Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (341)

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

Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

What's that? New Holly Black? About faeries and danger? YES. SOLD.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Me on Blight

Title: Blight
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta, Georgia, since she was found outside its gates at the age of five. Now she's part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the Company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there's an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it's up to them to stop it from happening again.

Blight is a race against time, away from sickness and death and towards a possible truth, set in a future where seeds and crops are genetically engineered. Where corporations are in control of what we grow and what we eat.

All Tempest knows is being a guard at an AgraStar farm. Picked up as a child, working off the debt she accrued as the compound's staff raised her, she spends shifts looking through a rifle scope. Watching for scavengers hoping to steal from the rows and rows of corn AgraStar grows. Uses for food and fuel. Controls. She knows what she's been taught, what she's seen. That the company needs them to protect the corn, that the seeds are genetically modified to produce the best crop possible. She's tough and practical, believes in the company. Believes that they're protecting the corn from those who don't want to work to grow it. Until the attack and the explosion. Until she sees everything from the other side. Until she catches hold of AgraStar's secrets.

This is one of those books that imagines a future, takes a piece of current news and expands on it, imagines if it takes over, slightly similar to Mindy McGinnis' Not a Drop to Drink and its commentary on access to fresh water. Here, seeds are engineered and crops are kept behind fences. Protected by guards with rifles. Because the company will stop at nothing to ensure that their crops survive, that society owes them for keeping them supplied with food and fuel. It's fast-paced and tense, because lives are on the line. Tempest and Alder are on the run, trying to stay alive, to outrun the blight and the scavengers on their heels, but are they really headed for the right place? I would recommend this to those interested in near-future dystopian stories, books like Not a Drop to Drink or Megan Crewe's The Way We Fall.

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (268)

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! The sun's disappeared behind some clouds, but it'll be nice out again soon. I need to go for more walks, soak up some more sun.

Reviews going up this week will feature Blight by Alexandra Duncan (Tuesday) and one of the library books I picked up recently on Friday (I'm just not sure which one yet). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller (borrowed from the library)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Me on Sovereign

Title: Sovereign
Author: April Daniels
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Diversion Books

Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she's doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it's only going to get worse. When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there's no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. She might be hard to kill, but there's more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

Sovereign is rough and dangerous, a near-constant battle for Danny. A battle to save the world, to prove something to those who look down on her. To confront her past and to free herself from it. To survive.

After battling Utopia, Danny has sort of settled into being a superhero. She's patrolling, taking down criminals and villains. She has a love-hate relationship with the media, she's trying to distance herself even more from her parents, and things are really awkward and strained with Calamity. Maybe it's not the best, but things are going okay. Danny's alive, in the female body she's always wanted and superpowers flowing through her. Making her feel powerful. But is that enough?

So much of what happens in this book to Danny is a punch to the gut, to the heart. She just wants to belong, to finally belong, but there are so many factors trying to push her into spaces she doesn't want to be in. Her parents, those who don't see her as a viable superhero because of her age, those who don't want a transgender superhero. Those who want to rule the world like a dictator with an iron fist, who want to control with power while those without would live in servitude. Danny's own demons, her nightmares and her childhood traumas and her issues that she doesn't always want to face. If you enjoyed the first book, you'll surely enjoy this second book.

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (340)

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

Title: This Mortal Coil
Author: Emily Suvada
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

I like the cover, the red dust explosion and the title's implications of mortality. I get the feeling that people are going to die in this book.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Me on The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

Title: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls
Author: Lauren Karcz
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn't been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year. Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings. Despite Mercedes's creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the abandoned Red Mangrove Estate. At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she hasn't ever before. But Mercedes can't take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. Mercedes can't live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is an exploration, a look at how far we go and the people we meet on journeys of self-discovery. It's a look at creativity, what drives us and what happens when we lose that drive, the passion and the joy and the sense of loss.

Mercedes is bright and creative, an artist to the core, but not right now. Inspiration has left her, leading to her being afraid that she'll never paint anything worthwhile again. Maybe it's because she has a lot weighing her down right now. Like how her abuela is in a coma in San Juan and the doctors aren't sure if she'll ever wake up. Like how she has no idea where she'll be going to college in the fall. Like how she's in love with her best friend Victoria but is scared to tell her, scared she'll ruin their friendship. Until her new neighbour takes her to the Estate. Until Mercedes finally feels free enough to paint.

So much of this book is about Mercedes figuring herself out, what she wants and how she sees the world. What she wants to express of herself in her art, how much of herself that she's willing to express, to show to other people. She keeps her affection secret from Victoria and it settles in her, like a hard lump in her chest, leaving her unable to express herself. It's the holding in of all these worries that blocks her, and only at the Estate, where anything is possible, does she feel free. All Mercedes has to do is take that impossibly hard first step and say out loud what she's feeling, but how can she when it's so hard, so impossible for her?

