, the lack of italics made the book feel more authentic. But there were some inconsistencies, like with the use of fox instead of kitsune, and why Saki would refer to her parents as Mom and Dad instead of the Japanese terms. The story itself also felt rather long for a middle grade book. I would recommend this to those looking for more middle grade set outside of North America, for those looking for magic and fantasy but set in the real world, and those looking for more diverse middle grade stories.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Sourcebooks through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (260)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press

From Goodreads:

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

In a starred review for Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Kirkus Reviews declared: "Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close."

I'm so curious as to how this book, this series, will end. How heartbreaking it'll be, if there'll be any twists. If Gansey will stay dead, because we all know he's supposed to die. How magical it'll get. I imagine every reader waiting for this book is slowly counting down the hours.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Me on This Is Where It Ends

Title: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

10:00 a.m.: The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02 a.m.: The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03: The auditorium doors won't open. 10:05: Someone starts shooting. Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

This Is Where It Ends is tense, explosive, shocking, and heartbreaking.

The way this book is written is striking. The reader is shot between different points of view, inside the auditorium, outside, way from the school, and back in so fast it's like time isn't passing. Because it isn't, not quite. So many things happen during these 54 minutes. So many thoughts, worries, fears, tears, hopes. So many tears cried. So few words spoken aloud for fear of being the next victim. For not wanting any of it to be true. But it is. We only get glimpses of the characters, who they are in those moments and what they're thinking about, who they're worried about. That's all we get. Which is okay for me. That's what I expected. Of course, I do still wonder what might've happened next, what questions would've been asked in the days to come. Who would've survived and who would've been lost, physically or mentally.

It's very likely that this is the most frightening book I've read in the last few years. It comes from the news events of the last few years, the increase in gun violence, the immediacy that social media has brought to events like shootings and riots and press conferences. This story feels so honest, so real. And it's sad that I'm not surprised by how real it feels. How easy it was to believe that, yes, this could absolutely be a real shooting at a read high school in America. That is what scares me.

It's hard to talk about this book objectively. I think it's safe to say that this isn't the kind of book I generally read, a hard-hitting, realistic YA. Did I like it? I'm not sure. Would I recommend it? Yes. This book is sad and surprising and full of terror and fear, but it's one of those frighteningly honest stories that I think people should read.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Sourcebooks through NetGalley.)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (187)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Happy new year, all! I do wonder how different this year will be, compared to 2015. In some ways it was good, but in other ways it wasn't. I hope it'll feel better overall.

Last week on my birthday I meant to read A Gathering of Shadows to mirror how I read A Darker Shade of Magic on my birthday the year before, but I didn't. Instead I played a game called Transistor, which I loved. I happened to be watching a year in games review video, watched the one from 2014, and found Transistor on sale on Steam (before Christmas). It was nice to just play a game because there aren't a lot of games I play beyond sometimes Minecraft and games on my phone like Two Dots or Neko Atsume.

Hopefully you all had a fun end of the year celebration, or at least you spent it how you wanted to. :)

Reviews going up this coming week will feature This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (Tuesday) and The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary (Friday). :)
Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky (ARC from Scholastic Canada)
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork (ARC from Scholastic Canada)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Me on Passenger

Title: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she's inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she's never heard of. Until now. Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he's known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can't escape and the family that won't let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas' passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not. Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods' grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

Passenger is full of danger, deceit, and complication. It's a journey through time and space, a search for something important wanted by those with greatly different plans.

Etta is ready to take her place on the international stage, to show the world her talent as a violinist, but she's being held back. By her instructor, by the awkward relationship she has with her mother. Through bizarre circumstance, she finds herself on a ship in the 18th century. She finds her mother has been keeping a number of secrets from her. She finds herself a victim of someone else's plots and plans. But she has a plan of her own.

Nicholas is working hard to run, to forget, to move ahead. To prove to the world he is more than the colour of his skin while he himself struggles with that fact. To prove to the Ironwoods that he isn't their servant, their mistake, the he won't stand for being under their thumb. But he can't escape the one regret in his past the haunts him every single day. Like Etta, he has a plan, but in some ways those plans differ.

The time travel aspect appeals to me. There are rules and consequences, there are certain paths to follow. It isn't an anywhere or anytime kind of situation, which was exciting to find. Consequences make time travel interesting. It means you have to remember things, places and time periods, or you could ruin everything. It's very likely that they could ruin everything. Etta and Nicholas aren't the only people searching, aren't the only ones with plans. Aren't the only ones driven by determination, jealousy, or pride.

This is a very dense book, full of description, dread, despair, and discovery. Both Etta and Nicholas spend a great deal of time pondering the past, their future. Their fate. I was intrigued by Etta's passionate nature, her desire to search and save those lose to her, her rather obvious hatred of being manipulated by the Ironwoods. She's got some fire in her, that's for sure. And there are moments when she stops and realizes that her way of thinking, the 21st century way, isn't how it works in past centuries. Moments when she feels ashamed for not realizing how different customs in different time periods would feel for Nicholas. As the time travel and the adventure interested me more, I'm curious to see where, when, the story will go next.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Disney Book Group through NetGalley.)