This book is honest and rough, nailing those end of high school uncertainties so well. What next? How can I tell someone the truth? What if I never paint again? What if she dies? What am I supposed to do? There's an honest vulnerability to Mercedes, her unsure feelings of the future and her hope that she can stagnate in the present. That she can be free to paint and creative and live at the Estate, even when a small part of her knows she can't. This is a book that's mysteriously magical, similar to AnnaMarie McLemore's books can be. If you're a fan of magical realism, books like McLemore's or Nova Ren Suma's, you might want to check this out.

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (267)

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. ;)

Still more summer! It's such a difference from the winter with the constant snow and the spring with the rain that I'm still soaking it all in.

I've been walking to the library this week, which is nice when it's sunny and the library isn't that far away. But it's slightly annoying when a hold comes in, I wait a little to go get it, then I get home to a message that another hold has come in.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz (Tuesday) and Sovereign by April Daniels (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas (borrowed from the library)
Pyromantic by Lish McBride (borrowed from the library)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Me on Amid Stars and Darkness

Title: Amid Stars and Darkness
Author: Chani Lynn Feener
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Macmillan imprint)

Delaney's entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage. Kidnapped by the princess's head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race. No pressure or anything. Factor in Trystan, the princess's terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

Amid Stars and Darkness is full of danger, of secrets and lies. Caught up in intergalactic intrigue and assassination attempts, Delaney struggles to keep her wits about her and to not let anyone know who she really is.

Delaney is a victim to circumstance after happening across a stranger in a club and being a similar height and body shape. Because what happens next is Delaney is taken from Earth to an alien ship, somehow looking like and being treated like a runaway alien princess. She's annoyed, afraid, angry. She's a regular girl, just finished with high school. She's in no way ready or capable to deal with anything like this. I was impressed by her restraint. She doesn't hide the fact that she's furious that Olena put her in this position, that she's being forced to pretend to be Olena until they find her, that someone's trying to kill her. But she doesn't necessarily completely break down screaming. She's pissed while seeing that she has to go along with it so a massive war that could doom Earth won't break out.

There were some parts of this that were interesting, some moments with Delaney that showed she could be both angry and her situation and understanding of the seriousness, but for the most part it felt rather predictable. Considering the summary and the set up, the plot happened how I thought it would. Some characters stayed the same, consistently arrogant or foolish. Nothing really surprised me. I'd hoped for some more science fiction, some more exploration as opposed to aliens who mostly looked human and barely any exploration on the planet Delaney ends up on. In the end, this wasn't the book for me. That being said, I'm sure there are those who would enjoy this, those looking for more romance in their sci-fi.

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (339)

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

Title: Last Star Burning
Author: Caitlin Sangster
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Me on The Last Magician

Title: The Last Magician
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives. Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she's there. And all of Esta's training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future. But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

The Last Magician is a story steeped in magic and mystery, set in a dangerous time surrounded by dangerous people.

Esta is quick with her hands, a girl taught to creep and steal. Using her ability to manipulate time, to travel through it, she's gotten good at thievery. She's quick, crafty, and staunchly loyal to those she considers family back in the 21st century. But this next job in 1902, hopefully her final job, will test her. Away from those who are familiar to her, in a different time, surrounded by those who would use her, Esta will have to be smart and cautious if she's going to succeed. And she's not the only one with a plan, with a hope to save all Mageus from the Brink.

There's a lot happening here, a lot of players working secretly in order to make sure their plans are the ones that come to fruition. It gives me the same feel as Libba Bray's The Diviners, the history and charm of early 1900's New York, the intrigue and the mystery, the sly attitudes and the power of the gangs. The rich and the poor, the hope for freedom and safety. The magical and those who would want it for themselves. But with so much going on the story dragged for me. In some ways it was interesting to see all the pieces, all the players as they plotted and planned, but in others it felt like too much. Too many moves and motives to keep track of, which is all on me. I hadn't expected it to be so dense, for it to be so involved. It was too long for my liking, but the mystery and the magic were intriguing. If you enjoyed The Diviners, you might also enjoy this.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (266)

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. ;)

More summer fun! Although I didn't really go out this past week or get much reading done because my brain was sore and it was so hot out. Maybe I'll try reading out in the sun.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (Tuesday) and Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Freemer (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Invictus by Ryan Graudin (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Me on Every Heart a Doorway

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor.com (Macmillan imprint)

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.

Every Heart a Doorway is an intriguing, impossible, improbable, fantastical tale. Like the aftermath of a child in a fairy tale tumbling down a rabbit hole to Wonderland. Because magical trips to fantasy lands must come to an end, even if the child wants to stay there. Dreams never last forever, and the real world is always there, waiting for the child to return.

The setting, the premise, the characters. I found all of it to be wondrously and eerily fantastic. The house itself a a home for those searching for one they may never find again. The vast variety of fantasy worlds unique and strange, full of their own rules and customs and ingrained biases. The characters, Nancy and Kade and Sumi, Jack and Jill, Eleanor. All had found magical places where they were able to be, where they could do what they'd always wanted, and then were sent back to the real world. They all still crave that sense of home, that place that exists outside the rules of what it is to be a non-magical human being who must follow human society's twisted rules.

This story is enchanting and eerie, dark and magical. Full of people who crave returning to a place where they feel like they belong and being unable to do so, their frustration intertwined with their wanting. It's surprising and heartfelt and cruel at times, wanting to keep childhood magic with you as you grow up. I'm rather intrigued to see what tale the next stories will tell.

(I borrowed an e-book copy of this from the library.)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (338)

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

Title: The Speaker
Author: Traci Chee
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Having barely escaped the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer are back on the run, slipping into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.

With Sefia’s help, Archer travels across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while she continues to investigate the mysterious Book and secrets it contains. But the more battles they fight, the more fights Archer craves, until his thirst for violence threatens to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny. As Sefia begins to unravel the threads that connect Archer’s fate to her parents’ betrayal of the Guard so long ago, she and Archer must figure out a way to subvert the Guard’s plans before they are ensnared in a war that will pit kingdom against kingdom, leaving their future and the safety of the entire world hanging in the balance.

I'm so excited for this. This enchanting story about the power of words, about story and history, about fate and knowledge. About anger and betrayal. I was so surprised by the first book and I can't wait to read this next one.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Me on Some Favourite Things (4)

Hi! I'm back with another one of these collective fun things posts! Only a few things this time, though.

First, Rock and Riot by Chelsey! I love this webcomic. The best way I can describe it is it's like if Grease had a huge diverse cast and every character was queer. It's about two gangs of teens, the girls of the Jaquettes and the boys of the Rollers, and their high school days. Their hijinks, their fights and squabbles. Their exploration of sexuality and gender. Their realization that they can be who they want, like who they want to like. Identify however they want to. The humourous moments mix so well with the comedic moments. Moments of two characters awkwardly flirting in loud voices and almost missing until someone clueless shows up looking for popcorn. It'll be ending soon, so you might want to start reading it now. Plus you can watch an animated version of the first chapter!


In case you didn't figure it out from last week's reviews, go check out the Horimiya manga! ;)

I've been speeding through a bunch of e-books I picked up through my local library, books I've been interested in but haven't felt like reading in order to review them. Because sometimes I want to be able to tune out when I read. Not to say that these haven't been good books, but they've either been books I don't usually review here or books where far smarter people have already posted their amazing opinions and anything I say would be inadequate. Like with Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali. An amazing, heart-breaking, honest book. Right now I'm making my way through Cindy Pon's Want. Considering the state of the environment, I could totally buy that something like this book could happen.

See you again in a couple of months with another of these! :) And add in the comments something you've been enjoying lately so I can check it out!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (265)

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. ;)

It's still summer! By which I mean the rain hasn't shown up and ruined it all. I'm still enjoying the sunshine, which is something I didn't think I'd say, considering I don't really like summer, but I think all the snow and rain of the winter and spring brought a lot of people down.

Reviews going up this week will feature something on Tuesday (I'm not sure yet!) and another favourite things post on Friday! :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Want by Cindy Pon (e-book borrowed from the library)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Mehon (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Me on Horimiya Volume 3

Title: Horimiya Volume 3
Original story: HERO
Artist: Daisuke Haiwara
Release Date: April 26, 2017
Publisher: Yen Press

The longer Hori and Miyamura keep each other's secrets, the closer they get. When Hori blurts out an inadvertent "I like you," will Miyamura respond in kind? Or could the slip up spell the end of their friendship...?

Horimiya Volume 3 is the start of Hori-san and Miyamura-kun's world opening up, more and more people entering what was their space, all while the two of them wonder about their feelings. If they actually do like each other more than just friends.

The cast of characters is slowly expanding. More people are creeping their way into Hori and Miyamura's space where once it was just the two of them, sometimes with Ishikawa or Yoshikawa or Hori's brother Souta. Now the student council, Sakura and Remi and president Sengoku, are popping up more and more in their circle of friends. The three of them have their blunt questions, wondering if Hori and Miyamura are actually dating, leaving Ishikawa to be flustered while still nursing a crush on Hori. And then comes Miyamura's old middle school friend Shindou and his loud and boisterous ways, leaving Miyamura feeling awkward and unsure. Unbelieving. He still can't get past those depressing middle school days.

Things are starting to get serious, get real for the two of them. Those feelings they have, it's getting harder to not say them. But at the same time, all this closeness and comfortableness, they don't want to ruin it. Change their relationship. They sort of have one of two choices to make: never say anything or take the risk. Because which would be more painful and awkward, saying nothing or saying something? This manga, this series, nails awkwardness and friendship and making connections. It's at times sweet and funny, serious and honest. A definite must read.

(I purchased a copy of this title.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (337)

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

Title: Echo After Echo
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Candlewick Press

From Goodreads:

Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

It's not the usual sort of book that I read, but there's something interesting about it. The mystery and the theater combination, the implied tragedy and sorrow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Me on Horimiya Volume 2

Title: Horimiya Volume 2
Original story: HERO
Art: Daisuke Hagiwara
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Yen Press

By all appearances, Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura are worlds apart. Bright and capable, Hori is always surrounded by classmates, the center of attention. For Miyamura, a quirky loner, getting through class unnoticed counts as a good day. But ever since these two started sharing secrets, they've found themselves drawn into each other's orbit little by little and the distance between them shrinking bit by bit...

Horimiya Volume 2 is continuing the story of Hori-san and Miyamura-kun's high school days. Days of studying and student council issues, of worries about the future and reflections on the past.

Though the writing and the expressive artwork and the charm of the characters, there's something so honest and believable about this story. About Hori and Miyamura. Both have their worries, their strengths and weaknesses. Their anxieties. Hori is unsure about the future, unsure about her feelings towards Miyamura when she starts feeling more and more comfortable around him, and Miyamura can't let go of the past, of a childhood that found him called gloomy by classmates. His feelings for Hori are changing as well, and because of how isolated his elementary and middle school years were, he doesn't think Hori's interest will last. Or that of Ishikawa and Yoshikawa. I would definitely recommend this manga to new and old readers, those looking for something serious but also with great moments of awkwardness and comedy.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (264)

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. ;)

Hi! It feels like summer is finally here. It's going to be sunny and warm for days. I kind of want it, the rain depresses me right now.

Reviews going up this week will feature some books! I have no idea which ones, though. ;) One will probably be The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (before I return it to the library).
Bought/borrowed/received:
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (e-galley from First Second Books through NetGalley)
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater (ARC from Scholastic Canada)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Me on Now I Rise

Title: Now I Rise
Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she's always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn't getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There's no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her. What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu's subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it's no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister's fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him? As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won... and souls will be lost.

Now I Rise is the continuation of an epic tale of power and family, of faith, of sacrifice and determination.

Lada is continuing forward with her mission. her dream. It's time to take back Wallachia, to become its prince. But it's not that simple. She needs men, more than those currently loyal to her. And she needs the nobles of Wallachia and Hungary to stop seeing her as a useless girl with only one purpose. Determined, stubborn, ruthless, bloodthirsty, Lada will stop at nothing. But when battle turns to negotiations, Lada is as subtle as a punch to the nose. What she needs is Radu's way with words. But she can't have him. Radu is too busy hiding. Hiding in his marriage, hiding his feelings for Mehmed, hiding the conflict in his heart. The regret he feels for not following Lada. But he can't escape Mehmed, can't escape what he feels for him. And when Mehmed asks for his help? Radu is willing to do anything. But pose as a spy? Leave him for Constantinople? He's not sure if he can do this, not sure if his heart can be pulled in so many directions. Not sure if he's willing to make the sacrifices it could take.

It's hard to describe this book. The story is continuing from where the first book left off. Lada is still hungry, hungry for power and respect. Hungry for the throne. And Radu is still conflicted, not sure where to turn when caught up in Mehmed, Lada, his feelings, his faith, and the battle he sees coming. If you enjoyed the epic journeys and the conflicted, battered hearts of the first, you will relish this second book while cursing the wait for the third.

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (336)

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

Title: The Tea Dragon Society
Author: Katie O'Neill
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Oni Press

From Goodreads:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives--and eventually her own.

This sounds so cute. Tea dragons?! Dragons that you harvest tea from? Gorgeous Katie O'Neill art? SOLD. So sold. The best thing is it's being posted as a webcomic before it goes to print, so you can read some of it now!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Me on The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Henry "Monty" Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven't been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family's estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. Still it isn't in Monty's nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty's reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is a tense journey through France and Spain, a journey of self-discovery and pain. A journey of fear and truth.

Monty is a rake of the first order. A scoundrel and a flirt and a drunk. The only thing he has that he actually cares about, that his world somewhat centers on, is his best friend Percy. He needs their friendship and their closeness. Having Percy at his side is the only reason why Monty puts up with what he hates. Family. Expectations. The future. Monty can't help who he is, what he does, that he's attracted to boys as well as girls, and so he's looking forward to this Grand Tour with Percy. A whole year away from his father and from expectation.

I wasn't quite sure how I felt about this book, about the journey that the three of them end up on. It was hard to like Monty, to sympathize with him. His refusal to take much of anything beyond his own happiness, and Percy, seriously is a blemish on his character. It takes time to learn more about Monty, to understand why he acts in this way. In a number of ways he's afraid, he's worried, and he's ashamed. And after a time he wants to change, he wants to to better, but it's hard for him when all that fear is still there, weighing him down.

This was a more serious book than I'd expected, more weighed down in personal struggle and unexpected consequence. There were less moments of excited gallivanting and more of Monty, Percy, and Felicity running for their lives. But I still found it to be an intriguing story, rich with history, character, and conflict.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (263)

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! The weather's been ok I guess. As much as I don't like it when it's hot out, I just want a summer of sunshine. The rainy days just feel so depressing right now.

When Christmas and New Year's comes around, I usually try and finish a bunch of series. Get a lot of books off of my to read list. When the summer hits, I look at my bookcase and get the urge to re-read things. Maybe I'll come up with a list and post pics and updates.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Tuesday) and Now I Rise by Kiersten White (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener (ARC from Raincoast Books)
When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali (e-book borrowed from the library)
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (e-book borrowed from the library)
Castle in the Stars by Alex Alice (e-galley from First Second Books through NetGalley)
Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G. (e-galley from First Second Books through NetGalley)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Me on Our Dark Duet

Title: Our Dark Duet
Author: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Kate Harker is a girl who isn't afraid of the dark. She's a girl who hunts monsters. And she's good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He's a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost. Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim's inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She'll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

Our Dark Duet is a book of music and sorrow, of shadows and monsters. Of the monsters we fight and the monsters that live inside ourselves. Of the parts of ourselves that we can't turn away from, no matter how hard we try. Of the cost of living and the desire to keep from dying.

After leaving Verity, Kate's on the hunt in Prosperity, taking down the monsters that have popped up there. Stalking the shadows, attempting to keep a clueless city safe. Until something new makes its way out of the shadows. Something far more dangerous than the Malachai, the Corsai, or the Sunai. A new kind of monster that feeds and infects, over and over. When it heads to Verity, Kate knows she has to return to what she left behind, the monsters and the dead. August.

August has become what he hated, what he never wanted to be. A soldier in the FTF. A leader. A monster, using his music night after night. He's at war with himself, the part that's always been Sunai, always been a monster, warring against the years he spent watching humans, imitating humans. Wanting to be human. When something new arrives in Verity, with Kate Harker on its heels, August is worried, furious, and afraid. Afraid of what's coming, afraid of who he may lose in order to save the city.

This book is fast-paced and poetic, highlighting the struggles between the monsters that lurk in Verity's shadows and the human task force struggling to stay alive. The struggles inside both Kate and August, their humanity clashing with their fate. This book is heart-breaking and dangerous, coated in blood and tears, in fragile hearts filled with indestructible emotions. It's so much a Victoria Schwab book and I was pleased to feel emotionally drained as I read this.

(I purchased a copy of this title.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (335)

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

Title: Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 Book 1
Author/Artist: Alex Alice
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: FirstSecond Books (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

“This one is Jules Verne meets Miyazaki. It’s the space race in 1869 in a kind of alternate past. … When you see the book itself, it’s this big, oversized object with this incredible watercolor comics style, and it’s this really big, epic, sweeping story of a boy following in his mother’s discovery and then opening up the solar system, but in the age of the 1800s. It’s got a kind of steampunk but also a kind of young, classic children’s story feel to it.”

I don't know much about this, but it sounds amazing. Watercolour art in a comic style. Epic fantasy in space. Jules Verne meets Miyazaki. I'm all in on this.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Me on Real Friends

Title: Real Friends
Author: Shannon Hale
Artist: LeUyen Pham
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: First Second Books (Macmillan imprint)

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top... even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Real Friends is smart and honest, highlighting the complications of making friends while young and the joy felt when a connection is finally made.

Little Shannon is kind and creative, looking to find her own place in a big family where she isn't really close in age to any of her siblings. At school she has someone, her best friend Adrienne, but as the years go by other girls want Adrienne to be her friend. Girls like Jen. And so begins the awkwardness and the confusion, the groups within groups. So begins Shannon being part of the group one day but not the next.

The artwork is wonderful. The detail of the classrooms and the playground of the school. The expressions on the characters' faces, the sorrow and the confusion and the happiness. The way the lines of the panels would disappear whenever little Shannon would daydream or pretend with her friends, how that fantasy world would take up the whole page.

This book so accurately portrays the struggle and confusion surrounding making friends when you're young, or at least it's rather accurate to how I remember making friends when I was younger. Kids are just starting to figure out what they like, who they like, how they want to act, and so they can be really blunt and sometimes mean. Testing the waters, seeing what reactions will get certain results. Changing their favourite TV show or musician day after day. Kids can be cruel, especially when you're awkward and shy. I would definitely recommend this to kids looking for graphic novels to read as well as adults, partially because of nostalgia and partially for their own education in terms of understanding their kids.. Considering the number of people who were little Shannon when they were younger, it's possible their kids are going through the same thing.

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (262)

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! This was such an odd week, mostly because a bunch of it was spent hauling dirt in our yard and garden. It wasn't the best in that it was tiring and hauling dirt can get heavy, but at least it was nice out for those three days and not full of rain.

Reviews going up this week will feature Real Friends by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham (Tuesday) and Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (ARC from Penguin Random House Canada)
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (ARC from Penguin Random House Canada)
Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast (ARC from Simon & Schuster)
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (pre-ordered)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Me on Refuge for Masterminds

Title: Refuge for Masterminds
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen (Macmillan imprint)

Napoleon's invasion of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can discover the traitor, it is Jane—for, according to headmistress Emma Stranje, Lady Jane is a mastermind. Jane doesn't consider herself a mastermind. It's just that she tends to grasp the facts of a situation quickly, and by doing so, she's able to devise and implement a sensible course of action. Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save the brash young American inventor Alexander Sinclair, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Refuge for Masterminds is a smart, fast-paced mystery, the continuation of the mission of the young girls of Stranje House. A mission of life or death, a mission to keep England safe from Napoleon's clutches.

Jane is intelligent. She's perceptive, methodical. She can quickly grasp the severity of the situation and be a strong voice of reason. She can be practical when those around her are often caught up in emotion and personal feelings. She just doesn't see her own appeal, doesn't see why the other girls or Miss Stranje would really want her around. Doesn't see why anyone would find her appealing or attractive. And so she's learned to sharpen her tongue and not expect much from other people. People like her useless brothers. But this foolish American inventor unnerves her. Mr. Sinclair is brash and rough, he doesn't always act correctly when around young ladies or titled peers. Theirs is a battle of wits, of barbs and jabs, if only because Jane is too afraid to admit what she really thinks of him. But Jane isn't willing to take that kind of gamble.

This definitely continues what the first two books in the series did. Introduce a young woman with a curiously helpful skill who feels out of place and restricted by society, highlight the political and martial worries of the time, reveal that spies are afoot and plots and plans are being hatched. Show the young woman that her skills are useful, that she has a purpose, and that she's allowed to be the person she wants to be. I was excited to read this third book, see all the young ladies continue their work while being in a wholly unfamiliar place, and I'm hoping that the next book will be more of the same.

(I borrowed an e-book copy of this title from the library.)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (334)

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

Title: An Unkindness of Magicians
Author: Kat Howard
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Saga Press

From Goodreads:

There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.

Magical hijinks in the real world? YES.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (261)

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. ;)

Hi there! So I was all prepared to have a week of things to talk about, and then the weather turned drizzly and rainy so nothing much exciting happened. Other than Friday turning into a sick day for me. Not fun.

Reviews going up this week will feature Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara Larson (Tuesday) and Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (bought)
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada)
The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente (ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Me on Royal Bastards

Title: Royal Bastards
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children. At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax's floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father's side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who's been in love with Tilla since they were children. Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards' Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness. Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana's uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery. The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey

Royal Bastards is a curious sort of fantasy tale, a tale of family and rebellion, of danger.

Tilla wants. She wants to be acknowledged by her father, wants to be someone. Wants to matter. Instead, she's left labelled a bastard, left to watch her father from across a room, hoping for the day when he'll tell her that she matters to him. But instead she's on the run, racing away from danger and hopefully towards help when she and her fellow bastards witness the start of a rebellion. She's left wondering what side is the right side to be on, wondering how all of them can stay safe and not get killed.

This book had its moments, its interesting characters. The combination of the medieval fantasy setting and the modern day speech and colloquialisms was jarring at times. I do think that the book nudges towards something with Tilla and the others as they travel, as they run. That family isn't made by blood, it isn't only defined by who your parents were. Family is people you trust, people you keep close. People you would do anything for and who would do anything for you. It didn't necessarily always work for me, but I'm sure readers looking for something a little different in terms of fantasy will enjoy this.

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (333)

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

Title: No Good Deed
Author: Kara Connolly
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

This sounds interesting. I do wonder about the ending, if it ends with Ellie returning to her time period and what would follow.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Me on I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maureen Goo
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She's for sure going to Stanford. But—she's never had a boyfriend. In fact, she's a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she's applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It's a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her "K Drama Rules for True Love," Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love is funny and smart, full of charm and sass. Full of awkward flailing and bizarre situations. But Desi's on a mission, armed with a list and a never-giving-up attitude, and she's not about to back down.

Desi is a classic overachiever. She's got excellent grades, she's involved in almost every extracurricular activity her high school has to offer, she's got great friends, an awesome and supportive dad, and her future is completely planned out. She's ready for Standford, ready to become a doctor like her late mother. She's smart, friendly, kind of geeky. The only area she's lacking in is the boyfriend department because whenever a cute guy tries to ask her out, Desi turns into a disaster that sends him running. But then she meets Luca, then she feels a zing that she's never felt with any guy before. Then they flirt a little and another disaster happens. So she decides to take matters into her own hands, to study the Korean dramas her dad watches and formulate a plan. Because at the end of those dramas, the girl and the guy always end up together.

I don't watch K dramas, I don't think I've ever seen one, but this book makes me want to check them out. Every type of show or movie all over the world has certain tropes, certain events or characters that are bound to pop up. Here the author takes K dramas, explains them enough for the uninitiated, and lets Desi go full out when it comes to planning out how to make Luca realize they're meant to be. It's a combination of the charm and appeal of K dramas and how unlikely it is that those tropes would ever work outside of a script. But when Desi has a plan, she doesn't turn her back on it.

This book, especially Desi's voice, has wonderful charm. It's a personable, timeless kind of charm, something reminiscent of romantic comedies of the 90's and early 00's. There were moments of humour and sorrow, of confusion and understanding, of affection and anger. There was awkwardness, because there's always awkwardness, but it never felt painful or forced (as much as as it could be when Desi has certain situations planned out so much). The story has great progression, ups and downs and turns. I would definitely recommend this to fans of YA contemporary romances, to those who love a little drama. Especially K dramas.

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (260)

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. ;)

No books this week! It's been nice and sunny and I've been distracted by a few things so not much to talk about. Hopefully next week!

Reviews going up this week will feature I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo (Tuesday) and Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts (Friday). :)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Me on Eliza and Her Monsters

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can't imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try. Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza's secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she's built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Eliza and Her Monsters is smart and serious, a look at creativity and fame and pressure, at art and fandom and community. At how we isolate ourselves and how we connect with other people.

Eliza is shy, creative, and totally okay with being a loner when she's at school. She's fine with it, because her friends are somewhere else. Easily reachable on the internet. She doesn't need the real world with her health-conscious parents pushing at her to do something else with her life or her sports-focused younger brothers. She knows what she's doing, what she'll keep doing after high school and college. She'll continue on with her webcomic Monstrous Sea, continue chatting with the giant mass of fans online who devour each and ever page. Fans who don't know that a high school student is the comic's creator, which is totally fine with Eliza. Anonymity is something she craves. But then she meets Wallace, then she finds out he's one of her comic's most popular fanfiction writers. Then she wonders if talking face-to-face with people isn't so bad. If there's more to life than Monstrous Sea.

A big part of this story is all about creativity and passion. Eliza came up with Monstrous Sea because she was inspired, because she had a story to tell. And she was happy. But then it blew up, then it became popular. Then it gained an audience of fans, superfans, and trolls alike. Then came the pressure and the expectation. It turned less into something Eliza did for fun and something more for other people so they wouldn't rage in the comments if she had a down week and the art wasn't as good or if she got busy and missed an update or two. The webcomic becomes her life, becomes everything, but that isn't healthy. She's more than an artist, than the person who created the universe of Monstrous Sea and its cast of characters. She struggles with finding the balance between work and play, between school and family and the comic. I think this book accurately covers what a lot of creative types and creators go through, the balance between life and working to pay the bills that many search for on a daily basis.

This book is serious and thoughtful, about the struggles of art and the strain it puts on artists. About the ways we isolate ourselves when we don't want to interact with certain parts of the world. About the ways we can connect to people halfway around the world, have meaningful connections and conversations with them over a shared interest. About how so many can love one idea, like a TV show or comic, because they found something moving and meaningful in it. About how online communities and interactions can be both supportive and a hindrance. About the realities of anxiety and panic, how keeping it bottled up inside isn't healthy. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the author's previous book, for those looking for an honest look at the intersection of art and fandom and mental health.

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (332)

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

Title: A Line in the Dark
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

“It doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me. It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.”

A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.

New Malinda Lo? And it's a creepy sort of murder mystery? YES.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Me on House of Furies

Title: House of Furies
Author: Madeleine Roux
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house's mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved. Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?

House of Furies is haunting, eerie, and mysterious. It's a tale of fate and judgement, of good and evil and the unknown that lurks in the shadows.

Louisa is alone, homeless and poor. Relying on the kindness of strangers for pennies in order to keep on living. Huddling in the rain telling fortunes. A chance encounter with a strange old woman brings her to Coldthistle House, a boarding house in need of a maid, but soon Louisa learns that the house is no normal boarding house. That the owner is no normal owner, that he is no normal man. Know that she knows the truth, know that it is near impossible for her to leave, Louisa struggles with her new lot in life. She's torn between running from the house and staying in order to keep a new friend safe from the house's clutches. But how can she trust anyone when everyone has something to hide? How can she trust anyone when there's something just as dark and secretive in her own past?

Stories like this rely on atmosphere, on the setting to be suitably off-putting, on the tone to be mysterious and suggestive of the paranormal and the unnatural, and I do think it works here. The house and its nearby spring are haunting, those working at Coldthistle House aren't exactly human, and the shadows that drift the halls are more than meets the eye. It has the same sort of historical and eerie tone of the movie The Others and other haunting period dramas. I imagine fans of the author's previous books will enjoy this, as will fans of gothic-esque historical horror and tales of the paranormal.

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (259)

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! It's finally been sunny for more than a single day in the week. It sort of feels like we're heading into summer, but I don't A) want to jinx it, or B) want it to be super hot and unbearable this summer.

I went out to VanCAF on Saturday, soaked up a bunch of indie comic and art fun and creativity that will hopefully last me for a few months. There are pictures of the comics I picked up over on Instagram. :)

Reviews going up this week will feature House of Furies by Madeleine Roux (Tuesday) and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Odd & True by Cat Winters (e-galley from Amulet Books through NetGalley)
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Me on Some Favourite Things (3)

Hi! These recap of favourite things posts seem to be popping up ever couple of months, so I think I'll keep on doing them. :)

Let's start with another webcomic rec. Flowerpot by leehama! This is the story of Ben, a college student with an unusual disease. He's super kind, super friendly, and super quiet, preferring to stay in the background and avoid attention. When Ben was a kid, he was patient zero for a disease called Fleurine when flowers appear and sprout from people's bodies. It wasn't so bad for Ben, his condition means he sprouts dandelions from his scalp, but it was different for others when flowers burst from their skin, from their ears and eyes. When petals would fill their lungs. This is a world where people fear flowers, where people avoid them and those with Fleurine because they don't want to be infected. Ben's happy living a quiet life, but an encounter with a photographer with a project and a plan starts to change Ben's way of thinking, of what it means to be a 'flowerpot.' This comic is super cute and fun, the artwork is bright and colourful, and it's rather diverse in terms of race and disability and illness, both visible and invisible. Here's a link to the start of the comic. :)

Speaking of comics, VanCAF! I love going to VanCAF, seeing what people are doing in terms of their own art and original characters as well as fan art. As someone who can be super visual, who likes comics and isn't that artistic on their own, I really enjoy it. It's the act of creating art, of telling a story through a medium other than straight prose. And it's a chance to support local artists as well. I've been looking forward to going for months and it's finally happening this weekend.

Because we're heading deeper into spring now (where I live) and summer is approaching, here's a quick shout-out to taking walks. I don't know what it is, but it turns out I like going for walks. Especially on my own when I can stick headphones is and listen to music and go for easy-going walks in the sunshine. This sort of started last year when Pokemon Go came out, but walks on their own are also fun. If there are parks or green spaces near you, check them out when it's nice out.

I'm behind on so much Netflix watching, I promise I'll get to you one day, season 2 of Sense 8. And I think I'm pretty much on board for the new Star Trek: Discovery show after seeing that trailer earlier this week. Oh, sci-fi. Kid me loved you so much.

Considering these posts keep happening, see you again with other list of fun things in July! :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (331)

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

Title: Tentacle & Wing
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)

From Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Ada is a Chimera, born with human and animal DNA thanks to a genetic experiment gone wrong. Because being a “kime” is believed to be contagious, she has kept her condition—complete with infrared vision—hidden. But a surprise test outs her, and Ada is shipped off to a quarantined school for kimes. 

 There Ada meets kids of many different shapes, stripes, and appendages, such as a girl with dragonfly wings and a seal-boy. As she adjusts to her new life, Ada senses that the facility is keeping a secret that could upend everything the world knows about Chimeras. But will someone put a stop to her efforts to uncover the truth?

Ooooo, intriguing-sounding middle grade. I sounds like a mash-up of The Girl Who Could Fly and Monstrous, about kids with differences and monsters and secrets. Considering it's written by Sarah Porter, I wonder how dark it'll be. Vassa in the Night was pretty dark, but it's also YA.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Me on Princess Princess Ever After

Title: Princess Princess Ever After
Author: Katie O'Neill
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Oni Press

When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They'll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all. Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means -- and how they can find it with each other.

Princess Princess Ever After is sweet and magical, a brand new fairy tale that draws from tradition and then spins it around on its head. It's a story about strength and weakness, about characters who don't fit into expected boxes and would rather do things their way.

Amira is a take charge kind of girl. With her sword and her trusted unicorn Celeste, she's ready to roam the land and search for people to help. Because that's what she's looking for. Something to do, people to assist. Action. Not what she left behind in her family's kingdom. Sadie is sweet and kind, a compassionate girl. She's all about listening to problems and helping people. Even though she's stuck up a tower. After Amira helps her down, Sadie's ready to travel, but her past creeps up on her. Her anxieties and insecurities creep up on her. And she'll have to face her fears if she wants to finally be free.

The artwork is bright and fun, it fills the page with lots of rounded corners and expressive faces on the characters. It's very clear whenever Amira is embarrassed or upset, with Sadie is laughing or crying. And both girls don't look like traditional princesses. Amira has brown skin, walks around in pants with a sword at her hip, and has the biggest fancy shoulder decorations on her military-style coat. And she has some kick-butt hair. Sadie is in a bright blue dress, she wears a crown in her blonde hair, and she's fat. She also has a chubby blue dragon at her side. They don't look like princesses, but they look like princesses.

There's so much humour here, so much fun being poked at traditional princes saving princesses tales. From flowers appearing at Amira's intro and Sadie calling her on it to an ogre smashing up a town because of his stifled creativity. I do wish there was more to the story, though. In some ways it feels short. I really hope kids read this and see a different side to fairy tales and to princesses in particular. That they can be strong, wielding swords and fighting evil. That they can be weak, afraid and alone. That they can be tall or short, thin or fat, black or white or any skin colour. That a princess can fall in love with another princess. I would recommend this to anyone, especially kids looking for new fairy tale stories, kids who love the no-nonsense attitude of Elizabeth in The Paper Bag Princess.

(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)